The Invasion of the Ryukyu Kingdom by the Shimazu Clan
Chinzei Ryukyuki [Record of Chinzei Hachiro in Ryukyu]; sub-title: Tametomo gaiden [Unofficial Story of Tametomo].
Many fine black & white double-page & single-page woodcuts throughout. Ten vols. 8vo, orig. blue semi-stiff wrappers, orig. block-printed title labels on upper covers (three labels are somewhat defective), new stitching. Osaka: Tenmaya Yasubei; Kyoto: Yoshida Jihei, 1835.
— & MATSUKAWA Hanzan; —. Ehon Toyotomi Ryukyu gunki [Illustrated Tale of the Ryukyu War]. Many fine black & white double-page & single-page woodcuts throughout (six in Vol. I are color-printed). Ten vols. 8vo, orig. pale blue patterned wrappers, orig. block-printed title labels on upper covers, new stitching. Osaka: Kawachiya Tobei & Kawachiya Mohei, colophon dated 1864; title-page dated 1862.
First edition of these finely illustrated stories of the conquest of the Ryukyu kingdom in 1609 by the Shimazu clan of southern Kyushu. The main artist, Okada Gyokuzan Issei (or Ishida), is a rather shadowy figure; he probably studied under the famous Okada Gyokuzan of Osaka, but we know very little about him. The second work, Ehon Toyotomi Ryukyu gunki, has an additional artist, Matsukawa Hanzan (1818-82), who studied painting under Suga Shoho and worked in Osaka as a book illustrator.
This is a splendid example of an ehon yomihon, a type of long novel combining text with frequent illustrations. Our works are finely illustrated throughout with scenes of battles, the notable figures in the conquest (both winners and losers), historical figures, scenes of important ceremonies, scenes of the extravagant lifestyles of the Ryukyu royal family (seen in their gardens), famous castles, etc. The most useful captions in each woodcut name participants and explain the scene. The woodcuts are clear and impactful; many of the scenes have a pronounced Chinese atmosphere. Several types of battles are shown: conflicts involving cavalry fighting in the water, assaults on castles, hand to hand combat, etc. In the first series, Vol. I has a single-page woodcut world map, and Vol. III has a fine double-page woodcut map of Ryukyu and its 36 islands.
In the first volume of the second series are six full-page woodcut portraits of the heroic leaders of the Shimazu clan’s military forces in full attire, with wonderfully delicate color printing.
The text furnishes important details on the history of the relationship between Ryukyu and China and Japan; the quantities and types of weapons and number of soldiers, drummers, and doctors (including veterinarians) who traveled by ship to Ryukyu; and the major military actions of the conquest. These statistics are broken down by the contributions of men and materiel made by each region of Satsuma. The names of the leaders of each military section are given; we believe this is unique information. Family crests and banner symbols are depicted.
Fine and fresh copies. Rare when complete and in excellent condition like our sets; WorldCat lists only the University of Hawaii copies (part of the famous Frank Hawley Ryukyu collection). In Vol. 9 of the first series, there is misnumbering, but the text is absolutely complete and is identical to the set in the National Diet Library.
Item ID: 8576