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Japan and the 1940 Olympics...

As I write this, the 2016 Olympics are currently underway in Rio de Janeiro - Brazil, so I thought it might be both timely and interesting to reflect on Japan's Olympic history and how a small part of that was illustrated on needle tins that Japan produced throughout the 1930's, at the height of the gramophone boom.

The modern Summer Olympics as we now know them began in 1912 and Japan has competed in almost every Olympics since. To date, Japan has won 398 Summer Olympic medals including 130 gold, most of which have been in the sports of judo, gymnastics, wrestling and swimming.

Japan's first Olympic team in 1912 (Stockholm, Sweden) had just two athletes.

The bidding for the Games of the XII Olympiad began in 1932 but it was not until 1936 that Japan was awarded the 1940 summer games in a surprise decision. At the time, Tokyo was to be the first non-western city to ever host the games so it's easy to imagine how this would have invoked the patriotic spirit of the Japanese people. To this day Japan holds the record for being the county awarded the most Olympic games, both summer and winter combined.

The poster shown on the right was chosen as the official design for the games and illustrates the strong combination of patriotic and military sentiment of the day.

A vast range of commemorative items, including gramoph