Rare Book School

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Rare Book School
Preliminary Reading List

Japanese Illustrated Books, 1615-1868

Ellis Tinios


Preliminary Advices

Please read the following books and articles, which provide background for the topics that we will explore in class.


Christine Guth. Art of Edo Japan: The Artist and the City, 1615-1868. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1996.

Nishiyama Matsunosuke (translated and edited by Gerald Groemer). Edo Culture: Daily Life and Diversions in Urban Japan, 1600-1868. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1997. Pay particular attention to Part I. Edo: The City and Its Culture.

Henry D. Smith, II. "The History of the Book in Edo and Paris" in Edo and Paris: Urban Life and the State in the Early Modern Era. Edited by James L. McClain et al. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994. Paperback, 1997. pp. 332-52.

Katsuhisa Morita. "Urban Networks and Information Networks" in Tokugawa Japan: The Social and Economic Antecedents of Modern Japan. Edited by Chie Nakane and Shinzaburô Ôishi, translation edited by Conrad Totman. Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press, 1990. pp. 97-123, and especially Section 3, 'Publishing and the Literate Classes', pp. 114 ff.

Tatsurô Akai. "The Common People and Painting" in Tokugawa Japan [see above] pp. 167-191.

Matsukata Gunji. "Kabuki and Its Social Background" in Tokugawa Japan [see above] pp. 192-212.


If possible, consult the following. These are the most useful books in English on Japanese illustrated books, but all are out of print.

Jack Hillier. The Art of the Japanese Book. Two volumes. London: Sotheby's Publications, 1987. The most important study of Japanese illustrated books in any language, a landmark in the field.

Jack Hillier and Lawrence Smith. Japanese Prints: 300 Years of Albums and Books. London: British Museum Publications, 1980.

Yu-ying Brown. Japanese Book Illustration. London: The British Library, 1988. A concise introduction that provides a good sense of the range of Japanese book illustrations.