Air Journey Sugoroku [征空すごろく].


Cartographer(s): Osaka Mainichi Shimbun
Date: 1930
Place: Osaka
Dimensions: 102 x 70 cm (40 x 28 in.)
Condition Rating: Fair

In stock

SKU: NL-01406 Categories: ,

“An educational game for the modern era.”


This is a fascinating sugoroku game published as a special supplement to the New Year’s edition of the Osaka Mainichi Shimbun in January 1930. Sugoroku, traditionally played on New Year’s Day, moves players along routes or roads similar to snakes and ladders, and in the era when steamships, automobiles, and airplanes were exciting new inventions, these modes of transportation were incorporated into the game. In particular, this game board focuses on world air routes, no doubt building on the enthusiasm following Charles Lindburgh’s transatlantic flight between New York and Paris less than three years earlier.

The early 20th century saw the development of mass youth culture, including comics, magazines, and literature in Japan (dubbed Shōnen for boys and Shōjo for girls), and sugoroku games like the present example fit within this wider cultural current. In the era of mass literacy and print culture in the early-mid 20th century, major media companies like the Osaka Mainichi would aim to put out the flashiest and most entertaining New Year’s sugoroku, striving against other newspapers as well as their own game boards from previous years.

Sugoroku of this era typically had an educational or didactic purpose and were geared towards inculcating patriotism and good morals in children. Here, knowledge of world geography and cultures is prioritized, and readers are even assigned ‘homework’ (宿題) in the text in the bottom-left corner that tasks them with finding routes between various points on the globe.

The red dashed lines on the map show existing and planned air routes linking distant points of the globe. Some of these expectations seem a but fanciful in retrospect, such as zeppelin flights through the Arctic and across the Pacific, but at the time it would not have been unrealistic to expect such developments in the near future. In the event, zeppelin flights across the Atlantic did become common in the 1930s but airplanes became the preferred route for both Transpacific and Transatlantic flight.

The text in the top-right corner explains the principal air routes in the world at the time, while the text at top-left discusses the latest records in flight, such as time in the air and fastest long-distance trips along several routes, including aerial circumnavigation. At bottom-left is an explanation of the rules and aims of the game. A ring of images representing different cultures surrounds the map.

The map was printed by the Seiban Printing Co. (精版印刷株式會社) and published on January 1, 1930 (Showa 5) as a supplement to the New Year’s edition of the Osaka Mainichi Shimbun.


Osaka Mainichi Shimbun

The Osaka Mainichi Shimbun was founded in 1876 and quickly became one of the major newspapers in Japan. In 1911, it merged with the Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shimbun though the two papers continued to operate independently until 1943, when they were fully combined as the Mainichi Shimbun, still one of the major daily newspapers in Japan.

Condition Description

Average. Wear along fold lines. Chips and tears in margins, with loss at top-left.