Image search results - "vintage"
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Out of all the geisha that have appeared on postcards, this ever-smiling geisha was unsurpassed in popularity. Her smiling visage appeared in 40 to 50 different poses in photographs and postcards made in Yokohama from the 1890s.
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Her affable and infectious smile made her stand out during a time when most people posing for a photograph did not smile.
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Her name has been a mystery, but I have come across hard evidence that she was a geisha named "Tokimatsu." But I will forever call her the "Laughing Geisha."
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A saucy little Geisha. The pose is good.
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Laughing Geisha with low neck. She's almost semi-nude. It is probably her sexiest pose of all. A great summertime card and one of my favorites. Hand-colored and postmarked Feb. 25, 1908 in Yokohama. The actual card is more yellowed.1 comments
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Laughing Geisha with cowboy hat & cigar. This must be the most humorous pose she created. Those tourists must've gotten a big kick when they saw this card. A geisha from the wild, wild West. Even today, it elicits an affectionate laugh. One of my
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See, hear, nor speak no evil.
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Combing her hair.
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Laughing Geisha with fan. There are two Yokohama postmarks on this card. One in Japanese (over the stamp) and one in English. The actual card is more yellowed and almost brown, but I bleached it with Photoshop.There are two Yokohama postmarks on this card. One in Japanese (over the stamp) and one in English. Japanese postmarks have the date in the Year-month-day format. And English postmarks have it in the Day-month-Western year format. As you may know, Japan bases its years on the Emperor's reign. In the Japanese postmark, you can see "36" for the year. That's not 1936, but Meiji 36 that corresponds to 1903. Besides the Meiji Period (1868-1912), there's the Taisho Period (1912-1926) and the Showa Period (1926-1989). Since the Japanese postmark only indicates the last two digits of the year, it can be a pain to figure out which period the year belongs to. In most cases, we can figure it out with the stamp or type of postcard back.1 comments
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Laughing Geisha on terrace. It looks like she's on the veranda of a restaurant along a river. If she's a Kyoto geisha, it would be the Kamo River. But these cards were made in Yokohama. I wonder if she was from Yokohama.
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Laughing Geisha looking out. The card is postmarked 1903 from Yokohama. The actual card is more yellowed and almost brown, but I bleached it with Photoshop.
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Laughing Geisha with baby. She's nicely posed, and you can even see the baby's face. But the color of her kimono is somewhat drab. A mother (or married woman) does not and need not wear a colorful kimono.
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Laughing Geisha with umbrella. The sender probably wrote about his incredible adventures in Japan. Postmarked 1904 from Yokohama addressed to Hamburg, Germany. The actual card is more yellowed and almost brown, but I bleached it with Photoshop.1 comments
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Laughing Geisha with umbrella. As you may have noticed, the umbrella (and fan) was a commonly used prop in tourist photos. Postmarked 1903 from Yokohama. The actual card is more yellowed and almost brown, but I bleached it with Photoshop.1 comments
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Laughing Geisha in the rain. There's a horse in the background. Maybe she's watching a parade. The ground looks wet.
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Laughing Geisha with Basket. It looks like she's dressed for picking tea leaves. This card, which has an undivided back, dates before 1907. The actual card is more yellowed.
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Another shot of her picking tea leaves.
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Laughing Geisha on Shore. It's kind of strange to see her at the beach but dressed to pick tea leaves. The message on this postcard was written in French, dated 1905.
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Drawing water from a well.
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Pair of Geisha, autographed. One of my most treasured cards. This card was signed (on the chest area) by these two geisha with a fountain pen. Several other geisha also signed the back of the card. (See the next image.)1 comments
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Pair of Geisha, autographed (back). This is the back of the preceding card. It looks like four geisha signed it.
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Geisha and maikoNot a good photo, but their names are written in hiragana on the back. They read "Suimatsu" on the left and "Shigezuru" on the right who is a maiko, not geisha. She has more ornaments in her hair than the geisha. Also notice their blackened teeth. If they are in Kyoto, a geisha is called "geiko." In Tokyo, a maiko (apprentice geisha) is called "hangyoku." This is a postcard-size photo and not a postcard.1 comments
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Maiko in Her RoomA private moment. This maiko is lying down in her kimono reading a comic book after getting tired of playing cards. Her mama-san probably would not be pleased to see her wrinkle the kimono like that. Not sure if this was staged or a candid shot. It's hard for anyone to lie down like that in a kimono.1 comments
