Propaganda Kimono
Boy’s Kimono  |  Wool muslin  |  33”x 30”

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Propaganda Kimono

With a bit of artistic license, this boy's kimono includes images of real technological sophistication embodying Japanese aspirations of futurity in the mid-1930's. Aware of trends in the United States and Europe, Japanese engineers competed with designers like Raymond Loewy and Henry Dreyfuss as they strove for efficient, and efficient-looking ways to encase their latest  vehicles.

The Mitsubishi-designed "Kamikaze" that set air-speed records in 1937 was the model for the A5M Type 96 of 1938 that appears here. Called "Claude" by allied troops in WWII, this plane was the precursor of Japan's most important and common fighter - the famed "Zero" - A6M Type 0 of 1939. Like the Kamikaze, the A5M had fixed wheels in curvaceous, aerodynamic cowls. In the later Zero, air-speed drag on the landing-gear was eliminated with retractable wheels.

Southern Manchuria Railway's 1934 streamline train, "Asia Express",  ran from Dalian (Dahrien) to Xinjing (Hsingking), making stops in Dashiqiao, Fengtian, and Sipingjie. The entire trip took 8.5 hours, with the train traveling at an average speed of 82.5 k/hour. Its top speed was 110 k/h, 15 k faster than its closest rival in Japan, the Tsubame Express, and equaling trains in the United States and Europe.

The Asia Express became the symbol of an ultramodern empire where technological feats opened up new vistas of possibility for Japan.