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62nd IFLA General Conference - Conference Proceedings - August 25-31, 1996

A History of Writings in Japanese and Current Studies in the Field of Rare Books in Japan

Zentaro Yoshimura


Partly because of the limited time allotted, my presentation today will begin with a very brief sketch of the history of books and other forms of writing in Japan from 611 to 1868, and end with some comments on the current situation in the field of rare books.

Strictly speaking, to understand the history of writing in Japan, one must have a knowledge of that in China, with its distinguished history of some 5,000 years. This, however, I shall leave to the Chinese representative.

As you may already know, virtually all elements of Japanese culture entered Japan from China, whether directly or via the Korean peninsula, and then evolved in a distinctly Japanese fashion. In Japanese eyes, China is therefore a parent or grandparent.

Chronicles say that it was in 105AD that paper was invented in China by Cai Lun. In the fourth century, writings in bound and rolled form as well as freshly manufactured paper began to filter into the Korean peninsula. Wun Jing (or Tan Zhen in Chinese), a Korean monk, brought some to Japan in 610.


The transmission of paper touched off widespread transcription of manuscripts. Reflecting the flowering of Mahayana Buddhist culture across the whole of Northeast Asia, this at first centered around "shakyo," the copying of Chinese translations of Buddhist sutras, particularly from 611 to 767. The oldest extant transcriptions by Japanese hands include a copy, reportedly made by Prince Shotoku h imself, of a four-volume commentary on the Lotus Sutra ("Hokekyo gisho"); a copy of a collection of poetry by Wang Bo ("Obotsushu"), an early Tang poet, dated July 26.707; a copy of "Gakukiron", an account of a noted Chinese general, in a single volume, penned by Empress Komyo and dated October 3, 744; and a copy of "Toka Rissei" in a single volume. The oldest transcription of a votive sutra is the copy of the Vajra Mandala Dharani Sutra ("Kongojo Daramikyo"), a kind of Buddhist incantation, transcribed by the monk Horin in May, 686. There is also a copy of the Liji Yishu "Kokanraikigisho" by Huang Kan, a Chinese Confucian scholar from around this time which has been designated as a national treasure. Transcriptions dating no later than 1615 are termed "ko" or "old" transcriptions to distinguish them from later ones.

There are much older extant transcriptions that were made in China and later brought to Japan. Examples are a copy of what is called in Japanese the "Shobutsu Yoshu Kyo" dated March 18, 296, and one of the Lotus Sutra ("Myohorengekyo") dated July 21, 420.

With the start of the Heian period, woodblock printing was introduced into Japan, and some types of writings began to be printed. However, copies of Buddhist sutras, for example, continued to be made by hand. Sutras were generally copied by writing with brush and India ink on white paper. As esteem for the sutras grew, however, the copies began to incorporate pictures and elaborate ornamentati on. The culmination of this trend was the "soshokukyo," or "decorative sutras". Some outstanding surviving specimens are the Chusonji and Kunoji sutras, named after the temples preserving them, and a 33-volume set of bound copies of sutras made by 32 members of the Taira clan headed by the extravagant Kiyomori.

The World’s Oldest Extant Specimen of Printing

The world’s oldest specimen of printing is a copy of the Chinese translation of the Vajra Prajna Paramita Sutra ("Kongo Hannyaharamitakyo"), or Diamond Sutra of Perfect Wisdom. Dated April 868, it was discovered in China and is now in the British Museum. If single printed pages are taken into consideration, there is a specimen about 100 years older. This is a page of a copy of Vimala Subhatapa Maha Dharani Sutra ("Muku joko daidaranikyo), and was found in Horyuji Temple in Nara prefecture. It is part of what is commonly called the million-pagodas dharani (Hyakuman-to Darani). This page represents the oldest print in Japan and it used to be regarded as the oldest in the entire world. In 1966, however, a copy of this same sutra estimated to have been printed before 751 was found insi de the Shakamuni Pagoda of the Pulguksa Temple in Kyonju, Korea.

The Million-pagodas Dharani

The million-pagodas Dharani was a project undertaken in 770 as a manifestation of Emperor Yatoku’s prayers for the expiation of sins and the repose of the souls of war dead. He had 157 craftsmen work for six years building small three-storey pagodas out of wood. Prints of the sutra were installed into each of the pagodas, which were then presented as offerings to the temples. The sutra consist s of four dharani with respective titles Mula, Laksana Cakra, Svacitta Mudra, and Satparamitra. Yatoku printed 250,000 copies of each section, for a total of one million pages in all. Into each pagoda went just one page. These pagoda offerings were made to the seven most important temples in Nara, that is, Horyuji, Todaiji, Kofukuji, Saidaiji, Yakushiji, Daianji and Gangoji, as well as to the ten major temples established by the court in the provinces, such as Shitennoji in Settsu province, Sufukuji in Omi province, and Kofukuji in Yamato province. Each temple therefore received almost 100,000 of these pagodas.