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Oiran courtesan. Also see my photos of an oiran show here. My oiran video at YouTube here.The highest-ranking geisha is called an oiran or tayu. She is escorted by two little attendant girls called kamuro. Notice her high clogs. It takes some skill to walk in those and she usually requires someone's shoulder to hold onto while walking. Sometimes at festivals or special events, you can see the Oiran Dochu procession where she walks in a parade together with geisha attendants. 23 comments
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Shin-Yoshiwara prostitutes. They are sitting behind the "cage" which fronted the street for all to see (and choose) within the licensed quarters. Shin-Yoshiwara was a famous red-light district of Tokyo. Note that they are not geisha.Geisha were not prostitutes. This photo was taken during 1907-1911. The woman in the far back was the brothel's matron who supervised this live display and everything else. In 1912 when Emperor Meiji died, this live display of women was later replaced by framed photographs of each woman hung near the brothel's entrance. In 1958, prostitution was outlawed in Japan, and Yoshiwara was history.
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Brothel maids or prostitutes. Maids were employed to guide patrons to their rooms and serve sake and food. Or they could be low-class (cheap) prostitutes. Hand-colored, undivided back.
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Geisha Pair Outside Geisha House. These two geisha know how to pose for the camera. It looks like Kyoto. You can tell that they are geisha because of the shorter kimono sleeve, subdued kimono design (mostly black), and their clogs (for rainy weather).
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Patriotic Maiko. Card designed to encourage soldiers on the front line. Notice that her sleeves are so long that you can see her right sleeve touch the ground. That's the kimono of a maiko. This is a modern postcard reproduction.
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Two Patriotic Maiko. To cheer up the soldiers on the front line, pretty and smiling maiko (apprentice geisha) often appeared on postcards for military mail. This card was postmarked Aug. 1940 from Shizuoka city. It was not addressed to a soldier though.Both women are maiko and not full-fledged geisha yet. The sleeves of a maiko's kimono reaches toward the ground as you can see here. (The sleeves of a geisha is shorter.) The kimono design is also more colorful and gaudy. Maiko also wear clogs called pokkuri. They are wedged at the front, so if you are not careful, you can trip forward. Geisha do not wear pokkuri.
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Smiling Maiko Standing. Great smile. This is the same woman in the card where two maiko are holding the Japanese flag.1 comments
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Smiling Maiko Sitting. Real-photo postcard to cheer up soldiers. This card was sent as military mail from Kyoto on New Year's Day 1939. The kanji characters on the fan says "Banzai," the traditional Japanese cheer for victory and happy occasReal-photo postcard to cheer up soldiers. This card was sent as military mail from Kyoto on New Year's Day 1939. The kanji characters on the fan says "Banzai," the traditional Japanese cheer for victory and happy occasions. It also means "long life," something that soldiers would like.1 comments
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Laughing Maiko. Another card to cheer up the men at the front line.
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Maiko hair ornaments. Maiko have more ornaments in their hair than geisha do. The hair ornaments differ depending on the current season. They usually have a flower motif, and if you look closely and see what flower it is, you can tell what season it is.
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The maiko uses her real hair, not a wig. When her hair is down, it reaches her chest.
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Smiling Maiko sitting in gardenNotice her left sleeve reaching the ground. A sign of a maiko's kimono, not a geisha's. Also, the high clogs that she wears are called pokkuri. Maiko wear them, but geisha do not.
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Maiko on Gojobashi Bridge. Postcard-size real photo taken in Kyoto. She has been poorly posed. Her posture is bad, her kimono is ruffled, the sleeves look bad, and her feet are pointing in the wrong direction. Maiko usually know how to pose themselves.Postcard-size real photo taken in Kyoto. She has been poorly posed. Her posture is bad, her kimono is ruffled, the sleeves look bad, and her feet are pointing in the wrong direction. Maiko usually know how to pose themselves for a photograph. But not this one. Perhaps she's an amateur.1 comments
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Maiko with umbrella. The quickest way to tell if she is a geisha or maiko is by looking at her back. The tell-tale sign of a maiko is her long obi sash hanging down behind. Whereas the geisha's sash has a short knot instead.1 comments
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Girl with Umbrella. Hand-colored postcard dating before 1918. The kimono looks like casual wear, and the design pattern was typical during the turn of the 20th century. She's still in her teens it seems. One of the first vintage postcards I bought. Y21 comments
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Girl in Storm. Wires were used inside the kimono to make it look wind-blown like in a rainstorm. Even her clogs are for rain. Early photographers commonly imitated the poses and scenes depicted in ukiyoe woodcut prints and Nihonga paintings.Although the photographer and model were serious in making this picture, it makes you laugh.
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Cheek-to-Cheek. One of my favorite postcards. I wonder if they were sisters. Real-photo postcard with no divided back. The actual card is more yellowed, but I bleached it with Photoshop.
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Mona Lisa Smile. She's cute, ideal for a passport photo. But her hairstyle is more striking than anything. What do you call it? A Westernized Japanese hairstyle?
