Last year, the number of tourists coming into Japan outnumbered those going out for the first time in 45 years. In absolute terms, it may be the first time that tourism has properly taken off for this country, despite numerous attempts by various ministries and semi-official agencies over the years to promote Japan as a holiday destination.

In respect of this contemporary success, the Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo currently has an exhibition of tourism posters and other promotional material from the 1920s and '30s. It is a fascinating and at times unusually beautiful glimpse into how different art movements, regional craft practices and the spirit of the times contribute to forming commercial visual culture.

Given that the function of a promotional poster is to seduce you, with perhaps only a few seconds in which to do it, you can expect to feel pandered to — complex history and culture, beautiful landscapes and far-east exoticism have been condensed into powerfully sweet eye-candy. A surprising range of media were employed in this, including traditional woodblock prints, painting and photography. For many of the exhibits, the level of creativity and design is very high, commensurate with the desire to show off Japan at its best.