A Graphic Understanding of Taiwan

A Graphic Understanding of Taiwan – The Packaging Design of Taiwanese Commodities during the Japanese Colonial Period
by 姚村雄
Morning Star
Language: Traditional Chinese
2013, 240 pages, 17 x 23 cm

A Graphic Understanding of Taiwan looks the development and history of Taiwanese culture during the Japanese colonial period by analysing the commercial art of the time. Through the sociology of art it’s possible to “understand the environment in which it came into existence”, and commercial art (advertising and packaging design) in particular is “society’s most faithful record” and “truest historical documentation”.


The book analyses specifically the Japanese colonial period in Taiwan, but also the time previous when design closely followed that of the Chinese, and also how through the development of Japanese design, Taiwan came to be influenced by Western design.


The book is split into the following sections:

  • Traditional Chinese Style – The style brought over to Taiwan by immigrants from Fujian and Guangdong.
  • Local Taiwanese Imagery – The use of the Taiwanese environment, such as the landscape or buildings, on packaging.
  • Mark of Japanese Colonial Rule – The packaging design of Japanese products. Japanese products were seen as higher quality, so this packaging design was often mimicked by local products.
  • Influence of Western Civilisation – The Western influence on Japanese culture can be seen through packaging design experimentation by the Japanese in Taiwan.
  • Trade import Product – The introduction of foreign products to Taiwan through Japanese import.


Examples of product packaging design from each period are analysed in terms of the imagery and design elements used and what this meant to culture at the time, such as a Western influence, or military imagery during the war.


A book that you pick the book up at any page and find something interesting, and even if you don’t read Chinese the designs themselves are great to look at.


Publisher created Youtube video introducing the book:

The poster used in some of the photographs is the Taiwan Typography Map by Mandarin Poster