The Battles of Kawanakajima Finely Illustrated
Ehon Koetsu gunki [Stories of the Battles of Kawanakajima].
Several hundred fine double-page woodcuts throughout. Three series, each in 12 vols. 36 vols. 8vo, orig. deeply embossed stiff wrappers, each series in a different color, block-printed title labels on upper covers (some labels worn), new stitching. Series I & II: Kyoto: Fushimiya Hanzaburo; Osaka: Kawachiya Mohei et al., 1807 & 1813; Series III: Kyoto, Osaka, & Owari Province (in today’s Aichi Prefecture): various publishers, 1825.
First editions and a complete set with all three series; very rare when complete. The five battles of Kawanakajima were fought between Takeda Shingen of Kai Province and Uesugi Kenshin of Echigo Province in the years 1553, 1555, 1557, 1561, and 1564. The battles have been repeatedly celebrated in warrior novels of the Edo period. These novels can be categorized as gokan, popular illustrated stories.
Hayami Shungyosai (d. 1823), was a well-known Osaka and Kyoto artist and yomihon author. Brown considered him to be “a man of really great ability” (Block Printing & Book Illustration in Japan , p. 69). He studied under Okada Gyokuzan. The third series was published posthumously, and Hayami’s disciple Shungyosai Masanobu completed the illustrations.
The numerous double-page woodcuts depict many scenes of battles and assaults on castles, river battles on horseback, meetings of cabinet members with the leader of each fiefdom, evacuations of women from castles, meetings with allies, secret meetings, etc. There are also glorified woodcut portraits of the most important figures of the battles and a number of scenes of what we consider today as atrocities.
The bindings for each volume have deeply embossed family crests of the battles’ opponents.
Fine and fresh set, preserved in an old wooden box. The sliding front panel provides the title in manuscript. One volume has minor marginal worming. As far as we can tell from WorldCat, only Yale has a complete set of the three series.
Item ID: 8574