Japan's Capital, A Pictorial, 1953
with Woodblock Prints (reproductions)
by Maeda Masao
IHL Cat. #2657
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.
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.”  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.
The "Woodblock Prints"
Their 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.
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
JAPAN'S CAPITAL: A PICTORIAL
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