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KAGAWA, Genteki [or Gen'yu or Shikei]. 産論翼 [San Ron Yoku or Sanron Yoku depending on the transcriber]. Kyoto, Shirobei &c 1775 (Anei 4) Two volumes (260x178mm) wrappers with title labels and added manuscript; 32 more or less full page woodcut illustrations. Covers dusty, a small stain to the top edge at the very end and a mild patch of stain or discolouration on three leaves of illustrations. Signs of use but a pretty good copy. The owner's signature and seal reads Yazawa I'm told. Au$2400

First edition. According to the experts, Japanese obstetrics has a definite birthdate. In 1765 Genetsu Kagawa published the Sanron, the first Japanese book on obstetrics and in 1775 his pupil Genteki Kagawa followed up with this - the Sanron Yoku - a revision and supplement to the Sanron which includes case histories and, more important to me, pictures. The Sanron was not illustrated.
This is a bridge between traditional and modern - western influenced - medicine. Kagawa the younger disavowed the more terrifying of his master's tools and introduced new techniques based on European methods. This work was the basis of obstetrics until way into the 19th century. The captivating (given the subject) woodcuts are of gracefully formed, raven haired babies-to-be that can only be Japanese.


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Daikokuya Kodayu. Katsuragawa Hoshu. 北漂記 [Hokuhyoki?]. n.p. earlyish 19th century? Manuscript in ink. Ten books written and bound in five volumes 23x17cm, patterned wrappers titled in ink. Illustrations on 12 pages. Covers smudged and dusty, a definitely read but well preserved, rather good copy. Au$3200

A famous drift account, as far as any of the Japanese drift accounts are famous, this is the story of Daikokuya Kodayu and his fellow crew, swept off course and wrecked in the Aleutians in 1782, and his decade or so in Russia before, thanks to Erik Laxmann, he got to hang out with Catherine the Great which won him aid to return to Japan.
The portrait of a stately Daikokuya here shows him with Nagao Isokichi who accompanied him back to Japan but obviously didn't make the same impression Daikokuya did. Of course returning to Japan from anywhere not Japan could be a capital crime and any lost sailors foolhardy enough to come home needed a good story to save them from the chopper. Lucky for Daikokuya he had a lot to say about Russia and a report was prepared for the Shogun by physician and 'Dutch' scholar Katsuragawa Hoshu in 1794.
These accounts of the outside world by returned involuntary travellers - drift accounts they are usually called, the title here more or less translates as 'north drift record' - were almost never published but were circulated in manuscript copies until the middle of the 19th century when the outside world forced itself on Japan. Not many were published then. They were, after all, mostly old news and had to wait for modern scholarly editions to become available again.
Comparatively famous as I said, there are several modern editions, studies and biographies of Daikokuya but early manuscript copies are hard, very hard, to trace. The National Archives of Japan illustrates their 'Hokusa Bunryaku' - Katsugawara's title for his study of Russia - two handsome coloured scrolls with illustrations of the objects and costume - some in our copy - and a separate group of text volumes. This copy I would guess from the wrapper pattern, dates toward 1840.


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Daikokuya Kodayu, Nagao Isokichi. Illustrations from the Russian accounts of Daikokuya Kodayu and Nagao Isokichi. n.p. [1808?]. Manuscript 26x18cm in ink on 17 double folded leaves (34 pages) plus cover leaves, six blank leaves in the centre and three more at the end; ribbon tied. Date and an as yet undeciphered inscription scrawled on the front cover. Cover leaves dusty; somewhat dog eared but quite a good copy. Au$1500

The make up and history of these manuscripts is complicated - very complicated - as there was always more than one original version. The versions widely copied under titles like Hyoryuki, Hyominki or Hokuhyoki are often a bit light on illustrations. There were lots of illustrations to accompany the narrative but in the earliest copies of Katsuragawa's report they are on separate scrolls.
The illustrations in this manuscript complement but don't repeat the illustrations in the Hokuhyoki above. It makes sense that those with a copy of the account would want some more pictures. These pictures appear here and there in many works: the skin boat here appears on a scroll titled Roshia-sen Higashiezo Raiko-zu. There are two different groups here: the first 28 pages are of things and people Russian; the six pages at the end are apparently things and people of the Aleutians. I think I see two or more hands at work. The six blank leaves in between may be there in the hope of adding more from other sources.
While the first group were certainly done before binding it's possible that those at the end were done after. This is dated Bunka 5 (1808) on the front and at the beginning of the second section. Usually we must be circumspect with dates on manuscripts - they often are the date of the original not the copy - but here I'm pretty confident the date fits the book.


