New of Pom and Song The English and Japanese. 英和対訳新体運動歌 [Eiwa Taiyaku Shintai Undoka]. Tokyo, 1887 [Meiji 20]. Small octavo publisher's illustrated wrapper; ,32,pp. A bit used, rather good copy for such a vulnerable thing. A christmas gift inscription on the front to 'Father' dated Dec 16, 1887. Au$1200
A pioneering Japanese foray into English poetry and poetry in English which I can't find anywhere but the National Diet Library. Elsewhere I found two references to this. One is Basil Chamberlain's 'Things Japanese', the other 'Japan for a Week' by Alexander M. Thompson who clearly never saw this booklet but, misreading Chamberlain, requotes a poem from 'Things Japanese' which isn't in this. Chamberlain, in the chapter 'English as She is Japped' quotes two poems without explicitly stating they are from this; they aren't. Did he see the book? What is here is a mix of what seem to be poems by English and Japanese writers, things that are more aphorisms and morals than poems and an intriguing excerpt from Tennyson's Charge of the Light Brigade. This isn't a production for western tourists or export of the pretty sort that became popular through the 1890's. This is a modest first step of the Japanese setting out - as they did with all things western - to learn, encompass and digest a new form.
Japanese illustration. Hanai Oume? Set of proof wood engraved illustrations for a Japanese serial story. n.p. n.d. [c 1887?] Oblong quarto by size (260x185mm ) contemporary plain wrapper; 41 wood engravings on 21 double folded leaves. A little browning. Au$475
A prime example of the strange casserole of Meiji Japan. In form, in technique, in content and in production these hold all the paradoxes of Japan embracing western modernisation while hanging fast to tradition. These are the illustrations for what seems a rollicking sword and sash thriller but ... it is set in a modern metropolis; bowler hats, suits and dashing mustachios are not out of place, neither is what looks like a railway station; and these are not ukiyo-e woodcuts for a popular novel, these are western wood engravings for a long serial - there are 41 after all - in a newspaper or broadsheet magazine; an illustration of such a paper helpfully holds a bough of blossoms in one illustration. The subject apart, the glaring difference between these and any western illustrations is the skill of artist and engraver, all but a few western counterparts are put to shame. I'm convinced that these relate to Hanai Oume the celebrated Tokyo geisha-teahouse owner who, in 1887, stabbed her sometime lover and employee who, apparently in concert with her father, was trying to muscle her out of the business. The first illustration here shows two men holding umbrellas that, I'm told, advertise a restaurant or 'licenced pleasure quarter' remarkably similar to hers: Suigetsu. Oume or O-ume - her professional name - was celebrity manifest. Her murder trial was public and though crowds unable to get in became irate every moment was covered in the press; books were published within minutes, kabuki plays and novels performed and published, and the newspapers made rich. Yoshitoshi produced a famous print of the murder as a supplement for the Yamato Shimbun but while there is plenty of violence in these pictures there is no murder. Spin-off or fanciful concoction, there's a good story here. There is an owner's (maybe artist's?) seal which I make out to be 春耕慢虫 - I'm sure I'm wrong.
Shakespeare. Gakkai Yoda, Shuto Osada &c. 当世二人女婿 [Tosei Ninin Muko; also transcribed as Tosei Futari Muko - this translates as something like Two Son-in-Laws of Today]. Tokyo, Hobunkan 1887 [Meiji 20]. Two volumes, 23x15cm, publisher's illustrated wrappers with title labels; one full page and six double page woodcut illustrations by Yoshitoshi. A bit of worming to five leaves, not serious; a nice copy. Au$750
King Lear in Meiji Tokyo. Being illiterate has never been an impediment for a bookseller but sometimes it does make it hard to explain exactly what you are selling. I have read everything I can find in English on Shakespeare in Meiji Japan. There's quite a bit of it and it all pretty much repeats the same story established nearly a century ago. Three translators are fleshed out to degrees that depend on which is the focus of the historian and the rest brushed past. Gakkai Yoda was something of a leviathan in Japanese letters, theatre and culture but no-one writing in English has yet tackled his Shakespeare connection. His diaries were published in twelve volumes not so long ago so there must be plenty of material there. Shakespeare began appearing in Japanese in newspapers in the 1870s, as fragments and retelling from Lamb's Tales. The first complete translation proper was of Julius Caesar in 1883, published in instalments in a newspaper and as a book in 1886; the first performance of a play was an adaptation of The Merchant of Venice in 1885. Hamlet, The Merchant of Venice and Julius Caesar were the favourites for the first few years. and in most cases the plays were remodelled as Japanese dramas. This is translated from a French version - presumably where Shuto Osada played his part, he was the translator from French - not directly from Shakespeare. It is set in modern Tokyo - had anyone else anywhere in the world consciously done this? - and there must be a good reason why. OCLC has seven entries for this book so it must be common, you'd think. The seven entries together locate three copies, one outside Japan.
