Sokendai Review of Cultural and Social Studies


Change in the Form of Kojōruri shōhon as Seen
in the Keian Version of the Tōdaiki

HAYASHI Masahito

(The Graduate University for Advanced Studies, School of Cultural and Social Studies,
Department of Japanese Literature)

Key words:

history of publishing, Kojōruri, shōhon, bookstore, abbreviated text

Kojōruri shōhon, which began publication in the mid-1620s, changed its form with the times. For example, the size of the book was progressively reduced to hanshibon size (ca. 10 cm×14 cm); the number of characters per page or per line was increased; the cover changed from thin paper to thick paper; and the publisher started to emphasize that the text was the work of a specific tayū (chanter or storyteller).

These changes were made for commercial reasons such as cost reduction. Moreover, recent studies make it increasingly clear that the body of the text of Kojōruri shōhon was written not at the behest of the storyteller but of the bookstore that published it. A comparison of the form of two books published as Kojōruri shōhon, that is, the Keian version of the Tōdaiki, published in 1650, and the Kan’ei version of the Tōdaiki, published 1633, reveals that the changes followed the same course as the whole Kojōruri shōhon after the Kan’ei era with respect to cost reduction and the emphasis on the role of the storyteller.

As the body of the Keian version of the Tōdai-ki was an abridgment of the body of the Kan’ei version of the Tōdaiki, the text derives directly from the earlier one, and there is no impairment of the contents of the story such as can be seen in Sekkyō Sanshō-dayū, a moralizing discourse written the same way. In addition, there are a few emendations in the text that give the impression that the original copy of the Keian version of the Tōdaiki was actually belonged to a storyteller of the period.

In illustrations of the Keian version of the Tōdaiki, striking devices were used, such as the creation of high-impact two-page picture spreads, while at the same time some illustrations from the abbreviated Kan’ei version of the Tōdaiki were kept and others deleted. Another approach used to improve production efficiency was to print text and illustrations on separate pages, instead of on the same page as in the Kan’ei version.

As a result of these altered production methods, the Keian version of the Tōdaiki was completed with about half as many pages as the Kan’ei version, thus achieving the objective of cost reduction. That extant copies of the Keian Tōdaiki are reprints suggests that this version was commercially successful. Comparison with the Kanei version reveals not a change in the performance time of puppet shows between the Kan’ei era and the Keian era, but a change in the devices used by the bookstore to produce Jōruri shōhon at low cost as interesting reading material in more abbreviated form with illustrations, and to attract buyers by associating the books with popular tayū of the day.