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Having moved its first steps in the late Heian period, the printing of sutras and sutra commentaries grew in scale during the Kamakura period. The major printing centers were the major temple complexes of the time. In Nara, the main center was the Kōfukuji. Works published at the Kōfukuji are known as “Kasuga-ban” . The copy of the Lotus Sutra shown here is a 13th century Kasuga-ban. It is sumptuously decorated, as befits a sacred text, and bears reading and chanting marks known as okototen and shōten , in red ink. These marks were added to facilitate the reading and recitation of the text, so it is reasonable to assume that the book was intended for regular use, and not simply as a decorative object.
Other prominent printing centers in the Nara area were the Saidaiji, the Tōshōdaiji, the Tōdaiji, and the Hōryūji. The monasteries on Mount Kōya specialized in printing Shingon esoteric texts and the works of Kūkai, the sect’s founder. The books published on Mt. Kōya are known as Kōya-ban. Here we have an example of Kōya-ban published in 1291. It is a commentary to the Kongōchōkyō, an important Shingon text. Many Kōya-ban books were bound using the detchōsō bookbinding method, an ancient method in which several sheets of paper folded in half are placed on top of one another and glued together.
Kyoto establishments like the Sennyūji and the Daigoji were also active as printing centers, but the most important in terms of both quality and quantity, because of the popularity of Pure Land Buddhism at the time, was the Chion’in temple, which published Pure Land-related texts known collectively as ‘Jōdōkyō-ban’. This copy of the ōjōjūin is one of the Jōdōkyō-ban in the holdings of Keio Library. The author was the Japanese monk Eikan. Together with Genshin’s popular ōjōyōshū , which is known to have been published before 1210, the ōjōjūin is the first work by a Japanese author to be printed. Another noteworthy Jōdōkyō-ban is the Kurodani shōnin gotōroku, published in 1321, which is the first book in Japanese to be printed.
It is likely because of the populist nature of Pure Land Buddhism and its wide following among the commoners that the earliest books in Japanese were printed under the aegis of the Pure Land sect, as Jōdōkyō-ban. The most significant publications during the Nambokuchō period and Muromachi periods were the so-called Gozan-ban books. The “Five Mountains” were the Zen monasteries officially recognized by both the military government and by the court and the term Gozan-ban refers to works printed at these institutions. The most significant thing about Gozan books is the range of works that was printed. While still centering at temples, publications now covered a wider range of books than before.
Shown here is the Rekidaiteiōhennen goken no zu, one of the Gozan-ban books in the Keio Library collection. It was published in 1376 at the Taiyōan, a building of the Daitokuji temple. It is a chronological compendium of Chinese history noting the years of reign, era names, and the main events for the reign of each ruler. It was first published in China during the Song and reprinted in Japan, and it is significant because it shows that temples now also printed books not directly related to Buddhism. Gozan-ban books also include poetry collections, dictionaries, and Japanese reprints of works originally published in China.
Here lies the other characteristic of Five Mountains books: they include the first books in the history of Japanese publishing that do not focus on Buddhism. The Zen monks of the Five Mountains were a highly-cultivated elite. Composing Buddhist verse in Chinese was a daily activity at Zen temple complexes, and knowledge of literary Chinese was also required to interact with intellectuals on the continent. The publication of literary works at temples catered to this need. In the late Namboku period, provincial warlords began to get involved in printing. Paralleling the decline of Kyoto that followed the ōnin war , there was an increase of printing activity by local daimyō.
Most of the works printed by these provincial presses were Confucian and Buddhist works, but a small percentage of works by Japanese authors was also printed, among them the Setsuyōshū, a Japanese dictionary, and the compendium of military laws, Goseibai shikimoku. This is a copy of the Goseibai shikimoku printed in 1529 and now in the Keio Library collection. Here we conclude our short survey of the history of printing and publishing between the 8th and 16th centuries. Printing and publishing during this long period of time served mainly as a vehicle to spread ideas and knowledge from the Asian mainland.
In the early phase, printing focused on Buddhist works, but from the medieval period onwards, with the appearance of Five Mountains books, it grew to include secular works, although it continued to focus primarily on works in Chinese and very few works by Japanese authors were published. Works in Japanese genres such as waka and monogatari were never published during this 800 years period. Written mostly in hiragana, these works were appreciated by small elite circles with the means to produce luxurious handwritten copies, and so probably the need to print such works never arose. All this was to change in the Edo period.





  • 春日版
  • ヲコト点
  • 高野版
  • 浄土教版

南北朝時代(1333 – 1392)・室町時代(1392 – 1573)

  • 五山版


  • 地方大名による出版活動


  1. 『妙法蓮華経』一軸〔鎌倉刊〕
  2. 『金剛頂経大瑜伽秘密心地法門義訣』一帖 高野版 正応四年(1291)刊
  3. 『往生拾因』一帖(粘葉装)浄土教版 宝治二年(1248)刊
  4. 『歴代帝王編年互見之図』一冊 永和二年(1376)刊 五山版
  5. 『御成敗式目』一冊 小槻伊治 享禄二年(1529)刊


日本が特に中国からの文化をどのように受容し発展させていったのかを、実際の漢籍を例にとりながら学ぶことができる、Sino-Japanese Interactions Through Rare Books(古書から読み解く日本の文化2 漢籍の受容)を用意しています。 このコースでは、まず、書物の日本への伝来から、その印刷技術の発展と書物の普及を紐解き、日本と東アジアにおける書物と宗教の関係、中国文化が日本の文化にどのように影響したかを学ぶことができます。

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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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