Japanese Newspapers 6

Bold Typography in Vintage Japanese Newspapers

As a designer, it’s easy to get stuck in the style trends of today… so here’s some typographic inspiration from vintage Japan. Coming from a large collection of 3000 ads from the years 1891 – 1945 (put together by the University of Tokyo), these vintage newspaper pages feature a bold style we don’t frequently see today. Huge glyphs boldly displayed in neat blocks. The emphasis here is often on the arrangement of elements, rather than a reliance on imagery… something to which the both vertically and horizontally orientable Japanese characters lend themselves well.

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Not everything in the collection is attractive, nor stylish. There are many examples of advertising which points to a quickly westernizing nation, with quite a few featuring men who have donned the popular double breasted suits of the day. Other ads are downright funny, like the anti-gas advert you’ll find below. For more from this interesting collection head to um.u-tokyo.ac.jp.

The Ise-Shimbun, No. 6985, p. 5, 27 May 1902

The Osaka-Asahi-Shimbun, No. 9612, p. 4, 11 December 1908, Osaka, Osaka-Asahi-Shimbun-Sha

The Hochi-Shimbun, No. 17878, p. 8, 1 November 1926, Tokyo, Hochi-Shimbun-Sha

The Tokyo-Asahi-Shimbun, No. 18048, p. 8, 13 July 1936, Tokyo, Tokyo-Asahi-Shimbun-sha

The Tokyo-Asahi-Shimbun, No. 17722, p. 10, 19 August 1935, Tokyo, Asahi-Shimbun-sha

The Tokyo-Asahi-Shimbun, No. 15421, p. 5, 13 April 1929, Tokyo, Tokyo-Asahi-Shimbun-Sha

The Takaoka-Shimbun, No. 13515, p. 4, 24 May 1932, Takaoka, Takaoka-Shimbun-Sha

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