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Otsuki Gentaku, Shimura Hiroyuki &c. 環海異聞 [Kankai Ibun]. n.p. early 19th century Manuscript of fourteen books bound into five volumes, 23x16cm original wrappers with manuscript title labels; colour illustrations throughout, many full page or double page, a few triple page inluding a map of the world with the Krusenstern-Rezanov voyage to Japan marked. A larger folding illustration for volume 15 is on a separate sheet. Some insignificant staining and sporadic worming - none of it of any real consequence.
Book 14 is not and never was included. Au$6000

The wondrous account of Japanese sailors shipwrecked in 1793, their adventures across Russia to St Petersburg and the return of four of them with the Krusenstern circumnavigation - Russia's first - bringing Rezanov, Russia's first envoy, to Japan in 1804.
This account, issued in 1807, was prepared from two years interrogation of the sailors by Otsuki Gentaku assisted by Shimura and like most accounts of the outside world never published but circulated in manuscripts like this. The complete account is fifteen volumes, sometimes fifteen and a supplement but the map of the return voyage included in that supplement is in volume one in this copy.
This copy was obviously copied from a manuscript without book 14 and another copy also without any book 14 appeared in auction a couple of years ago. That no two manuscripts are ever identical is a given but this is all more messy and complicated than the mere miscopying or copying of incomplete manuscripts than we might think. Something of a preliminary study by Vladsilav Goreglyad of the manuscript in St Petersburg which had belonged to the first Japanese Embassy in Russia and two modern editions based on manuscripts belonging to National or Imperial collections in Japan and manuscripts belonging to the Otsuki family suggests that there never was a single manuscript from which all other copies come.
Hashimoto Hatsuko in his introduction to a recent transcription at Seika University of a manuscript copy spoke of seventeen extant versions. Theirs was notable for four points including the description of the "balloon spectacle" in St Petersburg. Differences in text between copies are beyond me.
More intriguing to me are the illustrations. It's not just that copies were made by artists or amateurs of varying skill or attentiveness. When you compare manuscripts it sometimes seems that artists were present at the same place or event but in a slightly different spot, or time, and saw the same things quite differently. It's rarely a matter of slavishly copying, all of them seem to have reworked pictures to suit themselves and it's clear that the illustrator of this manuscript was influenced by Chinese drawing and painting styles.


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Giichi Akita. [The entry used by Worldcat names him Hodo Akita]. 算法地方大成 [Sanpo Jikata Taisei]. Tokyo, Kitajima Junshiro &c 1837 (Tenpo 8). Five volumes (25x18cm) publisher's wrappers; 4,156 double folded leaves, numerous woodcut illustrations. A spot of worming in the first cover and a touch in another volume, a rather good set. Au$350

First edition of this manual of land management and surveying, published at a troublesome time in Japanese history: the 1830s brought a movement, fiercely resisted by the authorities, towards the adoption of western science and technology and, relevant to this book in particular, a period of horrendous drought, famine and unrest in rural Japan.
Land surveying was primarily concerned with taxation and, before the Meiji reforms, accurate measurement was not only unimportant but unwanted. The extent and value of land was a matter for negotiation.
The intricacies of Japanese land surveying in the early modern period demand long learned essays - and after reading a couple I'm none the wiser - but what is clear is that this book is a major work in the history of rural engineering, survey and management. It was also problematic for the authorities: "problems in surveyor education were aggravated by government censorship. Bakufu officials did not want administrative uses of survey techniques discussed in public. Under the guise of 'respect authority; despise the people (kanson minpi),' the mysteries of official practice were not to be released to the public domain." (Brown: A Case of Failed Technology Transfer - Land Survey Technology in Early Modern Japan; 1998).
The authorities did suppress or attempt to suppress the Sanpo Jikata Taisei; Brown refers us to the preface of the 1976 reprint of this book for details and I came across another reference that claimed the woodblocks were destroyed. This seems fairly scarce outside Japan; the title is well represented in western libraries but once we discard the 1976 reprint I found only two libraries with originals through Worldcat.


