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Skip to 0 minutes and 3 secondsHere we will discuss the practice of format changing. We have seen that Japanese books come in a variety of formats. Let us start by taking a look at these. This is an accordion book, this is a scroll, and this here, as you no doubt know by now, is a multi-section (tetsuyōsō) book. However, this is not the original format these books were in when they were made; at some point, the format was changed. The number of traditional books that were reformatted at some point in their life is extremely high, therefore unless one is able to establish what format they were originally in, it is basically impossible to assess their value.

Skip to 0 minutes and 57 secondsWith this in mind, let us look in more detail at the practice of reformatting. Let us start with this accordion book here. As you can see, it opens like an accordion. However, this book was originally a scroll, like this one here. The roller was removed, and the roll of paper was folded on itself and covers were applied. Right, but how can you tell? It is actually very easy to tell if you open it. If you look here about half way down the paper you can see these small horizontal crinkles. The thing is, you are not supposed to have these in a standard accordion book.

Skip to 1 minute and 49 secondsThese are the kind of crinkles that you get when you roll up the paper and are known as makijiwa (roll wrinkles) in Japanese. So what happened is that, to rebind it, the roll was unfurled and then folded like this on itself but the wrinkles obviously remained. One more thing; this may not be so easy to see, but here there are marks from insect damage. These marks are another thing to look for when trying to determine if a book was reformatted or not. In accordion books, insect damage is usually found on the crease, and it spreads symmetrically on both sides, but in this case you can see that the same pattern of damage appears at regular intervals.

Skip to 2 minutes and 35 secondsThis means that the insects ate the paper when the text was still in scroll format. Also, in this book everything seems to be fine at the beginning of the book, but when you get to a certain point you see that there is writing right on the creases, which you would never find in a standard accordion book. That is because when you change the format inevitably some things end up being out of place. The fact that this book was rebound as an accordion book tells us that the scroll as a format was not very practical, so that in order to make reading and storing away the text after reading it easier, scrolls were often rebound as accordion books.

Skip to 3 minutes and 21 secondsThis is one such example.






*Eiga no taigai* 図1. 詠歌大概 〔室町中後期〕雲紙
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  1. 巻子装 → 折本
  2. 折本 → 巻子装
  3. 綴葉装 → 巻子装
  4. 袋綴 → 巻子装
  5. 袋綴 → 綴葉装

巻子装 → 折本

方法 :軸と表紙を取って、一定の幅で山折りと谷折りを繰り返し、最後に新たに表紙を付す。

*Myōhō rengekyō* 図2. 巻子装から折本の例 妙法蓮華経
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This video is from the free online course:

古書から読み解く日本の文化: 和本の世界

Keio University