Kanban: Traditional Shop Signs of Japan by Alan Scott PateKanban: Traditional Shop Signs of Japan by Alan Scott Pate

Kanban: Traditional Shop Signs of Japan

byAlan Scott Pate

Hardcover | May 9, 2017

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A glimpse into the markets, crafts, and signage of early modern Japan

Kanban are the traditional signs Japanese merchants displayed on the street to advertise their presence, represent the products and services to be found inside their shops, and lend a sense of individuality to the shops themselves. Created from wood, bamboo, iron, paper, fabric, gold leaf, and lacquer, these unique objects evoke the frenetic market scenes of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Japan, where merchants created a multifaceted world of symbol and meaning designed to engage the viewer and entice the customer.

Kanban provides a tantalizing look at this distinctive fusion of art and commerce. This beautifully illustrated book traces the history of shop signs in Japan, examines how they were created, and explores some of the businesses and trades they advertised. Some kanban are elongated panels of lacquered wood painted with elegant calligraphy and striking images, while others are ornately carved representative sculptures of munificent deities or carp climbing waterfalls. There are oversized functional Buddhist prayer beads, and everyday objects such as tobacco pipes, shoes, combs, and writing brushes. The book also includes archival photographs of market life in "old Japan," woodblock prints of bustling marketplaces, and images of the goods advertised with these intricate and beguiling objects.

Providing a look into a unique, handmade world, Kanban offers new insights into Japan's commercial and artistic roots, the evolution of trade, the links between commerce and entertainment, and the emergence of mass consumer culture.

Exhibition schedule:

Mingei International Museum, San Diego

April 15-October 15, 2017

Alan Scott Pate is an independent scholar who has curated exhibits and written for many journals on Japanese handcrafts and antiques. He is the author of Ningyo: The Art of the Japanese Doll and Japanese Dolls: The Fascinating World of Ningyo.
Title:Kanban: Traditional Shop Signs of JapanFormat:HardcoverDimensions:160 pagesPublished:May 9, 2017Publisher:Princeton University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0691176477

ISBN - 13:9780691176475

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Table of Contents

Foreword-Rob Sidner 7

Introduction 9

The Neon Scramble

Kanban: Signs of the Times

1 Fingerprints of the Artisan 19

Visual Records

Scenes in and around the Capital

Woodblock Prints

2 The Kanban of Nihonbashi 37

3 The Way of the Merchant 47

4 Kanban and Kabuki: Product Placement and the Edo Stage 55

5 Collectors and Collections 61

The Sugiura Collection

The Peabody Essex Museum Collection

The Shôwa Neon Takamura Kanban Museum Collection

6 Categorizing Kanban: The Catalogue 69


Tobacco Shops

Mokei Kanban: Shop Signs as Sculpture

Yôki Kanban: Container Shop Signs

Consumer Goods: Kanban and Daily Necessities

Kanban and Specialty Trades

Kanban and Pastimes

Notes 161

Glossary 165

Bibliography 168

Index 174

Editorial Reviews

"This engaging book adds significantly to our understanding of kanban in the context of their production and consumption, examining them through multiple lenses. Pate's richly textured account will satisfy scholars interested in Japanese cultural history and folk art, and also has much to offer historians of graphic design and advertising."-Christine Guth, author of Hokusai's Great Wave: Biography of a Global Icon