You can see the Osaka Shosen head office building above the Ajigawa River in Tomishima-cho, Kita-ku, Osaka. at the time of the company's founding. The poster captures the atmosphere of "hustle and bustle" at the pier.
The Kurenai Maru, designed by Dr. Haruki Watsuji, was built in 1924 and went into service on the Osaka-Beppu route. Along with its sister ship, the Murasaki Maru, it reigned as the "Queen of the Seto Inland Sea." In subsequent years, its modern hull design, with a covered upper deck, became the pattern for cruise ships plying the Beppu route.
This bijin-ga-style poster conveys a luxurious image by using gold paint for the company name and so on. Judging by the route name, the poster was most likely published early in the Taisho Era (1912-1926).
Here is an OSK Line poster published for overseas markets. The aggressive image of the condor is a major departure from the more subtle oriental sensibilities of posters produced for domestic use.
The poster expresses a feeling of bravery through kumadori (kabuki makeup) and the costume of momotaro ("Peach Boy" a popular hero of Japanese folklore). The Japanese character logomark of OSK Line, "大," is shown in the upper part of the hatasashi-mono (battle flag).
Depicting a shogunate-licensed trading ship sailing to the South China Sea, this poster was most likely produced to advertise the Taiwan and Dalian routes, on which OSK Line held a monopoly.
As OSK Line built momentum by moving into a succession of open sea routes, the company modeled itself after Tachiyama, the strongest yokozuna sumo wrestler of the time. In this poster, OSK Line's routes were depicted at the foot of Tachiyama standing atop the globe. The poster was produced in 1915 and was followed by an English-language version for overseas markets.
OSK Line purchased three cruise ships from overseas in 1923 and launched them on the Kobe-Keelung route. These massive, luxuriously appointed ships won high regard on this route. The first-class fare on the Kobe-Keelung route was ¥65. (The starting monthly salary of an elementary school teacher at the time was about ¥50.)
OSK Line's Seto Island route took travelers to winter resorts such as Beppu and Dogo Onsen (hot spring). This poster has a modern look, unlike many bijin-ga-style posters, which were true to nature. It probably came out toward the end of the Taisho Era (1912-1926) or early in the Showa Era (1926-1989).
The unique layout of this poster, targeting overseas markets, features the names of calling ports surrounding the main image - the Buenos Aires Maru (9,626 GT) kicking up waves as it departs Japan, with a sunrise over Mt. Fuji in the background.
OSK Line published this poster to promote its domestic liner service in 1907. The design features touches of the Art Nouveau style, which was popular at the time.
A kimono-clad woman takes in a sea breeze. Judging by the route names at the lower right, this poster was most likely published in 1916. The ship in the distance has twin funnels, although OSK Line vessels of the time had only one.
A mother warns her son as he leans too far out over the rail to catch a glimpse of a cruise ship. This poster's modern look and bright background symbolize OSK Line's optimism about the future. The artist was Ichiro Okubo. The cruise ship in the distance is the Horai Maru (9,192 GT), renowned as a giant, historic ship serving the Taiwan route (Kobe-Keelung).
The luxury vessel Horai Maru was called "the Queen of Sea." In earlier days, it plied Australian coastal cruise routes under the name Indara. The ship was purchased by OSK Line in 1923 and served for Taiwan route. Two-funneled ship was rare in the conpany's fleet at that time.
OSK Line's Osaka-Dalian route, initiated to provide Asia-Europe transshipment in 1913, became the major trunk route from Japan to Europe via Siberia. OSK Line's first steam turbine ship, the Baikal Maru went into service on the route, solidifying the company's international stature.
The poster, produced in 1923, features the large cruise ship Horai Maru (9,192 GT), which OSK Line purchased from overseas for the Taiwan route (Kobe-Keelung).
This poster shows the Buenos Aires Maru (delivered in 1929), Japan's largest emigrant ship at the time, departing the Port of Kobe for South America. You can see Mt. Rokko and neighboring mountains in the background and OSK Line's Kobe Branch (Shosen Building) at the lower left.
