The Japanese movie industry is significant by any international measure. In 2010 it produced more films that the U.K. and France combined, only lagging behind India, the United States and China.
It isn’t however a new industry. It can trace its origins back to 1897, when Lumière cameramen began filming in the country and the first successful Japanese films were shown.
Prior to the Second World War, Japanese industries were responsible for setting their own standards. This lead to wide variances in the sizes of movie posters. With the advent of war, attempts to increase productivity lead to the introduction of centralized industrial standards. Post war, this resulted in the formation of the Japanese industrial Standards (JIS) Committee.
As a result, from the mid 1940s, Japanese movie poster sizes have been standardized to “JIS B” paper sizes.
Japanese poster are issued in these primary sizes:
B0 – measures 103 cm x 145.6 cm consisting of 2 ‘B1’ sheets. Printed in relatively low quantities and for only select films. Ideal for outdoor promotions as they are very large, making it virtually impossible for people to miss it.
B1 – measures 72.8 cm x 103 cm. Most often this is a double size version of the B2 which would make it vertical, but sometimes it is presented horizontal with different artwork. This format is much less common than the standard B2. They normally mirror the artwork found on the B2 format, but occasionally feature a unique design. They are largely designed in portrait format though landscape versions do exist and always feature unique artwork. Many films do not have a poster printed in this size and it is a hard to find format for collectors.
B2 – measures 51.5 cm x 72.8 cm and is the base size for most Japanese posters.
B3 – Nakazuri – (which means “hanging inside”) measures 36.4 cm x 51.5 cm about half the ‘B2’ used inside bus and train stations.
B4 – measures 25.7 cm x 75.8 cm which is half the size vertically of the B2 poster and half both ways of the STB. Sometimes called a Japanese insert or “speed” poster.
B5 – Chirashi – a small promo poster similar to a herald or a flyer. Their measurements vary but the majority are about 18.2 cm x 25.7 cm. These are quite often printed with information on the back.
STB – measures 50.8 cm x 147.3 cm which consists of 2 sheets of ‘B2’ posters over and under. These are sometimes called “Tatekan” posters, which translates to a standing or signboard poster uniquely available only in Japan.