Isoho Monogatari


Isoho monogatari is a Japanese translation of Aesop's Fables that was published in 1659. Aesop's Fables are thought to have been introduced to Japan by a Jesuit missionary. In 1593 a one-volume version, in romanized Japanese, was published by the Jesuit college established in the Amakusa Islands, off Kyushu. The edition presented here is of three fascicles, or volumes, bound together in one book. It is a kanazoshi (a genre of novels and essays written in a simple kana-based syllabic script primarily used in the 17th century) version of Aesop's Fables that has different content than the 1593 version. The kanazoshi Isoho monogatari were either kokatsujiban (old movable-type editions) or woodblock-print versions containing illustrations. This document is the latter. Of the total of 94 stories, those up to the tenth story of the second volume are stories from the life of Isoho (known to the Latin West as Aesop), while the remaining 64 stories are fables by Isoho. There are five illustrations in each volume (15 overall). Some of the illustrations contain pictures from two stories. There are 24 illustrated stories. According to the document, Isoho was from Hirijiya (Phrygia, in present-day Turkey; very little is known about Aesop but it is thought that he lived circa 620‒560 BC), but most of the characters and customs have been replaced by Japanese equivalents. The document is therefore interesting as a record of the process of the adoption of Aesop's Fables in Japan. During the Sakoku period of national isolation, from the 1630s to the mid-19th century, Aesop's Fables was the one of the few classical works to survive after Westerners were expelled from Japan.


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Ito San'emon


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3 volumes (bound in 1 book) : illustrated ; 26.7 centimeters

Last updated: January 9, 2018