“Asia Depicted on Postcards” is a collection of postcards related to Asia that a group of researchers led by Prof. Toshihiko Kishi of the Department of Political and Economic Coexistence, the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University (CEAS), have gathered since 2004. A wide range of areas, such as Japan, China, China (Mongolia), China (Manchuria), Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Korean Peninsula, Southeast Asia, Soviet Union/Russia, Sakhalin, and the Pacific Ocean, are depicted on the postcards.
Images in the form of postcards, posters, airborne propaganda leaflets, paintings, and photographs have great significance as historical records. Postcards are undoubtedly a representative form of 20th Century media. While people tend to consider them as a visual media consisting of photographs, paintings and designs, they actually are a printed version of mixed media, because not only images but also characters, codes, sounds and even movies (with movable parts) are included in postcards. For example, postcards with images and sounds were produced on order by Decca Records, a British company. The fact that there are many postcard fans today proves that postcards stimulate the imaginations of their viewers.
On the other hand, images on postcards also reflect the intention of their creators, distributors, publishers and censorship agencies. Among postcards created and sold in Imperial Japan before and during World War II, those depicting mainland Japan, its colonies like Taiwan and Korea, some areas of China including Manchuria and Inner Mongolia, and Japanese leased territories such as the Kwantung Leased Territory, Sakhalin and the areas along the Manchurian Railway, were all censored. The “Asia Depicted on Postcards” collection publicizes the images of the postcards without making any change to them. We sincerely ask for your careful consideration of the background of the postcards’ production when using them or figuring out their meaning. It should also be underlined that not only what is depicted on the postcards, but also what is not depicted, requires future research. If you accept what is expressed on the postcards without taking their background into consideration, their biased information, including propaganda by creators and concealment through censorship, might confuse you.
The world as depicted on postcards is indeed full of diversity and variety. We hope that you will develop more interest in this media of postcards with this collection as a starting point. We welcome your new ideas about how these postcards can be utilized.
※Postcard (upper left): Mount Carmel Church and Chamorro people going to mass there, Saipan. The Catholic Church was originally built during Spanish rule. The Church today was rebuilt after World War II.
※Postcard (upper right): Old Parliament House, Bangkok (currently the Ananda Samakhom Throne Hall). The construction of the building was started by the order of King Rama V (Chulalongkorn) in 1907 and was completed after eight years during the reign of King Rama VI. The colors of the roof and part of the relief have been changed since then.
- 貴志俊彦「絵葉書に見る日本と中国―メディアと検閲制度―」（立命館大学国際平和ミュージアム『2016年度秋季特別展 絵葉書にみる日本と中国 1894-1945』、2016年10月）
- 貴志俊彦『満洲国のビジュアル・メディア――ポスター・絵はがき・切手』（吉川弘文館、2010年6月）（韓国語版『비주얼 미디어로 보는 만주국 : 포스터·그림엽서·우표』전경선 역（소명출판、2019年3月）
- 貴志俊彦・白山眞理編『京都大学人文科学研究所所蔵 華北交通写真資料集成』全2巻（国書刊行会、2016年11月）
- "Linked Archive of Asian Postcards" https://asian-postcards.mydatabase.jp/
- "Harvard-Yenching Library New Holdings in Manchukuo History: Needs and Opportunities"（ワークショップ: 2016年5月19日Harvard-Yenching Library開催）
- "Frames and Platforms: Approaches to the Study of Manchukuo Postcards and Other Visual Sources"（ワークショップ: 2019年5月4日Harvard-Yenching Library開催）
- 京都大学総合博物館2018年度特別展「カメラが写した80年前の中国―京都大学人文科学研究所所蔵 華北交通写真」
Development of the Project:
- March 23, 2005 The database originally released as “戦前期東アジア絵はがきデータベース” by the Northeastern Asia Database Research Grou
- April 1, 2007 The database moved to the website of the Faculty of Business Administration, Kanagawa University
- April 1, 2010 The database moved to the website of the Center for Integrated Area Studies, Kyoto University
- January 1, 2017 The database moved to the website of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University
- March 19, 2020 “Asia Depicted on Postcards” released in Kyoto University Rare Materials Digital Archive, which includes 1,848 images of postcards and their packages donated to the Main Library, Kyoto University by Prof. Toshihiko Kishi of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies
This database was originally created thanks to the great contribution by Prof. Masatoshi Ishikawa (Tokyo Seitoku University), Prof. Akihiro Kameda (National Museum of Japanese History) and Prof. Paul Barclay (Lafayette College, USA).