Tokyo (東京): Kyoshundo (九春堂), 1887 [Meiji 20]. First edition. Softcover. Quarto. 22 leaves (double-sided, fukuro-toji syle). Tan paper string-bound Asian-style wrappers. Black lettering in English on a white paper label pasted on the front cover.
This scarce work, intended primarily for an English-speaking readership in the West, contains biographical text for 10 different Japanese historical and legendary figures. The text for each is accompanied by a beautiful Japanese woodblock-printed illustration in color (ukiyo-e). The prints, which total 10 double-page images throughout, were created by four different Meiji-era woodblock artists and are captioned above bilingually, in English and Japanese. Each print includes the artist's signature. The acclaimed artist Ogata Gekko (尾形月耕, 1859 – 1920) created 4 prints ("Yamato Takeru", "Wake no Kiyomaro", "Taira no Shigemori", and Saigo Takamori), the prolific artist Toyohara Chikanobu (豊原周延, 1838–1912) created 2 prints ("Empress Jingu" and "Kato Kiyomasa"), Mizuno Toshikata (水野年方, 1866-1908) created 2 prints ("Takenouchi no Sukune" and "Kusunoki Masashige"), and an as yet unidentified fourth artist created the other 2 prints ("Minamoto No Yoshiie" and "Hojo Tokimune"). We believe that all images here were created specifically for the book, and have found no other external examples or other references for them.
The figures covered here are, in order: Yamato Takeru (Prince Ousu), a semi-legendary prince of the Yamato dynasty - the legendary Empress Jingu - the legendary hero, statesman, and Shinto priest of the first century Takenouchi no Sukune - Wake no Kiyomaro (733–799) an important government official - Minamoto No Yoshiie (1039-1106), among the most acclaimed samurai in Japanese history - Taira no Shigemori (1138-1179) a samurai of the Taira clan during the Heiji Rebellion - Hojo Tokimune (1251-1284) ruler of Japan and leader of the Japanese forces against the Mongol Invasions of Japan - Kusunoki Masashige (1294-1336), an acclaimed samurai - Kato Kiyomasa (1562-1611), a famous daimyo of the Azuchi–Momoyama and Edo periods - famed samurai Saigo Takamori (1928-1877), who was one of the leaders of the Meiji Restoration.
As stated in publisher's advertisement in English at the front of the book, this is the first volume of what was intended to be larger series of 10 volumes (日本古今名家圖解, Nihon Kokon Meika Zukai) illustrating the lives of notable and famous figures in Japanese history. The set was to cover a total of 100 figures (10 per volume). Ultimately, only the first two volumes were ever published (1887 and 1890). A third related book, also from Kyoshundo, was published during this time, illustrating famed locations in Japan.
This variant of the work contains the main text throughout only in English, although the final two pages containing publisher's advertisements and publication information are printed in Japanese (as well as the image captions). The other known version of the book, which was issued simultaneously, has the main text of the book printed trilingually in English, Japanese and Kanbun (a form of Classical Chinese read in Japan, which is no longer used). The first printed page of the book credits "Miki Tecki" (Miki Teiichi, 三木 貞一, 1861-1933) with "Japanese and Chinese" text, and [Goro] Takahashi (高橋 五郎, 1856-1935) with English translation. The book contains a number of English typographical errors throughout, including on the front cover.
Covers with some light smudges, and a few small stains. Light pencil markings on the front cover. The string binding has partially come loose, with only the middle two strings (of four) still present and holding. A few leaves have some minor rippling. All images throughout mostly clean. In very good condition overall. vg. Item #51661
The work in is known by a number of variant titles in English: Short Biographies of Emeni Japanese in Ancient and Modern Times - The Pictures and Biographies of a Hundred Eminent Japanese - Nihon Kokon Meika Zukai - Pictures of a Hundred Eminent Japanese, Ancient and Modern, with Their Biographies - Map of Japan's Ancient and Modern Families (literal translation).