Japan's Capital, A Pictorial, 1953

with Woodblock Prints (reproductions)

by Maeda Masao

IHL Cat. #2657



"This booklet was edited by the Council on Liaison with Foreign Cities and published by

the Tokyo Metropolitan Government with the object of acquainting strangers to Tokyo with the 

feature of life, culture, scenery, customs, events, sports, recreation, etc. in Tokyo, the Capital of Japan."

About This Book


In 1953, the year following the end of the U.S. occupation of Japan (1945-1952), and the year this brochure was published,  post-war travel restrictions on foreign tourists imposed by SCAP (Supreme Command of Allied Powers) were gone and Japan was eager for foreign tourists and their dollars.  

In the immediate post-war years, due to lack of fuel, Western-style hotel rooms, logistical support, entry procedures,  among many others shortages, Japan was essentially off limits to foreign tourists.  In Japan's capital, Tokyo, it was not until February 1948 that the first visits for foreign tourists were allowed, consisting of a one-week package excursion organized by the Japan Tourist Bureau.[1] 

When this brochure was issued in 1953, it would have been a very expensive proposition for a foreign tourist to visit Tokyo. In 1955 the New York Times reported Japan as  “being one of the most expensive places in the world.” [2] Nevertheless, approximately 56,000 foreigners would visit Japan in 1955, drawn, in part, by pictorial brochures, such as this one, issued by tourist-related branches of government and travel related industries.[3]

The "Woodblock Prints"

There are six reproductions, five in color, of woodblock prints created by the artist Maseda Masao (1904-1974) in this brochure, along with over sixty photos. The inclusion of the reproductions of the woodblock prints as illustrations is a recognition of their allure to Westerners and also a promotion of the art. While it is obvious that the one black and white reproduction (see page 41 below) is not an actual woodblock print, the five color prints in the brochure (one on the cover and four tipped into the manual, see "Cover", "Frontispiece" and pages 9, 13 and 35 below) are also reproductions (likely photographically reproduced). It does seem a bit odd that given the caption under the four tipped-in prints reading "A woodcut by Mr. Masao Maeda," there is no mention that they are reproductions. 

Woodblock print artists, whose work was curtailed during the war due to material shortages, found a ready audience for their work in the occupation forces which helped sustain them in the immediate post-war years. But it was not until their work was recognized and promoted by Americans such as the authors James Michener and Oliver Statler, who held a civil service position with the occupation administration and would write the seminal book, "Modern Japanese Prints: An Art Reborn" in 1956, did their work find an audience and customers in the US and Europe.  Maeda Masao, who created the six woodblock prints reproduced in Japan's Capital: A Pictorial, was one of the post-war artists featured in Statler's book.[4] 

[1] How Japan Solicited the West: The First Hundred Years of Modern Japanese Tourism, Dr Roger March, UNSW Australia, p. 7.  (PDF) How Japan Solicited the West: The First Hundred Years of Modern Japanese Tourism | Roger March - Academia.edu (accessed 418/2023)

[2] ibid, from a 1955 New York Times article quoted by the author on p. 7.

[3] By way of comparison, in 1950 there were 18,000 foreign tourists. In 1964, the year of the Tokyo Olympic Games which marked Japan's re-emergence into international society, 353,000 foreign tourists. In 1978, 1,000,000 tourists entered Japan and in 2019, the year before the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 disease a pandemic, over 32,000,000 foreign visitors entered Japan.

[4] The artists promoted by Michener and Statler were "creative print" (sosaku hanga) artists, an early 20th-century Japanese print movement that rejected the traditional model of Japanese woodblock print production that limited the role of the artist to primarily creating a design for a print with the publisher exercising artistic control of the work and his employed craftsmen carrying out the production (carving and printing) of the finished print. Sosaku hanga artists took control of all stages of a woodblock print's production and its artistic content.

Because at heart, even looking historically, we are a people who love peace, the tourism industry can work to recover our reputation in the world. Though the nation (kokumin) known as the Japanese people for a very short time became conceited and committed a grave mistake, we still have not thrown it [peace] away. 

- Tourism Division of the Ministry of Transportation (Un’yushō kankōkakari), 1948



"Most of the photographs and pictures appearing in 'Japan's Capital' are the works of first-rank

artists, newspaper cameramen or prize winners in photo concours and they have been permitted

to be reprinted in this volume through the courtesy of the undermentioned, to whom

acknowledgements are made.

