Vintage Asian is an art, design and culture blog. An online gallery of vintage Asian design, oriental antiques and art, and retro Asian culture - music, fashion, film. Curated by hand. Memories of memories - each item in the collection has a story. Browse to start the remembering process.

Japanese
Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre

Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre

There’s something beautiful about bones. I know that sounds twelve kinds of macabre. But skulls and skeletons have been enduring symbols in art and design for centuries. And yes, I love a good skull. Japanese art is no stranger to the grotesque, and skeletons dance through the history of Japanese prints like¬† the squirming of...
Vintage Japanese Commercial  - Star Wars Meets Sea Chicken

Vintage Japanese Commercial
– Star Wars Meets Sea Chicken

Star Wars characters cavort, inexplicably, in this 1978 tuna fish ad from Japan. The somewhat English-sounding phrase sung over and over is in fact English… “Sea Chicken, Sea Chicken.” I love the inscrutability of foreign advertising to outsiders. It’s like trying to translate a joke between languages and cultures. Somehow the joke often gets lost...
James Brown Hawks Miso Soup

James Brown Hawks Miso Soup

American celebrities have been flying over to Japanese shores for years to record commercials – for handsome wads of cash. To outsiders these ads can appear just… well… wacky. Though, to be fair, advertising often appears odd in another language. It seems as though we don’t realize how bizarre our own advertising is, but when...
Japanese Nescafe Commercial, 1960s

Japanese Nescafe Commercial, 1960s

Asia gave birth to tea.¬† Steaming cups here are more likely to hold a fragrant tea rather than black gold – as the tea cultures stretch back for centuries. Coffee culture is a relatively recent import. But the coffee cultures in Asia are still strong, and each with their own individuality. And even where ‘coffee...
Geisha Bones

Geisha Bones

Since 1615. In 1997 a fairly wretched novel called Memoirs of a Geisha was published, recounting a stylized version of geisha life in Kyoto. The film adaptation screened in 2005, setting the world aflutter with geisha mania – a fascination with the geiko (Kyoto dialect for geisha), who dwell in relative secrecy. While they exist...
YeYe! 1967

YeYe! 1967

“The ultimate Camp statement: it’s good because it’s awful.” - Susan Sontag   In Susan Sontag’s famous essay, ‘Notes on Camp’, she touched on the peculiarly French 1960s post-rock pop genre of YeYe. Camp, she said, was all about aesthetics – it’s a decorative art, ‘style at the expense of content’. Certain artforms, she explained,...
Tetsuwan Atomu 1963

Tetsuwan Atomu 1963

Once upon a time, the future was a very different place. The future of the 1950s was robots and outer space. In stepped Tetsuwan Atomu. Or maybe it’s more correct to say he helped shape and usher in this vision of the future. Tetsuwan Atomu was created in Japan in the 1950s and was known...
Sukiyaki. Indo style. Kind of.

Sukiyaki. Indo style. Kind of.

In 1963 a hit Japanese song, ‘Ue o Muite Aruko’ by crooner extraordinaire Kyu Sakamoto made its way across the ocean to American shores. Seeing as the title was basically unpronounceable by English tongues, it took on the name ‘Sukiyaki’. Now, hot pot soup is TOTALLY unrelated to the title. Except it said “Japan” to...
Antique Bronze Turtle

Antique Bronze Turtle

I discovered him in a miniature, ramshackle second-hand market at a park in Kyoto, Japan. He sat on a table amidst antique clocks, a sea of tarnished bronze. Later that evening I sat on the riverbank drinking Asahi beer with a friend. My friend asked the neighboring stranger in Japanese to tell us about the...