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Most Excellent Mail-Order Video Era Nostalgia with The Video Letter from Japan VHS Series! Get Analog Educated about Japanese Culture through the Power of Your VCR!

By Josh Schafer


Here’s a radical slice of educational video era obscurity brought to my analog attention by my fellow Videovore and all-around radical rewind-inclined dude Matt Ridgeway. My fellow Tapeheads, I give you, the Video Letter from Japan! This advert was harvested from the January / February issue of Creative Classroom Magazine circa 1988, and offers up a series of six home video kits displaying themed glimpses of daily life in Japan through the eyes and experiences of Japanese students.



A full look at the advert for Video Letter from Japan! Bring on the international analog education!


Each kit contained two 25 minute videos, a set of teacher’s manuals and a poster “suitable for classroom use”. You gotta watch those non-descript entries, mang, ‘cause who knows what you’re actually getting, but for only $17.50 a pop, that sounds like pretty dang good deal, mang. And get this: if you wanted all six installments, you could get them for $110! Sound like a deal? It’s not! If you do that math, it’s actually more expensive to buy them all at once rather than individually. Granted, I’m no math wizard, and you can check my work, but that’s gotta be some kind of typo or something, man. I mean, teachers would be reading this, right? Mind boggling!



A close-up and clear look at the copy for The Video Letter from Japan advert. I hope they actually came in those oversize boxes, mang.


Made possible by a groovy collaboration with the Japanese technology company TDK (you might know them from their blank videocassette work!) and a New York based organization focused on educating America about Japanese culture called The Asia Society, I’m willing to VHSurmise that these tapes are still a fun, informative and now retro look into the Japanese way of life when it came to family, friends, making stuff and, of course, summer vacation!



Just look at those tape themes, mang. Living Arts and Friends is probably real rad. Those are like two of my favorite things. DIG IT.


Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find too much about them online. I did find THIS ENTRY on a library directory site, but it seems to be for Video Letter from Japan PT 2. I researched those a little, and though the entry states it’s for high school students, the themes offered with PT.2 don’t seem to necessarily cohere with that notion. One of the tape sets is centered around “Choices for Men Approaching Age 60”. Maybe they’re just looking to the future? You gotta start somewhere, mang. Ultimately, this is a fun and totally awesome piece of educational analog culture, and I think Matt put it best: “ really just too rad for words. I love seeing how video permeated every corner of society in those days. Also, I love the choice between VHS or BETA at the bottom.” We do, too, Matt, but here in Lunchmeat Land, we think the choice is obvious. Dig on, my fellow Videovores, and dig deep. The joy of uncovering video era history shall never cease! 

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