Uses of grain

Here is an 1893 advertisement for Temperance Magazine (禁酒雑誌):

The message I take away from this is "Look, we're not against grains. Grains are fine. But they have to be in bread form." Note the distinctly Japanese angel handing out the helpfully labelled loaf, and also the radiant bliss of the family who are about to eat it instead of wallowing in the squalor of intoxication:

I don't think I've ever seen someone who looks like they need a drink more than that guy.

Intemperate googling reveals that the history of Temperance Magazine was brief and turbulent, in typical Meiji-publishing-world fashion:

  1. November 1868 1888 (Meiji 21): Launched as Magazine of the Yokohama Temperance Society (横浜禁酒会雑誌)
  2. January 1892 (Meiji 25): Publication ceased.
  3. January 1893 (Meiji 26): Relaunched as Magazine of the Japan Temperance Society (日本禁酒会雑誌)
  4. May 1893 (Meiji 26): Renamed Temperance Magazine (禁酒雑誌)
  5. January 1894 (Meiji 27): Publication ceased again.

There's a little more information about the early history of temperance in Japan at the page for Waseda's other copy of this ad. The publisher of this magazine, the Japan Temperance Society (which, despite the name, was based in Yokohama — all those missionaries were a terrible influence) is actually still around. Sort of: it merged with a bunch of other local temperance societies to form the Japan Temperance Union.

Popularity factor: 11


Given the scary looks on the angel proffering the bread, I wouldn't be surprised if to a non-Japanese reader this looked like a before/after piece: first you take the block of unidentified matter from the scary long-haired individual, and in due course you end up comatose with a skeleton dripping booze on your head.

Incidentally, at the risk of becoming known around these parts as a nitpicker, that launch date's "1888", isn't it?

Paul D.:

That illustration has very much a Catholic look to it, with the Mary-esque angel and the Europeanized gentleman with the bushy moustache and neatly parted hair. The skeleton as a personification of death and depravity also seems very Western.


For those of us who hang around paleo nutrition websites, the effects of eating grain in the form of bread are indeed very similar to getting into a drunken stupor on a regular basis.


1888 it is! Well spotted. Also, I like to believe that that skeleton is just pouring a 40 for his homie.

Paul: Yeah, there's definitely a Euro-Christian thing going on there. Not sure about the exact variety.

Denske: So two beers and a sausage for lunch is basically a sandwich?


Replace the beers with whiskey, rum or vodka (fewer carbs than beer) and you've got a well-balanced lunch.

Leonardo Boiko:

The horizontal/diagonal right-to-left パン with the ン in that weird angle hurts my head.

@PaulD: Dunno about depravity, but I believe skeletons mean death everywhere.

Leonardo Boiko:

Moar skeletons! http://www.nichibun.ac.jp/cgi-bin/YoukaiGazou/search.cgi?query=%E9%AA%B8%E9%AA%A8


We need more magazines like this today:
"Don't watch 24 or Lost Monthly"
"Wal Mart Resistor" (or in French) "Le Wal Mart Non"
Oh yeah and the guy getting the bread looks like Stalin.


Mais je vais essayer d'abord...

* are those friggin' kana's I don't recognize




Try to guess the kanas...


Back issues of the missionary journal "The Japan Christian Year Book" contain directories full of quirky, distinctly un-mainstream organizations like this one, albeit without such interesting illustrations. They can be found in the Internet Archive.

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