The International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Nichibunken) has newly made available its “Database of Visual Images in Modern Japanese Popular Magazines from the Kasho Museum Collection.” Featured in the database are metadata and around 2,000 of their International Image Interoperability Framework-enabled (IIIF) images such as the front and back covers, tables of contents, and frontispieces of the 37 titles and 405 issues archived in the museum, dating from 1901-1941.
The database was created as part of collaborative research-promotion activities driven by Nichibunken’s Japanese Popular Culture Research Project, the Society for Taisho Imagery Studies, and the Kasho Museum. The imagery in popular magazines—such as illustrations, posters, postcards, advertisements, cartoons, and photos, as well as cover art and illustrations, done by, among other artists, Takabatake Kashō(1888–1966)—inspired the founding of the Society for Taisho Imagery Studies and is an important resource for examining the visual aspects of popular culture of 1910s–20s Japan. By making the image resources open to public, Nichibunken also aims to contribute to transdisciplinary studies spanning such fields as art history, cultural history, sociology, and history, and in turn widely convey the beauty of popular imagery to the public.
Resources covered in the database: Popular magazines from the Kasho Museum collection (37 titles and 405 issues)
- Girls’ magazines: Shōjo gahō (Girls’ Illustrated), Shōjo no tomo (Girls’ Friend), Reijo kai (Girls’ World), etc.
- Boys’ magazines: Shōnen kurabu (Boys’ Club), Nihon shōnen (Japanese Boys), etc.
- Women’s magazines: Fujin sekai (World of Women), Fujokai (Women’s World), Josei (Women), Shufu no tomo (Housewife’s Friend), etc.
- Entertainment- and culture-themed magazines: Kōdan kurabu (Storytelling Club), Omoshiro kurabu (Fun Club), Gendai (Modern Times), Tokyo, etc.
- The database contains imagery created by some 300 Japanese and 70 overseas artists (including images not available to the public), as well as metadata
- By adopting IIIF, an international framework for making images and other digitized resources interoperable and accessible, the database aims to serve as a widely used source, from members of the general public to scholars around the world
- The images accessible on the database are only those for which the copyright has expired and those for which the copyright owner has given permission for use.
Nichibunken’s NIHU Transdisciplinary Project “Historical and International Research into Popular Culture to Pursue New Images of Japan,” the Society for Taisho Imagery Studies, and the Kasho Museum.
After studying traditional Japanese painting at what is today the Kyoto City University of Arts, Takabatake Kashōgained attention for an advertising illustration he made in 1911 for a women’s herbal medicine called Chūjōtō, a product of the pharmaceutical company Tsumura Juntendō. He then went on to provide illustrations and cover art for such popular magazines as Kōdan kurabu (Storytelling Club), Shōnen kurabu (Boys’ Club), Shōjo gahō (Girls’ Illustrated), and Fujin sekai (World of Women) between the Taishō to early Shōwa eras. Referred to as the Kashō-gonomi style, his lyrical illustrations (jojō-ga) of handsome boys and pretty girls enjoyed great popularity.
●The Kasho Museum
A privately-owned museum in the city of Tōon in the northern part of Ehime prefecture, the Kasho Museum opened in 1990 centering its collection around works and resources of Takabatake Kashō at his parents’ home in the prefecture’s southern city of Uwajima, the artist’s hometown. The museum continues to be operated today by relatives of the Takabatake family. Among the roughly 10,000 items in the museum collection are Kashō’s works and relevant resources, as well as popular culture-related materials from the Taishō era (1912–1926). The museum hosts three to four exhibitions per year and serves as the administrative office of the Society for Taisho Imagery Studies.
●The Nichibunken Japanese Popular Culture Research Project
Officially called the “Historical and International Research into Popular Culture to Pursue New Images of Japan,” the Japanese Popular Culture Research Project is Nichibunken’s NIHU transdisciplinary project for FY2016 to 2021. Its goal is to facilitate historical and international research into popular culture with the aim of gaining a comprehensive, structural understanding of Japanese culture as a whole. The project will also contribute to creating new images of Japan and new perspectives on Japanese culture. The now-available database is part of the study results achieved through this project.
●The Society for Taisho Imagery Studies
Founded in 2004, this society serves as a shared space for people interested in modern Japan’s popular imagery—such as illustrations, posters, postcards, advertisements, cartoons, and photos—to come together and exchange opinions. In addition to engaging in research activities, which is their main pursuit, the Society for Taisho Imagery Studies aims to deepen studies into Taishō era imagery by sharing and exhibiting imagery resources.
Database of Visual Images in Modern Japanese Popular Magazines from the Kasho Museum Collection https://iiif.nichibun.ac.jp/TKB/