Oji shu [Thoughts of the Past]. Tsujo INOUE.

Waka Poetry by a Woman

Oji shu [Thoughts of the Past].

34; 16; 20; 26; 15 folding leaves. Five vols. 8vo, orig. patterned wrappers (upper wrapper of Vol. I somewhat faded & rubbed), orig. block-printed title labels on upper covers, new stitching. Kyoto: Ryushiken Ibaraki Nobukiyo, 1718.

First edition of this collection of waka poetry; this is a rare book with no copy in WorldCat. Inoue (1660-1738), born in Marugame, was raised in an intellectual family. Her father, a samurai and Confucian scholar, arranged for his daughter to be educated in both Chinese and Japanese literature. Her mother taught her waka poetry, and she also studied calligraphy with Ippu Horie. At the age of eight, Inoue had memorized the entire Tale of Genji, and by her 17th year she had published two works, one of which was advice to unmarried women, and the other, advice to married women. When 22, she was hired as a jidoku (tutor) by the domain lord’s mother, who was then living at the Edo residence of the Marugame domain. While in Edo, Inoue participated in otherwise all-male poetry gatherings. As an adult, she wrote waka poetry and travel accounts of her journey to and from Edo as well as her time in the great city. Her observations were known for being sharp and witty.

Kaibara Ekiken, the neo-Confucian philosopher, travel writer, and pioneer botanist of the early Tokugawa period, met Inoue in Edo and was overwhelmed by her poetic talents. He considered her to be the most intelligent woman since the poetically inclined Princess Uchiko (807-47).

Vol. I contains Inoue’s waka poetry devoted to the four seasons, and Vol. II, to love and travel. The third volume has poetry of reflection, and the fourth of loss and hardship. The fifth contains poetry devoted to religious acts and festivities.

These handsome volumes are finely carved in a fluid calligraphic style. Vol. I contains Inoue’s own preface, dated 1681, and another by her youngest son, dated 1718.

Fine and fresh set.

❧ Mari Nagase, Women Writers of Chinese Poetry in Late-Edo Period Japan (PhD thesis, University of British Columbia, 2007), pp. 20-22.

Price: $6,500.00

Item ID: 7606

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