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Fireworks. 花火仕様覚帳 [Hanabi Shiyo Obeocho]. n.p. 1763 (Horeki 12). Manuscript in ink 25x17cm; 18 leaves including covers. Quite savagely wormed but all but a few characters are legible. Au$90

Fireworks specifications. There are almost no published manuals of Japanese fireworks before the 20th century. Risho published a small book in 1825 and that is properly rare. Such information was occult knowledge, circulated in manuscript and passed from master to apprentice. I can't claim any expertise but having now seen a few 18th and 19th century fireworks manuscripts I am yet to see a second copy of any. It makes sense that every maker had their own method and styles and most every manuscript was peculiar to that.
I'd always presumed that fireworks came to Japan from China, but no, not directly. They were introduced by the Portugese or the Dutch. No-one seems sure who or when.


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Risho. 花火秘伝集 [Hanabi Hiden-shu]. Osaka? [1817 or c1825?]. 15x9.5cm later but not so recent wrapper; 37 leaves (ie leaves 3 to 39 of 39); woodcut illustrations, some full page. Stained throughout; missing the title which was inside the cover, first two leaves (preface and frontispiece) and colophon leaf. Au$1500

A horrible and incomplete copy admittedly but this, the first - and only, for a long time - Japanese book on fireworks, is so rare that even this copy was a delight to find after many years of looking. The text is complete.
It is often dated confidently to 1817 but CiNii and Waseda - the only places I can find copies - are not certain enough to assign a date. Philip's 'Bibliography of Firework Books' does list it but only from a translation of the Kokusho Somokuroku (the national bibliography of books before 1867) entry provided to him by the British Library. There it is dated c1825 and Philips notes that no more than six copies are extant in Japanese libraries. I can add that Waseda's copy is missing its title leaf but looks much nicer than this copy.
The title translates as firework secrets and, like many trades, the secrets were kept in the trade. Until this book and for at least another fifty years the secrets of fireworks were held in manuscripts. The attrition rate for a book like this with an audience of black-thumbed, fire-prone pyrotechnists must have guaranteed not too many secrets leaked out.
*Be assured that the black mark shown on one page is not mould. The damage to the book is long done and there is no sign that the paper is degrading.


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Yoshio Shunzo (or Nanko or Josan depending on the translator) & Kusano Yojun. 理学入式 : 遠西観象図説 [Rigaku Nyushiki : Ensei Kansho Zusetsu]. Nagoya, Tohekido 1826 (Bunsei 9). Three volumes 23x16cm publisher's wrappers with title labels (covers fairly dusty and smudged, particularly the front of the first and back of the third); 12 woodcut illustrations in the first volume including a quite up to date world map in two hemispheres and two plates with overlays and volvelles. A rather good set. Au$1650

This study and explanation of western astronomy appeared with different imprints, sometimes dated, between 1823 and 1828. Many cataloguers take their date from the end of the text (Bunsei 6) rather than any publisher's details. Comparing Waseda's copies and this one I'm convinced these are not just printed from the same blocks but are the same sheets with new titles and publisher's matter inserted at each end.
Yoshio was by descent a sort of follower of Shizuki Tadao who introduced to Japan at the end of the 18th century the notion of an heliocentric planetary system but whose work never got beyond manuscripts read by a few friends and followers. Goodman ('Japan and the Dutch') tells us that Yoshio used two fairly basic Dutch books and Tadao's writings to illustrate the systems of Ptolemy, Brahe and Copernicus in the first volume; deals with the sun, earth, planets, stars, constellations, comets and so on in the second and third; and finishes with an appendix on Tadao's attempt to reconcile a Newtonian universe with Chinese tradition.


