Meiji-Heisei Period of Meguro on a Timeline (QR Code #6)

History of Meguro

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Imagine a rural landscape with red brick buildings, factory smoke stacks, and water supply and sewage systems. Such a scene would depict the modernization of Meguro.

When the city of Edo became the new capital of modern Japan—and had its name changed to Tokyo—Meguro’s landscape, which was still largely rural, began to rapidly urbanize and change into the modern city we know today. Much of this change was due to the development of modern transportation and communication systems, and the establishment of electric and water systems—all of which dramatically changed the everyday lives of people living there.

In this section, we will learn about the history of Meguro spanning the Meiji, Taisho, Showa, and Heisei periods, giving special attention to the landscape from those times and the customs of everyday life and society with the help of chronological tables, valuable photographs, historical records, and household items.

Meguro, the city which grew dramatically from a village into a modern municipality, will undoubtedly continue to see progress in the years to come.

Meiji Era (1868-1912)


Milestones of modernization in Meguro included the installation of military facilities; the Meguro horserace track; the opening of Yakumo and Sugekari Elementary Schools and Komaba Agricultural School; establishment of law-enforcement organizations; improvement of the fire-fighting system; creation of a brewery industry; and the development of waterwheel-powered industries.

Taisho Era (1912-1926)

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During the Taisho Period, the bamboo groves and farmlands of Meguro became a refuge for many people who were affected by the Great Kanto Earthquake, thereby transforming Meguro from a rural area into a residential area. In addition, the accelerated pace of population increase due to the opening of the railway pushed Meguro toward further urbanization.

Showa Era (1926-1989)

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During the Showa Period, the residents of Meguro experienced occasional hardships, such as mass evacuations and city fires. (30% of Meguro-ku was burned down.) Yet, in spite of these difficulties, they made every effort to cooperate with each other—families and neighbors—to survive the hardships of wartime society. After WWII, Meguro residents started afresh from the ruins of war and made remarkable contributions to Japan’s astonishing postwar recovery. Using the Tokyo Olympics as a spur to further modernization, Meguro-ku transformed its dusty roads into major streets and avenues for urban transport and developed many high-rise buildings. As a result, by the end of the Showa Period Meguro had undergone far-reaching urbanization in nearly every aspect of its municipality.

Heisei Era (1989-present)


As urbanization progressed even further during the Heisei Period, various issues and challenges emerged. It is no surprise that the values and lifestyles of Meguro’s residents have been greatly affected by the deluge of new social and environmental issues that challenge urban residents of Japan everywhere.