Understanding Japanese Woodblock-printed Illustrated Books

Understanding Japanese Woodblock-printed Illustrated Books

Yomihon, “in which runs of text pages are interrupted by occasional double-page illustrations.”

Illustrated reference books: “meisho zue (books about famous places), kinmozui (encyclopedias), oraimono (educational books), ichidaiki (biographies)–in these books the images supplement the information provided by the texts”

The first printed texts (surviving) “are short prayers: the million paper slips printed with incantations (darani) ordered by Empress Shotoku in the late 760s.”

“Secular texts–whether literary, medical, or didactic–tended to be guarded as family property or secret teachings to be transmitted through manuscript copies.”

“Beginning in the mid-1820s, some erotic books were published with ‘devices’ (shikake). These could be small, printed paper flaps pasted onto the printed page to represent doors or screens that could be oepened to reveal what lay behind them, or full page fold-outs that dramatically extend the image field of the book…. rarely encountered in non-erotic books.”

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