Nadezhda Nikiforova
The State Academic University of the Humanities. Master of Arts

«Hikifuda» or what Japanese advertising looked like at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries: The collection from the Russian State Art Library

Hikifuda are woodcut or lithograph prints that retailers and wholesalers, mercantile agencies, and other organisations in Japan of the Meiji era (1868–1912) used as advertising materials.

They made most of the hikifuda in the following way: the main printing workshop in Osaka printed the pictorial part on about two-thirds of the sheet, and small local workshops entered various information on the same sheets at the request of the customer. They placed all these structural elements in predetermined positions.  Different stores could use a leaflet with the same image and even in different cities.

The hikifuda handbills began a new stage in the Japanese advertising industry and developed means of communication. The subjects resembled traditional Japanese Ukiyo-e engravings: women in kimono, children, the Gods of Fortune Ebisu and Daikokuten, dragons and mount Fuji, crane and turtle (the symbol of longevity) and many others. 

Therefore, they hung them in houses on the walls and even in public baths. Ukiyo-e influenced the layout of the leaflets, their size, format, and composition. Besides traditional Japanese symbols, telephones, telegraph poles, mailboxes, European clothing stores, and even tobacco shops were depicted - signs of the influence of the Western lifestyle on the Japanese economy, politics, culture, and everyday life. 

Japanese advertising leaflets in the RSAL collection represent an interesting, but still poorly studied layer of urban art in Japan at the turn of the XIX-XX centuries.

The research is based on materials from the collection of the Iconography Department of the Russian State Art Library.

引札、19世紀と20世紀の変わり目に日本の広告がどのように見えたか: ロシア国立芸術図書館のコレクション