There had been a division of opinion from the Edo period as to whether this printing was done with a wood or copper plate. A scientific study performed in 1966 clearly supported the woodblock camp.

The Heian Period

There are no substantial specimens of printing from the roughly 300 years following the million-pagodas dharani. In the Heian period, which lasted for roughly 400 years, from 781 to 1185, culture blossomed only for the nobility: the common people had absolutely no part of it, and for this reason, needs for copies of sutras and other books were able to be met by manual transcription, as in Europe . However, the picture changed with the founding of Japanese branches of the Tendai sect by a patriarch named Saicho, and the shingon or The World sect by another named Kukai. With these developments, the times began to shift from handwritten to printed copies of sutras. The earliest mention of printed publication in the Heian period is found in the "Mido Kampaku Nikki", an account of the care er of the powerful regent Fujiwara Michinaga. The entry for December 14, 1009 cites the start of printing of 1,000 copies of the Lotus Sutra with prayers that the empress’s childbirth will be a smooth and safe one. Similarly, the entry for October 17, 1014 in the chronicle "Shoyuki" mentions the printing of 14 copies of the Lotus Sutra, and that for August 13, 1046 in volume 13 of the "Honcho Z oumonzui", another court chronicle, the printing of sutras as part of a memorial service for the dead. However, none of these have survived.

The oldest surviving specimen of printing containing a publication date is a copy of what is transcribed in Japanese as "Busseltsu Kokkuji Jinshu Ogyo". This is the property of Ishiyamadera Temple, and has a notation of the year 1052 in red ink. Then there is the copy of the treatise Vijnapti Mantrata Siddhi ("Joyuishikiron") or Completion of Mere Ideation, stored in the Shosoin archives at Nar a. At the back of the tenth volume of this work is a mention that it was published by the monk Kanzo at Nara’s Kofukoji Temple on March 26, 1088. And there are others. The second volume of a copy of the Lotus Sutra ("Myohorengekyo") in Yasuda Library notes the time of printing as June 1080. The last volume of the Mahamayuri Vidyaraja Sutra ("Dai-Kujaku Myookyo") in the Dai Tokyu Memorial Libr ary has notations of the years 1091 and 1122. And Volume 10 of the copy of the "Joyuishikiron jukki", a Chinese explication of the Completion of Mere Ideation, in the possession of Mr Kozo Moriya notes that it was printed by the monk Enkan in 1119. All of these are Heian period publications of Buddhist literature.

The printing of sutras in honour of the dead in the Heian period was preceded by printed pictures of Buddhist images called "inbutsu" in the Nara period and "suributsu" in the Heian period. Such printing was quite prevalent. Small images were engraved on wood or clay for transfer to fabric or paper by inking and stamping. The practice had its origins in India, and spread to Japan through China and Korea. Like the printed sutras, these printed pictures were made as parts of services for the repose of the souls of the dead. As Buddhism prospered, they spread from Nara and Kyoto to all other parts of the country. I might add that the oldest surviving "inbutsu" are 1,000 images of Amitabha Tathagata, the Buddha of the West, made in 1108 and found in Nara’s Joruriji Temple.

The oldest works written by Japanese authors are the three-volume "Kojiki", or Record of Ancient Matters, dating from 712; the topographical survey "Fudoki" dating from 713; the 30 volumes of the "Nihonshiki", or Chronicles of Japan, dating from 720, and the 20-volume "Man’yoshu" anthology of poetry dating from the latter half of the eighth century.

The Kamakura Period

The Heian period was followed by the Kamakura period. In the Kamakura period as well, printing was essentially limited to Buddhist literature, and publication was therefore confined almost entirely to temples, except toward the end of it. The printing of sutras centered around Nara was led by prolific publication of "Kasuga editions", mainly by Kofukuji temple. Eventually, however, this public ation went into decline as the power of temples faded from the late Kamakura period to the succeeding Northern and Southern Courts period. In its place, there arose publication of Jodo-sect editions centered in Kyoto. This was joined by publication of works related to esoteric Buddhism and "siddham", the study of the arcane significance of Sanskrit letters, at the cathedral of the esoteric sect on Mount Koya and at its branches. These latter are known collectively as "Koya editions".

The oldest work printed in the Kamakura period was a copy of the "Joyuishikiron Jukki" completed on June 29, 1195. On January 13th, 1200, Minamoto Yoriie, the second shogun of the period, had copies of the five major Mahayana sutras ("Gobu Dai jokyo") printed for the spirit of Yoritomo, his father and the first shogun. Somewhat later, a monk named Yoko at Kofukuji Temple began printing the ten volumes of the Completion of Ideation ("Joyuishikiron") on August 13, 1201, and finished the job on June 20, 1202.

