Skip main navigation

Books in the Edo period

Ukiyoe print tells you more than the picture itself. Prof. Sasaki and Prof. Ichinohe will introduce you what you can learn from this print.

The theme in Week 3 is “Book Publishing and Scholarship in Early-modern Japan”. Our educator will be Professor Wataru Ichinohe, a specialist of Edo-period publishing and literary culture.

In this video, you will learn some interesting things about the cultural background of the Edo period, from looking at this Ukiyoe print.

Please take a look at this Ukiyoe (Fig. 1) and think about what it shows before looking at the video to find out more.

Ukiyoe by Kitagawa Utamaro Fig 1. Rikōmono (The Clever One) Kyōkun oya no megane (A Parent’s Edifying Spectacles) by Kitagawa Utamaro Click to take a closer look

Era names (Nengō) in Edo Period

There were several era names (nengo, or gengo) in Edo period (1603 ~ 1867) and they are sometimes used in the description of the old books and materials. Here is the list of the era names in Edo period for your convenience;

Start Era name English   Start Era name English
1596 慶長 Keichō   1744 延享 Enkyō
1615 元和 Genna   1748 寛延 Kan’en
1624 寛永 Kan’ei   1751 宝暦 Hōreki
1644 正保 Shōhō   1764 明和 Meiwa
1648 慶安 Keian   1772 安永 An’ei
1652 承応 Jōō   1781 天明 Tenmei
1655 明暦 Meireki   1789 寛政 Kansei
1658 万治 Manji   1801 享和 Kyōwa
1661 寛文 Kanbun   1804 文化 Bunka
1673 延宝 Enpō   1818 文政 Bunsei
1681 天和 Tenna   1830 天保 Tenpō
1684 貞享 Jōkyō   1844 弘化 Kōka
1688 元禄 Genroku   1848 嘉永 Kaei
1704 宝永 Hōei   1854 安政 Ansei
1711 正徳 Shōtoku   1860 万延 Man’en
1716 享保 Kyōhō   1861 文久 Bunkyū
1736 元文 Genbun   1864 元治 Genji
1741 寛保 Kanpō   1865 慶応 Keiō

Week 3 materials

You can download PDF version of the text and transcript of Week 3, in English and Japanese at the DOWNLOADS section below.

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