Narrow results:

Place

Time Period

Topic

Additional Subjects

Type of Item

Language

Institution

75 results
Akogi
Noh is a classical Japanese performance art that developed into its present form during the 14th and 15th centuries under the patronage of the shogunate. It became one of the favorite pastimes of the ruling class in Japan. Noh drama consists of dance and music. An utai-bon (book of lyrics) was made for each song in the drama. Noh was most popular during the 17th century, so many utai-bon, or Noh libretti, were published at that time. Shown here is a part of an utai-bon of Kanze-ryū style, one of ...
Contributed by
National Diet Library
Maps of the Japanese Coastal Areas (Ino Maps)
Inō Tadataka (1745−1818) was a famous Japanese surveyor and cartographer during the Edo period. He is known for completing the first map of Japan based on actual measurements, which he himself made by traveling throughout the country over a period of many years. Dainihon enkai yochi zenzu (Maps of the Japanese coastal areas) was compiled as a final version of Tadataka’s many maps and was presented to the shogunate in 1821. The work, which covers almost the entire country, is composed of three sets of maps of different ...
Contributed by
National Diet Library
Outline Map of Japan
This picture map of Japan was published at the end of the 17th century. The cartographer, Ishikawa Tomonobu (also known as Ryūsen and Ryūshū, date of birth and death unknown) was an ukiyo-e artist and mapmaker. He is said to have been a student of Hishikawa Moronobu (1618–94), often considered the first ukiyo-e artist. It is the first map of Japan by Ryūsen with an imprint of his name. Said to be based on an original commissioned by the shogunate government, it was distorted and enlarged on the woodblock-printed ...
Contributed by
National Diet Library
Scaled Coastal Map of Japan, Eastern Provinces (Ino Maps)
Inō Tadataka (1745−1818) was a famous surveyor and cartographer of the Edo period in Japan. He is known for completing the first map of Japan based on actual measurements, which he himself made by traveling throughout the country. In 1800 Inō surveyed the area from Edo (present-day Tokyo) to Nemuro (in present-day Hokkaidō) on the Ōshū Highway. He continued measuring other parts of eastern Japan until 1803. He compiled the results of his surveys into three sets of maps of different scales, which he presented to the shogunate in ...
Contributed by
National Diet Library
The Tales of Ise
Ise monogatari (The tales of Ise) is a collection of some 125 brief episodes, combining elements of prose and poetry, that dates from the early Heian period (9th−10th centuries). The protagonist is believed to be modeled on Ariwarano Narihira (825−80), a handsome aristocrat who had many romantic affairs. The main character’s romances, friendships, heartbroken wandering life, and various other stories are narrated in a style that owes much to waka (literally, Japanese poems). The work had a great influence on later Japanese literature, including Genji monogatari (The ...
Contributed by
National Diet Library
Album of Appreciation of the Fragrance of Spring
Takuhanga is a printing technique in which a cloth-covered cotton ball containing black ink is patted on wet paper placed on an intaglio-engraved woodblock. The technique derives from takuhon, the art of rubbing found in Chinese copybooks printed from the works of old masters of calligraphy. This late-18th-century takuhanga album includes poems in the Chinese style celebrating the spring scenery of Kyoto written by learned men from the city who were students of Chinese literature, including Iwagaki Ryūkei (1741−1808). The drawings are by prominent Kyoto artists from the time ...
Contributed by
National Diet Library
Portrait of Ono Ranzan
Tani Bunchō (1763−1840) was a representative painter of the late Edo period who is said to have perfected Edo Nanga, a school of Japanese painting that flourished in this period. The subject of the painting, Ono Ranzan (1729−1810), was a leading specialist in the traditional pharmacognosy (study of medicines derived from natural sources) of the day. Ranzan asked Bunchō to paint the portrait just a year before his death. Bunchō first made a sketch of Ranzan’s right side, which Ranzan did not like, insisting that the bump ...
