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29.03.2015 г.

Advertising media development in Japan

Mozgunova A.D.

The word 広告ko:koku came out for the first time in "Yokohama Mainichi Shinbun" in 1872 as a translation of the English word "advertisement". Before that the Japanese used the word 広目 (披露目) hirome "announcement, message, notification" that occurs in "The Chronicles of Japan" in the sense "to blazon something", however the word hirome has changed its meaning with the course of time. A Japanese-Portuguese dictionary of 1603 defines hirome as "the spread of Buddha's teachings". Later on the word hirome has widened its meaning being used to define advertising, including commercial one.

Advertising is non-personal transfer of information about goods, services and ideas by means of multimedia in order to raise interest in the object of advertising, mostly chargeable and persuasive. Advertising media have been modified with the course of time and development of technologies, each time choosing the most up-to-date and available means of information transfer. Various types of media used and the roles these media played in trade, advertising and social development not only reflect cultural identity of the country but they are a chronicle of life of the nation within a certain period. In this light the research of advertising media development in Japan is truly beneficial.

The reports on horses and bulls missing written upon wooden plaques are considered to be the most ancient advertisement found in Japan (764). Although such messages had no commercial value they can be considered a prototype of standers and signs installed in the shopping streets.

The occurrence of advertisement in Japan is associated with the entry of markets and shop-signs. The Taiho Code (701) stated the principles of organization of markets among other issues. One of the provisions required that each shop should have an entrance sign with a list of goods. Above all, it was required to specify a name of the maker of such items as swords, spears, saddles and lacquer-ware.

With the trade boom during the Heian period markets overflow cities and spread around the country letting ordinary people in the province set up their own shops. That is the time when the signs telling a shop's owner business and the goods offered were brought into use.

Another advertising media is noren curtains. Noren are the curtains hung at the entrance of a shop or private house. They were originally designed to protect against sunlight, wind, etc. However, in the Muromachi period people started to decorate them with the signs stating business, good or symbol of a shop. This has become a turning point from advertising the goods (shopboards) directly to display advertising. The pictures of the 16-17th centuries show the curtains decorated with geometric patterns, hieroglyphic symbols, arms, water chestnut or turtle shell patterns, etc. It is particularly remarkable that the names of goods were never written in hieroglyphic symbols. As Tani Minezo points out during the Edo period the trade houses use traditional family colors in their noren designs.

In the early Kamakura period regular commercial quarters appeared (and in the 16th century in the suburbs as well) where one could see noren curtains decorated with arms and signs with images and symbols. Outdoor signs of that period informed customers not only of the shop's name and goods in stock but of current news as well. Different in shapes the signs were genuine works of art: mainly made of wood they were covered with chase carving, lacquer and golden foil. Some wooden plaques had colorful posters called bira pasted on them.

The Edo period gave birth to such type of advertising as hikifuda (handbills), a prototype of the modern advertising leaflets known as tirashi. They informed the customers of opening of new shop, sales and discounts. With development of the engraving art during the Edo period the handbills obtained a wide circulation. In terms of their content hikifuda handbills can be classified as follows: short texts written in a manner of a letter with a shop's owner direct speech; texts with goods' names and prices; vigorous style texts designed to arouse interest, amuse a recipient and trigger an emotional respond - these advertisements were often created by fiction writers.

Besides, Japanese woodblock printing as a form of urban arts that became widespread during that period should not be left unmentioned. Woodblock prints displayed beautiful courtesans, famous theatre actors, warriors, sumo wrestlers, landscapes, animals, and birds. Speaking in modern language the prints served as banners with beauties and actors being objects of advertising and gesaku writers being copy-writers. Furthermore, trade houses created advertising prints that showed shops, various goods and shop symbols or, for example, beauties demonstrating cosmetics.
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