Popular Protest in Post War Japan: The Antiwar Art of Shikoku Gorō

Street Poem Posters

A man with a bullhorn invites passers-by to sign an anti-nuclear weapons petition, while his colleague explains where to sign to a woman carrying a baby (seen from behind). Behind them are 3 eye-catching street poem posters. The one with the weeping child reads “Momma, Poppa--you died in the flash (pika)—now they’ve made an H-bomb. What should we do?”

Undaunted by the threat of arrest, the Our Poems Circle had many methods of putting to use poetry as a “weapon” in the fight for justice and democracy. One of their most compelling guerrilla methods was the tsuji-shi (street poem poster), which drew on classical genres that situated poetry and painting together in a single work, while innovatively claiming walls at foot-trafficked street corners throughout Hiroshima for pop-up exhibition space. The posters shown here are among the 8 extant of about 100 that Shikoku Gorō created together with poet Tōge Sankichi between 1950 to 1953.

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