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Last year, over 13 million foreign visitors took a trip to Japan. Many of the country’s best attractions, though, are actually hundreds of years old. That means that while they’ve been drawing more international travelers than ever in the 21st century, they were hardly being ignored in the 20th, as shown by this collection of retro-cool travel posters from the early and mid-1900s.

For example, the iconic tori gate that juts out of the sea at Hiroshima’s Miyajima looks pretty much as it did back in the days of Japan Railways’ predecessor, Japanese Government Railways, which disbanded in 1949.

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▼ An appropriately subdued and old-school promotional poster for Japan’s classy former capital

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▼ And for its current capital, Tokyo, something far more contemporary (at least by the standards of when it was printed in the 1930s)

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While most of these posters hail from an era where hand-drawn art was the go-to graphic design choice, some make use of black-and-white photography, which gives them an especially timeless feel.

▼ The Great Buddha of Kamakura and Hirosaki Castle

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▼ Kyoto’s Kinkakuji and Nikko’s Toshogu

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▼ And of course, Mt. Fuji

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Since Japan is an island country, some of the most enthusiastic supporters of inbound tourism have always been airlines.

▼ From left to right, Qantas, Air France, and Scandinavian Airlines System all wanted in on the action.

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Japan Airlines, as you’d expect, was also a major player in this growing market, with ads suggesting sleek modernity and friendly, welcoming locals.

▼ Plus the sort of close proximity between Mt. Fuji and San Francisco that would make homesick Californian expats in Japan weep tears of joy

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It’s also pretty easy to decipher the intent of this Japan Air Transport poster, which is steeped in the glamorous luxury of the early days of commercial air travel.

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It’s a little harder, though, to figure out what Air India was going for in this advertisement.

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“Visit Japan, and wrestle Japanese people!” maybe? Or perhaps “Visit Japan, and suck on a dude’s shoulder as you sleepily whisper in his ear!”?

We’re not entirely sure, but hey, the variety of things to see and do in Japan is what makes it such a great country to visit.

Source: Japaaan
Top image: Los Angeles Public Library, Flickr/Boston Public Library (edited by RocketNews24)
Insert images: Los Angeles Public Library (1, 2, 3), Flickr/Boston Public Library, Heritage Auctions, Flickr/trialsanderrors, Flickr/Boston Public Library (2, 3), Flickr/Skwal1, Flickr/Galerie Estampe Moderne, Un Deux Trois Galerie, Vintage Airline, Zazzle (edited by RocketNews24)