Manchuria-Graph, January 1937

Known in its earliest incarnations as Pictorial Manchuria (1933) and Manchuria Pictorial (1934),  Manchuria-Graph (1935–44) was published under the auspices of the public relations department of the South Manchuria Railway Company. The company, which maintained all of the railroads in Japanese-occupied Manchuria, harnessed the propagandistic potential of photography in numerous ways. In May 1933, the company organized an exhibition of 100 photographs taken by members of the Manchuria Photographic Artists Association, which was presented at the Chicago World Fair (“A Century of Progress International Exposition”). The fair’s theme of technological innovation was a perfect place to showcase those of the South Manchurian Railway, and by extension, Japan.

The same year, Hakuyo Fuchikami, a prominent photographer, was hired as the chief editor of Pictorial Manchuria. The magazine presented beautiful tourist views of the occupied territory; the issue above focused exclusively on Harbin, “the key city of North Manchuria.” Bustling commercial districts,  fashionable women, and cultural activities were all easily accessible via rail. The magazine’s layout looks very similar to those of other pictorial publications of the day including Vu and Regards. Here dynamic graphic design and modernist viewpoints construct and present an ideal metropolis, a visual celebration of the benefits of Japanese colonization.


About erinbarnett

Director of Exhibitions and Collections at the International Center of Photography, New York
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