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After a bath. That's what it looks like. She was another very photogenic woman.
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Smiling for the camera. It's always nice to see a smiling woman on a vintage postard. This is not an ideal smile though. Kind of sheepish and unnatural. Sort of half-hearted and "halfway" like her fan which is only half open.1 comments
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Swimsuit Beauties. These are typical swimsuits worn during the late 19th century. Horizontal stripes were in vogue. They are not posed very well, but there's something charming about them. This postcard is postmarked Aug. 1912. A nice summertime greet
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Swimsuit pin-up. Another picture that makes you laugh. Apparently she felt sexy in that suit and knew how to pose like a pin-up swimsuit model.1 comments
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Nude woman lying down
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Japanese Beauty. I would call this a representative example of a "Nihon Bijin" or Japanese Beauty photograph. She's posed formally, dressed in a kimono, and looking serene and attractive. She might bJe a geisha. Hand-colored, and undivided bI bought it for 1,200 yen.1 comments
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Beauty with fan. The white space around her was for writing the correspondence. You could not write the message on the same side as the address. The back of the postcard was for the address only.So it has an undivided back, which means there is no dividing line between the address side and correspondence side, Postcards with an undivided back were made between 1900 and March 28, 1907. That's how we know the approximate age of this card even though it has no postmark.1 comments
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Woman with pen and scroll. Judging from her hairstyle, this photo was probably taken during the Taisho Period (1912-1926).1 comments
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Poor posture and how not to pose in a kimono.
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Woman on bicycle. That's a thick shawl she's wearing. Must've been winter. It's unusual to see a bicycle used as a studio prop. Riding a bicycle while wearing a kimono must have been difficult. The postmark looks like 1908. Hand-colored.1 comments
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In front of mirror. Hand-colored postcard sent as a Christmas card in 1914.1 comments
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Calligraphy on a folding fan.
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Dancing woman
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Bride leaving her house vis rickshaw.
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Bride arrives at the groom's house.
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Flower in Vase. Nicely composed photograph. With a serene-looking face, she's an ideal postcard model. She also appears in the next postcard.
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Girl at fence. Her posture is crooked, but somehow this photo looks nice. She's not sensationally attractive, but she's photogenic and comes across well. She also appears in the preceding postcard.
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Woman with two flowers. She's holding the flowers in a cross or "X" mark. I wouldn't call that a good way to hold flowers (unless you're a hula dancer).1 comments
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Woman and flower patch. Same woman as in the preceding postcard.
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Girl with Bouquet. Would've been a great shot if she had smiled.
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Woman with flowers. She's wearing two rings on her left hand. She looks like a wife alright. How can you tell? Well, her kimono has a plain design, and the word "married" is written on her face.
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Woman and cherry blossoms. Unfortunately, she's too hunchbacked in this picture.1 comments
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Teruha with chrysanthemum. The flower she's holding matches her kimono design that shows the same flower. Her name was Teruha and she appeared in many postcards. She was born in 1896 in Osaka and worked as a geisha in Shimbashi, Tokyo. Click to read mTeruha with chrysanthemum. The flower she's holding matches her kimono design that shows the same flower. Her name was Teruha and she appeared in many postcards. She was born in 1896 in Osaka and worked as a geisha in Shimbashi, Tokyo before becoming a Buddhist priest in Kyoto. Read more about her interesting life by James A. Gatlin at geikogallery.com.2 comments
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Teruha sitting.Her name was Teruha and she appeared in many postcards. She's probably still in her teens in this photo. She was born in 1896 in Osaka and worked as a geisha in Shimbashi, Tokyo before becoming a Buddhist priest in Kyoto. Read more about her interesting life by James A. Gatlin at geikogallery.com.1 comments
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Rear and side views. Nice side and back shot of a kimono woman. Can't see any wedding ring, but she looks married.1 comments
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Tres Flores. Intriguing pose. It looks like a modern postcard, but it's postmarked 1907!1 comments
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Typical woman and flower. Give a woman a flower and ask her to pose with it, and this is how she typically would hold it.
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Flower arrangement. She's about to put the flower into the vase made of bamboo. On her lap, there's a pair of scissors used for flower arrangement. Her purple kimono has a design showing wisteria flowers. The season must have been spring.The card was printed in color so it's not that old.1 comments
