SOKENDAI Review of Cultural and Social Studies


vol.16 (2020)

Kashiwara-ya and Its Early Ehon


Department of Regional Studies,
School of Cultural and Social Studies,
The Graduate University for Advanced Studies, SOKENDAI

Key words:

Kashiwara-ya, Ehon, Edehon, Gahu, Japanese design books, publishing works in Edo period, woodblock printed book, bookstore in Osaka, painting motif

Kashiwara-ya is an Osaka bookstore well-known for publishing Otogi-bunko, a collection of illustrated short stories called Shibukawa-ban, in the Edo period. The bookstore also published many ehon, or books featuring illustrations, that are significant works for ehon studies including Ehon-Shahoubukuro and Minchoshiken. Although Kashiwara-ya played an important role in publishing ehon after the Kyoho era, preceding studies have not considered Kashiwara-ya as a publisher of ehon. Thus, this study investigates Kashiwara-ya’s early works and considers its publication activity.

Eight books—Ehon-kusagenji, Ehon-seishocho, Ehon-keikocho, Ehon-takaragura, Ehon-techokomoku, Ehon-wasuregusa, Ehon-fukurasuzume and Banbutsu-ehon-taizen—are listed in a Kashiwara-ya advertisement published before 1720. This paper considers these books to be Kashiwara-ya’s early works. These books were published to provide patterns of paintings for artists. Since this has rarely been examined in preceding studies, this paper compiles a bibliography and identifies the characteristics of these early works.

The paper first organizes a bibliography of each work and makes inferences, e.g. woodblocks of Ehon-techokomoku were bought by Kashiwara-ya and the bookstore repaired them to sell them as Ehon-seishocho. As a result of such inferences and mismatches in the composition of the eight books, it is also possible to ascertain the possibility that almost all the woodblocks used in Kashiwara-ya’s early works were repaired after purchase, i.e. these early works were not made by Kashiwara-ya.

Secondly, the paper analyzes diversity in publication dates. Although Kashiwara-ya’s early works have same publication date of 1718, these descriptions are unreliable because the woodblocks of the publication dates were allocated among o-hon, one of the formats of Japanese books. The degrees of frictional wear of the woodblocks are different, and this difference tells us the sequence of printing.

A hypothesis concerning Kashiwara-ya’s early works is derived based on the above. Although Kashiwara-ya had woodblocks to publish eight ehon and had rights to publish them before 1718, the eight books were not published at the same time.