Kasuga Editions

It is unclear exactly when the first Kasuga editions were printed. The oldest surviving one is an eight-volume copy of the Completion of Mere Ideation ("Joyuishikiron"). This is in the Shosoin archives, and contains notation that it was printed in 1088 by the monk Kanzo. It is regarded as the first Kasuga edition. The term refers to editions of Buddhist works that ran to several volumes and w ere printed at Kofukuji and other large temples in Nara during the Heian and early Kamakura periods. The name derives from the custom of presenting copies to Nara’s Kasuga Shrine, which was the tutelary shrine of the powerful Fujiwara family, which dominated the Heian period. In Kasuga editions, each line contained 17 characters printed in the standard block style using pale India ink and fine paper. On the right corner of each printed page were engraved the year of printing and the name of the temple, petitioner, donor, and engraver in question. In addition, the conventional rolled format was jointed by folded binding and butterfly binding.

As examples of Kasuga editions, I should first mention the 3,333 copies of the Lotus Sutra ("Hokekyo") engraved by the monk Kankei and printed in 1209. The monk Koshun printed the hundred volumes of Yogacara Bhuwi ("Yugashijiron"), another text of the Ideation school, in 1212; the Hetu Yidya Sawyaksastra ("Inoyoseiriron"), a treatise in one volume, and the Madhyanta Vibhagatika ("Benchuhenron"), a treatise in three volumes, in 1222; and the Mahayana Vyua Swira Sastra ("Daijoshogonkyoron") in 13 volumes in 1228. And the monk Shinshojo printed Kasuga edition of the Lotus Sutra ("Myohorengekyo") in 1274 and 1281.

Jodokyo Editions

From the Kamakura period, through the Northern and Southern Courts and succeeding Muromachi periods, and into the early Tokugawa or Edo period, publications were also printed by temples belonging to the Jodo, or Pure Land, sect and the Jodo Shinshu, or True Jodo, sect. These are now called Jodo-sect editions. The founder of the Jodo sect in Japan was Honen. As it gathered a following, various publications about its teachings were printed by its temples, and mainly the Chioin Temple in Kyoto. One of the earliest was the two-volume edition of the Amitayus Sutra ("Nuryojukyo"), a basic Jodo scripture about its paradise, in 1204. Another Jodo text ("Ojoyoshu") bringing together sutras thought to enable rebirth in the Pure Land was published several times beginning in 1210.

Koya Editions

The publications of the major Nara temples beginning in the early days of the Kamakura period did much to stimulate similar activity at the temple founded by Kukai for the True Word sect on Mount Koya in the province of Kii. Beginning in the middle part of that period, this temple and its branches published many works about esotericism and siddham. These are known as "Koya editions". Initially , Koya editions developed under the influence of Nara editions, and engravers were invited from Nara to work on them. However, they also developed certain characteristics of their own. The printing was done on "torinoko" paper, which is a kind of Japanese vellum. Pages were printed on both sides and bound usually in the butterfly style. At the same time, they also showed the influence of Kyot o editions. Although the entire process of engraving the blocks, printing, and binding was to have been performed by the temple monks, the need for production in large quantity led to delegation of part of the work to one Yamatoya Zenshichi from Kyoto. The earliest Koya edition was the printing of 10,000 images of Acala ("Fudoson"), a fierce Dravidian fire deity adopted by esoteric Buddhism, in 1096. A text dating from 1165 mentions the printing of a thousand copies of the Prajan Paramita Citta Sutra, the Heart Sutra ("Hannyashingyo").

Beside these Kasuga and Koya editions, there were also important publications that issued from the Tendai temples of Kyoto. The temple of Enryakuji on Mount Hieizan, for instance, published a 60-volume set of three texts setting forth the sect’s thought and a 90-volume commentary on the same over a period of 18 years beginning in 1279. These are called "Eizan editions".

Sung Editions

Early in the Kamakura period, the monk Shunjo crossed the sea to Sung dynasty China, and was emulated by a steady stream of Japanese monks who also made the voyage. At the time, Sung publishing was at its height. Headed by an edition of the entire translated Tripitaka ("Daizokyo") at the order of the founding emperor of the Sung dynasty, the list of publications included the Dangchansi and Kaiy uansi temple editions in the Fuzhu district of present day Fujian province and the Huzhou editions of Zhejiang province. Among the publications of the various Chinese dynasties, the Sung editions were especially prized for their excellence. They were brought back to Japan in succession by the monks as they returned from China.

In Kyoto there is a temple now called Sennyuji that traces its founding to Kukai. Its original name was Horinji. In 855, Horinji was repaired by Fujiwara Morotusgu. On this occasion, it was given a new name that is also written Sennyuji in Roman letters, but has different Chinese characters. This former Sennyuji again went to ruin in the transition from the Heian to the Kamakura period. But the temple was saved by Shunjo, who spent 12 years studying in China and brought back to Japan over 2,000 works of Buddhist literature, both scriptures and non-canonical works. Shinjo rebuilt the temple in 1216 and rechristened it with characters that also happen to be spelled "Sennyuji". While making efforts to revive the Risshu, or Vinaya, sect, which emphasised rules of discipline. Shunjo a lso worked to reissue publications from Sung China. The results are called "Sung Editions". One of the earliest illustrated books ever published in Kyoto is an edition of the portrayals of six Buddhist monks ("Busseibiku Rokumotsuzu") published by Sennyuji around this time. The temple is also known for its publication of the Brahmajalasutta Bodhisattva Sutra ("Bommokyo Bosatsukaihonkyo") in 124 8, Kansho’s three books with the Japanese title of "Shakumon Kikyogi" in 1295, and a commentary on the Ullambana Sutra ("Urabongyosho Kawan") in three books over the years 1293-1299.