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Russian ship. Putyatin. A Bunkindo woodcut of a supposedly Russian ship. Nagasaki, Bunkindo 1853? Coloured (by stencil or hand?) woodcut on brown paper, 25x37cm. Minor rumpling. Au$475

This presumably is one of Putyatin's ships that arrived in Nagasaki in August 1853 in attempt to match any treaty Perry managed to force on Japan. Like most of these hurried prints produced to capitalise on such dramatic occurrences old, sometimes ancient, woodcuts were dusted off and reworked.
In this case it's clear that a Dutch ship has been rebranded Russian. Russian enough: there are still Dutch flags flying. This saved a lot of mucking about, sending an artist down to draw each ship. Few customers would ever see the actual boat.
The British Museum has a more expected Nagasaki print which I swear is from the same block, with text and a crudely added vignette. That text labels it a Dutch ship - "Hollandsche Schip" even though flags have been made Russian. I'd guess the block cutter couldn't read that bit and left it alone. I'm yet to find the original - still all Dutch - print and I'm not sure it matters. It was likely adapted from another print anyway.
The grandfather of this print, as far as I'm aware, is the print of the Dutch ship Shellach from 1782 and Bunkindo published 'Hollandsche Schip' prints galore drawn from that Shellach print. There is no text but Bunkindo's seal, lower left.
Bunkindo were prolific publishers of Nagasaki prints of things foreign from the late 18th century into the 1850s. I wonder whether the band on deck playing large twirling horns was an improvement introduced for Koops' arrival in 1844 when Bunkindo went to town with prints showing the visiting band's French horns.
I also wonder if the paper here as been dyed with persimmon juice, it's certainly persimmon colour. Books expected to be used a lot - like a lending library - were often dipped in persimmon juice to strengthen the edges of the paper but I've never seen another c19th print on brown paper like this. My guess is that Bunkindo were looking for ways to brighten up a well thrashed image.
This is not a beautiful print. It's no triumph of Japanese craftsmanship but it is an intriguing example of the souvenir industry that thrived in Nagasaki on visiting Japanese tourists.


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海陸御固附 [Kairiku Okatame Tsuke]. [Tokyo 1854?]. Woodcut broadside 40x61cm on two sheets joined in the middle. Somewhat shabby with some stains and holes, a couple repaired. Not too bad for a kawaraban. Au$850

These illicit illustrated news sheets - kawaraban - for the streets were produced by the million for a couple of hundred years so of course few survive. They were produced for anything more interesting than the drop of a hat and the arrival of the Black Ships, the American squadron commanded by Perry, in 1854 eclipsed any and all tiresome earthquakes, fires, plages, famines, murders and scandals. For most Japanese this was the same as a squadron of alien space ships arriving on earth now.
These prints are the kurofune kawaraban. Perry's ships in the bay and the defensive array of clans with tens or hundreds of thousands of troops along the shorelines was a popular kawaraban subject; this and one similar are the largest and busiest I've seen.
The other large version I've seen of this - titled Shinkoku Taihei Take Mori Mata Akira - is the same size, looks similar and features the American sailor/soldier in the corner, but is printed from different blocks with the ships in a different spot.


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Hashizume Kan'ichi. 世界商売往来 [Sekai Shobai Orai - literally World Trade Traffic]. Tokyo, Seikichi 1871 [Meiji 4]. 180x120mm publisher's wrapper (a bit rumpled); 26 double folded leaves; one full page and numerous small illustrations throughout. Title page on yellow with a man operating some mysterious, to me, mechanism. Au$385

First edition of this handy bilingual vocabulary of world trade giving the English, with Japanese explanations, of a wide range of terms, quantities, goods, professions, and so on. I used to think the bibliography of Hashizume's handbooks on foreign trade was straightforward: three, this, the first in 1871 following it up with two more in 1873. Since then I've discovered variants and variants of variants. There are some of the expected amusing errors in spelling and typography but far fewer than in the later books.


