Vintage Japanese Industrial Expo posters


Grand Exposition in Commemoration of the Imperial Coronation – Kyoto, 1928 (click to see more posters & for more information.)

One of my favorite thing about the interwebs is stumbling onto incredible things that I would otherwise never see. Recently I came across the Pink Tentacle’s fantastically beautiful blog post featuring Vintage Japanese posters produced for several different industrial expositions throughout the late 1930’s and into the early 1940’s.

I can’t gush adequately or explain my fascination with propaganda in general, let alone describe the thrill of looking at poster art such as these pieces. They are just stunning. I really love the ways that the themes and imagery run from incredibly dark, heavy serious (much like the word “industry” can conjure such connotations as well) such as the two examples below:

National Defense Science Exposition – Hyogo, 1941 (click to see more posters & for more information.)

The above being especially chilling given that the imagery evokes Japanese-American connection to each other and WWII via Pearl Harbor both in theme and the year of the Japanese National Defense Science  Exposition, 1941.

Japan-Manchuria Industrial Exhibition – Toyama, 1936 (click to see more posters & for more information.)

Or, a much ligher aspect of “industry” can be called forth, as in the Tourism Industry Expo poster seen here, where even a Buck might be enticed into playing tourist:

Tourism Industry Exhibition – Nara, 1933 (click to see more posters & for more information.)

And here is an interesting combination of both heavy, militaristic and mythologically represented industries in the form of a Sea & Air Expo:

Sea and Air Exhibition – Tokyo, 1930 (click to see more posters & for more information.)

Beyond the heavily represented military-based industries & expositions, of which there seem to have been numberous. Check out the poster  for an exhibition for the Second Sino-Japanese War below, which weirdly had only begun the year previous to this Expo’s poster and continued on for another 7 years:

Second Sino-Japanese War Exhibition – Osaka, 1938 (click to see more posters & for more information.)

There were also some really lovely commemorative exposition posters produced for potentially simpler and more peaceful (t0 a degree) endeavors like the new (at that time) Hakata port construction, an international gateway port for centuries in Japan:

Exposition Commemorating the Construction of Hakata Port – Fukuoka, 1936 (click to see more posters & for more information.)

And then finally, there are some posters whose lettering just really catches my eye. No, I read no Japanese and don’t know a thing of Kanji. Even so, I find the idea of reading letters a pretty amazing feat as they rarely formed the same way twice when rendered by hand or in different fonts and lettering style. When you stop & think about it, it’s practically a miracle that humans read really. Case in point, the lettering examples below are so stylized and almost wrought with objects and illustration or have parts of the illustration itself crossing into the formation of the letterforms, that even I can see how non-traditionally styled they are:

Nagoya Pan-Pacific Peace Exposition – Nagoya, 1937 (click to see more posters & for more information.)

The National Products Progress Exhibition – Kagoshima, 1931 (click to see more posters & for more information.)

Above all else, I am in love with the colors, opacity & transparencies and relationships of shapes in all of these posters. They are just phenomenal. Thanks to Pink Tentacle for posting so many and feeding my eyes. To see more posters, visit the always interesting Pink Tentacle blog here or click on any of the images above. And as always, feel free to comment!

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