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

Dai Nippon Seitō Kōshi [Japan Sugar Co.]

This Dai Nippon Seitō Kōshi sugar refinery advertisement showcases a bijin—a beautiful woman who appeals to audiences at home and in foreign territories—to capture the spirit of the thriving commercial culture during the Taishō period (1912-1926). Her kimono features patterns of sugarcanes and seigaiha—waves that promise good fortune in business. In addition, the company’s Chinese name, as well as the Chinese inscriptions praising the product on the stone stanchions, indicate foreign trade routes, including China and Taiwan, the latter of which served as Japan’s major producer of sugarcane. The scenery behind her draws the viewer’s gaze to the Moji factory and the figures hard at work transporting goods on and off the boats. Furthermore, the red and light roses in her hand mimic her crimson lips and her porcelain skin. The stark contrast of red and white also acts as a callback to the company’s rose-marked bag of cane sugar. These subtle yet discernible visual marketing strategies of Dai Nippon Seitō Kōshi sugar refinery entice viewers and advertise the superior quality of their product. (Alexia Nutting and Christina Yoo)

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