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Edo Period [1603-1853] Bakumatsu Period [1853-1868] Meiji Period [1868-1912] Taishō Period [1912-1926] Shōwa Period [1926-1989]

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A Compilation of Jokes

A Bag of Laughs

"滑稽 笑袋"

Murata, Tamesaburō [text by].

Tōkyō: Hakkōdō, Meiji 27 [1894].


A woodblock-printed collection of amusing mistakes and misheard words. The compilation, publication of which was certified by the Home Ministry, is almost entirely in katakana.


One leaf, complete. Creases, light foxing, marks, small hole and sticker removal. 24 ...

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An Authoritative Catalogue of Nanshoku Literature

A Bibliography of Nanshoku Literature


Iwata, Junichi [edited by].

Tōkyō: Koten Bunko, Shōwa 31 [1956]. First edition.


A detailed bibliography of references to nanshoku themes in Japanese literature by artist and researcher Iwata Junichi (1900-1945), published posthumously through the efforts of author and critic Edogawa Ranpo (1894-1965). This first edition lists a total of 1,093 ...

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An Untitled Woodblock-Printed Album

A Blank Book for Calligraphy Enthusiasts

[Untitled Album]

[Japan: publisher unidentified, ca. mid-Meiji to Taishō period (1890-1920s)?].


An album of thirty colour woodblock-printed spreads produced for calligraphy enthusiasts, who could write in brush and ink directly onto the pages or ask ...

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Untitled Menuki

A Book-Shaped Sword Fitting

[Untitled Menuki]


[Higashiyama, (Kyōto)?: workshop unidentified, ca. Edo period (17th to mid-19th century)].


A metal menuki (fitting for a sword hilt) in the shape of three Japanese books, two with yotsumetoji (four-hole) bindings and one with a musubitoji (yamatotoji) stabbinding. The mounted daisen title of the stab-bound volume reads Nagauta (長 ...

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“Elementary Reader: Water-Dropper for the Encouragement of Learning”

A Book-Shaped Water-Dropper for Calligraphy

Shōgaku Dokuhon Kangaku Suiteki [“Elementary Reader: Water-Dropper for the Encouragement of Learning”]

[Japan: workshop unidentified, ca. early to mid Meiji period (1870-1890s)].


A Bizen ware suiteki (water-dropper used to add water to ink for calligraphy or penmanship practice) in the shape of a fukurotoji-bound Japanese book. Bizen pottery is traditi ...

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A Playful Obi

A Charming Obi Decorated with Miniature Books

[(Japan?): maker unidentified, ca. Shōwa period (20th century)].


A playful obi patterned with small, vibrantly coloured books within golden frames, probably produced in the Shōwa period.


One obi. Minor rubbing to background fabric. Cream-coloured underside. Approximately 430 x 31 cm.


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An Untitled Kuchi-e Print

A Collage of Illustrations by and of Famous Figures

[Untitled Kuchi-e Print]


Sensai [Kobayashi], Eikō [illustrated by].


[Japan: publisher unidentified, ca. late Meiji period (1890-1910s)?].


A Collection of Fabric Oshi-e

A Collection of Fabric Oshi-e

[Japan: publisher and creator unidentified, ca. early to mid Meiji period (1870-90s)].


A collection of fabric representations (oshi-e (押絵)) of characters from ukiyo-e. The title slips and lines of characters' clothes appear to have been cut out from woodblock-prints and laid onto various pasted-down fabrics to bring the characters to life. Some sections of the figur ...

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Twenty-Three Kamon and Katagami Stencils

A Collection of Pattern Stencils for Fabrics

[Japan: creator unidentified, ca. late Taishō to early Shōwa period (1920-40s)].


A collection of beautiful stencils for dyeing patterns onto ‘happi’ [traditional Japanese straight-sleeved coats] and/or ‘haori’ [formal coats]. Most of the stencils feature ‘kamon’ [circular family crests], and would have been used for the b ...

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With Several Woodblock-Printed Postcards

A Collection of Postcards and Letters from, and relating to, Edmund Blunden

[Japan, England, ca. 1923-1930]. In manuscript.


A collection of two letters and two postcards from Edmund Blunden to English bookseller J.S. Billingham, along with four postcards from Blunden's Japanese students to the same bookseller, and two blank postcards sent to Billingham by Blunden. Blunden was the Professor of English at the University of Tokyo from 1924 to 19 ...

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For Irish Diplomat J.C. Hall

A Document on the Tokugawa Administration

[Japan, ca. Meiji period (1870-90s)]. Manuscript.


A manuscript on the Tokugawa shogunate's civil government system, previously owned by or prepared for the diplomat and eventual British Consul-General John Carey Hall (1844-1921). Hall, who was born in Northern Ireland, came to Japan in 1867 and worked in several different roles, including as an interpreter, Acting-Con ...

