Ryō Akama, Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University

Digital Research Space for Picture Books and Illustrated Books: Effective Use of the Ritsumeikan ARC Database

Digital archiving of Japanese classical books is progressing rapidly. For domestic holdings, the National Institute of Japanese Literature has been promoting this. Meanwhile, the Art Research Center, Ritsumeikan University has been working on digitizing them, especially for private collections and museum holdings overseas. Many of the Japanese classic books in the West are picture books and illustrated books, and I expect the Tress collection will follow the same trend. I will show how the Tress collection can be made public to facilitate comparisons with other institutions, and how it can be used in conjunction with ARC’s Classics Book Portal DB.

Alessandro Bianchi, Bodleian Libraries

Japanese Illustrated Books and Orientalist Bookbinding: The Case of ‘Gillet’ Covers

This talk will examine a body of Tokugawa-period printed books which were rebound in custom-made textile covers. Commonly referred to as ‘Gillet’ covers after the name of a former owner/collector, these bindings present very similar structure, style, and composition; yet each of them can be considered unique, as they were assembled using a range of diverse textile cuttings. Starting from an example found in Arthur Tress’ copy of Ryakuga hayaoshie, I shall look at ‘Gillet’ covers in major American and European institutions, discussing their physical structure and stylistic features. I will also contextualize their production, looking at the practice of rebinding books in private and institutional collections. Finally, I will offer some preliminary thoughts on the composition and dispersion of the former Gillet Collection, using bookbinding and other paratextual evidence as marks of ownership.

Michael Emmerich, University of California, Los Angeles

The End of Kusazōshi

Focusing on the reading experiences of two modern writers, Hori Tatsuo and Inoue Hisashi, this presentation will offer a new perspective on the end of kusazōshi as a form. For a long time, scholars have tended to see the end of kusazōshi as coinciding with the publication of the last new works sharing the bibliographic form of kusazōshi—specifically, the appearance of the last gōkan, including those that made use of moveable type, in the 1880s. In recent years, some have highlighted the continuing popularity of kusazōshi in Meiji-period reprints. In this paper, I will focus on the notion of kusazōshi as a media, aiming to achieve a degree of conceptual clarity that might help us think more precisely about when and how kusazōshi ended.

Amaury A. García Rodríguez, Director del Centro de Estudios de Asia y África, El Colegio de México

Selling and Collecting Japanese Illustrated Books in Mexico at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century: José Juan Tablada

José Juan Tablada (1871-1945) is one of the most well-known Mexican modernist poets of the first half of the twentieth century. He is not only being acknowledged to have composed the first haiku in Spanish language, but he was also a very active art critic, amateur art historian, and a collector of Japanese prints and illustrated books. Departing from a study of his collection, writings and archival materials, this talk aims to examine not only the illustrated books themselves but also the way they were commercialized in Mexico during the first two decades of the twentieth century, as well as the impact those books had on the artistic milieu of the time.

Andrew Gerstle, SOAS University of London, Emeritus

Kamigata Surimono and the Performing Arts

Surimono (privately-produced prints with poems and a painterly image) from the Kyoto-Osaka area are different from those of Edo. They tend to be in a large format (approx 40x55cm) and the images in the Maruyama-Shijō style. There is also a distinctive sub-category of surimono produced by/for performers (kabuki, jōruri, geisha, etc) to announce name-changes, retirements, memorials and other events. The images on these performing-arts surimono are almost always in the elegant Maruyama-Shijō painting style rather than ukiyo-e, and most often don’t seem to directly relate to the content of the surimono. I will examine some of these and suggest what message they may be presenting for performers whose official social status was low, virtually beyond the pale.

Jeannie Kenmotsu, Portland Art Museum 

“Flowers, Birds, Insects, Fish: Umi no sachi in the Tress Collection” 

Adam L. Kern, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Stripping Down & Redressing ‘Haiku’ in Erotic Prints (Shunga)

Japanese art history over the past decade has experienced a paradigm shift in thinking about shunga, thanks in large measure to a major exhibition at the British Museum. Yet the field has not experienced a concomitant shift in thinking about the 17-syllable verse form that often appears within shunga. Such verse too often is misidentified as haiku without the least recognition that various related modes exist beyond traditional Zen nature poetry. To remedy this situation, this talk touches on some of these other modes, from comic haiku (senryū) to seasonless haiku (zappai) and dirty sexy haiku (bareku).

