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Sasaki: Our theme in Week 3 is “Book Publishing and Scholarship in Early-modern Japan.” by Professor Ichinohe Wataru, a specialist of Edo-period publishing and literary culture.
S: So where can we position the early-modern period in the history of Japanese bookmaking?
Ichinohe: First of all, please look at this ukiyoe print. It is called “Rikōmono” (The Clever One) and it is part of a series entitled “Kyokun oya no megane” (A Parent’s Edifying Spectacles) by Kitagawa Utamaro. It shows a woman enjoying a book as she lies down with her head rested on a Japanese-style headrest.
S: The book she is reading is bound in the fukurotoji (bound-pocket) style, isn’t it?
I: Yes, the fukurotoji was the most common binding method during the Edo period.
S: When was the print made?
I: It dates from the beginning of the 19th century. Ukiyoe prints usually depict the life of the common folk, and this one, too, is not a woman of the aristocracy but an ordinary lady.
S: So we can say the image shows the reading habits of the commoners.
I: Yes, ukiyoe prints typically feature beautiful women, but a woman reading as she is must not have been an unusual sight at this time. However, this print is not promoting reading for women; rather, the message is that it is not desirable for women to be too absorbed by books and be too intellectual.
S: So while it depicts an attractive woman, it has a didactic message.
I: Ukiyoe were under strict governmental control because they were thought to corrupt morals, so by adding a didactic message to the portrait of a beautiful woman,
the author is reacting to such control by saying: “Look, this is not inappropriate content, it is didactic material.” It is a bold move by Utamaro and the publisher of the series. But the important point is that before the Edo period, you would not have seen a woman of commoner stock relaxing and enjoying a book.
S: That is a major difference with society up to medieval times.
I: Yes, in the Edo period books became a mass phenomenon. Even people from classes who previously had few chances to come into contact with books started to use them in significant amounts. During the Edo period, a regulatory system based on written information, which included books and written materials of all kinds, truly reached every corner of Japan, and both the demand for books and their status grew accordingly.
S: And when demand increases, quantities also increase.
I: Precisely. . It may be obvious but when it comes to books, technology is the key. Printing existed in Japan at least as far back as the 8th century, but in the Edo period the scale of printing grew exponentially. This week, we will provide a short summary of the history of publishing before the Edo period, then explain how things changed during the Edo period, and finally discuss the impact of these changes on the literature and scholarly output of the period.
S: Thank you. So the Edo period seems to have been a time of great changes in the history of books. Please join us to find out more about these changes and how they came about.

Week 3のテーマは、日本の江戸時代における書物出版と学問です。江戸時代の文化と書物を専門としている一戸教授が担当します。 ビデオをご覧になる前に、まず、図1の浮世絵を観察して、この絵からどんなことがわかるか考えてみてください。

Ukiyoe by Kitagawa Utamaro 図1. 喜多川歌麿『教訓親の目鑑 理口者』
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始期 元号名 読み   始期 元号名 読み
1596 慶長 けいちょう   1744 延享 えんきょう
1615 元和 げんな   1748 寛延 かんえん
1624 寛永 かんえい   1751 宝暦 ほうれき
1644 正保 しょうほう   1764 明和 めいわ
1648 慶安 けいあん   1772 安永 あんえい
1652 承応 じょうおう   1781 天明 てんめい
1655 明暦 めいれき   1789 寛政 かんせい
1658 万治 まんじ   1801 享和 きょうわ
1661 寛文 かんぶん   1804 文化 ぶんか
1673 延宝 えんぽう   1818 文政 ぶんせい
1681 天和 てんな   1830 天保 てんぽう
1684 貞享 じょうきょう   1844 弘化 こうか
1688 元禄 げんろく   1848 嘉永 かえい
1704 宝永 ほうえい   1854 安政 あんせい
1711 正徳 しょうとく   1860 万延 まんえん
1716 享保 きょうほう   1861 文久 ぶんきゅう
1736 元文 げんぶん   1864 元治 げんじ
1741 寛保 かんぽう   1865 慶応 けいおう

Week 3 の資料

Week 3 の記事とビデオ字幕は、PDFで提供されています。DOWNLOADS のセクションからダウンロードしてください。

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古書から読み解く日本の文化: 和本の世界

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