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A Walk Through Japan, 1877

A Finely Bound Record of a Trip to Japan

A Walk Through Japan, 1877


Goff, Lieutenant-Colonel [Robert Charles] [text by].


London: Printed by William Clowes and Sons, 1878.


An Embroidered Fabric Fragment

A Fragment of Fabric Depicting a Bird's-Eye View

[Fabric Fragment].


[Designer unidentified].


[Japan: manufacturer unidentified, ca. Meiji period (1868-1912)?].


A cutting of f ...

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A Fabric Fragment

A Fragment of Fabric Depicting Foreign Ships

[Fabric Fragment]


[Designer unidentified].


[Japan: manufacturer unidentified, ca. Meiji period (1868-1912)?].


A cutting of fa ...

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A Master and Servant Observe Obedience to Their Duties and a Disaster is Averted

A Moral Lesson on Loyalty from Ancient Rome

Shujū Gi wo Mamorite Nan wo Manukaru ["A Master and Servant Observe Obedience to Their Duties and a Disaster is Averted"]

Ōju [Mizuno], Toshikata [illustrated by]; [Tominaga], Toshichika [corrected by].

Tōkyō: Tsuji Keiji: Fukyū sha, Meiji 21 [1888]. "Later printing".

To Become a World-Famous Scholar After Renouncing Alcohol

A Moral Lesson on the Evils of Alcohol

Kōfu Sake wo Tachite Issei no Kuwauju to Naru ["To Become a World-Famous Scholar After Renouncing Alcohol"]

[Kobayashi], Toshikazu [illustrated by]; [Tominaga], Toshichika [corrected by].

Tōkyō: Tsuji Keiji: Fukyū sha, Meiji 21 [1888]. "Later printing".

&n ...

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An Untitled Greeting Card

A New Year's Card from the Japanese Communications Minister, in French

[Untitled Greeting Card]

[Minister of Communications].

Tōkyō: [Ministry of Communications], 1917.


An illustrated card in French from "Le Ministre des Communications du Japon", wishing the unidentified receiver a H ...

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A Ranking of Non-Mountain Mountains and Non-River Rivers

A Parody Ranking of 'Mountains' That Aren't Mountains and 'Rivers' That Aren't Rivers

"山でない山 川でない川 見立すもふ"

Nanritei [created by].

[Japan: publisher unidentified, ca. late Edo period (mid-19th century)].


A ranking of words and names (often those of brands) ending with yama ("mountain") that are not themselves the names of mountains, and the same for rivers (kawa). Nanritei (1782-1860) was a yomihon and gesaku author who lived durin ...

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A Ranking of Lies

A Parody Ranking of Lies


[Creator unidentified].

[Japan: publisher unidentified, ca. late Edo period (mid-19th century)].


A mitate hyōbanki or banzuke of oft-used lies. The 'winners' of the ranking are "the young person who says they hate women" and "the old person who says they want to die quickly" - these people are presumably accused of telling the mo ...

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Untitled Album of the Activities of the Washi Research Institute

A Scrapbook on Washi and Fabrics, by Uemura Rokurō

[Untitled Album of the Activities of the Washi Research Institute)]

[Uemura, Rokurō (compiled by)].

[Japan, ca. mid-Shōwa period (1950s)].


A scrapbook of tipped-in photographs and fabric samples compiled by Uemura Rokurō, a renowned researcher of dyeing and weaving. The scrapbook includes pictures of Dr. Hans Drissler (who founded the Japan Paper Import Co ...

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An Unrecorded Sugoroku by Kokunimasa

A Sugoroku Game Featuring Various Animals

[A Sugoroku Game Featuring Various Animals]

Kokunimasa [illustrated by].

Tōkyō: Fukuda Kumajirō, Meiji 27 [1894].


A paper sugoroku game illustrated with various animals, by Kokunimasa. Kokunimasa was almost certainly Utagawa Kunimasa V (years of birth and death undetermined), who used the name Baidō Kokunimasa between 1889 and 1896. Many animals foreig ...

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A Striking Night Scene of an American Steam Locomotive

Amerika-koku Jōkisha Ōrai

亜墨利加國蒸氣車往来 [Amerika-koku Jōkisha Ōrai, “The Transit of an American Steam Locomotive”]

Issen [Utagawa], Yoshikazu [illustrated by].

[Tōkyō: Maruya Jinpachi, Bunkyū Gannen (1861)].


This eye-catching triptych of an American "steam train" is believed to be based on an image of the Japanese embassy arriving in 1860 in Washington, D.C., fr ...

