Posts Tagged ‘日本切手’

heart and health / 心臓と健康

February 22, 2016

*exch. 069  ( one mint only )

15 April 1972, Japan
Heart Ailment Prevention Campaign
design: Katsutoshi Hioki

From the same international campaign as the Irish stamp in my last post, this is delivering the message of awareness of heart disease.

Printed in only three colours – grey, orange-red and black – still appealing graphically, but it would be better without the small body builder!  I would imagine that there was a version without the human silhouette in the designer’s sketch, but in a meeting this version was chosen as the artistic ability of their audience was evaluated low.  The designer, who also designed my favourite stamp from the same year, knew about the graphic trend of the world and thought he must have done something as polished as the Irish example.





happy monkey year / 謹賀新年

January 1, 2016

*exch. 068  ( limited number )

11 December 1967, Japan
New Year of 1968, ‘Rising Monkey’ – toy from Miyazaki

I wish you a happy new year of 2016!

As you may notice by now, this is the year of the monkey in Eastern zodiac astrology.  This stamp is depicting a monkey toy, which slides up a pole somehow.  The round thing on it back is a drum for traditional Japanese music.

I notice that the last post I made was in August last year…  I hope to have more time and space in my mind to view and feature stamps here this year.




autumn colours from Japan / 日本の秋の色

October 23, 2013

30 August 2013, Japan
illustration: Hikaru Hatano
stamp design:  Akira Tamaki

One of the recent issues from Japan has arrived and they are carrying a nice evocative smell of Autumn.  They are beautifully illustrated and made a lot smaller ( 21.5mm × 25.5mm ) than normal commemorative stamps – I like their fineness although they are self-adhesive.

野菜とくだものシリーズ 第1集
原画:波多野 光
切手デザイン:玉木 明

野菜とくだものの切手を載せている間に、今の季節にぴったりのシリーズが届きました。日本の秋の香りが漂ってくるようです。普段は好きではないシール式だけど、イラストの精緻さとこの小さなサイズ ( 21.5mm × 25.5mm ) が相まってとても魅力的。友人の梨影(りえ)さんに、この洋ナシの切手が貼られた展覧会の招待状が届いた話を聞いて、ネットでは伝わらない暖かさを運ぶ切手の存在を改めて確認しました。

hair comb / 髪に櫛

September 16, 2013

*exch. 063  ( limited number )

20 April 1974, Japan
“Finger” ( 1911 ) by Itō Shinsui ( 1898 – 1972 )
Philatelic Week
layout: Hitoshi Otsuka

This paining is showing 20 years earlier fashion than the previously featured stamp.  When the hair style was completed, the comb was often placed in the hair, part of the coiffure decorations.

I visited an excellent exhibition “Origins of the Afro Comb” at The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and saw many combs made in different materials.  In Japan the customs of showing combs in your hair came to an end around the 1930’s, but in Africa they are still used and expressing identity of their culture.




ケンブリッジのフィッツジェラルド博物館で11月3日まで開催されている『Origins of the Afro Comb』はとても面白い展覧会で、木や動物の骨、金属などのいろいろな素材で作られた6000年前からプラスティック製も加わった最近の櫛までが展示され、アフリカの歴史や文化を世界に示すツールとして櫛が今も髪に飾られている様子が紹介されています。

combing hair / くしけずる

September 13, 2013

*exch. 062 ( one mint only )

20 April 1969, Japan
“Hair”  (1931)  by Kobayashi Kokei ( 1883-1957 )
Philatelic Week
layout: Hideo Hasebe

This was the first Japanese stamp featuring a painting of a topless female.  The artist Kobayashi Kokei was living in London between 1922 – 1923, where he copied Gu Kaizhi‘s “Admonitions Scroll‘ exhibited at the British Museum.

In this piece, he painted very delicate hair lines and the younger sister combing it, as well as depicting the fashion colours of 1930’s Japan.  His house was planned by Isoya Yoshida and it is reconstructed next to his museum in Jōetsu City.


女性の上半身裸が初めて日本の切手になったのは1969年です。画家の小林古径は1922年から翌年までロンドンに住んでいて、大英博物館で展示されていた顧 愷之(344-405)の作品「女史箴図巻」を模写して線描の練習をしたそうです。


staying cool / 納涼図

August 23, 2013

*exch. 061

3 March 1978, Japan
Staying Cool under the arbour of evening glory
by Kusumi Morikage  (c. 1620–1690)
2nd National Treasure Series
layout: Saburo Watanabe

In the past at the height of summer, Japanese went outdoors to enjoy the cool air.  This is no longer possible, as no cool air is breezing through town since the exhaust from the air conditioners are out onto the streets.