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Vintage postcard of Genkyuen Garden. Little has changed except that boats no longer ply on the pond.
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Baby Baby Sitter. Such scenes were common in those days. Mom and dad were both busy farming, leaving the baby in the hands of older children. Hand-colored.
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Young baby sitters. The girls look around 8 or 9 years old. The artist went slightly overboard with the hand coloring. Colorful, but too bold.
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Child dancer. Postcard-size photograph. Date is unknown.
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Girl on stage. Postcard-size photograph. Date is unknown.
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Twins. They look like twins or sisters. Real-photo postcard postmarked 1918.
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Autographed as Yoko Aozora. She must have been some kind of teenaged entertainer. Probably a dancer. Looks charming enough.
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New Year's photo. The paper ball is for a traditional New Year's game. Postcard-size photograph.
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Speak, Hear, and See No Evil. A common pose imitating the monkeys. Postmarked 1914. Hand-colored.
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Young girls in kimono.
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Six times a year in Japan, a lowrider car show is held in major cities. The Japan Tour starts and ends in Makuhari Messe in Makuhari, Chiba where these photos were taken on Nov. 23, 2008.
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This was the final show of the Japan Tour in 2008. There were over 150 cars displayed at the show. Admission was 4,000 yen at the door.
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The cars were all glossy and colorful, very nice.
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The metallic flake paint job on this car was great.
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Twin Bel Airs
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Chevy Impalas. I'd never seen so many Impalas in my life.
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The Chevrolet Impala was by far the most common or popular lowrider car at the show.
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Very nice color scheme.
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Chevy logo
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Show car with floor mirror. Note that this show does not feature female attendants, models, or "companions."
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Pretty in pink.
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An Impala even for a little one.
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Lowrider toy cars too.
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Mark of an Impala.
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Bel Air fin
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1972 Buick Riviera, one of my all-time favorites, lowrider or not.
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Such distinctive styling. It's such a huge car, with only two doors.
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1972 Buick Riviera
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"Boat tail" of a 1972 Buick Riviera. They long stopped making cars like this.
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Inside 1972 Buick Riviera
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1967 Buick Riviera looking like a manta ray.1 comments
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In the 1960s and 1970s, cars had distinguishing designs. But today, most cars look almost the same.
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Even the engine is sparkling clean. Is that a gold-plated radiator hose??
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Honda Civic
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Honda Civic, one of the few Japanese cars at the show.
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The highlight of the show was the hydraulics competition where we could see car hopping during most of the day.
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They are measuring the height of the hop.
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This is what a hopping car looks like underneath.
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This one came pretty close to the spectator seats.
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Sexy MC. It was pretty cold that Nov. day.
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A woman car hopper.
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Cadillac
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A double car hop battle.
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Ready to hop
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This guy busted a pipe while hopping.
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Busted pipe leaking.
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Double car hop battle.
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Also see this car hopping with my YouTube video here.
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This car hopped high enough to stand on its rear end to show a holiday greeting.
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The climax was this small truck dancing via remote control. See my YouTube video here.
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Early postcard history: Japan's Postal Service was first established in March 1871. Japan's first postcards, pictured above, were issued in December 1873, a few years after the first postcards were issued in Europe. Click to read more.In 1900, a revision of the postal act allowed private-sector (non-governmental) postcards to be made and used. Picture postcards then became very popular and gave rise to a new postcard culture and a new era in postal history.