Gozan Editions

In the mid-Kamakura period, the Zen monk Ben’en Enni travelled to China and brought back some 2,500 volumes of literature, not only Buddhist sutras but also Confucian texts and miscellaneous writings. These works helped to lay the foundation for Japanese studies of Sung learning. Enni opened Tofukuji Temple in Kyoto in 1239, and catalysed the publication of what came to be called Gozan Editions . These were republications of the Sung and Yuan dynasty in China as well as first publications in the same style, made during the Kamakura and Muromachi periods. The name "Gozan" literally means "five mountains" and refers to the five major temples in a domain. The custom of designating Gozan arose in India and was taken up in China during the Southern or Later Sung dynasty. In Japan, it beg an with the Mojo regents of the Kamakkura period. The Kamakura Gozan are the temples of Kenchoji, Engakuji, Jufukuji, Jochiji, and Jomyoji. In China and Japan, there are three ranks of Zen temples: "Gozan", "Juri", and what is called "Kori" in China and "Shozan" in Japan. The Gozan rank is the highest. Gozan temples were later designated in Kyoto, too. There are Tofukuji, Tenryuji, Sokokuji, Kenninji, and Manjuji. Gozan editions also include reprintings of Japanese publications as well as of Sung, Yuan and Ming publications by monks attached to other Zen temples.

The Muromachi Period

The roughly 240 years from 1333 to 1573 make the Muromachi or Ashikaga period. The major works of this period were the "Tsukubashu", Japan’s first collection of linked verse, edited in 12 volumes by Nijo Yoshimoto, and the 40-volume "Taiheiki", or Record of Great Peace, which presents a graphic description of the political and social upheaval in the troubled times of the Northern and Southern Co urts period, in the tradition of romantic military narratives such as the "Hogen" and "Meiji" tales. The authorship of the "Taiheiki yowi", a reader about the Record of Great Peace, is attributed to the monk Kojiwa, but is not certain. Thought to have been written in 1371, the reader is characterized by lyrical descriptions of roadside scenery in sentences mixing Chinese characters with "kana", the Japanese syllabary. Afterward, it provided valuable material for storytellers who frequented roadside locations and sought coins for their tales.

The "Jinnoshotoki", a six-volume work written by Kitabatake Chikafusa in 1339, is a history that begins with the age of the gods and ends with the Northern and Southern Courts period. In its view, the ill-fated Southern Court was the legitimate one. Other works dating from this period are the "Gikeiki", which is an account of the tragedy of Minamoto Yoshitsune, a brilliant general who was banis hed by Yoritomo, his brother and the first shogun of the Kamakura period, the "Soga Monogatari", which is the story of a famous vendetta involving the Soga brothers; the "fushi kaden" in which Zeami set forth the aesthetic theory behind Noh drama; and "Kyounshu", a collection of poems by Ikkyu Sojun, the abbot of Kyoto’s Daitokuji Temple. There were also publications of books of children’s stori es and fairy tales such as "Sannin Koshi" and "Issum Boshi", the latter being along the lines of Tom Thumb. These were loved by the common people. In addition, the Zen monks of the Gozan temples of Kamakura and Kyoto continued to produce literature in Chinese during the Kamakura and Muromachi periods. This is known as Gozan literature.

One of the hallmarks of Japan’s publishing culture is that it grew up almost exclusively under the wing of Buddhism and was strongly coloured by Buddhism for the roughly 900 years from Nara to the Muromachi periods. It spread along with Buddhism, and most of the cost of publishing was met by contributions from (or to) monks praying for absolution for sins. Given the tenor of the war-torn times, publication during the Northern and Southern Courts period was dominated by widespread printing of votive sutras by warlords hoping to atone for the bloodshed. Cases in point are the publication of the "Shuryogon-gi Shochukyo" by Ko no Moronao in 1338 and a votive sutra said to have been given to Miidera Temple in 1354 by Ashikaga Takauji, the first shogun of the Muromachi period. The "Muchu M ondoshu", a three-volume work recording dialogues between the monk Muso Kokushi, who founded Kyoto’s Tenryuji Temple, and one Maoyoshi of the Ashikaga clan, dates from 1354, it was the first to use the mixture of characters and "kana" for easier reading.

