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Main Binding Methods 2 – Accordion binding

In this section, you will learn about another binding method, Orihon.

Read the article then watch Prof. Sasaki introduce the orihon binding method.

II. Orihon (concertina or accordion-style binding)

Orihon (according-style binding) Fig.1 Above: Orihon (Accordion-style binding) (Unit: )

The second main binding method is the orihon (accordion-type binding). The sheets are joined together in the same way as in scrolls but instead of applying a roller at one end, the long horizontal strip is folded repeatedly on itself like an accordion; covers are then applied at both ends. Books in this format look exactly the same from both sides, so it was not uncommon to write or print on both sides. Orihon are easier to read than scrolls and since there was no need to rewind them at the end, they were arguably more practical. Because in China the format was used to print sutras and other Buddhist works, in Japan, too, most books in this format are Buddhist texts (see below).

Kise inhon-kyō Fig.2 Example of Orihon: Kise inhon-kyō [Ashikaga Takauji gankyō].
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Secular works in this format are few and the impression is that the orihon was perceived as a format for “private” or “non-circulating” content. As the abundance of creases made it unsuitable for illustrations, it was rarely used for illustrated books, although genealogies and travel guides are numerous enough. (See the sample below)

Genji monogatari keizu Fig.3 Example of Orihon: Genji monogatari keizu.
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This is presumably because, like scrolls, it allows to view a larger area than a conventional book (by spreading open several pages). Unlike scrolls, however, accordion-style books stay open even if both hands let go, which is why they are still used today for calligraphy manuals.

One disadvantage is that if for any reason the glue that keeps the sheets together comes off, the pages scatter. Orihon are counted in jyō (booklets).

II-a. Orijō (accordion-style binding with thicker paper)

Booklet Fig.4 Example of Orijō: Katō Chikage, Man’yōshū nukigaki.
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Book Fig.5 Example of Orijō: Son’en shin’nō shinkanhōjō.
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Tanzaku tekagami Fig.6 Example of Orijō: Tanzaku tekagami.
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Before moving on to the next style, it is worth mentioning two other formats which are closely related to orihon. The first is the orijō, which is similar to orihon, but with thicker paper. Two sheets of paper are pasted together to form a thicker sheet. Such thick paper would be impossible to roll up into a scroll. The thick pages of the orijō were perfect to paste paper cartouches (shikishi) inscribed with pictures and waka poems or tanzaku (strips of hard paper inscribed with poems), and this was one of the most common uses of this format. (See the three samples above)

II-b. Gajōsō (album binding)

Shiohi no tsuto, 1 booklet illustrations by Kitagawa Utamaro Fig.7 Example of Gajōsō: Shiohi no tsuto.
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The other format is the gajōsō (album binding). It is similar to the orijō in that thick, two-layer sheets of paper are used, but the difference is that the edge of the front cover sticks out to cover the spine, making it look like a conventional book. The format was introduced in the late Edo period, and was used for collections of pictures and figures. (See above)

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