Home > Publications > NDL Newsletter > No. 202, October 2015

National Diet Library Newsletter

No. 202, October 2015

Material recently designated as a semi-rare book: Yama no sachi

Risa Ito
Humanities, Maps, Rare Books and Old Materials Division
Reader Services and Collections Department

This article is a partial translation of the article in Japanese of the title “Materials recently designated as rare books: 49th committee on designation of rare books” and “Utilizing the Internet to search for manuscripts of early Japanese books: using documents relating to “Yama no sachi” as an example”
in NDL Monthly Bulletin No. 651 (July 2015).

Contents

Yama no sachi
[NDL call no.: WB1-23]
Edited by SEKIJUKAN Shukoku
Illustrations by KATSUMA Ryosui (Ryusui)
Published in 1765
Two volumes (divided in three books);
25.8cm×18.7cm

*Title is from the preface
*Color print; double-paged printing; four-hole binding, single-line borders all around
*Inside size of frame borders; 23.3-23.8×17.0cm
*Pagination: First book: folio 1 to 21 of the first volume; Second book: folio 22 to 26 of the first volume and folio 3 to 11 of the second volume (pagination of folio 2 is missing); Third book: folio 12 to 26 of the second volume (missing hereafter)
*Two volumes were rebound into three books
*Four and a half folios including kanki (a note giving details of publication), are missing (folio 2, 27 and 29 of the second volume are missing, and folio 7 of the second volume is a blank page)


1. Introduction to a semi-rare book: Yama no sachi

Yama no sachi is an outstanding example of ehaisho (an illustrated book of haiku) from the Edo era. It is well-known as an early example of the genuine colored woodblock printing that preceding nishiki-e (color woodblock print), which emerged around 1764 at the beginning of the Meiwa era (1764-1772). There are haiku by members of Edo-za (a school of haiku) compiled by SEKIJYUKAN Shukoku (1711-1796) and accompanied by pictures of flowers and insects drawn by KATSUMA Ryosui (1697-1773).


<<Figure 1: folio 25 recto>>


<<Figure 2: folio 7 verso and folio 8 recto>>

Ehaisho is an illustrated book of haiku. The first ehaisho was Inago, written by KITAMURA Kigin in 1656. Though ehaisho temporarily fell out of fashion during the Genroku era (1688-1704), after the publication of Chichi no on1 in 1730, ehaisho and haikai ichimaizuri (haiku poems printed on a single sheet of paper) entered the age of multicolored prints and this method flourished as a precursor of ukiyo-e (lit. pictures of the floating world). During the Hōreki (1751-1763) and Meiwa eras, sophisticated multicolored ehaisho such as Wakana (published in 1756), Umi no sachi2 (published in 1762) and Yama no sachi were popular.

There are twelve copies of Yama no sachi known to be extant, including some with missing volumes. The National Diet Library (NDL) holds two copies. Almost all of the existing copies have minor discrepancies in their plates or printing, and the printing surface of each copy is different. Therefore, comparison of these copies could contribute to research into how multicolored woodblock prints were produced.3 Additionally, a copy that was designated as a semi-rare book on February 18, 2015, contains figures of which particularly few printings remain (Figure 2 above. Please also refer to (5) Folio 7 verso and folio 8 recto of the second volume: the jewel beetle.), with there being only one other copy confirmed to contain the same figures. NDL holds the only copy in Japan of this version, which makes it a very precious one.

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2. Comparing different versions of Yama no sachi

Here is a comparison of three different copies of Yama no sachi: Copy A was designated a semi-rare book in 2015, Copy B is a part of the Kano Collection held by the Tohoku University Library,4 and Copy C, which is also a part of the NDL’s collection, was designated a semi-rare book in 2011.5

(1) Folio 13 verso of the first volume: bulblets

In Copy A, bulblets are shown at the axils of leaves, while in Copy B, the lines and coloration oddly leave a blank where the bulblets should be. (Additionally, the butterfly over the beetle in Copy A seems to have been drawn in later years.)


<<Copy A>>


<<Copy B>>

Notes:
*Copyright to this image of Copy B is held by the Tohoku University Library.
*Any reproduction, modification, or secondary use of this image is strictly prohibited.
(Copyright © Tohoku University)

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(2) Folio 25 recto of the first volume: false strawberries

Copy A shows false strawberries colored pale pink, while Copy B shows them colored red.


<<Copy A>>


<<Copy B>>

Notes:
*Copyright to this image of Copy B is held by the Tohoku University Library.
*Any reproduction, modification, or secondary use of this image is strictly prohibited.
(Copyright © Tohoku University)

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(3) Folio 25 verso of the first volume: a bat and a cucumber

In Copy A, there is a picture that shows a gray bat and a green cucumber. In Copy B, the bat is brown and the cucumber is yellow.


<<Copy A>>


<<Copy B>>

Notes:
*Copyright to this image of Copy B is held by the Tohoku University Library.
*Any reproduction, modification, or secondary use of this image is strictly prohibited.
(Copyright © Tohoku University)

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(4) Folio 5 recto of the second volume: Seiso’s haiku

Copy C contains a series of haiku written by the poets Seiso (right), Wakaku (middle), and Seishu (left). In contrast, Copy A originally contained only the two written by Seiso and Seishu (right and left), but the haiku by Seishu (left) was somehow damaged.


<<Copy A>>


<<Copy C>>

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(5) Folio 7 verso and folio 8 recto of the second volume: the jewel beetle

Folio 7 verso in Copy A is a blank page, whereas in Copy C, it contains a poem. Also, folio 8 recto shows some small discrepancies between Copy A and Copy C. Copy A shows a jewel beetle is sitting on a leaf, while in Copy C, the leaf was not shown. Copy A is the only one of its kind in Japan, and as far as we are able to confirm, only other copy that resembles it is held by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.


<<Copy A>>


<<Copy C>>

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(6) Folio 10 recto of the second volume: Chinese lantern

While both the fruit and husk of the Chinese lantern shown in Copy A are reddish-brown, there are several other versions that show different coloration, such as red fruits and gray husks or brown fruits and gray husks.


<<Copy A>>


<<Copy C>>

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  1. [NDL call no.:WA9-8] Available in the NDL Digital Collections
  2. Different copies are held at the NDL: [NDL call no.:WB1-22] Available in the NDL Digital Collections; [NDL call no.:197-121] Available in the NDL Digital Collections. The former is volume two bound together with volume two of Yama no sachi.
  3. Refer to Utilizing the Internet to search for manuscripts of early Japanese books in this issue.
  4. Available in the Tohoku University Digital Collection Kano DB
  5. Only volume two was designated. Bound together with volume two of Umi no sachi [NDL call no.: WB1-22] Available in the NDL Digital Collections.

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