The foamiest men’s shampoo to make bath-time oodles more fun? The latest must-have make-up for your back? Whatever they were selling, we would’ve been buying. If you were in post-WWII Japan, your eyeballs had the luck of watching the advertising world grow brighter, hipper, and (especially in the ’80s) weirder. From the surreal visuals and zany graphics, to the totally groovy styling, we’ve assembled a few of our favourite retro Japanese ads for all the things you never knew you needed. Our first stop?
Fashion and beauty…
We’ve looked at the West’s legacy on post-WWII Japan before, specifically the 1966 arrival of the Beatles in Tokyo that spawned countless Fab Four “imitation” bands. Even as early as the 1950s, “parts of American culture became part of the Japanese landscape,” explained Atlantic journalist Alan Taylor in 2014, “and Japan began to find its economic footing as a manufacturer consumer devices and electronics.” In spring of 1950, Osaka even held a “Little America” fair, sponsored by local newspapers, where folks could walk amongst 75-acres of mini-American monuments like the Grand Canyon, New York City, and Mount Rushmore. Naturally, when East met West in the domain of advertising, the graphic designs took on an increasingly colourful, fascinating blend of the two cultures that continues, well, to this day…
Totally Glamorous Tech
Groovy Housewives of Tokyo
Fabulous Food & Beverage
And the ones where… we’re not quite sure what they’re selling
Want more? Try the Groovy Imitation Bands of 1960s Japanese Rock.