Lovely Japanese Vintage Ads

Link - article by Avi Abrams

Industrial Design with a Deliciously Cute Factor

Some of you might remember these gems of industrial design. Others would just wait for weird, outlandish commercials. Both appetites will be duly satisfied in this article, as we leaf through the pages of 1960s-1980s Japanese product catalogues and consider their consumer culture artifacts.

Here is an absolutely beautiful egg-shaped 1960s TV set (want!!!) and some "starry virgins" advertising shiny things:

Round shapes in consumer electronics, for example these early 1970s music centers, seem to have been produced my multiple companies in Japan:

I absolutely love this "National" ad showing a wanna-be "Easy Rider" guy, hauling a compact TV and a music center (all he really needs is an iPhone):

Remember when Japan totally dominated consumer electronics in terms of innovation and design? Here is a taste of it from the 1982 catalog:

Western style, taken to a (miniskirt) extreme:

Graphics from "Akira" and similar science fiction productions were popular in advertising, and still ubiquitous today:

More portable TV sets and some miniature cars; "compact" size being definitely in vogue in the 1960s Japan:

Speaking of cute cars, the car on the left is positively smiling (or just having a twinkle in its headlights):

Weird monsters with girls? Why, of course, this is Japanese consumer catalog after all -

Japanese design in the early 1970s deserves its own article on DRB. Here is an impossibly cute "Swimmer Toothbrush Holder & Cup" (left) and Reiko Ohara's plastic (transparent vinyl) groovy outfit (on the right):

(images credit: Kimberly Lindbergs)

What is this object, a model of a starship? Amazing futuristic device? No, just the 1970s Japanese DYMO labeling device:

An UFO sighting, floating alien artifacts? No, just some bottles of skin cream:

Girls Never Give Up! Japanese Modern Advertisements

Seen at Shinjuku's Lumine Est department store, this is quite a statement:

(image credit: Ko Fujimura)

On another note, here is a macho symbol of impossible manliness, Tommy Lee Jones, doing what he does best - being the BOSS:

(image credit: Chimpomatic)

A charming walking penguin, the mascot of a SUICA card Penguin, appears in different forms, including the eatable cake incarnation:

(images via 1, 2, 3)

More mobile company monster mascots (dancing all over the subway walls, and often looking like a genuine graffiti):

(image credit: Chimpomatic)

"Please do it at home":

(images credit: David Solanes)

And of course, anime style rules Japanese advertisements... forever and ever, amen. Click here to see a cute girl advertising some juice (could be nsfw).

(images via, Makayoshi / Neco-Suite)

For creative use of bar codes in Japanese packaging, see our article Japanese Creative Bar Codes:

(images via)

Two more companies experimenting with bar codes are Bar Code Revolution and Vanity Bar Codes.

Article by Avi Abrams, Dark Roasted Blend.





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Blogger Bill Miller said...

The "tape measure" is a label maker. They are still around in some form, the most common maker was Dymo.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's not a tape measure.
It's a DYMO:

I own one, and it's simple though great.

Blogger GMpilot said...

I saw those spheroid stereos back then, and I desperately wanted one...

The two models holding the cube thingies are Pink Lady, a popular singing duo of the time (they even had a very brief run on U.S. TV).

The "Never Give Up" girl is from one of Japan's most famous anime shows ever; her name is Lum, from the show Urusei Yatsura, most commonly translated as "Those Annoying Aliens".
Yes, I love that stuff.

...Whatever happened to all those round electronics, anyway? They'd be so delightfully retro now...

Anonymous Jim-Bob said...

The small cars are all keijidosha or kei class cars. It's a specific kind of microcar that is endemic to Japan. The regulations governing their design came about as a way to get people on wheels after the war. These early models (Honda Z360, Mazda Carol, etc.) all had an engine no bigger than 360cc's. (For comparison, the smallest 4 seat car car most of us in America have seen sold here in the last 20 years, the Geo Metro, has an engine of 993cc's in size.) There are also regulations about maximum size and top speed as well. They are still sold in Japan today and remain quite popular. However, newer models are allowed to be much larger with an engine capacity not to exceed 660cc's. Sadly, it is almost impossible to get cars this small in the US due to safety regulations.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That anime chick looks like she's holding in a wee.

Blogger Unknown said...

I don't think those TV's are meant to look like eggs, but rather like 'space helmets' [all the rage at that time], or maybe 'wide-mouthed frogs', but you don't see many of them these days...


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