Chirashis, beautiful and mysterious, much like their place of origin. I discovered chirashis, also called Japanese flyers or handbills, a few years ago and really had no idea what they were. I have searched long and hard for information and come up with little, what I've found I am compiling in an easy to use resource for would be chirashi collectors.

I've always had a little more than a passing interest in movie posters, I think a well developed one can really draw you in. As a child I remember seeing posters for forthcoming movies and being sucked into the artwork. What was this movie about? What strange place would it take me to, and what strange inhabitants would be there? It was all up to my imagination. The better the poster, the more I wanted to see the movie. I still very much appreciate a well developed movie poster. The problem is that a lot of modern movie studios don't exert any effort when creating them. I say save the fancy trailer and big name casting and take us back to the movie mystique of my youth. Give me a good poster and let me try to figure it out.

Chirashis offered me an inexpensive alternative to collecting the full sized movie posters that sent my imagination running wild. I’ve always wanted to collect some of my favorite posters but was worried about cost, preservation, and space. These "mini-posters" solved all three of those issues.

Chirashis can be fairly inexpensive, even for Original Trilogy flyers, and they can be stored easily and safely in the sleeves of a binder. They feature full color Japanese poster art on the front and can either be blank on the back or have screen shots accompanied by Japanese text. Most are black & white on the back, though some of the modern ones can be color on both sides. However, these are much more rare.

There are three kinds of chirashis I have come across thus far:
• Movie flyers: 7" x 10" (18cm x 26cm); laid on theater counters to advertise future releases
• Taxi coupons: 5 ¾" x 7 ¾" (15cm x 20cm); much smaller than movie flyers; also used to advertise future releases and
• Product flyers: 8 ¼" x 11 ¾" (21cm x 30cm); a bit larger than movie flyers; used to advertise products such as VHS/ DVD/ CD releases, Osaka Tin Toys, Star Wars events, and phone cards

Most of mine have been acquired on eBay though there are some great online shops that carry them like Magazine Queen or Kobe Samurai.

This first installment will cover the Original Trilogy and Special Edition movie flyers. In future months I’ll be adding Prequels, Ewok Movies, Parodies, and Taxi coupons/ product flyers. Please check back and if you have any other information to add or have any chirashis that I am missing, feel free to email me.

Title Type Year Thumbnail (click to enlarge)
Original Trilogy
Star Wars Movie Flyer: Theatrical Release 1977
Star Wars Movie Flyer: Theatrical Release 1977
Star Wars: 1982 Re-release (Japanese dub) Movie Flyer: Theatrical Release 1982
The Empire Strikes Back Movie Flyer: Theatrical Release 1980
The Empire Strikes Back Movie Flyer: Theatrical Release 1980
Return of the Jedi: Teaser Movie Flyer: Theatrical Release 1982
Return of the Jedi Movie Flyer: Theatrical Release 1983
Special Editions
Star Wars: Special Edition Movie Flyer: Theatrical Release 1997
The Empire Strikes Back: Special Edition Movie Flyer: Theatrical Release 1997
Return of the Jedi: Special Edition Movie Flyer: Theatrical Release 1997

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John J. Alvarez (