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Four original designs for fans. n.p. [c1918]. Watercolour, gouache, pencil and collaged photographs (with some hand tinting) on paper, each about 53cm long. One with the date Taisho 7 (1918) and an undeciphered inscription. Au$375

Kitsch without question. But intriguing and somehow charming kitsch mixing as it does mawkish nostalgia with the thoroughly up to date techniques of photo collage and airbrush. Not to mention beach bunnies. I do wonder whether the woman in the two profile portraits is a celebrity.
I'm sure purposeful kitsch was not a new arrival in Japan come the 20th century but certainly there was an avalanche of stuff like this and even more that makes these positively chic.


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Kawabata Ryushi. 少年未来旅行双六 [Shonen Mirai Ryoko Sugoroku]. Tokyo, Nihon Shonen 1918 (Taisho 7). Colour broadside 78x54cm. Some repaired tears and small holes. Not bad for a sugoroku printed on less than robust paper. Au$750

The New Year gift from the boy's magazine Nihon Shonen. A view of travel in the future, this is among my favourites of the travel adventure sugoroku and hard to find in anything like one piece. Doubtless it was a favourite with many others too.
Kawabata did several of the best, most captivating, sugoroku of the period. His career took a curious turn during a 1913 stay in America to study western painting. Apparently he was so impressed with the Japanese art he saw in Boston he switched to being a Nihonga painter. Still, he remained being an illustrator for magazines for quite some time. As did most of the early to mid 20th century artists now revered.


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Hani Motoko. 家庭開運双六 [Katei Kaiun Sugoroku]. Tokyo, Fujin no Tomo 1918 (Taisho 7). Colour broadsheet 55x79cm. A few pinholes, a pretty good copy. sold

I can't decipher the artist's name and the few mentions of this game I've found don't help. I suspect it is the work of a triumvirate.
At first glance one of many such maps of a woman's life when she behaves as she should: quiet, industrious, obedient and decorative - but this has some strange elements. Among them are the money lender casting the shadow of a pig, disapproval, despair, Noah and his ark, all finishing in a glade swarming with cherubs - or are they putti?
Surely cherubs. Motoko Hani - founder of Fujin no Tomo (Women's Friend) - whose name appears as 'author' of this game - was Christian. She was a feminist, a keen purveyor of home economics and a Christian.


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Akashi Seiichi. 子だから双六 [Kodakara Sugoroku]. Tokyo, Fujin Sekai 1919 (Taisho 8). Colour printed broadsheet 54x79cm. A bit used, some browning and a couple of small holes in folds; pretty good. Au$300

The new year gift from the magazine Fujin Sekai - Woman's World - is a colourful hymn to the joys of having children.


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Morita Hisashi. 世界夢旅行双六 [Sekai Yume Ryoko Sugoroku]. Tokyo, Sekai Shonen 1919 (Taisho 8). Colour broadside 79x54cm. Used with several tears in folds and an old repair. Au$100

A good sugoroku but not a great copy, this dream adventure was the new year gift from the boys' magazine Sekai Shonen.
Morita was a busy illustrator and art director for the Takarazuka Revue through the twenties.


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百万弗の懸賞 $100000 Reward [Hyakumandoru no Kensho]. Tokyo, Shunkodo 1920 (Taisho 1920). Octavo publisher's illustrated wrapper printed in red and black and colour illustrated dustwrapper (the spine of this insect nibbled); two photo plates and illustrated title. Stab holes indicating this had been in some outer binding; natural browning of the paper; an outstanding copy.
An owner's seal and brushed inscription inside the front cover and on the back cover suggests this is some kind of file copy. Au$475

A pulpish film edition in Japanese of the 1920 serial thriller $1,000,000 Reward starring Lillian Walker. The film itself is lost and from what I can figure out not much more than production credits and a partial list of chapter headings survives in English. This book is near as lost, I can find only one record of another copy - not in a library. No, I can't explain the blackface.


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Yamada Takanori. 少年野球双六 [Shonen Yakyu Sugoroku]. Tokyo, Shonen Sekai 1921 (Taisho 10). Colour broadside 55x79cm. Used, a bit rumpled and browned with some short tears and a small chip in the margin. This is - some mitigation - an untrimmed copy with ample margins and trim marks in the top margin. Not bad. Au$500

An early and rare baseball sugoroku, this was the new year gift from the boys' magazine Shonen Sekai. Baseball has cameos in earlier games but I haven't yet found an earlier sugoroku devoted to it.


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見えざる手 [Miezaru Te] The Invisible Hand. Tokyo, Shunkodo 1921 (Taisho 10). Octavo publisher's colour colour illustrated wrapper; four photo illustrations on two plates. Stab holes indicating this had been in some outer binding; natural browning of the paper; an outstanding copy. Au$400

A pulpish film edition in Japanese of the 1920 Vitagraph serial thriller The Invisible Hand starring the then Latin idol Antonio Moreno. The serial was not, despite what some authorities will tell you, a western. The film itself is lost and from what I can figure out not much more than production credits and a list of chapter headings survives in English. This book is near as lost, I can't find any record of another copy.


