December 9, 2014

The Old Man Who Made the Dead Trees Blossom

Presented here is a compact watojihon (book bound in a traditional Japanese bookbinding style) containing pictures and text that are woodblock-printed on textureless paper called hiragami (flat paper). Kobunsha, the publishing company managed by Takejirō Hasegawa, started to translate and publish Nihon Mukashibanashi (Japanese fairy tale series) in 1885. Hanasaki Jiji (The old man who made the dead trees blossom) is a story from the series. It tells of a nice old married couple who kept a pet dog. One day when they dug at a place indicated by the dog, they found many gold coins. A greedy man who lived next door was envious and borrowed the dog. He forced the dog to search for such a place, but when he dug up the ground there he found only dirt. The greedy old man became angry, killed the dog and buried it under a pine tree. The tree grew vigorously and the nice old man used the wood to make a mortar. When he pounded barley in it, it would fill with so many barley grains that they spilled out. When the greedy old man saw this, he borrowed the mortar. However, when he pounded the barley, he only produced cracked and insect-ridden grain. Furious, he burnt the mortar. When the nice old man scattered the ashes from the burnt mortar over a dead tree, it blossomed and the old man was richly rewarded by the local lord. However, when the greedy old man scattered the ashes over a dead tree, they were blown by the wind into the lord’s eyes. The greedy old man was seized and met a terrible fate.

Kyōto Pictorial

The document presented here is a pictorial map of Kyōto published in 1686, early in the Edo period (1603–1867). The publication of maps in Japan started in Kyōto at the beginning of the Edo period, and the first city map to be published was a map of Kyōto. The first Kyōto maps depicted just the urban area, but the scope of the maps gradually expanded to include suburban areas as well. This map depicts the peripheral suburban areas as well as the central urban area. The main feature of the map is the ingenuity with which the information displayed has been maximized while maintaining easy readability. In previous Kyōto maps the urban areas delimited by roads were painted in black. This was the first map to leave these areas blank, allowing for the inclusion of more information, such as temple names and the names of the owners of houses. As writing all the street names in the map would have required minute handwriting, the streets were marked with a character symbol in a circle and a list of the symbols with their corresponding street names was inserted in blank spaces on the map. The map could also be used as a tourist guidebook. The mountains and rivers outside the city are depicted in color and detailed explanations of famous places, such as Kiyomizudera (Kiyomizu Temple), are included along with pictorial depictions of the buildings. The size of the map would have made it awkward to carry around and the direction of the text varies, allowing it to be read from all sides. These factors suggest that it was intended to be spread out on the floor and viewed from any side.

Hatamoto (Senior Samurai of the Shogun) Corps Formation Rules

Presented here is an emaki (horizontal picture scroll) that depicts a battle formation procession setting off for the battlefield. It is 13 meters long. At first sight, it resembles the Kan’ei Gyōkoki (Record of an imperial visit in the Kan’ei period), in which pictures and letters are printed in type. However, the characters and horses were not printed in type, but were affixed using stamps. The actual number of stamps used is surprisingly small. The 54 mounted soldiers in the scroll were created from just five stamps, but they were given different appearances by the use of hand-painted colors and the addition of battle standards and flags to denote who was the general. The official titles (such as commissioner of flags and commissioner of spears) are inscribed in black ink. Although some similar works of the same type exist, because this is not a traditional print, there are none with the same schema. The stamps used also vary somewhat depending on the work. The systematized study of modern warfare emerged as a new field of learning in the Edo period (1603–1867), with more than 60 different schools appearing. It is estimated that materials that illustrated battle formations, such as this book, were used in the study of warfare. The need to provide graphic illustrations of numerous soldiers and horses gave rise to this kind of work. Such works were produced in small numbers, and the use of stamps enabled quick and simple production and reproduction.

