A Summary of His Life’s Work

Koeki kokusanko [Essay on Furthering the Nation’s Industries].

Many full-page & double woodcut illus. Eight vols. 8vo, orig. blue patterned wrappers (somewhat discolored), orig. block-printed title labels on upper covers, new stitching. Osaka, Kyoto, Edo: Kawachiya Mohei et al., 1859.

First edition of a very scarce book, completed in 1844 but published 15 years later. This work is a summary of the author’s agricultural and technological writings over a 55-year period. Okura (1768-1856?), was one of the three most eminent agriculturalists of the Edo period. A reformer, he wrote more than 20 books on all aspects of agricultural improvement and technology; they were among the best of their period for range and clarity of explaining the new methods.

“Okura’s writings emphasized ways to make farming more efficient and productive: timely cultivation, better seeds, better equipment, supplementary crops, and the care of and culture of silkworms.”–Jansen, The Making of Modern Japan, p. 209. In this work, Okura discusses improved methods of papermaking, seed storage, sugar production, making beeswax and honey, growing cotton and producing textiles, making starch from fiddle ferns, dyeing, oil production from seeds, management of orchards, growing tea leaves, sericulture, rice production, harvesting seaweed, manufacturing soy sauce, producing igusa to make tatami mats, jute production, etc., etc. There is a significant section on treating forests as a crop (especially concentrating on growing Japanese cypress and pine trees).

Okura strongly encouraged the fiefdom lords to educate and encourage their local farmers to choose the right crops, appropriate for the region, thereby increasing the fiefdoms’ wealth. The author also discusses the market for certain crops and products and how to maximize profits.

This work is also richly illustrated with numerous woodcuts of improved agricultural and forestry techniques, methods of transportation, agricultural tools, footwear appropriate for working in wet fields, marketplaces in Osaka, papermaking (with a list of the varieties and qualities of papers), the manufacturing of bitter fermented persimmon juice, which served as an insect repellant (oftentimes used on book covers) and a waterproofing agent, rendering of rape-seed oil, making of soy sauce, kuzu starch, cotton growing, a cotton warehouse, complex weaving machines, etc., etc.

In fine condition. Vols. I and VI have unimportant marginal worming. Vol. III has minor worming in the gutter. The fourth volume has worming touching the text of six leaves. Vol. VII has minor marginal dampstaining.

Price: $7,500.00

Item ID: 6906