The Psychogenealogist Pic of the Week (#4)

Every Friday The Psychogenealogist shares a "pic of the week." The intent is to provoke thought and imagination about the spaces where psychology, genealogy, and history converge.

The Pic of the Week for January 27, 2017 comes from a random stash of old photographs that I picked up on Ebay. It appears to be from someone's personal collection. The image of the building grabbed my attention and I decide to investigate.

Here is a pic of what appears to be the Hotel Rakuyo. I knew nothing about it.


Hotel Rakuyo

Hotel Rakuyo

A quick Google search suggests the Hotel Rakuyo it is/was a hotel near Kyoto, Japan. Here is a postcard image I found on eBay of the same building from a different angle.


And here is another photo posted on Flickr from what appears to be another personal account.

The notes connected to this third photo state that, "supposedly, the name of the hotel was changed to the Kyoto Station hotel in 1955 (, but according to Tom's pictures, this was in 1957." It is from large and very neat gallery entitled "Tom's Japan, 1957: pictures that Tom Brackett took while stationed at Taipei or in Japan, mostly in 1957"

The first picture struck me as very personal. This was a picture of a visitor, likely from a balcony of a nearby building. Who took the picture? What was he or she doing there?

As you dig through old photos that you come across, whether yours or strangers, ask yourself:

  • Why was this person in this place at this time?
  • What was going on politically and socially?
  • What about the scene compelled the person to take the picture?
  • What feeling do you have as you examine the photo?
  • What more would you like to know?
  • If it is stranger's photo: How did this picture end up in my possession? 

These are just a few questions to stir your imagination as you think about your own (and others') psychology, genealogy, and history. I often wonder about the last question, especially when I find old family photos that have found their way into estate sales or eBay auctions. There's both an excitement about what the photos might reveal, but also a sadness that they've been separated from the people who took them. 

Do you have an old photograph with a story that you would like to share? I am happy to consider guest submissions for possible Pic of the Week posts in the future. Send an email to for more information.