33 fine brush & ink illus. 33 leaves. 8vo (242 x 164 mm.), later semi-stiff orange-brown wrappers, new stitching. [Japan]: from the final leaf (in trans.): “mid-October 1842. Ushigome juku [a study group], [possessed or copied by] Tsutsui.”
A manuscript copy of the first book to describe the agricultural experiments leading to the successful cultivation of Korean ginseng in Japan. Tamura Ransui (1718-76), official physician to the shogunate, “first succeeded in growing ginseng plants in Japan.”–Federico Marcon, The Knowledge of Nature and the Nature of Knowledge in Early Modern Japan, p. 212. The importation (actually, smuggling) of live seedlings from Korea proved to be a formidable challenge, but it enabled Tamura to finally produce domestically grown Korean ginseng. By early 1740, commercially viable quantities were at last cultivated on the island nation.
Tamura travelled throughout Japan studying and collecting rare herbs. He wrote extensively on ginseng and other plants with economic value, such as sweet potatoes and cotton.
Our manuscript follows the printed book’s text and illustrations quite closely. The illustrations depict the ginseng plants in various stages of growth, workers preparing the soil for cultivation, pests, composting, sheds for growing seedlings, root systems of several kinds of ginseng and of different qualities, a 28-year-old root, etc. There are five prefaces (two are at the end), dated 1748, three dated 1764, and one undated. We find no copy of the 1764 first printing in WorldCat.
Item ID: 9226