Even in 1927, retail display was an international game. In Japan, a very serious industry of urban window designers was assuring its U.S. counterparts that its store windows -- in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Nagoya -- resemble French and American constructions more than they reflect their own culture. "Very rarely do (our windows) show an Oriental trend," wrote C. Kuramoto, editor of Shoten-Kai-Sha, in the March 1927 issue of The Display World. "The superintendents of our department stores often visit Europe and America for ideas and endeavor to keep their establishments up to date." Also, groups of Japanese department store displaymen had been sent to the United States to obtain display information. Some were even graduates of American display schools or had studied American display technique, advertising and electrical engineering methods. That influence, said Kuramoto, was showing up in Japanese window trimming, decoration, lighting, show card writing "and kindred lines."
As representative of the extent to which Japanese interest in display had advanced, Kuramoto pointed out the use of reflectors in windows "so you can see the beautiful decorative effect of color lighting obtained through footlights or spot lighting, as in America." Also, Japanese retailers were taking their staffing cues from their American counterparts, "with from five to 20 displaymen for from four to eight windows. The frequency of display change is usually twice a month, but in some establishments changes are made every two to three days."
But Kuramoto felt all was not "American" among the displaymen of his country. "To my great regret, I must acknowledge that most of our windows seem to lay more stress on decorative effect than upon selling. There are no display schools in this country, and our displaymen's basic training is obtained in art school as artists. Hence, Japanese windows have no strong appeal to urge passers to buy, though they are very beautiful and artistic.
"However," he insisted, "I can foresee the evolution of our retail windows until they accomplish the buying urge so necessary in boosting sales."