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ALLEN, Charles Bruce; Murata Fumio & Yamada Koichiro. 西洋家作ひながた [Seiyo Kasaku Hinagata]. Tokyo, Gyokuzando 1872 (Meiji 5). Four volumes 23x15cm publisher's wrappers with printed title labels. Illustrations through the text and full page plates - copper engravings. A most restrained nibble to the very edge of the cover and first few pages of one volume; a rather good copy. Au$1250

The first western architecture book published in Japan. I'm intrigued by the choice of the modest 'Cottage Building, or hints for improving the dwellings of the labouring classes' - one of Weale's utilitarian Rudimentary Treatises. Why not European grandeur? American mass production?
Allen's small book first appeared in 1849-50 and remained in print, progressively updated, into the 20th century. This translation was made from the 1867 edition.
A sensible enough choice I guess but when has sense played any part in the introduction of new ideas? Murata Fumio edited 'Seiyo Bunkenroku' (1869 &c) - based on the reports of the Takenouchi mission of 1862 - which focused on England so the connection is clear enough. That there was any significant group pushing for philanthropic reform this early in the Meiji restoration comes as a surprise to me; perhaps this book was chosen as a slap in the face to the opponents of westernisation and modernisation. Ostensibly it was a response to the 1872 Tokyo fire. Allen's book was given by an Englishman to the translator as useful for information on fire-proof buildings. Could it be that simple?
Worldcat finds no copies outside Japan; a search of the specialist libraries I can think of found no more.


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Elephant advertisement. 天竺渡リ - 生大象 [Tenjiku Watari - Nama Taiho]. Yokahama? Sugiyama Kichizo [c1875-1883?]. Woodcut broadside 33x48cm. Folded, the printing somewhat rushed and blurred, a rather good copy. Owner's seal on the back. Au$500

A kawaraban - or news sheet - style advertisement for the great elephant show. There are at least four versions of this print. One, I haven't seen, is dated 1875 and one is dated 1883. I'm told the age of the elephant changes in each print - in ours he is eight - which should be a reliable guide to the date but it isn't.
Waseda University illustrates another version of this, a better defined woodblock - in which we can see clearly that up on the howdah an acrobat is balancing a barrel on one foot - but less funny. In theirs the keeper is offering a handful of hay, in ours the pratfall has been caught. The finer detail and lack of joke indicates that theirs is the earlier version. I have seen one other copy of this print and it's as blurred as ours. The third version sits somewhere between the two in quality but in that the elephant is nine and the print is dated 1883.
Three or four separate woodblocks indicates these things were being printed as fast and plentiful as the impresario could churn them out.
1863 was the year of the elephant in Japan - the great Indian elephant drew squillions of spectators and the artists and printmakers went crazy. It wasn't the first elephant to arrive in Japan but it had been near 150 years since the last one. That elephant went on tour after a spell in Tokyo but surely our elephant isn't that same one? What I can make out of the text suggests it might be but that makes nonsense of the age. Certainly our elephant has progressed from being a drawcard by merely existing to being the star of a theatrical show. Sugiyama Kichizo was a theatre manager in Yokohama.


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Iehara Masanori & Shiozu Kanichiro. 学校必用 - 色図問答 [Gakko Hitsuyo - Irozu Mondo]. Kyoto, Wakabayashi Kisuke 1876 (Meiji 9). 21x15cm publisher's wrapper with title label; [2],40,[2]pp on 22 double folded leaves, two colour charts and small colour squares through the text, hand coloured. Somewhat wormed but not terminal. Au$300

Western colour theory introduced to Japanese students. This was, according to one historian and repeated by others, first published in 1873 but I can't find any copy earlier than 1876. I have read that it is a copy of an American book by Marcius Willson but I think there is some confusion. Willson produced wall charts for American schools that were used in Japan and I suspect that in 1873 wall chart no. XIV was introduced. His accompanying writings on color in his 'Manual of Information and Suggestions for Object Lessons' - the work cited - are nothing like this.
In any case he seems to have borrowed Field's chromatics. So it was English colour theory that made its way into Japan first. I'd make a pretty confident bet that this is the first edition.


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NORITANE, Ninagawa. 観古図說 [Kanko Zusetsu]. Kwan Ko Dzu Setsu. Notice historique et descriptive sur les arts et industries Japonais .. art ceramique. Tokyo 1876-77. Five volumes oblong folio wrappers with printed labels; between 5 and 11 leaves of Japanese text in each and 90 handcoloured litho plates (actually 89 - there are 18 in each part but 15a in the first is a half plate in monochrome). With the five booklets containing the French text published in Tokyo 1876-78. A very good set in the publisher's portfolio (this worn but solid). Au$1750

A most appealing hybrid, this records Japanese pottery apparently in chronological order from ancient times on, illustrated with quite exquisite lithography and produced with a foreign audience in mind.
Noritane was a founder of the Tokyo Museum and apparently taught Edward S. Morse everything Morse knew about Japanese ceramics. Noritane did plan to extend this series - plates had been prepared for a section on roofing tiles and another on armour - but his death in 1882 put an end to it.
Most of the items illustrated here ended up in the Morse collection. In the end I wonder if this is the most elaborate trade catalogue of 19th century Japan. Nothing sells art like a sumptuous monograph to wield as reference and a banner of importance.


