Illustrated Guide to Japanese Eiga Chirashi/Movie Flyers
All flyers pictured in this guide are from our eBay Store
Click on images to enlarge.
Welcome to our primer on collectable Japanese Eiga Chirashi/Movie Flyers/Handbills/Mini-Posters. We're Tokyoites - Chirashi specialists on eBay since 2005.
What's a Chirashi?
'Chirashi' is the Japanese word for a flyer or handbill.
The name is derived from the verb 'chirasu' - to scatter, distribute, disperse.
What's an Eiga Chirashi?
'Eiga Chirashi' (literally 'Movie Flyers') are a highly effective promotional tool in Japan.
They are normally distributed in the run-up to and during the theatrical release of a film and placed on stands or counters in the lobbies of movie theaters.
Sometimes they can also be found in stores that sell movie-related goods such as DVD rental outlets.
What Do Eiga Chirashi Look Like?
The standard Chirashi is a single B5 sheet (roughly 7x10 inches/18x26cm) with the movie's Japanese poster design printed on the front in color.
The paper stock used can vary, from gloss to matte, thick to thin. The majority of Chirashi are printed on slightly heavy and glossy paper, something like a thick page from a magazine.
The reverse side is often monochrome and features promotional photos and text such as a plot summary, excerpts from reviews and interviews, endorsements by Japanese celebrities and a release date or screening timetable.
The reverse may be stamped in a designated space with the name and contact details of the theater where the Chirashi was picked up or have these printed in a strip along the bottom.
There are, of course, exceptions to these rules. Full-color Chirashi are increasingly becoming the norm for major, big-budget releases. Double-sided (i.e. two poster designs, no promotional copy) and two or four page Chirashi are sometimes produced.[7,8] Occasionally we come across fun designs cut into in unusual shapes, with holes punched out of them or using day-glo or metallic inks.
Why Buy Chirashi?
An Eiga Chirashi is a unique and interesting piece of memorabilia to own for film buffs and fans of a particular actor, director, character or series.
Due to their relatively low price and compact size, Chirashi are easier to collect than posters and can either be kept in a folder (e.g. a B5 portfolio of the type found in art or photography supply stores) or used to decorate the home and workplace. The right design can look wonderful when framed and placed on a stand or hung on the wall!
Why Collect Chirashi?
Collecting Eiga Chirashi has been a popular hobby among Japanese cinephiles for many years.
They can, in some cases, appreciate over time into very valuable and sought after items.
There are many other reasons why collecting Chirashi can be fun and rewarding -
Chirashi are produced in limited numbers and are removed from theaters either when a movie is released or its theatrical run is drawing to a close.
Designs exclusive to Japan
In the case of foreign movies, Chirashi can feature cool re-inventions of the movie's original logo in Japanese characters.
Japanese Graphic Designers, Illustrators or Comic Book artists are sometimes commissioned to produce poster designs for the domestic market.
Releases of Western movies often have their titles changed to something more suitable for a Japanese audience.
Most Hollywood movies have their titles rendered in Katakana, that is a Japanese phonetic transliteration of the English original (e.g. 'Star Wars'='Sutaa Uoozu'). Other times titles may be literally translated into Japanese and written in Kanji (e.g. 'Planet of the Apes'='Saru no Wakusei') or given a completely new title (e.g. 'Memoirs of a Geisha'='Sayuri').
Chirashi can come in several variations for the same film. Two poster designs is typical for major releases from US studios. The most common pattern is a teaser design that may appear months before the movie is due to open in Japan which is then followed up by a mini poster design closer to the release date.
The largest number of designs for one title we've seen so far is nine(!) for Paul Thomas Anderson's 'Punch-Drunk Love' (2002).
Designs for domestic releases
Fans of Japanese TV and Cinema are even more likely to be interested in Chirashi - there are a huge number of designs available for Anime (e.g. Pokemon, Studio Ghibli), Tokusatsu (e.g. Ultraman), Kaiju/Monster Movies (e.g. Godzilla, Mothra, Gamera), Jidai-geki (period dramas featuring Samurai, Ninja etc.), world famous directors (e.g. Akira Kurosawa, Nagisa Oshima, Beat Takeshi) and films starring Japanese teen-idols and entertainers.
New designs for domestic re-runs of classic titles
In Japan, and especially Tokyo, it is commonplace for classic and cult movies to be re-released and given a short run at one or several theaters.
Since the advent of digital remastering, theatrical screenings are regularly used to promote new and improved DVD releases as well.
In either case Chirashi will be distributed to advertise the screenings, which means that once every few years a new design appears on the market. In recent years we've stocked new versions of 'Gone With The Wind', 'Lawrence of Arabia', 'The Magnificent Seven', 'Freaks' and '2001: A Space Odyssey' to name but a few.
Pre-1980s Chirashi have a look-and-feel that makes them instantly identifiable and separates them from Western movie posters of the same period. These designs look particularly nice in a frame and have a kind of hand-made, vintage vibe about them.
Designs for European, Independent, Art-House and Experimental Films
As in many western countries, Japan has a tiered system whereby large multiplexes show the latest Hollywood and domestic releases and so called 'Mini-Theaters', concentrated in the larger cities, specialize in foreign, independent and art-house type movies.
Mini-Theater Chirashi are printed in smaller numbers and are harder to find, usually being distributed in just one venue. This makes them extremely collectable. We have seen some very beautiful and creative designs produced in Japan for European films in particular.[23,24,25]
Designs for festivals and retrospectives
Chirashi are also printed to promote one-off or short-run events such as double bills, all-nighters, back-to-back screenings of all the films in a series and retrospectives featuring the works of a specific actor, actress or director. These are usually limited to one theater and printed in very small quantities and are highly collectable as a result.
Where to Buy Chirashi with Confidence
At Tokyoites all our Chirashi are thoroughly researched and sourced by a native Japanese speaker, so we can tell you exactly what you're buying with no vague and potentially inaccurate descriptions.
We always try to make it clear if a Chirashi is from the first run of a movie or a re-release by stating the year of printing on our listings.
Naturally, we would never sell color copies or reproductions of any kind. All our Chirashi are original printings, as distributed in Japanese Movie Theaters.
Other benefits of ordering from Tokyoites
- We ship worldwide for just US$6 for any number of items.
For orders over US$50, shipping is FREE.
- Fast turnaround - all orders are sent within two business days of receipt of payment.
- Every customer receives a confirmation of shipping email.
- Your orders are protected in transit by some of the "best packaging on eBay" (a customer's words, not ours!). Please check our feedback for more customer comments on our packaging and service.
- Without exception, all orders ship with a FREE EXTRA FLYER.
For more details on this offer please see our blog.
Thank You for Reading!
If you're still there, we really appreciate you taking the time to visit movieflyers.com and read this guide to Japanese Eiga Chirashi.
A lot of the information here also applies to collecting Japanese movie posters, programs and perhaps even DVDs, so we hope you'll find it useful.
Domo Arigatou Gozaimasu! (^-^)
TokyoitesMovie collectibles direct from Japan