This painting is regarded as the most subtle national treasure and it depicts a family sitting under a trellis.  The original shows that someone added the Yukata on top of husband’s body, but the wife was left as she was.  It is interesting to know that the female topless was fine at that time.

第2次国宝シリーズ 第8集




slight variation / バリエーション

April 19, 2013

*exch. 060

17 May 1965, Japan
Centenary of International Telecommunication Union
design: Yoshiomi Higashikadoi

Issued for the same theme of telecommunication as the previous two stamps from Ceylon, Brazil, France and British.  A Japanese stamp designer had taken guidance from the ITU a little straight, and made minor changes – somehow this modest stamp appeals to me, it’s charming.

If you look at the little detail of the electrical Insulators, and find slight differences in shape between each country – you might share an odd passion on ‘Insulator watchers’ – I am one of those proud Otaku.

国際電気通信連合( ITU )



electrical telegraph / 電信機

March 17, 2013

13 October 1954, Japan
75th Anniversary of Admission to ITU
designer: Yutaka Yoshida
engraver: Tsuneo Kasano

After the Croatian QR code stamp, I remembered this one, in a similar layout with mysterious lines and dots.  The centre picture is an early electrical telegraph receiver.  In the top bar, between two small squares, are Japanese Morse code, which says ‘ko ku sa i’, which means ‘international’.

Although there is a similarity in the first impression between this and the QR code stamp in the previous post, this one has far higher density in its stamp design.  I admire this old ‘stampness’ and joy of magnifying.




2012年10月に日本郵趣協会から発売された『ビジュアル日本切手カタログ vol.1』に、この図案のフチを囲む記号が説明されています。左が「キネン」、右が「デンキ」拡大している下は「ツウシン レンゴウ カメイ 75 シウネン」と右から読む(ん?)ようです。

microphone and TV / マイクとテレビ機器

September 29, 2012

15 November 2001, Japan
50th Anniversary of Private Commercial Broadcasting
design: Akira Tamaki

In the early times of TV news broadcasting, the microphone was prominent – although news-readers are no longer talking to microphone these days, it being hidden or at least discreet.

I like this almost stoic stamp showing early TV equipment, together with the shape of a TV screen in the three primary colours, and the old style ending title of a program.  In my memory this shape of TV screen is familiar, but current TVs are all rectangular with a lot more width than height – cinema proportions, almost.




automated / 全自動化

May 17, 2012

*exch. 059  ( limited number )

14 March 1979, Japan
Completion of Automated telephone
design: Minoru Hisano

When I bought my first telephone for my flat in Tokyo in 1989, the shape of telephones had changed since the 1960s.  The rectangular body with slim hand set on one side, with ten keys – it had message function already, but the length of message was limited by the small cassette tape…  23 years ago!

This simple stamp from Japan is telling that telephone connection was automated already in 1979 – ten years earlier than my ten-key telephone era.




opened envelope / 封筒からナンバー君

March 22, 2012

1 July 1972, Japan
Postal Code campaign
design: Katsutoshi Hioki

I like to see envelopes on a stamp – especially when it is opened and shows its coloured lining!

1 July 1973, Japan
5th Anniversary of the Postal Code
design: Takao Yamanouchi

These stamps were promoting the newly introduced postal code for machine sorting.  ‘Mr. Number’ was a known character at that time – I remember the paper cut-out of this figure was floating in my local post office.





courier bird 2 / 運ぶ鳥 2

March 19, 2012

*exch. 050

20 June 1977, Japan
Centenary of Admission to Universal Postal Union
design: Katsutoshi Hioki

I found another stamp with birds, carrying messages.  The rectangular shape in the middle is a post box – I noticed that Red post boxes are not universal.  This map shows the different colours of post boxes around the world – but for me, having lived in Japan and now living in the UK, post boxes have always been red!

The design of this stamp looks nicely dated and the shape of this post box is evocative of that time, in a similar way that I remember ‘Mr. Number’ of these stamps at the edge of my memory.




deliver your wish / 気持ちを届ける

March 14, 2012

21 June 2011, Japan
Charity for East Japan Earthquake Disaster
design: Akira Tamaki

It has been a year since the Tohoku Earthquake happened on 11 March 2011.  There are still a lot of people living in temporary housing, and the debris of towns and cities washed away by the Tsunami are still piled beside the roads in many areas. The nuclear power station is still in the cooling down stage before sealing it off.

This set of stamps were issued to raise emergency support for the struck area, prepared within three months after the earthquake – I guess that was very quick compared to the normal process of issuing stamps.  The design is the reflection of the wish of many Japanese at that time – willing to deliver a message that we are thinking of people who lost their loved ones and their homes.