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Educational fan leaf. 地球略説 ... 地球五帯之図 ... [Chikyu Ryakusetsu ... Chikyu Gotai No Zu ...]. n.p. n.d. [187-?]. Engraved fan leaf 26x51cm overall. Pleated but obviously never used. Au$350

An education at your finger tips, with the twin hemisphere map of the world, the important flags, Roman numerals so as to read a clock, what I take to be distances and vignettes of a steam ship and a steam train. Most everything you need to know about the modern world.
I have seen a contemporary album with a dozen fan leaves like this that includes this one - it was the representative illustration so it must be the pick of the bunch. Apparently the collector gave some details of who printed them and when, and they all date from the 1870s.


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Heidosai Shujin & Ryuu Joshi. 世界一覧 [Sekai Ichiran]. Tokyo, Izumiya Ichibee 1872 [Meiji 5]. Two volumes 235x155mm, publisher's wrappers with title labels; 48;52pp on double folded leaves and a double page colour world map, smaller woodcut maps and illustrations throughout. Some worming in the first volume, only of note in a few leaves and hardly terminal; pretty good. Au$800

A beguiling book, both as a digest of the world and as an essay in digesting exotic western typefaces and scripts; in digesting all things western really, from language to image. By 1872 Japan had plenty of pictures of the outside world to study and while the maps seem pretty accurate the views are still like imaginings worked up from descriptions. The pyramids seem to be in a jungle - perhaps the artist couldn't imagine desert and thought his model incomplete - London has become Venice on the Thames and poor Paris, without an Eiffel Tower to centre on, is just a railway works yard.
Worldcat finds only the National Diet Library entry.


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Uryu Masakazu & Hashimoto Sadahide 西洋新書 [Seiyo Shinsho]. Tokyo, Yamatoyo Kihei (Eto Kihei for volumes six & seven) 1872 - 75 (Meiji 5 to 8). 23x15cm, 7 volumes in 14 parts publisher's wrappers with printed labels (recently restitched); seven double page colour maps, a folding plan, a folding plate, two double page and some 174 other illustrations (most half page) by Sadahide. Some surface nibbling of part covers toward the outside of the bundle; a rather good set. Au$3500

A complete set, which is rare, of this expansive gathering of news from the west. The title is well represented in libraries but I could not find a complete set anywhere outside Japan. Few libraries get close. Even the electronic version held by many seems to be incomplete.
I can't work out the organisation of this but, roughly, the first half of the work is devoted to the United States and Mexico before moving on to Europe. A lot is military with much on the civil war, pretty up to date and natural enough for a country just emerged from their own civil war and having to face and deal with the threat of the west. The plan of Paris is dated 1867 which together with the folding plate of Paris vignettes is from material presumably collected at the Exposition.
Sadahide is not so well served by his block cutters as he was with his masterpiece books like the views of Yokohama life and Meriken Shinshi but there is plenty of charm and characteristic sharp-eyed fluid precision. He was, after all, getting on and was dead before the sixth and seventh volumes appeared so he may not have had much to say about it.


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Iehara Masanori & Shiozu Kanichiro. 学校必用 - 色図問答 [Gakko Hitsuyo - Irozu Mondo]. Kyoto?, Shiga Shinbun 1877 (Meiji 10). 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. A used copy with name on the cover. Pretty good for an old school book. sold

Second printing maybe. Western colour theor

y 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.


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Magic. Kitensai Shoichi 各国発明 : ふしぎのでん [Kakkoku Hatsumei : Fushigi No Den]. n.p. n.d. [c1880?]. 17x11cm publisher's colour woodcut wrappers, thread tied; 7 folded leaves including wrappers, b/w illustrations on eleven pages. Well thumbed but most acceptable. Au$900

Deservedly thumbed, an appealing little book of mostly western magic tricks that does not teach you, I'm sorry, how to drive a spike through your tongue. Kitensai supposedly learnt western magic in Paris in the early 1870s and brought it back to Japan in the mid to late 1870s; I can't find two writers that agree on dates.
The NDL has copies of another work on western conjuring tricks that appeared in the 1880's with Kitensai listed as first contributor to the earliest, 1882, printing but I can't find a record of our book anywhere. I suspect it was produced for sale at his shows.
The back wrapper might be purposeful or might have been pinched from a popular kabuki thriller about the battle between good and evil being printed across the workshop.


