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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 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.
"Sights and Sounds of Kyoto, Japan, 1929" - rare early sound footage of daily life in Japan.
The Sannō Festival, June 15th (1930s promotional calendar, Fujiya Hotel). The Sannō Shrine palanquin is "tossed about in the liveliest of manners and often boisterously along the street . . ." It's believed that one can foretell the year's rice crop by how the palanquin is carried: too chaotic, and the rice crop will fail (according to the calendar's explanation on the back of the illustration). June's blooming flower is the lovely iris, which starts to pop up in May. 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
May is for celebrating the Boy's Festival (Tango no sekku), when carp streamers are displayed on long poles outdoors (it's as if they are swimming upstream in the wind), and wisteria, peony, and azalea bloom in Japan (1930s Fujiya Hotel promotional calendar, illustration for the month of May.)
Japan as destination in 20th century visual and material culture.
The World's Fair in a Nutshell
Chocolat d'Aiguebelle "The Russo-Japanese War" Trade Cards
Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition Button Pin
Come Back to Bamboo Land