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

Man-Sen e! Shina e!: Man-Sen Shina no kenkyū wa shūbi no kyū, ikken wa hyakubun ni masaru [Hōten [Fengtian] West Pagoda]

This poster, printed following the Japanese annexation of Korea and regions of Manchuria and Northern China, advertises the South Manchuria Railway Company. The combination of painted image, map, and especially text encourages viewers to explore the cultural treasures of the newly colonized lands of Japan. The Tibetan Buddhist pagoda featured prominently in the central panel was modeled after the Hōten West Pagoda in Manchuria, and is painted in the yōga, or Western-style, featuring heightened levels of realism. The artist, Mayama Kōji, was the company’s in-house painter-designer; his signature can be found on the bottom left corner of the painted section. The map below shows the routes of the railway through Korea and Manchuria and also a world without borders available for the enjoyment of the Japanese public. This, along with the text that speaks of the colonies and their cultures like objects of study, reflects the imperialist attitude of the rising ultranationalist movement within Japan toward the end of the Taishō period (1912–1926) and particularly the early Shōwa period (1926–1989). (Cole Sweetwood)

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