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

South Manchuria Railway: Most important link between the Far East and Europe [Fuling Mausoleum]

Depicted in yōga style, or Western painting technique, Mayama Kōji’s poster incorporates ethnically diverse elements under the oversight of the South Manchurian Railway Co. Following the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895) and the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905), Japan gathered railway rights in the Korean Peninsula and southern branch of the Chinese Far East Railway, respectively. The South Manchuria Railway Co. was established as a result of these territorial expansion plans. Using light brushwork echoing that of impressionist painters in the West, Mayama depicts The Fuling Tomb, the mausoleum of the founding emperor of the Qing dynasty in Shenyang of northeastern China. Shenyang, or Mukden, as it was known to local Manchurians, was the site of the decisive battle in 1905 through which Japan seized the territorial rights to operate the South Manchuria Railway. The imperialist message is reinforced by the emptiness and desolation of the scene depicted; by depriving the Manchurian landscape of its humanity and focusing on the monument in the past, colonialist power is preemptively excused of the atrocities they would go on to commit. (Amanda Douglas and Cole Sweetwood) 

Curator's Note: To read more about the Fuling Tomb, see Yosano Akiko's Travelogue entry

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