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Patent remedies. 諸薬功能書類綴 [cover title]. A gathering of 19th century handbills or descriptive and instructive leaflets or wrappers for various patent, herbal or quack medicines. v.p. c1880 to c1900? 26 individual pieces bound to fold into a handmade board and stiff paper wallet style string tied binding, 28x18cm, treated with persimmon, hand lettered title piece. Some are quite large, some are printed on both sides and a few are woodcut. Au$1500

The work of the sort of collector who deserves a small shrine. Here have been carefully preserved the most disposable, awkwardly shaped and ephemeral records of a recondite corner in modern history: when drugs and cures became an industry.
At least one of these brands is still available: Chujoto for "Female Complaints" still alleviates menstrual pain. There may be others and I'll bet many are the foundations of current industrial giants. The only date I've spotted is Meiji 13 - 1880; Chujoto was apparently invented in 1893 (or by princess Chujo of the Fujiwara clan in a Snow White like tale) and some may be a little earlier or later.


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Puppets. 西洋あやつり人形 [Seiyo Ayatsuri Ningyo]. Tokyo, Hanayashiki [188-?]. Woodcut on translucent paper with added colours, 25x19cm. Old fold, rumpled; rather good. Au$300

This hikifuda or flyer for the western puppet show in Asakusa Park's Hanyashiti - amusement park - exists in two forms: one with the main title across the top and the other in the right column, as here. The illustrations are the same. The Tokyo Museum has a copy of this and Waseda a copy of the other; I can't find one outside of Japan.


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Shimizu Usaburo. 西洋烟火之法 [Seiyo Hanabi No Ho]. Tokyo, Mizuhoya 1881 (Meiji 14). Octavo publisher's decorated cloth; [4],112,[2]pp, small illustrations through the text. Endpapers and title browned, minor signs of use; rather good. Au$500

A scarce, properly 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 and that is properly rare. 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 faint large red stamp on the title is a publisher's or bookseller's stamp.


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Takeda Korai. 倭洋妾横濱美談 [Yamato Rasha Yokohama Bidan]. Tokyo? Kinjudo 1881 (Meiji 14). Three volumes 18x12cm, publisher's colour woodblock wrappers; 18 pages in each volume, illustrated by Chikanobu throughout with three frontispieces, a single page and a double page plate in colour in the first volume. Understandable thumbing but rather good with a laid down, chewed but mostly complete colour woodcut outer wrapper (fukuro). Au$1350

Slight maybe but there's a novel, or a play at least, just in those front covers. Yamato Rasha is, I'm told, a soap of women's lives with western men in Yokahama. Even I can tell, from the pictures, that they were lives filled with conflict, devious schemes, jealousy, violence by footwear ... busy indeed.
There is a modern reprint but I find only one entry in worldcat for the original outside Japan.


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Nukina Shun'ichi. 千萬無量 : 星世界旅行 - 第一編 [Senman Muryo : Hoshi Sekai Ryoko - Dai-ichi-hen]. Kyoto, Nukina Shun'ichi 1882 (Meiji 15). 18x13cm publisher's cloth backed thin printed boards; [6],144,[3]pp, one full page and five half page illustrations. A couple of pin holes in the back cover, title a touch browned; an astonishingly good copy of a most vulnerable book. Au$3800

First edition of the first Japanese science fiction novel. This is proper interplanetary - intergalactic even - space travel, not old fashioned fantasy or fable. The title translates literally as 'Star World Travel'. For a while this was apparently regarded as a Jules Verne translation until someone figured out that there is no Jules Verne novel like this to translate.
Maybe there is undoubted Verne influence but since this has never been translated and there is virtually nothing written in English and very little in Japanese on Nukina and his novel I can't help much. What does emerge from the few brief notices I have found is that on one planet the work is done by artificially created organic creatures - androids or robots - that are governed by three rules. It would be hard to argue that either Capek or Asimov pinched their ideas from Nukina but once again we find that no great notion doesn't have a precursor.
This is volume one - containing five chapters - there is no volume two. At the end is a teasing hint of what chapters six to twelve might contain but we are unlikely to ever know for sure.