The wars of the Onin and Bunmei eras ravaged Kyoto and caused an exodus of nobles and monks to the provinces, and this was linked to the regional diffusion of publishing. Particularly interesting here is the case of Sakai in the province of Izumi, that is, present-day Osaka. Sakai was the territory of the Hosokawa clan, and began to thrive in the middle of the Muromachi period as a hub of trade with the Ming dynasty and the Ryukyu Islands. Sakai was run in an autonomous manner by 36 delegates selected by the people themselves. One of the works that came out of Sakai was "Rongo Shikkai", a commentary on the analects of Confucius, published by Doyukoji, the fourth son of Ashkaga Yoshiuji, in 1364. Because it was issued in the Shohei era, it is called the "Shohei Analects". Sakai publ ishing subsequently went into a dormancy, but regained its vitality beginning in 1501 with editions of "Zochu Token Zekku Santaishiho", a commentary on Tang dynasty Chinese poetry, and "Isho Taizen", a work on medicine. Other notable publications of this time are dictionary-like works termed "Setsuyoshu". These include the "Ekirin" edition published in 1597 and the "Manjuya" edition reportedly published by Mayashi Soji, a vendor of buns with bean filling, in Nara, in the mid Keicho era, around 1600.

Korea Type

Beginning in 1598, many books entered Japan from Korea and exerted a great impact on Japanese culture. Movable copper type entered at the same time. The printing technology resting on what was then called "Korean type" soon graduated to wooden type and quickened the pace of Japanese publishing.

The first set of copper type brought over from Korea was presented to Emperor Goyozei by the warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi. In 1593, it was used to print the "Kobun Kokyo", a treatise on filial poetry. Four years later, in 1597, a set of wooden type was manufactured and used to print "Kinshudan" and "Kangakubun". This was followed in 1599 by new editions of he first part of the "Nihonshiki", "Kob un Kokyo" and "Shokugensho", a history of court officials. These are collectively known as the "Keicho-era imperial edition". Tokugawa shoguns, borrowed the copper type that had been presented by Hideyoshi to cast a new set, which he then presented. In 1621, this new set was used to print the "Kocho Jirui Hoen", known as the "Genna-era imperial edition". These are Japan’s only imperial editio ns, that is, the Bunroku and Keicho ordered by Emperor Goyozei and the Genna ordered by Emperor Gomizunoo.

Ieyasu’s publishing falls into two phases. The first runs from 1599 to 1608 and consists of the publication of "Koshikego", which is an account of the sayings and doings of Confucius, and nine other Chinese works at Enkoji Temple in Kyoto’s Fushimi district. These are called Fushimi or Enkoji editions. Meanwhile, in 1606, Mideyori, Bideyoshi’s son and a focus of opposition to Ieyasu, printed " Teikan Zusetsu", a profile of the second Tang emperor, with wooden type. This publication was stimulated by Ieyasu’s Fushimi editions, and was a reprint of the original published in Korea. It is famous for its wealth of illustrations. The second phase runs for the ensuing ten years, when Ieyasu published "Daizo Ichiran" and "Gunsho Chiyo", a Chinese tract of political tenets, at Sumpu, where h e spent his later years and which is now the site of Shizuoka city, these are consequently called "Sumpu editions". The type used in the first phase are still at Enkoji Temple. Those used in the second phase are now the property of the Toppan Printing Company. Publications printed with movable type over the 50 years from 1590 to 1640 are called "Ko-katsuji ban" or "old type editions".

Saga Editions

The "Ise Monogatari", or Tale of Ise, whose hero is Ariwarano Narihira, were completed around the middle of the Heian period and found favour among all classes. They were hand-copied and printed in enormous quantities. In 1608, there was published what is called the "Saga edition" of the tales. Printed with wooden type, this edition mixed Chinese characters with "kana". The pages were printed with many colours. Furthermore, mica was applied to some pages while others were imprinted with mica patterns. There were drawings of birds and flowers on the cover and colourful illustrations inside. "Saga editions" were printed privately by Sumikura Miotsumasa at Kyoto’s Saga district with the co-operation of Mon’awi Koetsu. Besides "Saga editions", they are therefore called "Suminokura ed itions". They are also called "Koetsu editions" because the printing is in Koetsu’s style of script and was assisted by his group. The collection includes woodblock printings of "Shinkokin Wakashu" and "Sanjurokkashu", both being collections of Japanese poetry, and wooden type printings of "Tsure-zuregusa", or Essays in Idleness, and "Yokyoku", a collections of verses of Noh song. The wooden t ype was not divided in terms of individual letters of characters; each contained from two to four. This was done to reproduce the calligraphic style of "kana" of the Heian period.

