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134 items found:

Kinoshita Circus. [Kinoshita Dai Sakasu Dan]. n.p. [194-?]. Colour lithograph poster 76x52cm. Au$300

The advertising tax stamp - lower right - dates this between 1942 and 1946; so I'm told. As does the replacement of lions and elephants with a goat. The Kinoshita circus started with the 20th century and is now one of the world's biggest.

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[Kokumin Boku Zufu]. Tokyo, Japan Air Defence Association 1941 (Showa 16) Title or cover leaf, colophon leaf and 35 numbered colour lithograph posters 75x51cm. First two leaves ragged but essentially complete, posters 14 to 25 have a top corner chewed only affecting the numbers and the very corner of the image on four or five. Definitely a used set, with some browning and torn or chipped edges; still a remarkable survival. Each sheet has two punched holes at the top which shows they were cord tied or pinned together and doubtless used for lectures. Au$8500

Apparently a complete set of air defence posters, there is nothing to suggest there were any more. Not being able to find another set anywhere doesn't help. The National Diet Library has a set of 1944 posters which they illustrate on line. There are 38 posters in that set and a contents leaf. A few are much the same as ours but most have been redrawn and reorganised. By 1944 things weren't going so well and the last few posters in that series detail bandages. I found a passing mention of a 1943 set with 37 posters but no details. I can't find any mention of the existence of this set. These were published on the 16th of October, nearly two months before Pearl Harbour when Japan was at war with no-one but China and maybe France - but France didn't really exist anymore.
As far as I'm aware civil defence literature up until this consisted of a small set of quite pretty posters produced in Kyoto, brochures and pamphlets. Civil defence was a matter for local authorities. Didn't the appearance of a big set of air defence posters trigger alarm anywhere? But the US expected Japan to attack closer targets, mainly the Philippines, and maybe poster 2 helped convince them they were right.
With what I have managed to glean of the history of air defence in Japan these brave and bright graphics look much darker.
I can't decide how much of the misleading futility of these is naive optimism and how much is cynical disregard for the people. When the air defence act was passed in 1937 no-one expected any attack from China. The act was more a matter of population control and preparation. Perhaps most brutal was that useful residents were forbidden to evacuate the cities in case of air raids; they were needed for production. They were to stay and fight, with brooms, blankets and buckets if they had to. At HQ the whole population was considered cannon fodder. These regulations were strengthened in late 1941 - just about the time these posters appeared - and again in 1943. This was enforced right until the end.

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Poster. Sasao (?). ... [... Daitoasenso Kansui Yokusan Senkyo]. n.p. [printed by Biseido Insatsu?1942]. Colour poster 77x54cm. Folded and rumpled, a couple of small nicks; with a neat, mysterious diagram drawn in ink on the back. Signed in print Sasao. Au$600

Election poster for the 1942 general election reminding everyone to get out on April 30, vote for their endorsed candidate and ensure victory in the great Asian war. Though the whole business was meant to ensure that only endorsed Yokusan candidates could run I was surprised to find that more unendorsed than endorsed candidates ran for parliament and quite a few of them were elected. Of course that made no real difference to the running of the government and the war but it must have irked the military.

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Minamimura Takashi. [Jido Taiho-ki]. Original illustration for a double page spread in Shonen magazine. n.p. [195-?] Illustration in ink and gouache on two cards, each 32x22cm. Tape marks on the backs. Au$500

Minamimura is best known for his outer space and apocalyptic monster and alien illustrations but it's clear he could work happily with any new wizzbang invention. And what could be better than this FBI automatic crook catcher for banks? How many bank robbers would it catch before they stood a foot or two to the right?

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Wada Sanzo. Wood Block Hand Prints - Japanese Life and Customs - A set of six pictures by Sanzo Wada. [aka , Showa Occupations or Japanese Vocations in Pictures]. Kyoto Hanga-In [195-?]. Publisher's patterned board folder (24x30cm) with illustrated label; six colour woodcut prints, loose as issued. A scratch to the label, an excellent copy, the prints bright and fine. This contains the flower sellers, the fortune teller, the weavers, the soba vendor, the komuso, and the farming family. Au$450

In the late thirties Wada gathered an in-house team of woodblock cutters and printers and began work on a projected series of 100 prints recording occupations in his changing Japan. Some were traditional and vanishing and some were the product of modern industrialised Japan. From here we can see that some of those modern jobs barely lasted out the century. The prints began appearing in 1939 and struggled on until 1943 when two series totalling 48 prints had appeared. After the war the project was resurrected by the Kyoto Hanga-In and a third series of 24 prints appeared from 1954 to 56. They also re-did earlier prints from new blocks; the originals had been destroyed.
According to Ross Walker (Ohmi Gallery), the owners of Kyoto Hanga-In told him that they could not afford too many cherry woodblocks so their blocks for the prints of the fifties were planed and re-used and nothing before 1960 survives. This album is obviously for foreign consumption and contains six prints from the first and second series. The paper size is smaller than the separately issued prints but the quality of printing is no less, often better than copies of the separate prints I've seen. The colours are strong and vibrant and the extra embossing that is such an important part of the print - and can't be seen in reproduction - is deep and crisp where used. These copies aren't lettered or signed, one has the artist's seal. I've traced two other sets and both hold the same six prints but small variations in the prints and signatures occur in all.
Wada's drawings have a modest charm and get better the more you look at them. The best may not hold your gaze at first but after a while you realise that they are the work of a great master of observation and deceptively simple expression.

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Film - lobby card. Guerra Entre Planetas - Battle in Outer Space. n.p. [1959/60]. Colour poster 26x37cm. A small hole, a rather good copy. Au$150

Spanish language lobby card for the Japanese sci-fi thriller Uchu Daisenso released in English as Battle in Outer Space. This was no low budget shocker. This was a high budget, special effects extravaganza shocker with an international cast - at least three or four American hacks were in it. This is my favourite of the various posters and lobby cards I've seen - the Japanese and American versions tried too hard to make the movie big budget serious.

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Minamimura Takashi. Original illustration for a double page spread in Shonen magazine. n.p. c1960? Illustration in ink and watercolour on two sheets of card, each 27x18cm with most of the right panel cut away for the text block. Taped onto a translucent sheet; a couple of editorial notes. Au$600

Minamimura is best known for his outer space and apocalyptic monster and alien illustrations but destruction by any high-tech means was right up his alley. Here is a fine bit of cold war Japanese atomic apocalypse art by one of the masters. Forget the background geography, that's Tokyo Tower crumpling. Tokyo Tower and the first successful intercontinental missile flight both date to 1958.

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Commercial Art. An album or sample book of Japanese packaging, labels, brochures and suchlike. c.1960-70. Oblong quarto by size (185x260mm); 81 double folded leaves fastened together with a pin system, of which 59 leaves are crowded, both sides, with mounted labels, packaging, brochures, leaflets, etc. Au$250

Quite recent but nonetheless a very attractive gathering of Japanese commercial graphics and printing of the sixties and maybe early seventies (the only dated piece is for Expo 70. The album itself has been made up by someone in the trade: the double folded leaves are all from multiple copies of the blank back side of a magazine cover or poster - it features a Japanese baseball player by the look of it - but this is as close as I can get to claiming that this is a sample book put together by the printer of its contents. The materials range from the cardboard of packaging to cellophane to rice paper, just as the styles range from classical subtlety to the raucus and crass.

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Kanban. LEVY, Dana. Kanban. Shop Signs of Japan. NY, Weatherhill 1983. Quarto, still new in publisher's cloth and dustwrapper; 169pp, 106 photo illustrations (many colour). Au$100

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