Finding Face: Japanese Type and Letters

These are faces that were lost and found again. In the Deco ’30s, prior to the outbreak of World War II, Japan was a thriving commercial and consumerist society. The Japanese type developed from classic characters was consistent with the Art Moderne trends in the Western nations, which was an advertising, poster and packaging style in Tokyo.

Graphic design was big business too. As an offshoot of the Japanese Association for Commercial Art, the leading professional design magazine, Commercial Art (Shogyo bijutsu), was produced. Also established was a research center for the study and propagation of modern graphic design, which published a series of volumes, Gendai shogyo bijustsu zenshu, showcasing various aspects of design, including type, posters, store display, advertisements and more. The specimens here are from these sources.


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Shampoo poster (1932) designed by Masanori Okuda.

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Poster for new Tokyo subway (1927) designed by Hisui Sugiuro.

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