Christian Editions

Western-style printing entered Japan in June of 1590, when Alessandro Valignani, an Italian missionary who accompanied a delegation of newly baptized Japanese youth to Rome, brought back a press and set of type to use as a tool for proselytizing. He began printing at Kazusa in Hizen province, and continued to do so for the next roughly 20 years until the issuance of the 1612 edict banning Christ ianity. The location changed in turn from Kazusa to Awakusa, Nagasaki, and Kyoto. In all, Valignani printed about 30 works on religion, literature, and linguistics in Japanese, Latin, and Portuguese. These are called "Christian editions". The assortment runs from "Santosu no Gosagyo no uchi Nukigaki", a Christian tract, to grammars, dictionaries, and works of literature such as the "Tale of T he Taira Clan"; "Aesop’s Fable"; "Kinkushu", which is a collection of maxims; and "Rakuyoshi", which is a lexicon of Chinese characters. Valignani used both Roman letter type and wooden type for "kana". Some works were printed in Latin. Others were mixtures of Latin, Portuguese, and Japanese. Yet others combined Chinese characters and "kana". Title pages were decorated with woodblock prints. Some pages contained printed musical staffs with notes and text in red and black. However, these trappings of civilization came up against the ban on Christianity issued by the Tokugawa Shogunate that grew out of the rivalry between the Dutch and the Portuguese, and between Protestants and Catholics. The publication of Christian editions was over only 20 years. Unfortunately, they therefore had almost no influence on the subsequent course of publishing in Japan.

After instatement of the ban, the Christian editions were confiscated and destroyed, and very few still exist. In some cases, only the title is known; not 30 works currently known, those still in Japan number seven at the library of Tenri University, three at Toyo Library, two at the library of Sophia University, and one each at the Tokugawa Home in Mito and at the Oura Tenshudo.

Because of the ban, Western-style printing died out in Japan and did not resurface for more than 200 years. Existing copies of early books printed with Western type all date from 1591 to 1610. Almost all such books were burned after the edict. Those which escaped the flames were taken outside the country or hidden from the light of day in go-downs for fear of the consequences of violating the shogun’s ban. At the same time, Korean type came into extensive use for imperial, official and private publications.

In 1849, Ieyoshi, the 12th of the Tokugawa shoguns, was presented by the Dutch government with a set of Western type, a press, and other tools and materials needed for printing. Nevertheless, this gift remained in disuse. Genuine resumption of Western-style printing had to await the early Meiji period, when a team led by Motoki Shozo cast Japanese type in lead. It has been only about 100 years since then.

Edo Period

The period from 1603 to 1867 is known as the Edo period. Whereas culture in the earlier periods had been dominated by the nobility, monks, and other members of the ruling class, the Edo period witnessed the birth of a merchant-class culture for the first time ever.

Literature of the Edo period can be divided into two major phases, the former led by the Kyoto-Osaka area, and the latter, by the capital of Edo, Tokyo’s predecessor. "Kana zoshi", storybooks written in "kana", were fixtures of the former phase. They spun tales around history and legend. The term embraces novels, essays, narratives, and other literary forms built around "kana" expression. A m ajor author in this great was Asai Ryoi, whose output includes the "Tokaido Meishoki", which is a guide to noted spots on the Tokaido post road; "Ukiyo Monogatari", or Story of the Floating World; and "Otogi Boko", a fairy tale. Other works from this phase are "Kashoki", humorous stories, by Joraishi; "Minin Bikuni", or The Two Buddhist Nuns, and "Inga Monogatari", The Tale of Cause and Effect, by Suzuki Shosan; and "Taga Mi no Ue" and "Kosakuzuki" by Yamaoka Genrin. The three giants of this phase were the novelist Ihara Saikaku, the poet Matsuo Basho, and the playwright Chikamatsu Monzaemon.

Basho reformed the Teimon and Danrin schools of "haiku" poetry and perfected an utterly unique form of modern popular story poetry that nevertheless retained a medieval mystery and suggestiveness. His works include "Fuyu no Hi", or Winter’s Day; "Arano", or Wasteland; "Saru Mino", or The Monkey’s Straw Raincoat; "Sumidawara", or The Charcoal Sack; "Nozarashi Kiko", or The Weather-beaten Journal, and, of course, "Oku no Hosomichi", or the Narrow Road to the Deep North.

"Kana zoshi" gradually evolved into "Ukiyo zoshi", which were a literary form of popular entertainment and titillation. Whereas the "kana zoshi" heroes had been nobles, samurai, or monks, the "Ukiyo zoshi" described the daily lives of ordinary townspeople. The most eminent author in this genre was Saikaku. He wrote his first book, "Koshoku Ichidai Otoko", or The Life of an Amorous Man, in 1682 . He followed this with "Koshoku Godai Onna", or Five Women Who Loved Love; "Koshoku Ichidai Onna", or The Woman Who Spent Her Life in Love, and other such erotic works. He also wrote works that sketched the economic side of town life, such as "Yippon Eidaizo", or The Japanese Family Storehouse, and "Seken Munazanyo", or Worldly Calculation.

The foremost author of "joruri" plays, which were performed with "bunraku" puppets, Chikamatsu wrote "Shusse Kejo", a drama about Kiyomori and his first opus, for Takemoto Dayu’s troupe in 1685. Initially, he wrote mainly "kyogen" comedies. But in 1703, he attained great success with "Sonezaki Shinju", or The Love Suicides at Shomezaki, his first "jojuri" drama, and from then on he built himsel f a formidable reputation as a "jojuri" playwright. All together, he wrote over 110 plays. Other major works are "Kanhasshu Tsunaginouma" and the melodrama "Kokuse Yagassen", or The Battles of Coxinga.

