Japanese “face-in-hole” boards 顔出し看板

In my Sept. 18 column in the Japan Times, I wrote about the Japanese version of what English-speakers seem to call “carnival cut-outs” or “face-in-hole” boards. The nomenclature is a little fuzzy in Japanese too, but the terms that people are most likely to understand are kaohame 顔ハメ and kaodashi kanban 顔出し看板.

In the column I mentioned that many of the hand-painted signs from the 1960s and 70s were subsidized by camera-film companies, and therefore have the company logos painted right into the design. The rather famous cut-out above is in Hiraizumi, in Iwate Prefecture, on the walk through the woods to the way-more famous Konjikidō (Golden Hall) at Chūson-ji Temple.

That green band around the foot of the panel is the old “Fuji Color” film logo. The character depicted is Benkei.

I was hoping to show you some others with film-company logos, but many of the signs like this that were featured in Ijichi Hiroyuki’s 2001 book (see previous post) seem to be gone now.

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