Kyoko Kinoshita, Tama Art University and Philadelphia Museum of Art

Peter Kornicki, Cambridge University, Emeritus

Keynote: From Ashmead to Tress: The Secrets of the UPenn Collection of Japanese Books

When did the first Japanese books reach the United States? Who donated the first Japanese books to UPenn? After answering these questions and exploring the UPenn collection of premodern Japanese books before Arthur Tress made his munificent donation, I shall turn to the technologies used to produce the books in the Tress collection and consider the significance of the manuscripts it contains. The Edo period (1600-1868) is known as the age in which commercial publishing thrived in Japan, so what reasons might there have been for producing manuscripts instead?

Ryoko Matsuba, Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures

To open or not to open?

It does not matter if a book is cheap or expensive, if it is thick of thin, it is meant to have its pages perused, whether to read a text or view images—or to do both. Without exception, books are meant to be opened. However, some Edo-period books in fukurotoji format are difficult to open for the first time because of the stiffness of their covers. It is necessary to crease the cover in a line parallel to the binding holes through which the cover is firmly sewn to the book block. When digitising such books, we must consider how best to open them in order to capture their content, and how to achieve our goal without contravening institutional conservation policies. In this paper, I would like to identify the kinds of information we seek to record in the process of rare book digitisation, and the technologies that have been developed to assist us in doing so. 

Laura Nüffer, Colby College

Coming Home to Roost: The Tress Collection Tsuru no sōshi as a Remedy to Tragedy

Befitting its colorful illustrations and sumptuous gold-leaf decorations, the Tress Collection’s Tale of the Crane (Tsuru no sōshi) weaves an auspicious tale of lovers who overcome obstacles to live happily ever after. The two make an unlikely pair—he is a human, she is a crane—and the odds are even less in their favor than the species mismatch alone might imply. Japan boasts a rich stock of crane wife tales, almost all of which end in separation. The earliest iterations of the motif, which date back to the eighth century, cast the crane wife as a captive bride who eventually escapes her human husband. Later reworkings turn away from this overtly coercive dynamic but still conclude with the crane wife flying away. By pointedly uncrossing the stars of its star-crossed lovers, the Tress Collection Tsuru no sōshi, both inherits and repudiates a millennium-old narrative tradition.

Shigeru Oikawa, Japan Women’s University, Emeritus

Kyōsai hyakki gadan in the Arthur Tress Collection

Kyōsai hyakki gadan is one of the masterpieces of Kyōsai’s illustrated books, though it was published some months after his death in April 1889. According to the Library record, the Tress collection copy was published by Inokuchi Matsunosuke in 1889. This mention is not accurate since the first edition was published in 1889 by Iwamoto Shun and the second in 1890 by Inokuchi Matsunosuke. In my talk, I will discuss different versions of Kyōsai hyakki gadan in order to explain the reasons and consequences of this confusion.

Ann Sherif, Oberlin College

Who Reads Filial Piety Books? The Case of Ehon kobun kōkyō in the Tress Collection

This paper situates an intriguing title in the Tress Collection Illustrated Ancient Classic of Filial Piety 「画本古文孝経」(1850) in the popular genre of filial piety books of Edo Japan. Ostensibly a book of Confucian ethical teachings, the volume features illustrations by premier print maker Katsushika Hokusai that entice the reader into a breath-taking exploration of classical and vernacular narratives of Japanese and Chinese cultural heritage. Who read these books in the 19th century? How can we read “filial piety books” that visually and textually leap beyond the confines of didactic literature and philosophy? 

Shimazaki Satoko, University of California, Los Angeles

Early Modern Print and the Voice of the Theater

While in principle, kabuki scripts in Edo were kept in house, early modern publishers produced incredible numbers of books relating to the kabuki theater, its actors, and specific productions. In this presentation, I will consider the various ways in which publishers, and sometimes kabuki theaters themselves, generated a new world of theater experience that was rooted in books. Specifically, I am interested in the mobilization of auditory elements in books, and the manner in which these elements helped shape a public accustomed to consuming kabuki through the act of reading. Examining books that collected famous lines from plays—including the short-lived genre of ōmuseki or “parrot stones” 鸚鵡石 for imitating actor voices; anthologies of famous musical segments; and books in which theater managers or theatergoers were presented as speaking directly to the reader—I hope to clarify the role printed books played in creating a sort of virtual experience of kabuki beyond the space of the theater.  

Ellis Tinios, University of Leeds

From Artist’s Sketches to Printed Image: An Examination of Isai gashiki shita-zu

The British Museum recently acquired Isai gashiki shita-zu, an album of 38 preparatory drawings by Katsushika Isai for his Isai gashiki (1864). The album was previously unpublished and unstudied. This presentation will consider the no-longer extant block-ready drawings (hanshita-e) that mediated between the drawings in the album and the printed images in the book to enhance our understanding of production of illustrated books on Early Modern Japan.