As road conditions were much different than today, ships were once the main means of transport between Osaka and Southern Kishu before WWII. In 1927, the newbuilding diesel-powered ship Muro Maru went into service on the Nanki (Southern Kishu) route.
Since its founding in 1884, OSK Line's Seto Inland Sea routes continued to be the main trunk line for logistics in West Japan. In the early Showa Era (1926-1989) before WWII, tourism enjoyed a temporary boom, and OSK Line offered a range of pleasure cruises.
From its founding in 1884 until the outbreak of WWII, OSK Line's Seto Inland Sea routes served as a transport lifeline for West Japan. Early in the Showa Era (1926-1989), summer holiday travel became popular, and OSK Line posters like this one welcomed families aboard.
With delivery of the Montevideo Maru (7,627 DWT) in August 1926, OSK Line's service on the South America liner route was expanded to 10 voyages per year, with five vessels including three cutting-edge ships. The copy "Great around the world voyage" expresses the pride of OSK Line.
Beckoning New Year's worshipers from the Hanshin region, this poster depicts the torii gateway of Kotohira-gu Shrine in black against the golden background of the year's first sunrise. The vessel is the Daichi Maru (1,280 GT). In 1928, the ship was switched from the Osaka-Tianjin route to the Osaka-Tadotsu route. It was the largest vessel in domestic service at the time. The artist was Ichiro Okubo.
According to the calendar, this poster came out in 1921. Aimed at overseas markets, it promotes OSK Line's services bound for the North America West Coast and India. It was probably sent to OSK Line's overseas branches and agencies as well as travel agents and so on.
Another work by Ichiro Okubo, produced around 1921. The cruise ship on the left is the cutting-edge Baikal Maru (5,243 DWT), which plied the Hanshin-Dalian route at the time, and was renowned as OSK Line's first turbine engine vessel.
Most likely issued for the New Year in 1914, this poster shows a vessel far in the distance - possibly the Harbin Maru (5,169 GT), which plied the Hanshin-Dalian route.
OSK Line's Murasaki Maru and Kurenai Maru carried tourists from the Kansai region to Beppu, a popular winter resort, and reigned as the "Queen of the Seto Inland Sea." These ships' names were passed on to Japan's first LNG-fueled ferries, which are slated for delivery starting at end of 2022, the Sunflower Kurenai and the Sunflower Murasaki.
In 1924, Osaka Line launched Japan's first diesel-powered vessel, the Ondo Maru (688 GT), on the Osaka-Sanyo route. It won public praise as a "smokeless" vessel, and was the most fuel-efficient ship in the ocean shipping industry.
In dramatic fashion, this poster shows springtime sightseeing spots on a map of the Seto Inland Sea, which boasts many tourist attractions and historic sites. The copy in the red banner describes the Osaka-Beppu route, OSK Line's trunk route in those days. It was published late in the Taisho Era (1912-1926) or in the early years of the Showa Era (1926-1989).
Thought to be another poster by Ichiro Okubo. In any case, it was certainly an imaginative touch to add, in Roman letters, the following message on the lifeboat davits: "Funatabi wa tanoshii. Tsukimi wa fune-de. (Ship travel is fun. Let's enjoy moon viewing onboard.)"
One of the oldest OSK Line posters. There are names of its operated vessels and liner routes as of 1905. The poster also lists the names of cargo and travel agencies.
Before WWII, Japanese began taking sightseeing tours on their summer holidays and OSK Line beckoned them to travel by sea. In this pre-expressway time, ships were a key link for tourists visiting famous attractions such as Nanki Shirahama, Miyajima, and Kintaikyo.
Before WWII, cutting-edge vessels were launched to serve Osaka Shosen's popular Osaka-Beppu. The Kurenai Maru went into service in 1924, and earned the title "Queen of the Seto Inland Sea." The Sumire Maru joined the fleet in 1929, achieving twice-daily sailing frequencies and ushering in a golden age for the Beppu route.