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Police. Murakami Yoshitomo. 現行法規 : 巡査心得 [Genko Hoki : Junsa Kokoroe]. Osaka, Bunkeido 1883 (Meiji 16). 15x11cm publisher's cloth; 286pp, line illustrations of uniforms and equipment. A tear in one leaf; a rather good copy. Au$200

A charming little book in its quiet way, this is a complete handbook with everything a police officer needs to know. Worldcat finds only the NDL entry.


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Sugiyama Tojiro. 文明之花 [Bunmei no Hana] A Fine Story of Womans Right - the Flower of Civilization. Tokyo, Kin'odo 1887 (Meiji 20). Octavo (19x13cm) publisher's colour illustrated boards and cloth spine; two single page and four double page illustrations. Signs of use, expected browning of the paper, a very good copy of a most vulnerable book. Au$1000

First edition of this remarkable utopian novel of women's rights in which a couple work towards and see the establishment of two equal parliaments, one for women and one for men. This was written in the period of anticipation of Japan's first parliament, scheduled for 1890. Radical as Sugiyama was, there is a sting in the tail for current feminists: Sugiyama is clear that women should be equal to men in all things right up until they get married. Equality for men and women does not mean equality for husband and wife.
Sugiyama published a rush of novels and political writing in the late seventies and eighties. These days he has been exhumed and is kept busy being rediscovered as a science fiction writer.
I discover with this copy that two completely different covers exist: one, prettified, with a mock cabinet photo of a young woman against a floral background and this one, a solid western building in a modern city street. To capture the serious male reader who would not pick up what might be a romance for women?
This is a 'ball cover' (boru hyoshi) book - a signal of modernity and the Japanese equivalent of a yellowback: flimsy western style bindings with lithograph covers that rarely survive in such good shape. Worldcat finds two locations for this, the National Diet Library and Berkeley, but I know the National Library of Australia has a copy.


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SWINBURNE, Alfred James. 通俗論理談 上 ... 中卷 [Tsuzoku Ronridan]. [Cover title: The Grave Made Gay]. Tokyo, Kochokaku 1887 (Meiji 20). Two volumes 19x13cm, publisher's illustrated wrappers; illustrations by Kobayashi Kiyochika. Some browning or spotting of the cheap paper; quite good. Au$300

Parts one and two - part three never appeared - of an an adaptation of Swinburne's 'Picture Logic or The Grave Made Gay; an attempt to popularise the science of reason ...' first published in 1875. The 'Grave Made Gay' seems to have been dropped from the English title with the fourth edition of 1881.
The illustrations are mostly copies or adaptations of Swinburne's originals but Kiyochika has drawn a few new, specifically Japanese, illustrations.
Swinburne was wealthy, a school inspector by trade, and proper example of an eccentric (ie a pain to know) English gentleman; the sort that carried a revolver to visit schools in Irish catholic areas. I haven't read his self published memoir but you can find a charming precis of it online.
Worldcat finds copies at Berkeley and in the Diet library.


