Osaka Shosen Kaisha Poster

Special Collections

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Ōsaka Shōsen Kaisha (Osaka Mercantile Steamship Co., Ltd. [Dōjōji]), 1921, is a poster by the female artist Kitani Chigusa from USC Libraries’ Japanese Poster Collection. The poster features traditional Japanese subject matter in the form of a beautiful woman (bijin), with bold, bright colors, mixed with English writing and a Western calendar. It is therefore emblematic of the cultural landscape of early twentieth century Japan in which tradition and modernity intermixed.

Other posters in this collection represent the cultural shifts and trends of the Taishō (1912-1926) and early Shōwa (1926-1989) periods in Japan, some examples are in the gallery below. The subject matter includes the following topics: Japanese products and design; railways, ocean liners and tourism; Japanese art and design exhibitions; Japanese imperial modernity (including colonies in Korea, Manchuria, and northeastern China); and Japanese Ministry and Telecommunications campaigns. Most of the posters were produced using the offset lithographic printing technique. They were created by prominent designers, commissioned by large Japanese corporations and government ministries, and produced by Japan's major offset printing companies. 

For more information see Unpinning History: Japanese Posters in the Age of Commercialism, Imperialism, and Modernism, a digital exhibition of posters from the collection curated by Dr. Rika Hiro and students from AHIS 387 "Later Japanese Art" in Spring, 2020.