The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston has an outstanding collection of Japanese postcards from the early decades of the 20th century. During this period, Japan was rapidly modernizing, and woodblock prints fell out of favor as an art medium, replaced by the fresh, new look of the postcard. Many of Japan's top artists and graphic designers embraced the new medium, and introduced Japanese citizens to the art nouveau and art deco styles sweeping Europe. The Japanese public clamored for more, and hundreds of millions of postcards were printed to meet the demand.
Leonard A. Lauder collected more than 20,000 vintage Japanese postcards, and in 2002 he donated them to the Museum of Fine Arts. You can browse the online collection, which is divided into themes such as Royalty, Women, Architecture, Transportation, Humor and Theatre.
The postcard above depicts an illuminated Bayer Aspirin sign in central Osaka. Artist unknown.