As the focus of literary activity shifted from the Osaka-Kyoto area to Edo, the "ukiyo zoshi" that had thrived in the former were gradually replaced by "kibyoshi", which were illustrated storybooks in yellow cover; "yomihon", or readers; "kokkeibon", or books of humorous stories; and "senryu", or books of witty verses. These are the salient genres of Edo literature.

Beginning around the Horeki era, or in the 1750s, there appeared in the streets of Edo "sharebon", which were novelettes of the pleasure quarter, and "ninjobon" which were love stories. There were many kinds of works of these types. In content, they tended to be playful and solely for amusement. The main type of novel in this period was the "kusa zoshi", a kind of picture book. "Kusa zoshi" w ere plain illustrated novels for popular consumption. They were also known as "red", "black", or "blue" books, depending on the colour of their covers. Children’s stories were common "kusa zoshi" fare. Some titles are "Momotaro", or the Peach Boy; "Saru Kani Kassen", or The Fight of the Monkey and the Crab; "Nezumi no Yomeiri", or The Mouse’s Bride; "Bunbuku Chagawa", or The Bubbling Tea Kettl e; and "Shitakiri Suzume", or The Tongue-Cut Sparrow. These gradually evolved in the direction of material for adults of a more literary nature. The result was the "kibyoshi". "Kibyoshi" books came to the fore following the publication of "Kinkin Sensei Eiga no Yume" by Koikawa Harumachi in 1775. Other examples are Hoseido Kisanji’s "Bumbu Yido Bangoku Toshi" "Nagaiki Mitaiki" "Taishin Mayaba nabigusa" and Santo Kyoden’s "Sakusha Tainai Totsuki no Zu". Published in 1806, Shikitei Samba’s "Ikazuchitaro Goaku Monogatari", or Story of the Evil Deeds of the Lightning Boy, presented in two volumes what would have required about ten "kibyoshi" volumes. Stories of vengeance and realistic portrayals of contemporary life came into fashion around this time. Lengthy works of this nature were published and grew into a genre of their own called "gokan".

The origin of "yomihon", or storybook readers, can be traced to "Manabusa Zoshi", which was written by Kinro Gyoja and published in 1749. This was followed by Tatebe no Ayatari’s "Honcho Suikoden", which was an adaptation of the Chinese classic, The Water Margin, in 1773, and by Ueda Akinari’s "Ugeisu Monogatari", or Tales of Tain and Moon, in 1776. The genre was brought to completion with the subsequent publication of the romantic fantasy "Nanso Satomi Hakkenden" by Takizawa Bakin. "Yomihon" tended to have a pronounced streak of idealism. By contrast, "sharebon", "ninjobon", and "kokkeibon" showed the realistic side of life.

The authors of "sharebon" were usually learned men or samurai. Many works were written anonymously and presented accounts of what purported to be the author’s personal experience. The major authors of "sharebon" were Santo Kyoden, Shikitei Samba. Ryutei Tenehiko, and Jippensha Ikku. "Ninjobon" were based on "sharebon". Unlike the "sharebon", which told tales of the pleasure quarter, they dea lt with love in the "shita-machi" downtown district. Representative authors are Tori Sanjin, the first Ikku, Kyokusanjin, and Tamenaga Shunsui. Tori’s "Magakinobana Chigiri no Nasake Kimotsubushi" is regarded as the first "ninjobon". However, he was overshadowed in this genre by Tamenaga, whose "Shunshoku Umegoyoni" "Shunshoku Megumi no Mana" and other works were published beginning in 1832 an d led to his standing as father of the "ninjobon".

"Kokkeibon", or books of humorous stories, can be traced to the "Kashoki", which I mentioned a little earlier and came out in 1642. Eventually, beginning around 1802, these culminated in Jippensha’s "Tokaidochu Hizakurige", a series of laughable stories about two bumbling travellers named Yajirobei and Kitabachi, and Shikitei’s "Odokebanashi Ukiyo Buro" "Ukiyo Buro" and Ukiyo Doko", which were c omedies set in baths and barber shops.

The molten lead type in Japanese manufactured by Motoki Shozo’s crew in the rush of modernization during the early Meiji period made a vital contribution to the advancement of Japanese printing technology. Born in 1824, Motoki was the fourth son of Kitajima Sanyata, and was later adopted by Motoki Shozaemon, who was his uncle and an interpreter of Dutch, he began learning how to interpret at the age of 12, and subsequently became active on that front as well as on those of navigation and iron manufacturing. As an interpreter, he read many books, and gradually acquired an interest in printing. Using Dutch type as a model and a lot of imagination, he succeeded in fashioning Japanese type using molten lead castings. This was in 1851, four years after the introduction of a Western-style printing press, and Motoki was 28 years old. He made matrices by carving letters in relief in water buffalo horn and pouring lead into them. Then he put these on the bottom of the mould and poured in a type metal with a lower melting point that the lead of the matrices, he planed the bottom of the castings for uniform height, but the type were still uneven. Nevertheless, this was the first mov able type of "katakana", the angular Japanese syllabary, to be manufactured in Japan and was a No. 2 size. Motoki used the set to print "Ranwa Tsuben", or Dutch-Japanese interpretation, which contained Japanese translations in "katakana" of Dutch text.

