37 fine woodcuts (some are single-page, others double-page, & one is a text illus.), of which most are black & white, but 11 are printed in complex color & eight are delicately highlighted with gray tints. 33; 33; 32; 34; 35; 35 folding leaves. Six vols. 8vo, orig. decorated wrappers (wrappers slightly soiled), orig. block-printed title labels on upper covers, new stitching. Wakayama [& for Vols. IV-VI: Wakayama, Kyoto, Edo, & Osaka]: Ohiya Ihei et al., [Vols. I-III], Prefaces dated 1833 & 1850.
First edition, and a complete set in six volumes, of this beautifully illustrated natural history work; the first three volumes were published by the famous bookselling and publishing firm of Obiya Ihei, in Wakayama, a town on the coast some 35 miles to the south-west of Osaka.
“Todo ihitsu, a three-volume posthumous collection of the works of Ohara Todo (d. 1825), [was] edited by his grandson [Rankyo Ohara]. Ohara was an herbalist and botanist whose family had been in service to the daimyo of Wakayama for generations and who was appointed head of the herbarium founded by the tenth daimyo, Tokugawa Harutomi. Todo ihitsu was published in 1833 by a consortium of Wakayama publishers, Obiya, Kasedaya, and Sakamotoya Kiichiro. A second set of three volumes was published in 1850 by the Sakamotoya brothers and a collection of publishers from the three capitals, and a further eight sets were planned [but not published], according to the colophon of the second set.”–P.F. Kornicki, “Obiya Ihei, a Japanese Provincial Publisher” in The British Library Journal, Vol. 11, No. 2 (Autumn 1985), p. 140.
Todo Ohara (1746-1825), who studied under Ono Ranzan, had been interested in plants from childhood. With Ranzan, he explored the Nikko and Kumano mountains, collecting specimens. In spite of his considerable knowledge, he never published any of his writings and it remained for his grandson Rankyo Ohara (1797-1849), to do so. Rankyo, at the end of Vols. III and VI, has added his own additional natural history observations.
This is a most handsome publication, designed to recreate the layout and general appearance of Todo’s original notebooks. The black & white woodcut illustrations are finely executed, and many of them are beautifully accentuated with another printing of gray tint. A number of the woodcuts in the final three volumes are color-printed, some with metallic highlights and subtle embossing. A number feature bokashi (the delicate gradation or shading of the density of one color) and over-printing using multiple pigments. Four bear the printed seal of Keirin Kamata (1808-64), a café owner in Wakayama who learned painting from Keibun Matsumura. Another has the seal of Osatsune Horibata (1801-80), a member of the Kano school of painting and court painter for the Kii fiefdom (today’s Wakayama).
The illustrations include abalone, a silkworm, other insects, citrus fruit, a sea snail, birds, a mouse, crabs, seaweed, fish, a monkey, wild orchids, turtles, shells, a leopard, an owl, seals on snow-covered rocks, many kinds of plants, etc.
Item ID: 7967