Although it looks quite beat up and has a lot of scribblings on the front, I immediately recognized its importance when I first saw it up for sale by a shop selling old documents.
|Nintendo promotional calendar, front|
The item we talk about is a calendar that Nintendo give away to promote their business. The item measures 24 by 14 centimeters.
The front contains details about the company and the back shows a calendar.
|Nintendo promotional calendar, back|
When I spotted the date of the calendar, I became very excited: 大正四年 which stands for Taishō 4!
Taishō is the era in Japanese history when emperor Taishō reigned. This lasted from 1912 to 1926, and Taishō 4 is equal to 1915 in the Western calendar.
|It dates from the year 大正四年 (Taishō 4) in the Japanese calendar|
This means this calendar is a hundred years old. It must have been produced in 1915 or 1914! Nintendo had existed for 25 years at that time and was still managed by its founder Fujisarō Yamauchi.
Around this time Nintendo started expanding its distribution from the Kansai area around Kyoto and Osaka towards the rest of the country. Advertising and freebies like this calendar were undoubtably part of its drive to establish a national brand.
The calendar shows the 12 months of 1915, from January to December. This Western type of calendar had become common in Japan from the Meiji period starting in 1876.
The month are presented from top to bottom and from right to left, as was the common orientation of Japanese documents until more recent times. So we find January (一月) in the top right corner and December (十二月) in the bottom left corner.
Months with 31 days are marked with the kanji for 'big' (小) and months with 30 days are marked with the kanji for 'small' (小).
The front of the card is in pretty bad shape. A long time ago, somebody has used it to practice his/her writing skills and traced and copied some kanji in ink.
However, after some hard work with Photoshop (thank you Flo), it was possible to clean most of it on the scan, and reveal the original design.
At the top of the front, it states 'Marufuku Nintendo Co.,'.
This name and the related trade mark logo has been in use by Nintendo as a brand name from the early days. It is still used today on some of the traditional cards produced by Nintendo.
Centrally placed in red is the phrase 'Card Factory', which defines the business Nintendo was in at the time. It is clear that they have left the local craft-shop stage behind them at this stage, and are now a factory, aiming to produce cards in large volumes.
The Japanese text in red (かるた製造元) also means 'card factory'.
The five large kanji underneath this (山内任天堂) spell Yama-uchi-Nin-ten-dō, reading from right to left, as does all Japanese text on the card. This was the company name used until the 1950s, when it changed to just Nintendo.
A noteworthy fact is that Nintendo had no less than two telephone lines at this time. Shimo is an area in Kyoto.
And Nintendo had two bank accounts, one in Osaka and one in Tokyo.
The address on the card is the location of Nintendo's first shop and workplace.
This is the place where Nintendo was established back in 1889.
Given the importance of Nintendo in Japanese history, this building should have become a national heritage. But unfortunately, it was torn down in 2004 to make room for a parking lot.
(picture taken by I. Yamazaki)
This 1915 calendar is a nice reminder from these early days at Nintendo.
For a more extensive visit to the Nintendo's place of birth, check out this post.