The postcards featured a great variety of subjects: Scenics, women, geisha, war, disaster scenes (especially earthquakes), Japanese customs, the Emperor, buildings, animals, etc., etc.

Color printing had not been invented yet so hand-painted postcards became very popular up to around the 1910s when offset printing gradually replaced collotype printing.

In June 1902, the postal service issued its first commemorative picture postcard. It marked the 25th anniversary of Japan's membership in the International Postal Union.

The postal service later issued more commemorative postcards and stamps for other important events and imprinted commemorative postmarks on letters and postcards for the occasion. Especially popular were postcards commemorating triumphs in the Russo-Japanese War during 1904-5 and the enthronement of Emperor Taisho.

During the war with Russia, people lined up all night in front of post offices before new war-related commemorative postcards went on sale. Postcard exchange meetings were held and many collectors had tens of thousands of postcards. However, after the war ended, the postcard boom waned in Japan.

Meanwhile, foreign tourists visiting Japan continued to send souvenir photographs and postcards back home. Because of them, many of the postcards that were published were able to escape and survive the natural (earthquakes) and man-made (World War II) disasters Japan was to experience later on.
Those early postcards became highly collectible overseas and have continued to delight their owners and collectors for over a century.
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Meiji Era postmarks. When you want to know how old your postcard is, the first and obvious thing to do is check the postmark if there is one. A postage stamp or written date in the message are also a great help.Because Japan bases its years on the Emperor's reign (besides using the Western world's Gregorian calendar), the year of the postmark could refer to the Meiji Era (1868-1912), Taisho Era (1912-1926), Showa Era (1926-1989), or the current Heisei Era (1989-present). So if you see "1" as the year, it could be Year 1 of any of these eras (1868, 1912, 1926, or 1989). (See the year conversion table.)

So how do you determine which era the year refers to? In normal Japanese documents, you would see an initial before the year to indicate the era. For example H.1 for Heisei Year 1 (1989). Unfortunately, none of the postmarks provide an initial for the era. But it is not so hard to determine the era.

Look at the postmark images above. The left postmark is in Japanese with the numbers "36-9-12." The first number indicates the year, followed by the month and day. Above the date are the kanji characters for "Yokohama." Below the date is the time the postcard was accepted at the post office (6:20 pm).

Fortunately, right next to this postmark is the English version. The date is September 12, 1903. This matches Year 36 for the Meiji Era in the Japanese postmark. (See the year conversion table.) In case the English postmark were not provided, we could still determine the era. If you look at the year coversion table, you will find that only the Meiji and Showa Eras have a Year 36. Showa 36 is 1961. And if you look at the card and the postage stamp, it is obvious that it is not as recent as 1961, so it must be Meiji 36 (1903).

Now look at the right postmark. This postmark is also in English with the words "Yokohama Japan" in English. The date is "25.2.08." If the postmark has the location name in English, the date's format is day-month-Gregorian year, different from the Japanese postmark. So it is February 25, 1908.

Other tidbits about Japanese postmarks:

- In the early years until 1879, postmarks were used to indicate the date of collection and the date of receipt from out of town. Stamp cancellation marks were also separate from postmarks. They could be a series of dotted lines or text like "Postage Paid" (in Japanese). Some postmarks were square in shape. Each postal district had their own postmark system and style.

- In November 1879, the Communications Office issued official recommendations for postmarks. In September 1888, the name of the local area was included in the postmark. By 1909, postmarks became standardized nationwide.

- Up to September 1912, postcards and letters had two postmarks (except for special mail). One was imprinted when the postcard was mailed (canceling the stamp), and another was imprinted when the postcard was received.

- Until 1911, postmarks were imprinted by hand (at a rate of 100 pieces per minute). Automatic postmarking machines were introduced in this year. At the end of 1919, the latest postmarking machines were imported from America and used in Tokyo.