Japanese 1920s graphic thriller. Preliminary sketches for a graphic story, probably for a magazine or pulp book. n.p. [192-?]. 23 sheets 22x15cm numbered to 21 with the last two (a bit smaller) unnumbered and two small paintings on red ribbon which don't seem to belong to the story but are of a piece with it. Two drawings to a page, all but a couple - pencil - in ink and wash. Au$450
Being illiterate doesn't stop me from recognising a timeless jazz age tale of crime, degradation, betrayal, forbidden lust and madness. This is clearly a good girl gone wrong story with a twist. Maybe more than one twist. The overt lesbian stuff was not that common in parallel western stories - book or film. This is pretty steamy stuff; in a tortured, fully dressed way. The drawings are signed but my translator can't decipher them. The accompanying text is mostly dialogue.
Hiroshi Hara [?]. 港々の猟奇街 [Minatominato no Ryokigai]. Tokyo, Fuzoko Shiryo 1931 [Showa 6]. Octavo publisher's illustrated wrapper (a bit used); photo illustrations on ten pages, 167pp and three page publisher's list. Part of the series Dekameron Sosho. Au$200
A modest but characteristic contribution to the ero-guro-nansensu (erotic - grotesque - nonsense) fashion of late Taisho and early Showa Japan: jaunts among the strange denizens of ports. The small grainy photos are a gathering of the expected seamy misfits, outcasts and dock lowlife in the ports of the world mixed with a couple of baffling innocuous views and bar scenes from films. It will probably make sense to those who can read the book: the chapter headings - there are ten chapters of course - do seem to connect to the photos.
Shogakusei Zenshu. DEFOE, Daniel. ロビンソン漂流記 [Robinson Hyoryuki]. Tokyo, Kobunsha 1927 [Showa 2]. Octavo, cloth backed publisher's illustrated card wrapper; illustrated title, two colour plates, b/w illustrations through the text. Some browning and mild signs of use; a rather good copy. Shogakusei Zenshu no.72. Illustrated by Watanabe Shinya. Au$125
The Shogakusei Zenshu, or Complete Works for Elementary Schools, runs to some 88 volumes of educational texts and literature - much of this in translation; few of them seem elementary. This one is a translation of Robinson Crusoe of course.
Shogakusei Zenshu. Conan Doyle, Maurice Leblanc etc. 少年探偵譚 [Shonen Tanteitan]. Tokyo, Kobunsha 1928 [Showa 3]. Octavo, cloth backed publisher's illustrated card wrapper; illustrated title, two colour plates, b/w illustrations through the text. Some browning and mild signs of use; a rather good copy. Shogakusei Zenshu no.45. Cover and title by Hatsuyama Shigeru, illustrations by Michioka Toshi, Imamura Nobuo and Emori Seihachiro. Au$185
The Shogakusei Zenshu, or Complete Works for Elementary Schools, runs to some 88 volumes of educational texts and literature - much of this in translation; few of them seem elementary. This one contains translations of Sherlock Holmes, Lupin and a Subway Sam story by Johnston McCulley. Hatsuyama, best known as an illustrator, gave up illustration in the mid thirties, reluctant to feed military propaganda to children, and concentrated on printmaking, coming back to illustration after the war.
Shogakusei Zenshu. Murayama Tomoyoshi. アラビヤ夜話集 [Arabiya Yawashu]. Tokyo, Kobunsha 1928 [Showa 3]. Octavo, cloth backed publisher's illustrated card wrapper; one colour plate, full page b/w illustrations. Some browning and mild signs of use; a rather good copy. Shogakusei Zenshu no.13. Cover, colour plate and illustrations by Murayama Tomoyoshi. Au$195
The Shogakusei Zenshu, or Complete Works for Elementary Schools, runs to some 88 volumes of educational texts and literature - much of this in translation; few of them seem elementary. Here we have some Arabian Nights. Murayama maybe leads the list of avant-garde heros of interwar Japan. Founder of MAVO and communist troublemaker he had books and plays banned, ended up in prison, and produced lively, humourous illustrations for children.