Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off one whole year of Unlimited learning. Subscribe for just £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only. T&Cs apply

Find out more

Main Binding Methods 4 - Tetsuyōsō

In this section, you will learn about Tetsuyōsō (“multisection” binding).

In this video, continuing from the previous step, Prof. Sasaki explain the Tetsuyōsō binding style in which thread instead of glue is used to connect the leaves.

IV. Tetsuyōsō (“multisection” binding)

*Tetsuyōsō* (“multisection” binding) Fig.1 Above: Multisection Binding (Unit: Jyō)

The tetsuyōsō or tetchōsō (multisection) binding is also known as retsujōsō. Sheets of paper are stacked on one another in sets of approximately five and folded in two to form a fascicle (the folding is called ori). More sets are added as needed; holes are opened along the creases, covers are added on both sides and thread is passed through the holes to bind sets and covers together. (See three samples below)

Goshūiwakashū Fig.2 Examples of tetsuyōsō: Goshūiwakashū.
A book shown above is preserved in the middle of binding process. Click to take a closer look to the completed version with beautiful covers: Vol1, Vol2

Kin’yōwakashū Fig.3 Example of tetsuyōsō: Kin’yōwakashū.
Click to take a closer look

Hekianshō Fig.4 Example of tetsuyōsō: Hekianshō
Click to take a closer look

The types of paper most commonly used for this kind of binding are the hishi, which can be used on both sides, or specially thickened choshi. The distinctive characteristic of this format is that except for the first sheet of each set, the text on the right-hand part of the sheet is not continuous with the text on the left-hand part.

The tetsuyōsō has been continually in use from the end of the Heian period to the Edo period as a solid and reliable binding method. It was once thought to have been developed in Japan, but the discovery in 1900 of books bound in this style dating from pre-Tang times in the Dunhuang caves in China (known as the Dunhuang manuscripts) proved that it did indeed originate in China. For some reason, it never really caught on in China, whereas in Japan it was widely used, so it tends to be associated with Japanese books. Works in Japanese-language genres such as waka poetry and monogatari (tales) tend to be particular numerous among books bound in this style. Thinner sheets of paper were also used by first folding them lengthwise to produce a sheet half of the normal size. The procedure explained above was then repeated to produce a book half the usual tetsuyōsō size. This subtype is known as origami tetsuyōsō (folded tetsuyōsō) or fukushiki retsujōsō. Because of its lightness and nice appearance, the format appealed especially to people who traveled regularly, such as renga masters(a person who leads creation of short poetries called renga, which is a type of wakathat is written by multiple authors), doctors, and monks. (See examples below).Books in this format are counted in jyō (booklets).

Sagoromo no *sōshi* Fig.5 Example of origami tetsuyōsō: Sagoromo no sōshi
Click to take a closer look

Bunpitsu mondō-shō Fig.6 Example of origami tetsuyōsō: Bunpitsu mondō-shō
Click to take a closer look

This article is from the free online

Japanese Culture Through Rare Books

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now