Map of Ezo

Fearing the influx of Christianity and foreign forces, in the Edo period (1603–1867) Japan prohibited foreign travel by Japanese people and trade and traffic with other countries, apart from Korea, China, and Holland. In 1828, Philipp Franz Balthasar von Siebold, a German who had come to Japan to work as a doctor at the Dutch trading post, tried to take some prohibited items, including maps of Japan, back to Holland when he completed his posting. Siebold was deported and barred from returning to Japan, while Takahashi Kageyasu (1785−1829, popularly known as Sakuzaemon), the Japanese official from the Astronomy Bureau of the Shogunate who had given Siebold the maps, was executed. All in all, 50 more people were punished for the incident. This map of Ezo (present-day Hokkaido, also seen as Yezo) is believed to be the original of the map that Takahashi gave Siebold. It is almost identical to “Die Insel Jezo und die Japanischen Kurilen, nach einer Originalkarte von Takahasi Sakusaimon, Hofastronomen zu Jedo” (Ezoshima and the Japanese Kuril Islands, based on an original map by Takahashi Sakuzaemon, court astronomer at Edo), which was published as an accompanying map in Nippon, a seven-volume work about Japan by Siebold. There is also a label, believed to date from the investigation of the incident, bearing an inscription asserting that the map (that Takahashi gave Siebold) was an exact copy of this one. The map is affixed with an ownership stamp of the Shōheizaka Academy, which was the educational institution of the Edo Shogunate.

The Tongue-Cut Sparrow

This is a chirimen-bon (crepe-paper book), which is a compact watojihon (book bound in a traditional Japanese bookbinding style) containing woodblock-printed pictures and text.  It was called a chirimen-bon because the paper was crinkled until it assumed a cloth-like texture. Published from the middle of the Meiji period until the beginning of the Showa period, chirimen-bon were illustrated translations of Japanese folk stories that were originally intended to increase the exposure of Japanese people to foreign languages after kaikoku (the reopening of Japan in the mid-19th century). However, they soon became popular as omiyage (small gifts) for foreigners. Kobunsha, the publishing company managed by Takejirō Hasegawa, started to translate and publish Nihon Mukashibanashi (Japanese fairy tale series) in 1885. The Tongue-Cut Sparrow is a story from the series. It tells of a nasty old woman who was doing her washing when a sparrow that was kept in a neighbor's house came and ate her laundry starch. The angry old lady cut off the bird’s tongue and chased it away. Saddened by this, the old man and old lady from next door set off to find the sparrow. They eventually found its house where they were warmly received by the sparrows. As an omiyage, the sparrow offered two wicker baskets of different sizes. The unselfish couple accepted the smaller basket and went home, whereupon gold and silver treasure appeared in the basket. The kind old man and old woman became rich and lived happily ever after. Envious of their good fortune, the nasty old lady visited the sparrow’s house and went home with the large basket. However, when she took the lid off, a troop of demons appeared from inside and tore her to pieces.

South Korea, View of Residences of Chinese Ambassadors in Seoul

This image, showing a view of Seoul, Korea, is one of 43 photographs of Korea taken by George Clayton Foulk between 1883 and 1886 and held at the American Geographical Society Library at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Foulk’s note on the image reads: “Southwest corner of Seoul. View taken from U.S. Legation. Prominent buildings are palaces of Chinese ambassadors.” Foulk was a young naval officer who served as a U.S. diplomat in Korea in the 1880s. He was first sent to the country in 1883 with a Korean delegation as the only person in U.S. government service qualified to serve as an interpreter. He was not fluent in Korean, but he communicated in Japanese and quickly picked up the Korean language. Upon his arrival in Korea, Foulk undertook a 900-mile (1,450-kilometer) journey through the country by sedan chair. During this trip he kept a detailed journal and took photographs. Foulk’s trip was cut short by the unsuccessful coup d'état in the Korean capital in December 1884. Many of Foulk’s photos were destroyed during the rioting and the confused scramble for his own safety. Foulk remained in Korea as an administrator and later a naval attaché. His friendship with King Sunjong, a member of the royal family (and Emperor of Korea from 1907–10), allowed him daily visits with the king and unique opportunities to photograph Korean life. Foulk left Korea in 1887 and spent his last days in Japan as a professor of mathematics at the missionary-run Doshisha College (Doshisha University). He died in 1893, at the age of 37, while hiking with his Japanese wife and friends.

Actors Backstage Sugoroku

Actors Backstage Sugoroku is an e-sugoroku (picture board game) that depicts the backstage area of a Kabuki theater (playhouse). Published in 1863, towards the end of the Edo period, it contains pictures by Utagawa Kunisada II (also seen as Utagawa Toyokuni IV, 1823−80). This is a type of sugoroku called tobi-sugoroku (flying sugoroku), in which the squares are not lined up in order and the player moves around the board by jumping from square to square, depending on the roll of the die. From the furi-hajime (start) at the bottom right-hand corner of the picture, the player can proceed to “the playwright’s room,” “the anteroom of the performer in charge of the offstage music,” “the bathroom,” and so on. Other squares include “the dressing room of the troupe’s star actor” and “the props room.” As the player moves back and forth, he or she can see the actors relaxing in their dressing rooms, making their stage costumes, or reading their lines together. The game contains portraits of the actors with their names in the boxes at their sides, so it may also have been used rather like a promotional photograph to satisfy the curiosity of the Edo period public who wanted to know how Kabuki actors spent their time backstage and to see their real faces.