- Stamp collecting is a major hobby in Japan. All the stamps that have ever been issued are documented in a number of comprehensive Japanese stamp catalogs issued every year. You can identify the issue date of any stamp by referring to the stamp catalog.
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Taisho Era postmark. This is a Japanese postmark with the date reading "2.7.24" and the location being Nikko (read from right to left). The time the postcard was accepted by the post office is indicated below the date.As with Meiji Era Japanese postmarks (see the preceding page), the date is in the year-month-day format. This can't be Meiji 2 (1869, before the Japan Post Office was even established), so it must be Taisho 2 (1913) or Showa 2 (1927). My postage stamp catalog tells me that the postage stamp (Chrysanthemum series) was issued in 1899-1907, so it must be Taisho 2. This is confirmed by the English postmark elsewhere on the card.
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Showa Era postmarks. The Showa Era was 1926 to 1989 (Showa 1 to 64) during the reign of Emperor Hirohito. On the left, you can see a Showa Era postmark (round). Notice how different it looks compared with the hand-stamped Meiji and Taisho Era postmarks.Showa Era postmarks. The Showa Era was 1926 to 1989 (Showa 1 to 64) during the reign of Emperor Hirohito. On the left, you can see a Showa Era postmark (round). Notice how different it looks compared with the hand-stamped Meiji and Taisho Era postmarks (see preceding images). The lines and markings are much thinner, imprinted by a postmarking machine (introduced in Japan at the end of 1919).

The location reads "Shizuoka" (from right to left), and below that is the year 15, then 8.21 (month and day), then the time period (8-12 pm) when the card was mailed. Showa 15 is 1940.

The postage stamp was canceled by a separate canceling mark. The stamp was issued in 1937, proof positive that the card is from the Showa Era.

On the right is a Showa Era postmark too light to be legible. But the stamp tells us the approximate date (around 1937). Also, the kanji characters in red says "Gunji Yubin" which means military mail.
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Heisei Era postmarks. We are currently in the Heisei Era that started in 1989 when Emperor Hirohito died and his son Akihito became the emperor.On the left is a recent postmark. It follows an ideal format. The location (Nakano Kita) is in both Japanese (read from left to right) and English. The year is in both Heisei and Gregorian. The "14" is for Heisei 14 which is 2002. In the middle, the numbers "02.1.5" is for Jan. 1, 2002. And on the right, "8-12" indicates the time period (8 am to 12 noon) when the postcard was mailed. This is nice.

But the postmark on the right is more abbreviated, showing only the location, Heisei year, month, and day.
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Undivided back. The earliest tourist postcards had a picture side and an address side. The message had to be written on the picture side which usually had a large white area to write on (like this postcard).Since the address side was only for the recipient's address, it had no dividing line for the address and message. This was called an undivided back, and this type of postcards were produced between 1900 (Meiji 33) and March 28, 1907 (Meiji 40) in Japan. After this date, the message was allowed to be written on the address side. See the next image.
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Off-center divided back. After March 28, 1907 when the message was allowed to be written on the address side, a dividing line was printed on the address side to separate the message and recipient's address. However...However, this line was not at the center of the card. Only one-third of the card could be used for message writing and the other two-thirds portion was reserved for the name and address. Such postcards with an off-center divider were made between March 28, 1907 (Meiji 40) and March 1, 1918 (Taisho 7). From March 1, 1918, the dividing line was moved to the center of the card. (See the next image.)
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Center divided back. From March 1, 1918, the dividing line moved to the center of the card to separate the message and recipient's address.In this way, if the postcard has no postmark or stamp, you can still estimate the date of the card by checking the address side and see if there is a divider or not, an off-center divider, or a center divider.
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Yubin Hag(k)aki. All postcards were required to bear the words "Yubin Hagaki (or Hakaki)" which means "Post Card." The words appeared on the address side of the card along the right edge of the horizontal card.This string of Japanese kanji characters underwent two changes during Japan's postcard history. (If you don't read Japanese, it might be a little difficult to understand the changes.)

The image above shows a closeup of three postcards. At the top, "Yubin Hakaki" is read from right to left. On February 15, 1933, the word "Hakaki" was changed to read "Hagaki" as shown by the middle card above. Then after World War II ended in 1945, the Japanese reading style from right to left changed to left to right (when written horizontally) similar to English. Japanese captions on the picture side also changed to read from left to right after 1945.

Also note that from July 22, 1905, private postcards were allowed to have a foreign-language designation (i.e. "Carte Postale" or "Post Card") in addition to the Japanese "Yubin hakaki."

On the bottom card, notice the five red boxes. They are for the postal code within Japan. From Feb. 1998, Japan's postal code system was expanded to seven digits. Postcards having seven red boxes were made after Feb 1998. (See next image.)
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New Year's postcard. New Year's postcards are by far the most popular type of postcards in Japan, akin to Christmas cards in the West. The bulk of the cards are delivered on New Year's Day.The bulk of the cards are delivered on New Year's Day, and cards which were sent late arrive during the first week of January. The custom of sending New Year's postcards began almost the same year when postcards were first made in Japan in 1873.