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Suzuki Kinjiro. Meig. Dokufuden - 新編明治毒婦伝 [Shinpen Meiji Dokufuden]. Tokyo, Kinsendo 1887 [Meiji 20]. 18x13cm publisher's cloth backed illustrated boards (edges worn); one single page and several double page illustrations. Inner front hinge separated, inner back hinge cracked; maybe missing the front endpaper and the first two leaves (illustrations) are creased; two leaves sprung. A read copy I'm sorry to say, but for one of these flimsy board books made to be read to pieces, still acceptable. Au$150

Second edition? But how many were there? First published in December 1886 this copy is dated November 1887 but is a different book from the copy of the same date illustrated by the NDL. Starting at the front: the cover has been redrawn, the contents are a different printing with different pagination, in a different order and the illustrations are not all the same. The pagination is a nightmare; it starts, stops, jumps forward and back and nowhere meets the NDL November 1887 copy until we get to the last page.
One the prizes of the dokufu craze of the early Meiji. Dofuku - poisonous women - are nothing new of course but the happy conjunction at the advent of mass circulation newspapers of a beautifully timed series of murders by unvirtuous young women set the sensation mongers and their readers all of a fever. Newspaper to book, lurid print to kabuki and back again, dokufu were all the rage for a couple of decades. Along the way crime fiction was born and, in a way, modern Japanese literature.
This went to press too soon for Hanai Oume - 1887's murderess of choice - but I don't doubt her case sparked this new edition; she was sentenced in November. Takahashi Oden, Yoarashi Okinu, Torioi Omatsu, Gonsai Otatsu, Ibaraki Otaki and Raijin Oshin provide plenty to go on with.
Worldcat finds no copies of any but a modern reprint outside the NDL and it was some consolation to see that this copy is a lot better than one reproduced online by the NDL.


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Hanai Oume. Shuyotei Sofu. 花井於梅 粋月奇聞 [Hanai Oume Suigetsu Kibun]. Tokyo, Mori Senkichi 1888 (Meiji 21). 18x13cm, publisher's cloth backed illustrated boards; one double page and two full page illustrations; 72pp. The cheap paper browned; a rather good copy of a book made to be read to death. Au$250

Hanai earned her place as one on the trinity of great dokufu for the murder of her employee for helping her sponging father muscle her out of her business - the teahouse Suigetsu. The famous umbrella was part of her defence.
Of course nothing about cheap popular trash like this is going to be straightforward. The Strange Story of Hanai Oume at Suigetsu was first published in December 1887, just after her murder trial in November, and apparently exists in two volumes. As the the first volume contains 44 pages and the second seems to bring the total up to about 90 I suspect that a flimsy supplement was issued to the flimsy original. Our edition appeared in December 1888 and who knows how many came in between, I can't find a record of any of them including this printing.


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Hikifuda. Biscuits. Fugetsudo. 乾蒸餅製造之要趣 [Inui Mushimochi Seizo no Yo Omomuki?]. Tokyo, Fugetsudo [189-?]. Lithograph broadside 27x39cm; with red and dull gold overprinting. Old folds, rather good. Au$150

A dignified advertisement for Fugetsudo's western style biscuits delivered with the authority of what seems to be a barrage of gold medals and a view of their modern factory at work. The only date I can find is the first year of Meiji (1867) which is obviously historical. Today there are a few Fugetsudos, none of which seem to acknowledge the others but still trace their roots to the 18th century and their modern history from the great expansion and modernisation in the Meiji period. All make a speciality of Gaufres or Gaufrettes.


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Hikifuda. Chairs. Yoshida Yakichi. 椅子製造人 [Isu Seizojin]. Morioka (Iwate) 1891 (Meiji 24). Letterpress broadside 24x33cm; five chairs and a stool illustrated. Top corners repaired - I suspect it was in an album, mildly stained; pretty good. Au$375

Advertising handbill for Yoshida Yakichi, a furniture, or at least chair, maker in Morioka - in northern Honshu.
Maruya opened probably the first western furniture shop in Japan in the Ginza in 1872, probably selling imports to begin with. How quickly western furniture making for a Japanese market followed I don't know. The wealthy who wanted at least one western room to show off their modernity would likewise want to show off fine imported pieces. I'm sure there is a learned paper somewhere on western furniture making in c19th provincial Japan. If there isn't, here's a good place to start.


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