“The Definitive Record of Japanese Diplomatic Relations”

Zenrin kokuhoki [An Account of Good Neighborly Relations as a Treasure of Our Country].

46; 40; 19 folding leaves. Three vols. Large 8vo, orig. pale brown wrappers (somewhat rubbed), orig. block-printed title labels on upper covers, new stitching. [Edo: 1657].

Second and best early edition. The extremely rare first edition appeared in Kyoto in 1477, but our edition, a so-called “Meireki-bon,” is judged to be most complete.

“In 1464 the shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa (1436-1490) asked the Zen monk Zuikei Shuho (1391-1473) to compose an official letter from the shogun to the Ming emperor. His interest in diplomatic history aroused, Zuikei Shuho began a compilation of pertinent documents. The result of his efforts, Zenrin kokuhoki, completed in 1470, was the first book-length chronicle of Japan’s foreign relations…

“While the Chinese dynastic histories included separate chapters on foreign countries and relations with them, the Japanese had not followed this pattern. The six national histories had instead integrated records of foreign relations from the prehistoric period to the ninth century into their chronological-annals format….Zenrin kokuhoki far surpassed such earlier works in the comprehensiveness of its coverage, the fullness of its citations, and the range of sources from which it drew, and it remains today the definitive record of Japanese diplomatic relations from 600 to Zuikei Shuho’s own time.”–Charlotte von Verschuer, “Japan’s Foreign Relations 600 to 1200 A.D. A Translation from Zenrin Kokuhoki” in Monumenta Nipponica, Vol. 54, No. 1 (Spring 1999), p. 1 (& see the entire article & her other two articles in the same journal, Vol. 57, No. 4 [Winter 2002], pp. 413-45 & Vol. 62, No. 3 [Autumn 2007], pp. 261-97. Our description is very largely dependent on her excellent articles).

Zuikei Shuho was abbot and monastic administrator of the Rokuon’in temple, which was within the precincts of Shokokuji temple complex in Kyoto. His Zenrin kokuhoki has three chapters: the first is a chronological account of external relations from mythological times to 1392. The second is an anthology of diplomatic documents dated 1398-1475, and the final chapter serves as an addendum, with documents dated 1433-86.

The text describes the active trade between Japan and other Asian countries; diplomacy between Japan, China, and Korea; the spread of Buddhism; and the large-scale importation of Chinese books.

Very good copy of a scarce book. There is some mostly marginal worming.

Price: $3,750.00

Item ID: 7974

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