Desktop Publishing in Japan 100 years ago

My friends were discussing ancient printing processes, and I pointed them to a very interesting site about the history of the “Toshaban.” Some of this site is still preserved at the Internet Archive.

The toshaban or “gariban” process uses the stencil process like silk-screen printing, with the speed and low cost of a mimeograph machine. It flourished in the early 20th century and developed into a wide cottage industry of amateur printers across the entire country. My university has a huge collection of music and film fanzines from about 1900 to 1960 printed in this manner, some are fantastic works of art, and obviously took an immense amount of effort to produce

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The toshaban is becoming a lost art, but there recently has been a resurgence of fine-artists in Japan using the process. This website ends with a wonderful tale of these artists traveling to Laos to teach the toshaban to schoolteachers, who immediately loved the low-tech process for its simplicity and low cost.

2 thoughts on “Desktop Publishing in Japan 100 years ago”

  1. I never heard of menko before, but I looked them up and they’re really fun. My personal favorite ephemeral artwork is chiyogami.

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