The card above was issued by the Japan Post Office in 2001. This is the address side of the card. The address side is considered to be the front side, and it is designed for the address to be written vertically from top to bottom, right to left. However, there's no problem with writing it horizontally which looks less formal, nor affixing an address label which looks less personal.

The seven red boxes at the top are for the postal code within Japan. Prior to Feb. 1998 when the postal code was expanded to seven digits, there were only five boxes for the postal code. The stamp is already printed on the card on the upper left corner. The price of the card includes the stamp which happens to be the same price as the card. On the bottom right corner is a lottery number for prizes.

Writing New Year's cards can be fun, but for many people it is a time-consuming chore if they do it at all. So it is common now to print out messages and addresses with an ink-jet printer at home. The Japan Post Office even offers New Year's cards made of paper suited for inkjet printing. The inkjet cards make the inkjet printout look a lot better than with cards made of regular paper. If you plan to use an inkjet printer, be sure to purchase the inkjet New Year's cards. Buy them early because they tend to sell out quickly.
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Early postcard image quality. Both images above are magnified by 650%. The top image sample is a collotype image, hand-colored. The photograph in early postcards printed by collotype had very fine grain.However, collotype was not suitable for high-volume printing and it was soon replaced by offset printing from the 1910s.

The bottom image is from a real-photo postcard. It was an actual photograph printed on paper as a postcard. These are easy to recognize with their characteristic sheen or gloss. The grain is the finest of all.
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Later postcard image quality. Offset printing replaced the collotype and color printing came to fore from the 1930s. You can see how the little dots composed the picture. (Magnified by 650%.)
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Oil-painted card of Mt. Fuji. This is my favorite oil-painted postcard in my collection. The artist painted a few other cards like it. The artist's name was not signed, unfortunately. But the painting style is distinct.I can't define what fine art is, but I know it when I see it.
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Oil-painted card of Mt. Fuji 2. Another postcard oil painting of Mt. Fuji.
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"Japs" on hand-painted Mt. Fuji card. The message on this card reads: "Fujiyama, the mt. (mountain) the Japs worship. Been seeing Yokohama in a jinrichisha (rickshaw). Feb. 14."This person apparently learned a few Japanese words like "jinrikisha" which means "human-powered vehicle" that is the rickshaw. And the term "Japs" has been around well before World War II.
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Painting by high school girl? This is my only oil-painted card that has a message and postmark (1910 from Nagasaki). It was addressed to a lady in Alameda, California and says in English that the card was hand painted by a Japanese high school girl.Whether this is true or not, I don't know. But the painting style of this card and the others you see here are the same. (I bought them as a set.)
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Oil-painted card of ocean and mountain. Apparently by the same artist as the preceding card.
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Oil-painted card of river. Apparently by the same artist as the preceding card.
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Oil-painted card of Matsushima. Matsushima is a picturesque group of pine tree islands near Sendai, Miyagi Pref. The island pictured is one of the main islands and a major tourist stop.Along with Amanohashidate in Kyoto and Miyajima in Hiroshima, Matsushima is known as one of the three most famous views of Japan (Nihon Sankei).
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Kameido Tenmangu Shrine, Tokyo. Famous since the Edo Period for wisterias, this shrine has been a popular subject for woodblock artists and early photographers. The wisterias bloom around late April. The shrine is near Kameido Station on the Sobu Line.The shrine is near Kameido Station on the Sobu Line in Tokyo. Hand-colored.
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Tea house garden in Hikone, Shiga. This cozy Japanese garden has tea houses. It is directly behind Hikone Castle in Shiga Prefecture. Hikone Castle was the home of Naosuke Ii, the high official who met Commodore Perry.Today, this garden still looks pretty much the same. It was even used for a garden scene in the TV mini-series "Shogun." See photos here.
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Iris Garden at Horikiri, Tokyo. This card is made of balsa wood. It shows a woman arriving at the garden in a rickshaw. I've seen this photo printed on paper postcards as well. The garden still exists in Tokyo and it's still famous for irises.See photos of the garden today. It's still famous for irises that bloom in June. Hand-colored postcard.
     
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