Special Exhibition

Past Exhibition

Match: As a Magical Fire Starting Tool and as a Modern Label

May 25, – July 7, 2019

The match first came into existence in Europe as a revolutionary and easy-to-use fire starting tool, and from the mid-19th century this tool spread across the globe. Because charcoal, etc., was no longer required to keep a flame burning, the advent of matches also influenced tobacco culture such as smoking device designs. Meanwhile, match production in Japan had grown substantially, and the country was a major power in the industry from the 1890s to 1910s, proudly leading the world in export volume. The labels on matches intended for export during these years mimicked Western labels but incorporated both Japanese traditional designs and the preferences of the intended export destinations, resulting in unique visual designs. From the 1920s onward, matches were even used in dining establishments, etc., as novelty items and collecting the labels became a popular hobby.
This exhibition traces the development of fire-starting and smoking culture through various fire-starting tools, smoking devices and pictures. It also uses books and photographs such as collections of photographs from factories to introduce the history of Japanese match production and manufacturing processes. Furthermore, match labels intended for export during the Meiji and Taisho periods, as well as match labels used for advertising during the early Showa period, are also on display. Please enjoy viewing the many charming designs.

[General admission fees]

General(Adults and university students)
Group(20 or more):50yen

Children and pupils of primary, juniorhigh, and high schools
Group(20 or more):20yen

Visitors over 65 years old ※Please show proof of age when entering.
Group(20 or more):20yen

※ With age certificate, visitors over 65 years old are admitted for half price.
※ With disability certificate, free admission for disabled persons and one accompanying attendant.

  • photo

    Match Label for Import
    Early 20c, Japan

  • photo

    Metal Match Case
    Late 19c, Japan, Tsuchiya Collection