The Earliest Known Guide to the Sights In & Around Kyoto;
Kyowarabe [Young Man’s Inside Guide to Kyoto].
37; 31; 20; 21.5; 18.5; 24.5 folding leaves. Six vols. 8vo, orig. limp blue wrappers (rubbed & somewhat tired), new stitching. [Kyoto]: Hiranoya Sahei, 1658.
First edition, later issue, of an important and rare illustrated book; it is the earliest known guide to the sights in and around Kyoto. This is an excellent example of rakuchu-rakugai; it provides not only a wonderful picture of the city and its architecture but also documents scenes of daily life, ranging from court nobles to samurai to commoners. This type of gazetteer gives “inside” information, both written and illustrated, on the townspeople of Kyoto and their neighborhoods, recording their customs, garments, mercantile and leisure activities, and modes of transport.
“It was two semiliterary genres of writing that provided the major vehicle for the advance of ukiyo-e in the period 1650-80; the gazetteers generically known as meisho-ki (‘records of famous places’) and books on etiquette known as oraimono. The former ranged from guidebooks for pilgrims visiting temples and shrines to illustrated accounts of places of interest in and around the leading cities, with specific attention paid to the pleasure quarters…The most important work of this type of the 1650s from both the content and illustration viewpoints was Kyo warabe — the first guide of its kind to places of interest in and around Kyoto written in 1658 by physician Nakagawa Kiun (1636-1705). The six volumes contain over eighty sumizuri (black-and-white line) drawings by an unknown artist of a wide range of views in Kyoto: from Buddhist temples and portrayals of festivals to women washing clothes in the river. The illustrations have been attributed to Moronobu and to Hambei, as are many quality works of this period, but one contemporary Japanese source claims that they were done by Hinaya Ryuho (1595-1669), whose original surname was Nonoguchi…The significant point about meisho-ki is that since they concentrated on contemporary life in places of interest, they permitted artists to produce contemporary illustrations, and for the first time we begin to see how people lived at the time the book was printed instead of several centuries earlier. This was of key importance in the development of ukiyo-e.”–Chibbett, The History of Japanese Printing and Book Illustration, pp. 127-28.
Nakagawa, a medical doctor, studied haikai poetry under Matsunaga Teitoku (1571-1653). Nakagawa’s professional and literary interests enabled him to travel extensively around the country.
Very good set, preserved in a rather elegant blue-silk chitsu within a varnished wooden box. Minor staining and a few careful repairs. Old stamp on each front endpaper of “Bungakubu” [“Liberal Arts Division”]. Private collector’s seal on first page of each volume.
❧ Kenneth H. Gardner, in his Descriptive Catalogue of Japanese Books in the British Library Printed Before 1700 (1993), states (p. 596, no. 545) that the original publisher, Yamamori, sold the woodblocks for this book to Hachimonjiya Gohe and Hiranoya Sahei, both of Kyoto, who published “reprints” bearing the same date. We believe that “issue,” rather than “reprint,” is the more appropriate term. In fact, NIJL treats all three “issues” equally in their cataloguing, with no priority. The images are as sharp and clear as the Yamamori issue, with no wear to the woodblocks. All three issues are rare.
Item ID: 8685