Contributed by
National Diet Library
Picture Book of Chrysanthemums
The chrysanthemum, the flower loved by Tao Yuan-ming (365−427), a distinguished Chinese poet of the Eastern Jin dynasty, was brought to Japan around the beginning of the Heian period (794−1185). The plant took root on Japanese soil and by the Edo period (1600−1868) several hundred different types of chrysanthemum were being cultivated in the country. Gakiku is the first picture book of chrysanthemums published in Japan. Its beautiful illustrations and Chinese-style poems introduced readers to 100 different varieties of the flower. The text and lines are printed ...
Contributed by
National Diet Library
Tsukishima
Tsukishima is a Kōwaka-mai (dance drama) ballad that dates from the Muromachi period (1336−1573). It is also called Hyōgo or Hyōgo tsukishima. The literal meaning of “tsukishima” is "making an island," and the ballad is based on an episode in which Taira no Kiyomori (1118−81), a general and noble, built a new port in Fukuhara, Hyōgo. The story starts with Kiyomori's decision to build the port. To ensure the success of the construction, 30 people are captured in order to be made human sacrifices to the gods ...
Contributed by
National Diet Library
Ibuki Dōji, the Boy from Mount Ibuki
This picture scroll of an otogizōshi (Japanese fairy tales of the Muromachi era, 1392−1573), recounts the childhood of Shuten Dōji, the oni (demon) who would one day be subdued by the real-life warrior, Minamoto no Yorimitsu. It tells the story of Shuten Dōji’s birth and his childhood on Mount Ibuki in the old province of Ōmi, protected by wild animals and feeding on magical herbs that prevented old age and death, up to the time he went to live on Mount Ōe-yama in the former province of Tanba ...
Contributed by
National Diet Library
The Insect Book
Ehon mushi-erami (The insect book) is by the ukiyo-e painter Kitagawa Utamaro (circa 1753−1806). It was created by him before he produced the bijin-ga (pictures of beautiful women) for which he is famous. Each double page of the book contains a painted illustration of a plant and two species of insects, along with two kyōka (a poem style originating from waka, literally, Japanese poems). The kyōka are ostensibly insect-themed love poems. In all, 15 colored wood-block prints are included. The work demonstrates Utamaro’s skill at drawing, as well ...
Contributed by
National Diet Library
A Sketch Book of Sakura (Cherry Blossoms)
The sakura (cherry blossom) is the most famous flower of Japan, the beauty of which has long inspired artists in Japan. Created in the middle of the 19th century, Ōka-fu (A sketch book of cherry blossoms) contains the names and illustrations of 29 varieties of sakura, which are painted on silk with delicate brushwork. The artist, Sakamoto Kōnen (1800−53), studied herbal medicine under his father, Sakamoto Jun'an, physician-in-ordinary to the sovereign lord of Kishū Domain (present-day Wakayama Prefecture). Sakamoto Kōnen also worked in Kishū Domain as a ...
Contributed by
National Diet Library
Taishokan
Taishokan is a story loosely based on the life of Fujiwara no Kamatari (614−69), who was a famous court official. In the story, the daughter of Kamatari is married to the emperor of China. When she hears that her father is going to build the main hall of the Kōfuku-ji Temple in Nara, she sends him Mugehōju, a precious crystal with divine powers, as a gift. While a military escort is sailing to Japan with the crystal, dragons attack the ship and the treasure is carried down to the ...
Contributed by
National Diet Library
Chronicle of Japan, Volumes 1 and 2
Nihon shoki (Chronicle of Japan) is the first official Japanese history book, edited by Imperial Prince Toneri and others and completed in the fourth year of the Yōrō era (720). The 30 volumes cover the period from the mythological age to the time of the Empress Jitō (end of the seventh century). The first and second volumes, which deal with the mythological age, have been highly regarded in Japan since ancient times. The oldest existing manuscript of Nihon shoki dates from the Heian period (794−1185). The first published edition ...
Contributed by
National Diet Library
Illustrated Manual of Medical Plants
