The wave of modernity began to sweep Japan during the Taisho period (1912-1926) when Japanese society and the political system significantly opened up. Economic prosperity created a class of people that had more money to spend and increasingly lived in cities where they came into contact with influences from abroad. The terms Mobo and Moga (Modern Boy and Modern Girl) were coined to refer to those “it” boys and girls who sported western fashion and were often spotted in glamorous Ginza.
But the tides of change were rapid, and the optimistic atmosphere of the Taisho period vanished as Japan entered a severe economic depression following the end of World War I. “The early Showa period was also a period of turbulence and upheaval marked by global financial crisis (Showa Depression), the Manchurian Incident, and the start of the Asia-Pacific War.” That’s from a new exhibition in Tokyo that follows changes in lifestyles through the vantage point of vintage packaging and graphic design.
Titled “Tokyo Through the Eyes of the Modern Boy and Modern Girl,” the exhibit brings together various objects from a consortium of museums. They range from the packaging design of cigarettes and soap to vintage photographs, posters and stamps. The packaging for shampoo, as an example, led to a significant change in consumer behavior. Men and woman who had previously been washing their hair maybe once a week, began washing their hair daily, and largely helped shape Japan’s emphasis on cleanliness.
The exhibition is on display now through July 8, 2018 at the Tobacco & Salt Museum in Tokyo. General admission is 100 yen.