Re-Envisioning Japan is an open-ended recuperative project based on an original collection of tourism, travel and educational ephemera in a wide range of media. Most of the objects in the collection are common use items; they all document personal experience, cross-cultural encounters, and changing representations of Japan and its place in the world in the early to mid 20th century. read more
This illustration for November, in a 1930s Fujiya Hotel promotional calendar, highlights the “Shichigosan” Festival, in honor of 3- and 7-year-old girls and 5-year-old boys. It is held on Nov. 15th, when the children wear their best to visit a neighborhood shrine, express gratitude to have reached these ages, and pray for healthy and prosperous growth under the protection of the shrine’s deity. The red maple leaves and chrysanthemum reflect the autumn season. The rakes carried in the background, decorated with good-luck symbols, symbolize gathering in all good things. See the calendar at https://rej.lib.rochester.edu/ University of Rochester River Campus Libraries Special Collections at the University of Rochester River Campus Libraries
This illustration for the month of October (1930s Fujiya Hotel promotional calendar) features “Ebisu,” one of Japan's Seven Gods of Fortune. It is said that in the 10th month (October), when Japan’s Eight Million Deities assembled at Izumo Shrine to discuss their important affairs, Ebisu was too busy fishing to notice. He never looks sorry to have missed out. As the patron of fishermen, he is always shown with a fishing rod, a red sea bream, and a broad grin. The seasonal offerings here include chrysanthemum, fresh sea bream, and Asian pears. See the whole calendar at https://rej.lib.rochester.edu/ University of Rochester River Campus Libraries Special Collections at the University of Rochester River Campus Libraries
Another month and another selection from the 1930s promotional calendar for the Fujiya Hotel in Miyanoshita, Japan (in operation since the late 19th century). The “September” illustration features moon-viewing (tsukimi 月見). According to the description, records of moon-viewing (imported from China) date back to parties at the Imperial Court in the 9th century. There are two events, one in September and one in October. For the September event, “it is generally believed that a girl of fifteen, in whose honor this celebration is held, will have a successful future if she can thread a needle in the moonlight of this particular evening.” Russet leaves, muted colors, and the offering of persimmons, rice cakes, and chestnuts reflect seasonal change. The fan, held casually in hand, hints at the lingering warmth and relaxed pace of late summer. See the whole calendar at https://rej.lib.rochester.edu/ University of Rochester River Campus Libraries Special Collections at the University of Rochester River Campus Libraries
This illustration for August (in a 1930s promotional calendar for Fujiya Hotel, Miyanoshita) is contemplative. This is strange because of the subject, the explosive summer fireworks display that occurs annually over the Sumida River in Tokyo. Today, the festival, known as the Sumidagawa Hanabi Taikai (隅田川花火大会), is held on the last Saturday in July, but it dates back to at least the early 18th century. By 1810 it was known as Ryōgoku Kawabiraki (両国川開き), which is how it is referred to in the caption for this illustration. Apparently, in the 1930s the festival was still held in August. The names of the pyrotechnics listed as popular at the time include sky-rockets, catherines, comets, descending dragons, revolving-wheels, weeping willows, golden pheasants, and --curiously--set pieces referring to current events, “such as the Three Human Bombs of the Shanghai Incident, a battle ship, a triumphal gate, etc.” In August, lotus blossoms (visible here in the lower left corner) are in full bloom. According to the calendar, people visit Shinobazu Pond (in Tokyo’s Ueno Park) at dawn in August, to hear the flowers open. See the whole calendar at https://rej.lib.rochester.edu/ University of Rochester River Campus Libraries Special Collections at the University of Rochester River Campus Libraries
This illustration for the month of July, from a ca. 1930s Fujiya Hotel promotional calendar, depicts Tanabata (the Star Festival) and Bon-Odori dancers. Tanabata marks the once-a-year rendezvous of Orihime (the celestial weaver, Vega) and Hikoboshi (the celestial cowherd, Altair)--two lovers otherwise separated by the Milky Way. People write wishes, often poetically, on slips of paper that they tie to bamboo branches along with other colorful decorations. Summer festival dances called Bon-Odori take their name from the O-bon festival that marks the temporary return of the spirits of departed loved ones. Notice the summer lilies, the flower of the month, at the bottom of the frame--a counterpoint to two festivities that celebrate a welcome meeting and wistful parting, a convergence of Love and Death at summer’s peak. Fujiya Hotel, in operation for over 100 years, is advertised on the paper lantern.
Japan as destination in 20th century visual and material culture.