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

Shinshin chinka Kattoru/Cuttle [Brand-new snack Cuttle Fish]

Kattoru is a poster-ad which the Chidori-ya company employed to rebrand dried cuttlefish, a traditional Japanese delicacy, into a new, modern snack. Kattoru appealed to the emerging young and Western-centric moga (modern girls) and mobo (modern boys) who strayed away from tradition. One tactic Chidori-ya employed was a bright red English “CUTTLE” header. The idea was for a passersby to read the English, associate the traditional product with the West, and redefine the product’s “Japaneseness.” The same red print also matches the red snack packaging the cuttlefish is holding, which uncoincidentally, was designed to look like a popular boxed Morinaga milk caramel (to appeal to children) as well as a cigarette box (to mirror the growing interest in smoking amongst moga and mobo). Similarly, the blue graphic Kattoru characters are a fun revamped version of traditional more block-like katakana script. Then, the yellow emblem, which especially stands out against the opposite-colored blue background, further supports moga and mobo’s “rebellious” lifestyle. It advertises that the “modern” snack pairs well with a night out drinking—another reason why some older, conservative people found moga and mobo to be “degenerative.” However, the same emblem also promotes the nutritional value, presumably for children, and claims how good the snack goes with tea, possibly for an older audience. Thus, this poster may look modern, but Chidori-ya makes sure to subtly think of their other audience—primarily, older people and families. Ultimately, the Kattoru poster represents a larger societal dilemma between modernity and tradition. (Kelli Reitzfeld)

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