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Exhibition - Tokyo 1922. 平和紀念博覧會全景及び東京名所 [Heiwa Kinen Hakurankai Zenkei Oyobo Tokyo Meisho]. Tokyo, 1922 (Taisho 11). Colour lithograph 27x79cm. Folds, a few small nicks around the edges; quite good. sold

A splendidly cheap and nasty view of the Tokyo Peace Memorial Exposition - what it lacks in register accuracy is more than made up for in intensity. The 1922 Peace Memorial Exhibition, celebrating the League of Nations and a bright future, was the most lavish national Expo ever held. The pavilions were a mix of stately, ultra modern and funfair fairy tale and the sea plane was a hit.


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Exhibition - Tokyo 1922. 平和記念東京博覧会事務報告 [Heiwa Kinen Tokyo Hakurankai Jimu Hokoku]. Tokyo Fucho 1924 (Taisho 13). Two volumes 26x19cm, publisher's embossed wrappers; 681pp, heaps of illustrations: folding colour plans, architectural elevations and plans, photo plates, etc. Minor browning, less than expected from the paper; corners bumped, hinges of the wrapppers with short tears at the ends; a rather good fresh copy. sold

The official report on the 1922 Tokyo Memorial Peace Exposition is the very model of what an official report on an exhibition should be. You could just about rebuild the whole thing from this. The detail extends to measured drawings of light fittings, plans of the garden beds and coloured reproductions of the tickets and advertising.


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Metrication. 統一されたメートル法 [Toitsu Sa Reta Metoru-ho]. Tokyo, Asahi Graphic 1923 (Taisho 12). Colour poster 53x38cm. Au$90

Handy educational tool for the imminent establishment of the metric system as Japan's official system of measurement. Up until then metric, imperial and traditional measures were legal. It was proposed to make a gradual change over ten years so by the thirties the nationalistic backlash meant that it was all postponed again. And again. The American occupation forces cared nothing for metrics and it was the mid sixties before everybody was up to scratch.


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汽車と乗物 [Kisha to Norimono]. Osaka, Okamoto Zoshindo 1923 (Taisho 12). 17x18cm publisher's colour illustrated wrapper; [12]pp including wrapper, eight full page illustrations inside. The back wrapper - which is flimsier paper - is browned and creased; a pretty good copy. Au$150

Machines and people on the move - what better subject for a book? Better quality than the really cheap akahon (red books) for kids that came out of Osaka but not a lot.


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Yamada Seijiro [ed]. 大江橋淀屋橋意匠設計図案集 [Oebashi Yodoyabashi Isho Sekkei Zuanshu]. Osaka, Shiyakusho Mikuraban 1924 (Taisho 13) Folio, 40x27cm, loose as issued in card portfolio with mounted label (a bit worn with some short tears); 36 leaves: a wrapper-like title, three leaves of text and 49 illustrations on 32 plates - perspectives, elevations, plans &c. Au$875

The three winning designs and five honourable mentions for the competition for a new bridge - or pair of bridges - to flank the brand new Osaka city hall. That impressive pile was demolished by Godzilla in 1955 and by the city in the 1980s.
The winner, Otani Tatsuo, did design the built bridges but as is the way with competitions nothing as splendid - nor as peculiar - as these designs was built. What is there seems a drab, if dignified, patchwork of the least expressive particulars of more than one design. It took thirty years to get around to it, finished in 1954.
I can't find a copy of this anywhere outside Japan and not too many inside.


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Takeo Inoue. 少女滑稽買物双六 [Shojo Kokkei Kaimono Sugoroku]. Tokyo, Shojo Sekai 1925 (Taisho 14). Colour broadside 54x79cm. Signs of use with a couple of small holes in folds and a neat inscription on the back. Not bad. Au$300

Who said that a girl's life could be dull? Here are just some of the perils and joys of shopping. This was the new year gift from the magazine Shojo Sekai - Girl's World.


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Kobayashi Eijiro. 滑稽乗物競争双六 [Kokkei Norimono Sugoroku] Tokyo, Shonen - Shojo Tankai 1925 (Taisho 14). Colour broadside 54x78cm. Small holes in a couple of folds. Au$300

A vivid fun race through all the kinds of transport there are, from monkey's tail or airship to chauffeur driven motorcar. This seems to have been a bilateral new year gift to the readers of the boys' and the girls' Tankai - magazines that ran for decades from 1920 with a name change to Science and Defence during the war years.


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Sugoroku. 家庭教育世界一周すごろく [Katei Kyoiku Sekai Isshu Sugoroku]. Osaka Mainichi Shimbun, 1926 (Taisho 15). Colour printed broadside 109x80cm. Short tears in the margins and small holes; used but not bad for a particularly large and vulnerable sugoroku. Au$300

It took me a few moments of slackjawed wonder before I realised this is a world map turned sideways and sat on. From where in space did the artist choose their viewpoint, unpeel the globe and spread it out flat? This a self titled educational game for the family. What does it teach us about our place on the planet and relationship to each other? Maybe that all maps are fiction.
The Japanese flag flying in the Canadian Rockies marks the first ascent of Mount Alberta by the Japanese Alpine Club in 1925.


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Mineda Hiroshi. 世界新式乗物双六 [Sekai Shingata Norimono Sugoroku]. Tokyo, Kodansha 1926 (Taisho 15). Colour broadside, 55x79. Mildly used, a short tear repaired and a nick in the bottom margin; pretty good. Au$350

In this new year gift game the kids already have the glazed faces of over privileged world travellers. The only time they show excitement is when defying death by riding on top of an electric train.


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