There was a charity concert in London last Sunday 11 March, to raise continuous support for Tsunami orphans.  Music has a strong power to share, and unites this supportive wish.  I was moved by slides which showed people around the world giving their encouragement to Japan after the tragedy.





print method and motif -2 / モチーフと印刷-2

February 8, 2012

1 July 1966 (top) and 1 September 1969, Japan
Firefly Squid and Moss Balls

These two stamps are showing gleaming squid and ‘Marimo’ Moss Balls, both in the water.  The coarsely finished paper and 2-3 coloured Gravure printing are cost effective and matching very well to the motifs – translucency of squid and reflected light on fish and delicate surface of the Moss Balls…  Spot-on job!



year of the Dragon / 祝辰年

January 2, 2012

1 November 1971, Japan
Government Printing Works Centenary
‘Ryu-ko zu (Dragon and Tiger)’ 1895
by Hashimoto Gahō ( 1835-1908 )
layout: Kyohei Maeno

The year of the Dragon has started ( at least in Japan yesterday, so I follow this one. )  I wish you all have a fruitful year – we should really prove that our happiness is not controlled by the unstable situation of the world’s finances.

These stamps, a set of two, were issued to celebrate 100 years of stamp and banknote printing.  So, they are naturally representative of what they can do best for this kind of process.  Surely they took time to do the details of the waves.  I have to look up what ‘tonal engraving’ could be – if I magnify, it seems the tone is made by lines and dots together.

Paper as well, seems a little special for this printing.







Oak leaves and a cat / ナラの上の『黒き猫』

November 8, 2011

*exch. 049

21 September 1979, Japan
‘Black Cat’ (1910) by Shunso Hishida (1874-1911)
layout: Yoshiaki Kikuchi

The cat is sitting on an Oak tree – we are more familiar with straight Oak trees, but sometimes it is bendy and provides a good place for a cat.

The painter Shunso Hishida started to bring innovative techniques into traditional Japanese painting around 1900.  He traveled to India, America and Europe between 1903-05, after which he even tried pointillism – but the Japanese painting authorities did not accept him at that time.  It is a pity that he died young and did not try to stir up the artistic circles further.




looking at the stars / 星空を見上げる

October 22, 2011

1 November 1978, Japan
Tokyo Astronomical Observatory Centenary
design: Kanji Takeara

I received a lovely postcard from Japan and this stamp was used.  I remember when this stamp came out – I was 12 years old, just after moving from a small town to the big city of Hiroshima, where I realised that I couldn’t find any stars in the sky.

Now I live on the edge of metropolitan London, but above the forest here there are more stars to be seen.  We had clear blue skies for last few days, similar to Japanese autumn sky, and I’ve been enjoying real stars, as well as the ones on this stamp.





girl scout / ガールスカウト

August 3, 2011

26 July 1970, Japan
50th Anniversary of Girl Scouts Movement
design: Takao Yamanouchi

I didn’t know the three-fingered salute of girl scouts until seeing this stamp.  Always I admire cool girls who can make strong knots and make fire in the field with a practiced hand.  If I knew this uniform, I could have been a member straight away, too…



energy recycling / エネルギーリサイクリング

March 30, 2011

1 August 1981, Japan
Energy Recycling
design: Hideo Toyomasu ( competition winner )
layout: Yoshiaki Kikuchi

Another stamp in the same set as the previous post, ‘save energy’.  When this stamp was issued, energy recycling did not yet mean ‘renewable’ in Japan, where the mainstream of energy discussion was around building more and more nuclear power plants.

Now, after the tsunami has made the cooling system of the Fukushima power plant disabled, people started to discuss the dangers of having 54 nuclear power plants on the edge of tectonics – and the 300 year long problem of how to keep nuclear waste safe.  I am shocked myself how I did not pay attention to the decommissioning of nuclear power plants, until this large scale distruction. This is going to be a problem all over the world – 531 existing and under construction plus on-going plans of nuclear power plants, if the buildings are not standing there for ever.




save energy / 省エネルギー

March 23, 2011

1 August 1981, Japan
Energy Saving
design: Sakae Maejima ( competition winner )
layout: Fumito Otani

It is not well broadcast abroad that in most of Tokyo people are having planned power cuts, up to 3.5 hours a day.  Many shops are open with reduced illumination, as well as in stations.  They must have a difficult time, even if they expect the black out they have to build their life around it.  But there are some positive comments on their situation – one found that the stars are so beautiful when the street lamps are out, another thought a restaurant was nice and intimate with a table lamp.

I thought I could find several stamps about Energy Saving, but found only a set of two, which were issued in 1981, just after the second oil crisis.  Since then people forgot to think about it for long time and power plants were built to sustain our wasteful habits.