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Shimizu Usaburo. 西洋烟火之法 [Seiyo Hanabino Ho]. Tokyo, Mizuhoya 1881 (Meiji 14). Octavo publisher's decorated cloth; [4],112,[2]pp, small illustrations through the text. Endpapers and title browned, an outstanding copy. sold

A scarce work on western fireworks. There are almost no published manuals of Japanese fireworks before the 20th century. Risho published a small book in 1825 but I'm yet to see a copy in the wild. Such information was occult knowledge, circulated in manuscript and passed from master to apprentice. Shimizu is called translator - and he was a translator of western books - but I can't find out who and what he has translated here. The large red stamp on the title is also on the only other copy I've seen illustrated so it is a publisher's or bookseller's stamp.


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Nishimura Shigeki and others. 婦女鑑 [Fujo Kagami]. Tokyo, Kunaisho 1887 (Meiji 20). Six volumes 23x16cm, publisher's wrappers with title labels; double page page woodcut illustrations. An outstanding set with its outer printed wrapper, this mildly shabby. Au$375

First edition of this official piece of moral education for women: the lives of inspiring women around the world. It was reprinted well into the 20th century.
Moral philosopher and scholar of things western, Nishimura tutored emperor Meiji on the West. Apparently this book had some influence on the choice of Nishimura to head the Peeress's School the following year. It is a monument to self denial and sacrifice on the part of women - clear enough from the illustrations - and not much different from similar books for girls anywhere in the world but that it is deeply Confucian.
Looking at the remarkable likeness of descriptions of this book by modern historians I wonder who read it and who just read each other.


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Muneaki Mihara. 自在教育法図解 [Jizai Kyoikuho Kuzai]. The Teaching by Pictures the Way of Impraving Freely am Easely the Natural Constitution of Man [sic]. Ritsuma Akiko, 1888 (Meiji 21). Broadside 70x53cm, woodblock printed, folding into publisher's limp cloth covers 17x13cm with printed label. Covers browned with a splodge on the back; a nice copy Au$800

An enchanting and self evident exposition on the value of pictures in learning. Seemingly as simple as a phrenology chart but judging by the amount of text worked into all those different parts of the brain perhaps a lot more complex. From the little, as an illiterate, I can glean on brain function as outlined here this might sit somewhere between phrenology and neurophysics. The open area at the very centre of the brain is labelled 未詳 - unknown.


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Kawahara Eikichi 東京横浜独案内 [Tokyo Yokahama Hitori Annai]. The Guide to Tokyo and Yokahama [cover title]. Tokyo, Kobayashi Shinbei 1890 (Meiji 27). Smallish octavo publisher's flexible cloth - wallet bound; illustrations through the text, some full page, double page maps, a folding map of Yokahama and foreign residenis (sic) in pocket at the front; a folding plate at the end of the main text and a extensive section of illustrated advertisements on various coloured papers. The cloth flecked and a bit nibbled, inside a fresh, crisp copy. Au$475

A nifty little guide book that can never have been used, barely opened. It was published to coincide with the third national exposition. I came across a garbled bit of translation that seemed to say that befuddled tourists should use this book rather than bother busy merchants with requests for directions.
Worldcat finds no copies.


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Hikifuda 諸國紙類西洋小間物 [Sho kuni-shi-rui seiyo komamono]. Osaka? 1892-4 (Meiji 25 - 27). Colour wood engraving 26x38cm. Some smudges made when the business name was changed. A nice copy. Au$325

An exciting, busy, modern to the minute hikifuda - handbill or poster - advertising western haberdashery and adding a fun railway map of eastern Japan and helpful timetable for 1894.
This is an off the shelf hikifuda - as many were - printed with a blank space for any business to print or write in their own details. This was printed in July 1892 according to colophon so the timetable must have been added later.
Then the buyer added their business details and then, in this case they had another go at it, blacking out the business name and redoing it in gold by hand.
This is wood engraving - a western method - rather than a traditional woodcut. In later years the embrace of things western meant that most prints like this were lithographs - a medium perfect for the most lurid and unlikely colours. It isn't easy to see in reproduction but the centre panel is printed with pale graduated colours.


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