Sapporo beer posters: Changing with the times

The last week of April is not the best time to visit Sapporo, the vibrant regional capital of Hokkaido, Japan.

The winter ski season will have been over although it will still be cold with patches of snow about, especially in the hillier areas.

Spring comes late in these northerly latitudes and the cherry blossom will start to appear soon enough.

Despite this, there is plenty to do in Sapporo. A must-visit is the old Sapporo beer factory which is now a museum and beer garden.

If anyone’s interested how the brand’s label designs and advertising posters had changed over the decades since the brewery was established in 1876, this is a place to go.

The first brew master was trained in Germany and the original brewing machinery came from there, so it is not surprising that there was a good deal of German influence in some of the early beer labels.

The first advertising posters featured kimono-clad geishas to appeal both to domestic audiences and the export markets of Asia and further afield.

By the 1920s and early 1930s Japan was copying the fashions and styles of the West and this shows in this poster.

In the lead-up to World War Two Japan was turning nationalistic and this may be why this 1937 poster features traditional Japanese dress again.

After the War, kimonos were out, and Western styles were back in favour. The model in this 1956 poster had something of the Audrey Hepburn about her, an actress who is still fondly remembered in Japan.

From the 1990s onwards, TV and sporting personalities tended to be used in posters.

A selection of beer brands on display at the museum.

After the tour around the Sapporo Beer Museum, you can go to the tasting room to sample a selection of beers.

The taste of beers made by the major Japanese brands such as Asahi, Kirin, Sapporo and Suntory are much of a muchness – all excellent quality and very refreshing but it would be nice to have a bit more variety of flavours and colours.

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