Jurei Kanamaru, Professor of Photography, the Nihon University

Koyo Okada, Photo Artist

Masao Maeda, Woodcut Painter

Hajime Otsuka, Associated Editor of the "Asahi Graph"

Ryoichiro Kurokawa, Photo Staff, the Asahi Press

Seiichiro Hayashi, National Parks Administration, Welfare Ministry"

Selected Pages

click on a page to enlarge


Nijubashi Bridge with the Remaining Snow

A woodcut by Mr. Masao Maeda


A Promenade of the Riverside, Sumida Park in the Rain.

A woodcut by Mr. Masao Maeda


An Extra Number of the "Tokyo Municpal News"


p. 6

Photo: "Nijubashi" or Double Bridge

p. 7

A City with Harmonious Beauty of Old and New

Photo: A View of the Imperial Plaza

p. 8

Imperial Palace Moat and Its Vicinity

Photo: Moat Around the Imperial Palace

p. 9

A View of the Marunouchi Area, with the foreground of the Imperial Palace moat.

A woodcut by Mr. Masao Maeda

p. 10

What Tokyo Inherits

Photo: Shinjuku Imperial Gardens

p. 12

Photo: A Five-Storied Pagoda

by the courtesy of Mr. Koyo Okada

p. 13

"Nittenmon" Gate of the Zojoji Temple

A woodcut by Mr. Masao Maeda

p. 14

"Kabuki" and "Noh"


Top: A "Kabuki" Scene

Bottom: A Snapshot of "Noh" Stage

p. 15

"Kabuki" and "Noh"

Photo: A Model of "Noh" Player

p. 20

Cultural Hobbies


Top Left: Elegant Dance Practicing

Top Right: In a Tea-Ceremony

Bottom: Flower-Arrangement

p. 21


Photo: A Moment of Deciding Match

p. 26

In the Street

Photo: Interior View of a Coffee House

p. 27



-Asahi Shinbun Photo-

p. 28

"Nihonbashi Area"

p. 29

"Nihonbashi Area"

p. 30


Top:  Examination of Lens for Camera

-Fuji Photo-

Bottom: Pearl

By the courtesy of Mr. Koyo Okada

p. 31


Top:  Bamboo Works

-Fuji Photo-

Bottom: Pearl

By the courtesy of Mr. Koyo Okada

p. 32

Two Noted Buildings


Top: Capitol of the National Diet

Bottom: Lobby of the Imperial Hotel

-Asahi Shinbun Photo-

p. 33

City Service for 7 Million Citizens


Municipal Central Wholesale Market

-Asahi Shinbun Photo-

p. 34

Rural Beauty


Top: A View of the Inner-Tama-Valley

Bottom: Merry Camping

p. 35

Mt. Fuji

A woodcut by Mr. Masao Maeda

p. 37

Photo: A Hill in the Inner Musashi Plain

p. 38

Photo: An Artistic and Gorgeous Gate of "Yomeimon", Nikko National Park

by the courtesy of Mr. Koyo Okjada

p. 39

Tourist Resorts Near Tokyo

p. 40


Top: Sacred Fire of the Mt. Mihara

Bottom: Lake Ashinoko and Mt. Futago-Yama

-National Park Administration Photo-

p. 41

Japan, A Natural Park

The Lake of Chuzenji

A woodcut by Mr. Masao Maeda

p. 42


Top: Mt. O-Akan and Lake Akan

-National Parks Administration Photo-

Left: Mt. Hotaka and Lake Taisho-Ike

-National Parks Administration Photo-

p. 43


Top: General View of Matsushima

-by the courtesy of Mr. Koyo Okada-

Bottom: Mt. Fuji and the Beach of Mito in Moonlight

-National Parks Administration Photo-

p. 44


Mt. Fuji Above the Clouds

-by the courtesy of Mr. Koyo Okada-

p. 45


Mt. Fuji Above the Clouds

-by the courtesy of Mr. Koyo Okada-

p. 48


Top: Arashiyama

Bottom: Main Street of Kyoto

-by the courtesy of Mr. Koyo Okada-

p. 49


A Buddhist Image of "Yakushinyo-Rai"

p. 50

Photo: Himeji Castle

p. 54


Top: A Panoramic View of the Inland Sea

-National Parks Administration Photo-

Bottom: The Great Smoke from the Crater of Naka-Dake

-National Parks Administration Photo-

p. 55


Top: Mt. Takachicho

-by the courtesy of Mr. Koyo Okada-

Bottom: The Great Smoke from the Crater of Naka-Dake

-National Parks Administration Photo-