“What Power is This?” Shinjuku Playmap & Tokyo Graphic Design, ca. 1970.

by Admin on Wednesday, February 23, 2011

in Fashion,Graphic Design,Illustration,Japan,Underground

Teruhiko Yumura, et al.-. Shinjuku Playmap.  Nos. 1 (July 1969) through 30 (December 1971) (all published in the first series).  8vo.  Wrpps., covers illustrated by Teruhiko Yumura (also known as King Terry and Terry Johnson).  Tokyo 1969-1971.  [46471]

What Power is This?

What power is this, indeed?

The global tidal wave of youth culture rebellion and experimentation of the late 1960s and early 1970s did not bypass Tokyo.  Shinjuku ward—home to the city’s municipal government and its busiest commuter rail center—was the local substation through which powerful new currents in music, fashion and visual art flowed in and out of Japan.

In 1969, a free monthly magazine called Shinjuku Playmap launched to help visitors find their way to the neighborhood’s latest and greatest nightclubs, record stores, clothes shops and restaurants, particularly those in the seedier districts north and west of Shinjuku Station.

"Shinjuku Pretty Long Map." Shinjuku Playmap, ca. 1970.

"Shinjuku Long Map." Shinjuku Playmap, ca. 1971.

Shinjuku Playmap also featured editorial content that reflected the neighborhood’s youthful daring.  The magazine became an important venue for artists, photographers and graphic designers in touch with the local scene, among them illustrator Teruhiko Yumura (aka King Terry and King Terry Johnson) and art director Heikichi Harata.  One of Playmap’s most prominent sponsors was Kabushiki Gaisha Bunka Hōsō’s (Nippon Cultural Broadcasting) overnight program Say! Young, which broadcast “new rock” and “underground folk” from 12:30 AM to 3:00 AM.*

Foldout advertisement, uncredited, for Say! Young in Shinjuku Playmap, ca. 1971.

To connect with its youthful audience on a visual level, the program took out lavish spreads in the magazine and filled them with cutting edge graphic art, much of it related to fashion or pop music. One features a particularly striking interpretation of the Beatles’ “Long and Winding Road” by Shinobu Ishimaru.

Shinobu Ishimaru for Say! Young in Shinjuku Playmap, 1970.

Shinobu Ishimaru for Say! Young in Shinjuku Playmap, ca. 1970.

Shinobu Ishimaru for Say! Young in Shinjuku Playmap, ca. 1970.

Shinobu Ishimaru for Say! Young in Shinjuku Playmap, ca. 1970.

Heikichi Harata’s spreads for Say! Young were equally inspired, featuring collage illustrations that simultaneously recall ukiyo-e and 60’s pop art.

Heikichi Harata for Say! Young in Shinjuku Playmap, ca. 1970.

Heikichi Harata for Say! Young in Shinjuku Playmap, ca. 1970.

Heikichi Harata for Say! Young in Shinjuku Playmap, ca. 1970.

Heikichi Harata for Say! Young in Shinjuku Playmap, ca. 1971.

However, if Shinjuku Playmap’s visual sensibilities were to be represented by one artist alone, it would have to be the aforementioned King Terry (Teruhiko Yumura), whose covers for the publication document the evolution of his pioneering heta-uma (literally “bad-good,” meaning ‘so bad it’s good’) style, which continues to exert a tremendous influence on Japanese graphic design even today, as Dan Nadel of Picture Box says, “whether you like it or not.”


The first series of Playmap [nos. 1 (July 1969) through 30 (December 1971)] pulses with the energy of its time and place, featuring dozens of arresting page spreads and images by known and unknown artists.  We could just as easily have mined its pages for an exceptional look at Japanese street and fashion photography from the era.

But for now we’re content to share these wonderful scans from a set we acquired during a recent visit to Tokyo. If you can help identify the artists who produced any of the preceding four images which appear to be uncredited, let us know here in the comments section. For more information about our set of Shinjuku Playmap, please e-mail us.

*Update: Thank you to our reader, Norman Hathaway, for identifying the artist of the above “Helen Remembers Brian…” image as Yosuke Kawamura!*

FAB Item I.D. # 46471


* Credit for helping me identify the connection between Say! Young radio and Shinkjuku Playmap goes to one “DJmagimix,” on whose blog/website is hosted a fascinating but unidentified Ph.D. thesis (possibly written by one Masahiro Yasuda) about the globalization of 20th century pop music, particularly hip hop. The chapter entitled “Rock, Revolt and Global Economy,” pp. 56-63, provides an excellent general primer on the pop music industry in Tokyo following World War II.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Melissa McCaffrey Monday, August 17, 2015 at 1:25 PM

Thank you for the information, Norman! We apologize for the delay in responding!

2 norman hathaway Wednesday, July 22, 2015 at 10:05 PM

the brian jones illustration is by yosuke kawamura

3 normy Sunday, June 14, 2015 at 9:21 AM

helen/brian by yosuke kawamura (studio 100% member, along with terry)

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