Although it has dwindled in size over the last few years, you will usually still find me at the Nogi shrine sale on the second Sunday of the month.  Started in 1976 (more or less) and considered to be the oldest shrine sale in the Kanto region, it still has some excellent dealers, although nowhere near the 40 that guidebooks list. I imagine they get a lot of gaijin (foreigners) as it is one of the most conveniently located sales. I know I often bump into friends. And it was the first sale I ever attended when I moved here 6 years ago.

Today there were 11 dealers – the usual suspects – plus an obi/textile dealer I had not seen there before.  The merchandise all felt high end,  as it generally does there, or perhaps it was just fresh to my eye as I have been gone all summer. Here are some photos of the goodies…

There was a dealer there this morning whom I had seen before but never really stopped to examine her wares. She specializes in ephemera and has the usual prints and postcards, which tend to be romanticized images of old Japan and copies of ukiyo-e.  Today she had an extraordinary collection of matchbook covers from the 1920s and 30s, all carefully mounted in album pages by the original collector.  I was smitten by them all, but limited myself to just a few sheets, which I plan on framing.  Each matchbook cover is in itself an individual work of art, complete in just 2″x1″, but grouped together they were something more. The Taisho era between the World Wars was a time  in which the trappings of modernity were truly embraced, much in the way they were in the West.  Advertising of the era shows the changes in society – cafe culture, women’s liberation and female buying power, rise of the middle class, etc.

Isetan Department Store (the 2 on bottom right) is like the Saks Fifth Avenue of Japan.

These were grouped by design – one page all momiji (maple leaves) and the other gourds.

The stylized figures and art deco colors of the Nozawaya Department store cover overlayed with a traditional style Japanese seal is a great example of advertising art from the era (upper right corner).

A great dated cover for a salon.

Opportunities for travel expanded. Hotels and their bars became places young moderns would “hang out”.

All in all, a truly unusual find today.