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Sunday, February 11, 2018

Matchbox Labels Of Japan - Part 3

Here's another edition of matchbox labels that were made in Japan for both the Japanese market and/or the international market.

Some of these suckers are from the 1880s on up, and possess striking artwork (ha-ha), which is what garnered my attention in the first place.

I previously documented some matchbox labels HERE and HERE- in no particular order except that they were what I found first.

Today, our mix includes angels and animals. Oh... and of course, whimsy. Love me some whimsy.

There's no reason for me presenting these Japanese matchbox labels, suffice to say that they feature cool art with nonsensical themes... and, they are easy to create.

On Saturday, I spent about four hours shoveling snow - about four inches from Friday night and another three or four from Saturday. I have what amounts to a six-car driveway - so plenty of snow... heavy snow.

Plus we had an outdoor hockey game for the kids, and there was shoveling there at this homemade rink we set up yearly in a park about 30-minutes drive away. It's a free hockey league for kids who just want to play hockey without all the drama involved in the more "professional" hockey atmosphere where even the parents of house league kids think their progeny is the next Great One.

Free hockey? Sure, the OPHL... for ages six to 12. We separate the kids by skill level, and ensure via three minute shifts that they play kids of equal skills - boys and girls together. The only catch is that every family is responsible for selling $60 worth of raffle tickets per kid for the end of year banquet, where we dole out some neat prizes. Hudson won a box of Freezies last year... which was great, but I really wanted that 43-inch TV. Yeah... cool prizes like that... autographed hockey sticks, or basketball tickets...

We play outdoors at a city run rink, usually, but when we have to do make up games for those days when it's too cold, or too warm, we go to the homemade rink.

All I can tell you as a parent-volunteer, is that the kids and parents are involved and have fun.

That's why I need an easy blog re: Japanese matchbox labels from the 1880's on up.

If there is real data on this topic, I can't find it.

In all cases, the artwork on the matchbox labels says the product was "Made In Japan", or has a Japanese matchmaking company name, which is why I classify them as Japanese.

Some of these products appear to be destined to Japan, to China, and to places where English is the native language - hence the need to state where they are from.

Until WWII, anything that was considered to be of Japanese origin was considered by western countries to be exotic.

Let's begin (again):

Isn't that cute... a Cupid acting as a Kewpie doll for Japanese matches. Do you think the Japanese were hep to either?
If you are expecting me to make some sort of joke about "swallow-ing", you are sadly mistaken. The thought never even crossed my mind.
Definitely Japanese artwork - and either the match company had never seen a tiger and and a lion and thought that the color was okay, or they were too cheap to pay for more colors, or the colorist did not have any orange or tan, but said he had plenty of green - and he could do it for 20% off. 

So... did this guy just go hunting for deer, and thought he killed it and put it in his basket... only it's not dead? Is it a zombie deer? Or is this just a lazy deer that wanted a ride from the man? I have no idea... but that's whimsy, ain't it?
A monkey playing a mandolin (?) while sitting on the chin of the moon. I can't tell if the moon is upset, or if he's singing along to whatever this well-dressed monkey is playing. What does this scene have to do with matches? Nothing. And everything. I think one is always able to recall what type of matches they prefer if the artwork is catchy.
Just as weird, we have a woman, in non-traditional Japanese garb... maybe it's sort of middle-eastern or even nordic? I don't know why I said either of those... but she's sitting on the chin of the moon and dropping lit matches down onto Earth... the woman is obviously non-Japanese, so perhaps we can assume that sometimes artwork is appropriated and used by matchbox companies all over the world.
The Be-st matches made in Japan, we have some sort of hawk choking a monkey. Seriously... WTF? The line art is actually quite detailed and fantastic... but obviously this monkey is not a happy camper.
Cupid, right? He has an arrow pierced through a heart... but why is he running away... and what the heck... he's covered in hair? I'm a hairy guy, but I've got nothing on this winged creature!
When I think of an angel with a trumpet, I think of Revelations, and the end of the world. When an angel sounds his trumpet, one of the Seven seals is broken, and the beginning of the end occurs... and the trumpets blow a total of seven times, each one heralding another disaster that brings the world closer to oblivion. Click HERE to learn more about the End of the World. So... which seal is the angel on the matchbox heralding? He sure does look happy to end humanity...
If I was a rich cat, I would have a mouse pedal me about town. It's a theme in these matchbox labels, to show one animal subjugating another... and while this hardly looks forced, it could be an allegory of the corporate fat-cats living of the sweat of their mousey underlings.
Cats... lots and lots of cats in Japanese matchbox label art. Here we have three little kitties tormenting the fug out of these two trapped red and black oranda goldfish. Yes, I know my goldfish.
Unless this is yet another example of a Japanese artist understanding perspective, this is a giant Roc or Phoenix (both mythological) taking on a tiger. Japan does not have tigers on its islands, but are found in Korea and China. Japan had known of the existence of tigers from quite a while back in its history, with it first appearing in around 720AD in the Nihon Shoki book. Japan loved the creature's fierceness, and was even used within many a Japanese folk story. As for the bird, it might be representative of a Peng >大鵬)... but it's Chinese, not Japanese... but what the heck... maybe this set of matches was for Chinese customers.
The Monkey and Dragon are two of the 12 figures representing the Japanese zodiac, and first I thought this image was merely the Year of the Dragon taking over from the Year of the Monkey, but the two do not follow one another. So maybe it's just a marketing ploy to get people to pick up the matches by simply having a cool picture. Is the monkey frightened, or is he baring his teeth at the dragon in aggression?
Okay... a man in a globe rising above the radiating red sun. Is there some allegory about the US lording it over Japan since its economic gates were opened up? Forget that, for a moment... can anyone tell me just what the fug is up with the land masses on the globe? What planet is that? Is this were Marvel Comics got the idea for Ego the Living Planet (see Guardians of the Galaxy II, for its movie debut).
His Master's Voice (HMV) is a famous trademark in the recording industry and was the unofficial name of a major British record label. The phrase was coined in the 1890s as the title of a painting of a terrier mix dog named Nipper, listening to a recording of His Master's Voice. At least that's what I assume this is supposed to represent.
Okay... that's all for today. It still took over an hour to produce, because I have to write my own whimsy to describe the whimsy observed on the matchbox label art.

Sunday... another outdoor hockey game, and then the boy and I are going to see the Toronto Marlies AHL (American Hockey League) game... of course it's supposed to be more snow and some freezing rain.

My shoveling shoulder is killing me.

Andrew Joseph

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