This book is considered the first full-scale botanical art book in Japan. It was published in the late Edo period and comprises 92 volumes (volumes 1−4 remain incomplete), including more than 1,900 varieties of plants. The author, Iwasaki Kan’en (1786−1842), was a shogunate vassal. The work contains colored illustrations of wild species, garden species, and imported species, captioned with taxonomic names, and includes biological explanations and other information. The plants are classified and arranged according to the 16th-century Honzō kōmoku (Bencao gangmu in Chinese), a Chinese ...
Contributed by
National Diet Library
The Diary of Mansai
Mansai (1378−1435) was an abbot of the Daigo-ji Temple in the early Muromachi period (14th−15th centuries). Born into an aristocratic family, Mansai was adopted by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu and ordained into the priesthood. He served three shoguns, not only as a priest but also as a political adviser and close associate. Mansai witnessed many important events in politics, foreign relations, literature, and society and was privy to the top secrets of the nation. Mansai jugō nikki (The diary of Mansai) is thus an important historical source. The National ...
Contributed by
National Diet Library
Revised World Map
This world map was completed by Takahashi Kageyasu (1785−1829) of Tenmonkata (the office in charge of astronomy). He began the work on the 1807 by order of the shogunate government, with the assistance of astronomer Hazama Shigetomi and Dutch interpreter Baba Sajūrō, who was summoned to Edo (present-day Tokyo) from Nagasaki in 1808. Kageyasu submitted the first version of the map to the government in 1810. The East Asian region was later revised and this version of the map was etched by Aōdō Denzen in 1816. The year of ...
Contributed by
National Diet Library
Commentary on The Analects of Confucius
Rongo (Analects) is famed as the collection of the words and deeds of Confucius. As the most cherished scripture of Confucianism, the book greatly influenced the culture of China and neighboring nations. It is said to have been introduced to Japan around the fifth century. The first published edition of Rongo in Japan was made in Sakai, a city in present-day Ōsaka Prefecture, in the 19th year of the Shōhei period (1364), and is known as the Shōhei version. The wood blocks of the first edition disappeared in early days ...
Contributed by
National Diet Library
Geographical Description of Tiantai Mountain
Tendaisan ki (Tiantaishanji in Chinese) is a geographical description of the Chinese holy mountain, Tendaisan (Tiantaishan in Chinese), located in Zheijiang Province. The author, Xu Lingfu, was a Taoist who lived in seclusion in order to discipline his mind and body. Xu lived on Tendaisan from 815 to 825, where he wrote this book. A Japanese monk studying in China may have copied the original in China or he may have brought a copy back to Japan, after which it was lost. This manuscript, held in the National ...
Contributed by
National Diet Library
Lotus Sutra
The practice of printing Buddhist scriptures on the reverse of letters from the deceased to pray for the repose of his or her soul became common from the end of the Heian period (late 12th century) onward. The scrolls shown here contain the text of a Buddhist sutra called Myōhō renge-kyō (Lotus sutra). They are printed on the reverse of letters sent from Daitō Genchi, the second abbot of Kakuon-ji Temple in Kamakura. It is believed that Hōjō Sadatoki’s wife, to whom the letters are addressed, and some others ...
Contributed by
National Diet Library
Buddhist Sutra “Jū-issai-fukutoku-zanmai-kyō”
The hand copying of Buddhist sutras was believed to confer great merit and spiritual benefit, so that from the introduction of Buddhism to Japan in the sixth century, numerous manuscripts were reproduced throughout the country. Shown here is a volume from the hand-copied Issai-kyō (a Buddhist corpus) commissioned by the Empress Kōmyō (701−60), wife of the Emperor Shōmu, to pray for the repose of her parents, Fujiwara no Fuhito and Tachibana no Michiyo. The work commissioned by the empress amounts to about 7,000 volumes, which include almost all ...
Contributed by
National Diet Library