Special Exhibition

Past Exhibition

Travel through Time with Tobacco Packaging: The World of Memorial and Sightseeing Tobacco

May 28, - July 3, 2022

Memorial tobacco, commemorating various events and occasions all across Japan, and sightseeing tobacco, introducing a wide range of sightseeing spots and festivals, were once commonly sold throughout Japan. 

Memorial tobacco first began with the Yachiyo tobacco—sold separately from ordinary brands—that commemorated the enthronement of Emperor Taisho in 1915. And when other significant events occurred in the years to follow, special memorial tobacco brands were released and standard brands were given new and different designs. Numerous memorial tobacco products were sold in this way. The practice continued even after the government monopoly on tobacco was abolished in 1985, but it later ended in 1993.

Every year from 1967 to 1993, using illustrations and photographs from sightseeing spots and festivals across Japan, standard brands were given special package designs and sold in local areas as sightseeing tobacco. Reminiscent of postcards, these packages were also very popular as souvenirs.

Because memorial and sightseeing tobacco products were also once very popular collectors’ items, our museum has continued accepting tobacco packaging donations. In this exhibition, we hope that you will enjoy a sense of traveling through time—beyond time and space—through memorial and sightseeing tobacco.

Memorial Tobacco
Memorial tobacco was tobacco sold separately from standard brands beginning from 1904 when the government tobacco monopoly took effect. Special designs were used on packaging to commemorate various significant events and this tobacco was sold only for a limited time period. Starting with the Yachiyo tobacco commemorating the enthronement of the Taisho Emperor in 1915, special brands were released and designs were changed on standard tobacco products. This practice was continued by Japan Tobacco Inc. even after the government tobacco monopoly was abolished in 1985. Numerous memorial tobacco products were sold, but this practice later ended in 1993.

Sightseeing Tobacco
Sightseeing tobacco was tobacco sold from 1967 to 1993 with ordinary tobacco brands given special designs featuring illustrations and photographs from sightseeing spots and festivals across Japan. Separate from memorial tobacco, the manufacture of sightseeing tobacco developed largely due to the increasing popularity of sightseeing trips at the time. Memorial tobacco only sold in certain regions was very popular and the tax revenue from those tobacco sales (the prefectural and municipal tobacco tax) was said to be very important to prefectural and municipal governments as a funding source. Sightseeing tobacco was created each year and introduced famous seasonal sightseeing spots and festivals, etc. Illustrations were used when sales first began, but color photographs came into use around 1970. When customers unfolded the packaging, it looked like a postcard. Because of this, these products became popular as souvenirs from trips and as collectors’ items.

※All information are given in Japanese only

[General admission fees]

General (Adults and university students)

Children and pupils of primary, juniorhigh, and high schools

Visitors over 65 years old ※Please show proof of age when entering.

※ With age certificate, visitors over 65 years old are admitted for half price.

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    Various memorial tobacco packages released in the late 1950s - early 1960s.

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    Sightseeing tobacco package "Tohoku's three great festivals" (1967)