Unpinning History: Japanese Posters in the Age of Commercialism, Imperialism, and ModernismMain MenuIntroductionJapan in the Age of Commercialism, Imperialism, and ModernismThe Rise of Tourism and the Era of Ocean LinersThe Rise of Tourism and the Development of Railway NetworksProvocation of Citizenship: Posters for the Ministry of CommunicationsExhibition CultureBijin: Posters with a Beautiful WomanArrival of Modern Commercial DesignBibliographyCollection NoteReuse and Remix this Exhibition
Tajima, Making Beauty, 20-33; and Naoi, 28.
12020-05-01T15:04:01-07:00Anne-Marie Maxwell326ac6eff123bb3f77fb517c66299be8b435b479371402plain2020-05-06T16:49:37-07:00Rika Hiroa7d304a4e042125c916f0732fd77fbe42f9203aaTajima, Making Beauty, 20-33; and Naoi, 28.
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12020-04-10T14:48:03-07:00Bijin: Posters with a Beautiful Woman37image_header2020-05-07T23:02:12-07:00 Early posters in Japan leaned toward the subject of bijin, or a beautiful woman, because she had a universal appeal. In the Taishō period, women became important consumers and producers of modern fashion and lifestyle. Thus, bijin posters often reflected newness and modern taste—through hairstyles, Western accessories, unconventional kimono designs, or dynamic actions. Simultaneously, the image of bijin provoked nostalgia as a foundation of the beautiful and conventional Japan in a rapidly modernizing society.
Additionally, an image of beauty is one of the established pictorial genres in East Asia. In Japan, ukiyo-e woodblock prints of famous courtesans or “poster girls” of teahouses, as seen in the works of Suzuki Harunobu, for example, popularized the genre. Technically, early bijin posters often involved preparing numerous hand-drawn color plates—as many as thirty or more in some cases—as opposed to contemporaneous posters in the West, which generally required four or five plates. This was, in part, to meet viewers’ expectations of bijinpictures in richly colored kimono and accessories contrasted by flawless complexions and dark hair. Such images were attained only by the mastery of print engineers (gakō) and commissioners’ abundant budgets. The selections here represent the result: posters for large corporations that marked Japan’s industrialization, such as steamship and sugar companies, and the Nippon Sake Brewery’s poster referring to a special event, the Enthronement of the Emperor. (Rika Hiro)