Tōkyo Shisei Zuhyo, a Statistical Atlas using Isotype
In 1935, Kyodo Print Co. Ltd. published Tokyo Shisei Zuhyo, a statistical atlas of the city of Tokyo. The collection of illustrated documents exploring Tokyo City was a forerunner in its use of Isotype. This new visual language was used to convey complicated information to the reader by translating it graphically.
A complete overview of pre-war Tokyo
Tokyo Shisei Zuhyo (Graphic Illustration of Tokyo City) by Mitsuyoshi Ohashi was published in Tokyo in 1935. It consists of 44 pages of color maps, descriptive text, vignettes, statistical graphs, and diagrams, depicting in full detail the water system, administrative divisions, roads, railroads, subways, agriculture, industry, energy, population, economic development, police and fire departments of metropolitan Tokyo. The interest of this collection is its almost unprecedented use in Japan of Isotype, a technique for depicting information via colored illustration or pictograms.
The Isotype (International System of Typographic Picture Education) was developed in Vienna by Otto Neurath in the 1920’s. The essence of Isotype publications is the transformation of complex information into self-explanatory visual charts or diagrams. Thanks to the Isotype, Mitsuyoshi Ohashi communicates a glimpse of pre-war Japan, and more precisely the social, economic, technological, architectural, and political elements of the city of Tokyo. This visual education takes exciting form in varying mis-en-page, showing coloured charts of Tokyo’s water system, population growth, subway and train systems, architecture, living standards, occupations, etc.