Nakamura Tekisai 中村 惕斎 and Shimokōbe Shūsui 下河辺 拾水, Kashiragaki zōho kinmō zui 頭書増補訓蒙図彙 [1789]

Author: Nakamura Tekisai 中村 惕斎 (Japanese, 1629-1702)

Illustrator: Shimokōbe Shūsui 下河辺 拾水 (Japanese, ?- 1798)

Date: [1789]

Medium: Black-white woodblock printed book; ink on paper

Description: volume 4; 23 cm; fukurotoji (pouch binding)

Publisher: [Kyōto皇都(京都): Kyūkōdō 九皐堂]

Call Number: Arthur Tress Collection. Box 69, Item 14.

Gift of Arthur Tress

This item is from the revised and enlarged edition of the very first Japanese illustrated encyclopedia originally published in 1666 (Kanbun 6).  In this edition published in 1789, there are over 1500 entries grouped in 21 categories including astronomy, architecture, geography, occupations, insects, animals and plants, and each entry is written in both kanji and kana.  This particular item is volume 4 of the 21-volume set, and the subject of this volume is “people,” mostly categorized by their occupations.  What is curious about the entries is it mixes the other-worldly figures in with the humans.  It is also notable that foreigners are closely grouped with mythical figures such as the “long legs” and “giants.”


Nakamura Tekisai 中村 惕斎 (1629-1702) was a self-taught Neo-Confucian scholar who was sometimes described as a hermit, as he devoted himself to studying a wide range of subjects. As Tekisai writes in the preface of the original edition, he compiled the encyclopedia in hopes to educate and enlighten his own children. His other works include Hime kagami, a women’s didactic book written in Kana, which he also wrote for his young daughter.

Shimokōbe Shūsui 下河辺 拾水 (?-1798) is thought to be Nishikawa Sukenobu’s pupil, and he has illustrated various books in his career, including didactic books, kokkeibon, and illustrated guides.


Other impressions

Asian Art Collection, Brooklyn Museum

Japanese Rare Book Collection, National Diet Library, Tōkyō, Japan

Melikian Collection, Arizona State University Library

Waseda University Library

Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard Art Museums


Selected reading/bibliography

Armstrong, R, C. (1974). Nakamura Tekisai, Light from the East: Studies in Japanese Confucianism (pp. 78-83).

Ishigami, Aki. (2017). 「訓蒙図彙」考序論―絵入百科事典データベース構築とともに. Proceedings of the Overseas Symposium in Otago: Japanese Studies Down Under: History, Politics, Literature and Art. (pp. 69-78). Kyoto, Japan: International Research Center for Japanese Studies.


Posted by Eri Mizukane

February 19, 2020