33 Eye-Opening Historical Photos Of Japan After World War II

Life in postwar Japan, a period that officially lasted from 1945 to 1952, was tumultuous to say the least, as the country rocketed from a state of complete destruction and defeat to a lively hive of black market activity and nascent organized crime organizations to, finally, a burgeoning global economic powerhouse. The photos on this list, which span 1945 to about 1950, illustrate the meteoric rise of new Japan, and give some indication of what life was like in Japan after World War II. 

Surely you already know some stuff you'll find here - the devastation left in Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the atomic bombs, for instance. You'll see what Tokyo looked like after fire bombing raids that destroyed huge portions of the city, and photos of discharged Japanese soldiers on their way home. Among the most historically significant images of Japan after World War II contained herein are those of Hirohito meeting crowds of Japanese citizens, at which point an emperor considered a god by man was humanized by an expression of tremendous humility.

Explore 1940s Japan in all its tragedy and glory; these historical photos of Japan immediately after the devastating loss of World War II lay bare the psychology of defeat by visualizing the complete, brutal destruction of so many cities. Though some of these photos were taken before Japan announced their on August 15, 1945, they do a great job of illustrating what life was like on the ground immediately after the war ended. 

Photo: Corbis Historical / Corbis via Getty Images