Unpinning History : Japanese Posters in the Age of Commercialism, Imperialism, and Modernism

Chochiku wa ne no gotoku, heiwa wa hana no gotoshi, Teishin-shō [Saving is like roots, Peace is like flowers, Ministry of Communications]

This poster was designed by Sugiura Hisui for the Ministry of Communications’ Postal Savings Bank. As a pioneering graphic designer in Japan, Hisui worked to embrace both traditional and western art as well as modern design within his works. Traces of these styles can be seen in the colors, typography, and the overall visual effect of the poster. The poster aimed to promote awareness among the Japanese population about frugality through the depiction of lily flowers. At first glance, the poster appears to have no connection with money-saving; only after reading the slogan are viewers informed about what is advertised here. Hisui uses a genderless and ageless subject to address everyone rather than targetting an audience like Okano’s poster for the same ministry. Using symbolism such as the color of the rising sun and unification at the root, the poster works as soft propaganda. (Sally Guo)

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