Map of the Sea and Land Routes from Edo to Nagasaki

Presented here is a pictorial route map, published in 1672 (early Edo period), that depicts the journey from Edo (present-day Tokyo) to Nagasaki. The first volume shows the land route from Edo to Kyōto. Starting from Edo Castle, it proceeds to Kyōto along the Tōkaidō, which was the main road in the Edo period. It depicts stations on the route, natural scenery, and famous places, such as Mount Fuji (in the 11th scene), accompanied by explanatory text. The second volume shows the route from Osaka to Nagasaki. It depicts mainly sea routes, although some land route scenes also appear after Kyūshū. Seto Naikai (The Inland Sea) stretches out in the middle of the pictures, and towns and scenic spots along the Honshū and Shikoku coasts are also depicted. This volume does not feature the sort of explanatory text that was provided in the first volume, but it does display the distances of the sea routes. It is thought that the contents and drawing techniques are based on another pictorial route map, compiled by the Shogunate and completed in 1668.

The Saga of Gösta Berling

Selma Lagerlöf (1858−1940) was one of Sweden’s most important writers. In 1909 she became the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, and in 1914 the first woman elected to the Swedish Academy. Her writings were placed in a local setting, but she used them and her national and international prominence to champion much larger issues, including women's suffrage in Sweden and international peace initiatives. In 1890 Lagerlöf entered a novel competition, sponsored by the magazine Idun, by submitting five chapters of Gösta Berlings Saga (The saga of Gösta Berling). She was awarded the first prize. The following year she expanded the story into a full novel, which was published by Idun. Placed in a fictional setting that strongly resembled the province of Värmland in western Sweden, her tale recounts a year in the life of Gösta Berling, a drunken and defrocked clergyman. He is taken in by the imposing mistress of the manor house Ekeby, who also has a dozen hedonistic cavaliers under her patronage. As their leader, Gösta Berling makes a pact with the rich ironmaster Sintram, who is said to be an accomplice of the devil and who promises the rowdy group that they will be able to take over the manor if they manage to do nothing worthwhile for an entire year. The work has been translated into more than 50 languages. It consists of an introduction in two parts and 36 chapters. Many chapters recount alternative stories with a range of different characters. This manuscript came into the possession of the National Library of Sweden in 1935. The son of Frithiof Hellberg, the publisher of Idun, wanted to sell the original manuscript. As a way to drive up the price, he spread a rumor that he would sell it to a buyer in America. At the time, Lagerlöf did not have the means to purchase the manuscript herself. However, the son of one of her former classmates, the Swedish Academy, and the National Library of Sweden joined forces to acquire the manuscript. This was considered great news at the time and several articles in the press covered the story.

South Korea, American Diplomatic Residence

This image, showing a seated Korean man reading in the American diplomatic residence in Korea, is one of 43 photographs of Korea taken by George Clayton Foulk between 1883 and 1886 and held at the American Geographical Society Library at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Foulk’s note on the image reads: “Chang-Phyong-Ha, guest and friend; summer sitting room, U.S Legation.” Foulk was a young naval officer who served as a U.S. diplomat in Korea in the 1880s. He was first sent to the country in 1883 with a Korean delegation as the only person in U.S. government service qualified to serve as an interpreter. He was not fluent in Korean, but he communicated in Japanese and quickly picked up the Korean language. Upon his arrival in Korea, Foulk undertook a 900-mile (1,450-kilometer) journey through the country by sedan chair. During this trip he kept a detailed journal and took photographs. Foulk’s trip was cut short by the unsuccessful coup d'état in the Korean capital in December 1884. Many of Foulk’s photos were destroyed during the rioting and the confused scramble for his own safety. Foulk remained in Korea as an administrator and later a naval attaché. His friendship with King Sunjong, a member of the royal family (and Emperor of Korea from 1907–10), allowed him daily visits with the king and unique opportunities to photograph Korean life. Foulk left Korea in 1887 and spent his last days in Japan as a professor of mathematics at the missionary-run Doshisha College (Doshisha University). He died in 1893, at the age of 37, while hiking with his Japanese wife and friends.