The description on the dealer’s website states that:
Our album was clearly intended for cosmopolitan Japanese MOGA (or “modern girls”) although there are a few oblique references to less important MOBO (“modern boys”) who would occasionally escort them to fashionable social events. Moga were Japan’s first recognizable youth culture: these young women rejected traditional kimonos and conservative societal values to embrace mass consumerism and Western cultural imports such as Hollywood films, department stores, dance halls, jazz orchestras, pants, cigarettes, and the modern city. Moga began to wear their hair (and their skirts) short in the style of American flappers, while men dressed as dandified French garçonnes. While Moga rejected modesty, having a lover was completely “out of fashion.” They divorced themselves from the previous state-mandated expectations and laws; while exuding a sense of independence, Moga attracted widespread criticism, but their influence remains to this day.
Many of the Art Deco designs on our album reflect the dynamic Japanese nightlife of the Roaring Twenties, a time of enormous cultural and economic change as women were making gains into the labor market. Indeed, most purchasers of Pochibukuro were women, and publishers such as ours created designs that would appeal to the “modern girl.” Some of the designs are NOT “modest.” There are depictions of stick-figures dancing the “Charleston,” a Cubist design for a dance, a Moga’s lips with requisite fashionable mole, another Moga’s lips with raised index finger for secrecy, “Western” sports such as tennis and cricket, a Moga bathing beauty, lit cigarettes, a Western card game, a Moga’s lips from which issue a dangling stem and seed, a design for “Moga / Mobo” alongside a martini glass, a “Chat Noir,” a Western dice, a Moga with her Mobo escort, a Moga with short bob hair, and much more.
Our album is apparently vol. 5 from a series of five, which was published between Taishō 13 (1924) and Shōwa 5 (1930). The publisher / editor Hirō Shōeidō evidently sought to showcase the company’s new Art Deco designs and to attract new Moga customers.
The tradition of the Pochibukuro mini-envelope began in the Edo period; they were used to conceal small amounts of money (“pochi” means “a little bit”), to be given as gifts, gratuities or tips, or for “services rendered” (especially those in pleasure districts). Such offerings could made discretely so as not to embarrass either party. Choosing the right Pochibukuro was an artform in itself, and a Mogu might bring several selections with her to a bar or various social occasions. Our volume perfectly contextualizes Moga within the craze for Hollywood films and American fashion, mass production, and the growing consumer market of “modern girls.”