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On Medicine

An Advertisement Designed to Resemble a Leaf from a Book

Reihō Mankintan ["Sacred Tiger Balm"]

Ise, [Japan]: Noma Inaba-en, [ca. mid-Edo period (17th to 19th century)].


An advertisement or set of instructions for the Noma family brand's Reiho Mankintan, a famous cure-all popular as a souvenir from Ise in the Edo period. The print is designed to look like a leaf from a book, as is apparent from the hanshin title colu ...

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Transformation of a Person's Temperament: Free Education Method, Illustrated

An Advertisement for a Book on Phrenology

Hitojichi Henkan: Jizai Kyōikuhō Zukai ["Transformation of a Person's Temperament: Free Education Method, Illustrated"]

Mihara, Muneaki [book being advertised authored by].

Okayama: Ritsuma Akiko, [ca. Meiji 21 (1888)].


A copperplate-engraved advertisement for the publication of a work on phrenology by Mihara Muneaki. The misspelled English subt ...

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In Stunning Blue Tones

An Aizuri Triptych of Washington, D.C.

"亞墨利加洲内華盛頓府之景銅 板之寫生"

Issen [Utagawa], Yoshikazu [illustrated by].

[Tōkyō]: Maruya Jinpachi, [ca. Bunkyū Gannen (1861)].


A decidedly European depiction of Washington, purportedly based on an (asyet unidentified) copperplate engraving. A scarce aizuri-e of a foreign scene by Utagawa Yoshikazu (active ca. 1850–70), a pupil of Kuniyoshi (1 ...

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Untitled Tsuba

An Awa Shōami Sword Guard Patterned with Books

[Unidentified Awa Shōami school craftsperson].

[Japan: workshop unidentified, ca. late Edo period (18th to mid-19th century)].


A stunning iron tsuba (sword guard) for a katana sword, forged in the late Edo to early Meiji period and decorated with golden books using traditional nunome-zōgan cloth-weave inlay techniques. The tsuba comes with a ninteis ...

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Imari Charger Plate Decorated with Book Motifs

An Imari Dish Featuring Book Designs

[Japan: workshop unidentified, ca. mid-Meiji period (1870-1900s)].


An opulent serving dish patterned with floral devices and book motifs. An apocryphal Chinese 'Chenghua' mark reading Daimin Seika nen sei (“made during the Chenghua reign of the Great Ming Dynasty”) adorns the base. This mark was used on Chinese ceramics and employed by Edo era Japanese ...

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Untitled Obi

An Obi Featuring Ornate Book Wrappers

[Untitled Obi]

[(Japan?): maker unidentified, ca. Shōwa period (20th century)].


A Shōwa period obi featuring multiple gold and silver book wrappers with elaborate patterns.


One obi. Light blue-grey underside. Approximately 434 x 31 cm.


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Four Colourful Asahi Caramel Posters

Asahi Caramel

[Japan]: Asahi Caramel, [ca. early Shōwa period (1930-50s)].


A set of four posters advertising Asahi Caramels.


Four leaves. Creases, light wear, small marks. Lacking string attachments. Each leaf measures approx. 39 x 13 cm.


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An Envelope for 'Besto' Sugar

Best Sugar

[Japan: maker unidentified, ca. mid-Meiji period (1880-1900)].


A paper envelope used as packaging for "Best Sugar", a product from an unknown manufacturer. The illustration has been woodblock-printed and the Japanese characters lithographically-printed. The use of Roman characters was considered a popular and stylish addition to advertisements in the Meiji period.

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A Japanese Translation of Bringing Up Father

Bringing Up Father: Jiggs and Maggie, First Collection

"親爺教育: ジグスとマギー, 第一輯"

McManus, George [created by].

Tōkyō : Asahi Shinbunsha, [Taishō 13 (1924)].


The first Japanese language collection of Bringing Up Father cartoons by American illustrator George McManus. Another collection (believed to be the last collection published in Japanese) was produced the following year. The book includes a pream ...

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Two Advertisement-Calendars

Calendars for 1901

Ōsaka: Kōtō Saburō, Hisayama Yūkichi, Meiji 33 [1900].


Two woodblock-printed calendars for 1901, published in 1900 by two Osaka printers as advertisements for a rice store and a tuna store.


Two leaves. Chips to extremities, creases, and occasional small marks. 53 x 37.9 cm (left) and 53.5 x 35.4 cm (right).


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The First Cocktail Book Printed in Japan

Cocktails: Methods of Mixing Liquor


Akiyama, Tokuzō [compiled by].

Tōkyō: Akiyama Ryōri Kenkyūjo, Shōwa 4 [1929]. Fourth edition.


The first cocktail book published in Japan, with several original recipes inspired by Japanese themes. The novel and Japanese TV drama "The Emperor's Cook" was based on the life of the author, