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This is a book about graphic design and culture.
This is a book about graphic design and culture.
This is a book about graphic design and culture.
409 backers pledged $27,455 to help bring this project to life.

110 Backers? A thank you gift: Moji no Hakkutsu / 文字の発掘

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Hi everyone! Man, waking up to this project having 110 backers this morning was such a huge surprise—I'm just overwhelmed by the generosity of everyone. THANK YOU!

And thus, in the spirit of giving, here is a gift for you—one that is freely given.

Moji no Hakkutsu / 文字の発掘 by Ian Lynam
Moji no Hakkutsu / 文字の発掘 by Ian Lynam

Moji no Hakkutsu / 文字の発掘 is a small, as-yet unpublished zine of photos of vernacular signage, lettering and street typography in Kyushu in the south of Japan. (Coincidentally, it happens to have 110 pages.)

You are invited to download it here in one of two formats:

Moji No Hakkutsu by Ian Lynam / Screen
Ebook spreads version - perfect for tablet or desktop viewing - low resolution! 4.3mb PDF

Moji No Hakkutsu by Ian Lynam / Print
Print imposed version - you can print this out as a double-sided booklet, fold and staple! - print resolution! Zipped. 4.2mb PDF

An excerpt from the zine's essay:

Iizuka is a former mining town in Fukuoka Prefecture. It is famous for having a historical theater, and for being the hometown of Aso Taro, an influential and thoroughly flawed politician. It is a small city whose decline is consummate - most businesses are shuttered and most young people move away. It is the city where my wife’s parents live. Their house is increasingly surrounded by empty lots as neighbors die, move to retirement homes, and property goes unsold or unlent. It’s my father-in-law’s ancestral home—he ran his father’s fish market here after he did, married my wife’s mother here, did great business together, raised two amazing daughters with patience and tolerance, and retired in grace. He’s still a volunteer fireman and a heck of a great guy—quick with a joke and patient in prolonged explanations of the niceties of the anatomy of fish with his son-in-law. During Japan’s economic bubble of the 1980s, Iizuka was a boom town, much like most of the country. The downtown was filled with bars and restaurants, which were in turn filled with people. Then, the speculation was discovered to be merely that—pegging land value against eternal value escalation caused a deep crash that dug out huge economic chasms which the city has no foreseen hope of filling.

The signage-scape left in the wake of the 1980s is both a paean to more bountiful times and a testament to the creativity that existed in those years. One can read the signage vernacular in Iizuka easily if one looks—references to other times abound: pre-War POP lettering, Art Deco, 1960s and 1970s phototype, the shoto calligraphic tradition, whiskery higemoji, and so many others. A stroll around town is a veritable ride in a time/style machine. It’s something I love, just sanpō-ing (三宝 - to stroll) around Iizuka and taking in the literally faded glory—the wind- and sun-blasted letters made of paint, wood, plastic, vinyl and metal.

There is history here—one that is as rich as the coal mine that formerly supported the town’s economy. You just have to look to see it. There is also life, and for that you don’t have to look far. Weekend nights, notably this Saturday night the 4th of January, the bar around me is filling up—folks unwinding at the start of a new year and nearing the end of their Oshōgatsu (お正月 - New Year’s time) vacation. It’s a nice place to be.

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Thank you all so much! Please feel free to share these versions of the book with anyone!