Japanese Stereotype Map of the World from 1932

How the Japanese saw the world in 1932, right between the two World Wars (click to enlarge and read description below).

Japanese Stereotype Map of the World from 1932
Hitome de wakaru Manga sekai genjō chizu. At a glance: Cartoon Map of the Current World Situation. 一目でわかる 漫画世界現状地圖 – SHISHIDO SAGYO

This extraordinary satirical map of the world as seen through Japanese eyes was created in the early 1930s as Japanese imperial ambitions strengthened. It was published as an editorial section of Hi no De, a monthly magazine aimed at a less well-educated readership. The “current world situation” is visible at a glance thanks to the cartoon (“manga”) illustrations of Shishido Sakō (宍戸左 行) and the accompanying text blocks. Figures of the day include Gandhi, Ramsey McDonald, Babe Ruth, Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler, Chiang Kai-shek, Chang Hsueh-liang, Al Capone and sports figures Babe Ruth and Jack Dempsey.

The huge figure of Stalin emerges from buildings identified as factories. He faces away from the Ural mountain range and Soviet interior where text indicates that the churches (with onion-shaped towers) have been turned into factories, farmers have become soldiers, and tractors are being used for large-scale farming – the one in the picture is equipped with three rows of eight tillers cutting a huge swath.

Coal is the caption below a factory with five black smoke stacks belching inky ribbons of smoke with the figure waving from midway up a smoke stack identified as a female worker. A peasant woman with two cows represents the Ukraine.

Text below the two giant heads filling Italy says Boss of the Black Shirts: Mussolini and his right-hand man, [Dino] Grandi, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

President Hindenburg is grappling with Hitler – Berlin is spelled out across their locked arms while a zeppelin floats behind them. (A foamy stein of Munich beer seems to ride the rails below the two foes.) Headquarters of the International League appears inside a fortress-like enclosure identified as Bern, Switzerland. The troubled face of a man in white is not named, though he is implied to be the president of France, the caption reading: “France, suffering from having too much money.” The Eiffel Tower rises beside a demimonde dancer in stylish bob & risqué attire above a bottle of red Bordeaux wine.

The text takes on a harsh tone in noting that “Shrewd England holds on tight to the diamond-rich South Africa, and [maintains a policy] of absolute exclusion of colored people. Japanese people are treated with discrimination; as the third strongest country in the world we are considered the same as natives.”

In the United States the lower west coast and interior are taken up with images of Olympic contenders and a film cameraman. In the southeast are black jazz musicians and in the midwest Al Capone in prison. Many forms of travel are pictured including the Trans-Siberian railroad, zeppelin and ships.

Penguins strut along the lower edge of the map with an image of the South Pole in the lower right corner. Text at lower right states that the American Rear Admiral [Richard E.] Byrd launched a flight to the South Pole and plans to visit again in the autumn of this [1932] year to further explore the South Pole.

Source: Swaen


  1. It’s actually a political map making statements about the unstable world of the early 1930s. The schoolroom maps looked much different.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here