Current Status of the Rare Book Field

This concludes my historical sketch. I would now like to add a few comments about the current status of the rare book business in Japan.

Besides taking a tragic toll of precious human life, the Second World War also reduced many precious documents to ashes. Materials kept in Kyoto, Nara and a few other cities that were not hit by air raids are currently preserved in facilities such as libraries, museums, archives and temples. It is also a fact that many valuable items were taken out of Japan and to other countries.

In the Kanto region, the list of facilities storing materials includes the National Diet Library, Seikado Library, Edo Tokyo Museum, Minato Archives, Kanazawa Bunko Museum, and the Oriental Library. In the Kansai region, the major ones are Ryumon Library, Yomei Library, Reizeike Shiguretei, and Tenri Library. Materials are also stored in Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. While some are on d isplay for the general public, others may be inspected or used only by selected experts.

Nationwide, stores handling rare books number about 6,000. Of this total, about 2,750 are members of the National Federation of Rare Book Stores. There are 831 rare book stores in Tokyo, 326 in Osaka and 111 in Kyoto. Fairs for sales of rare books are held from 80 to 100 times a year in Tokyo and six or seven times a year in Kyoto. At these fairs, books are generally put up for sale with pri ce tags, but bids are the rule in some cases. Only merchants are allowed to participate in bidding. The rare books surfacing at these fairs come mainly from Kyoto and Nara, from private libraries, fairs for merchants only, or fairs for the public. It is thought that rare books traded in regional cities eventually turn up in Tokyo.

You may recall the million small pagodas containing copies of the dharani sutra that were dedicated to temples in the Nara period. In the late Meiji period, some of those preserved at Horyuji Temple were sold for from 15 to 35 yen a piece in order to raise funds needed for the temple’s upkeep. The price varied depending on the condition of the wooden pagoda and sutra inside. Immediately after the war, it was in the area of 35,000 yen. Today, it typically ranges from 4 to 5 million yen, and a pagoda in the best of condition fetches over 10 million yen. Such articles are generally in short circulation, and proper assessments of their value reportedly began to be made around 1960. The prices may loom very high in the eyes of buyers, but for dealers, the rise does not seem so big when compared to that for the price of other goods.

Rare books are traded in all sorts of places. The question arises: which buyers are to be preferred? In my opinion, sales in small quantities to private collectors are better than sales in large quantities to university libraries or archives. Once they acquire properties, libraries and other such institutions are loath to let them go. By contrast, private collectors are more apt to put purcha ses up for resale and so to form a relationship of mutual back-scratching with dealers. Researchers and archivists, on the other hand, may prefer purchase by public institutions in the interest of easier access and en masse preservation. In other words, each type of buyer has its advantages and disadvantages.

Catalogues are issued for the displays and sales I have already mentioned. Besides the title and the name of the author, sales catalogues issued by rare book dealers in the West usually, albeit not always, also contain a detailed description of each work and notation of its whereabouts. However, the items of notation in Japanese catalogues are essentially confined to the author, title, year of publication, and price; they do not offer much in the way of background information. Among sales catalogues released in Japan, I remember seeing extremely detailed descriptions only in those released by Kobunso. Brief descriptions are provided by Gyokmeido Bookstore and just a few other companies. Those of you dealing in rare books in the West undoubtedly have considerable knowledge of and do much research about rare books, I also understand that there are plenty of reference books published there for rare books.

We in Japan also research rare books, of course, but researchers are fewer, and so are reference books. There are also special catalogues of publications including "Kokusho Somokuroku" "Kotenseki Sogomokuroku" "Kokubungaku Fukusei Honkoku Shomoku Soran", a sequel to this work, and "Kaitei Nihon Shosetsu Nempyo", which is a chronology for novels, but almost none have been published in recent year s. Synopses are exemplified by "Zoku Gunsho Ichiran", Zotei Kokusho Kaidai", "Nihon Bukkyo Tenseki", "Shintei Zoho Kohan Chishi Kaidai" and bibliographical works, by "Nihon Shoshi no Kenkyu", a sequel to this work, and "Nihon Shoshigaku Gaisetsu". And for a firm grasp of the situation, these must be supplemented with a careful survey of special vaults in university libraries and archives as wel l as of guides to temple holdings.

By definition, there is an absolute shortage of rare books, and the main issues for the future are how to preserve them and pass them on to researchers of coming generations. Librarians around the world have an obligation to co-operate with each other in working to bequeath the finite store of precious materials to our descendants.