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The 20th century’s version of “Cool Japan” seems a lot cooler than the 21st century’s.

As we all know by now from having watched a certain nine-minute video on Japanese history, Japan in the early 1900s was eager to become an active member of the global economy. They’d just come out of hundreds of years of isolation, been on the winning side in WWI, and wanted to show the rest of the world what made them so awesome.

▼ And what better way to do that than by inviting the rest of the
world over for some tea and sumo wrestling?

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And apparently Japan’s tourist campaign was extremely successful. In the mid 1930s, over 40,000 tourists from other countries came to Japan, contributing over 100 million yen to the economy, a massive amount of money back then.

The National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo is currently running a special exhibit of these early 20th century tourist posters until February 28. With over 120 different pieces in the gallery, you can feel like you’re a traveler from 100 years ago, visiting the strange and faraway Japan for the first time.

▼ And how would you get to Japan back then? By boat, of course! This 1912 poster shows potential tourists how easy the trip is with a painting of a lovely woman in kimono.

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▼ Another poster from Japan Mail Shipping Line (Nippon Yusen Kaisha),
possibly reassuring tourists that they can get you to Japan and back home too!

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▼ And what Japanese tourist poster in any age or era would be complete
without Mt. Fuji and a vaguely Asian font?

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Hungry for more old school Japanese posters? We’ve got you covered with a bunch more from just a little later in history. While it may be impossible to visit the Japan of 100 years ago, don’t despair — modern-day Japan still has plenty of pretty cool stuff for tourists too.

Source: The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo via Japaaan Magazine
Images: The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo