Tokyo Motorbus Co. “Yellow Bus”, c. 1940.



1930sCommerceTransportation
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A Tokyo Motorbus Company "Yellow Bus", c. 1940.

A Tokyo Motorbus Company “Yellow Bus” sightseeing (Yuuran) bus, with a bus guide, outside Tokyo Central Station, c. 1940.

“It was [the privately owned] Tokyo Motorbus Company, in 1917, who first introduced young women to be bus conductors – a trend that would soon be followed by the other bus operators. By 1925, there were more than 360 female bus conductors in Tokyo, mostly between the ages of seventeen and twenty-three. Municipal bus uniforms, ordered from Mitsukoshi department store, were created by a French designer, a fact that was highly publicized …

“On December 15, 1925, Tokyo Motorbus Co., suffering in competition with city buses, offered Japan’s first tour buses. Tour buses were larger and more comfortable than commuter buses. They were, at first, reddish brown, but because the color was too similar to that of vehicles for the imperial family, they were repainted yellow. ‘Yellow bus’ became the nickname for tour bus.

“… Advertisements promoted these bus tours as a way to view the reconstruction of Tokyo after the 1923 earthquake and to see vestiges of old Edo, all expertly explained by a [female] guide, who was the key part of the expensive tour. Tour narration not only entertained and educated the passengers but also increased their emotional ties to the Japanese landscape.”

Tokyo in Transit: Japanese Culture on the Rails and Road, Alisa Freedman, 2011

Tour bus passing Hibiya Public Hall, c. 1930.

Tour bus passing Hibiya Public Hall, c. 1930.

Tokyo bus map (c. 1950).

Tokyo bus map (c. 1950).

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