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Showing posts from May 13, 2018

Kanban - The Art of Japanese Shop Signs

When looking at the word "Kanban" today, we normally think about a Japanese manufacturing system that might include a phase of advertising, but not the concept of "Old World Japan Signage,"  the literal meaning of the compound is kan "see" and ban, "board."  Kanban's were traditional shop signs used by merchants to advertise and give shop identity to those that might be illiterate.  It is the integration of pictorial, graphic and craftsmanship that communicates everyday commerce. 

The signboards were designed to advertise the businesses, and to encourage the passerby to drop in and browse.  In the Tokugawa and Meiji periods of Japan, signs were created by craftsmen, frequently carving, painting, and lettering the signs that were mounted outside the store.  These signs had to be more than great graphic design, they had to be created to withstand the weather.  Some craftsmen used crushed shell in their paint to provide a more resilient surface.…