The following video clips provide a pick into the exhibition of Japanese matchbox labels, from my collection.
The exhibition included more then 2,500 Japanese matchbox labels and showed rare items from the early stages of the match industry in Japan. The labels presented at the exhibition were selected from my private collection, which includes more than 100,000 labels. They were displayed for the first time in Israel.
Among the selected topics exhibited at the museum were Ukiyoe woodblock print labels, private issue Surimono woodblock print labels, Kabuki actors, beauties & the modern women, birds & flowers, animals of the calendar, landscapes, legends and national heroes, transportation,sport & martial arts, kites & toys, as well as matchbox labels made for export, propaganda labels and advertising labels.
The majority of the labels displayed in the exhibition were printed betweenthe turn of the 20th century and World War II, an extremely eventful period in Japanese history. The early labels, intended mainly for export, reveal the change in Japan when it opened itself to the world in general, and to the West in particular. They show how the country chose to present itself to the West and how it imagined itself in Western eyes.
From the advertising labels designed for a variety of products and shops we learn of Japan’s economic and commercial development in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and the distinct Western influence on clothing and transportation. Similarly, the labels depicting popular sports include Western activities, an indication of Japan’s desire to display itself as a modern country.
The labels depicting the Japanese military and the propaganda labels from the Russian-Japanese War and World War II show a different side of Japan. Here the country reveals the intent to insulate itself and strengthen its nationalistic spirit.
I have also been able to build up a nice collection of hardware, related to the Japanese match industry and some are quite scarce. They are essential to the industrial history research I conduct and are displayed in the exhibition as well. Such items include rare advertising posters, collectors club woodblock prints, a variety of friction match safes and match box holders, etc.
I am honored to continue a Japanese tradition of matchbox label exhibitions and expose this unique and unfamiliar art form to the general public.
The exhibition has commenced on April 2005 and was displayed until August 2005 at The Yechiel Nahari Museum of Far Eastern Art, at Ramat-Gan, Israel (Center). The exhibition was then exhibited to Wilfrid Israel Museum, at Kibbutz Hazorea, Israel (North), and was open for the public until February 2006.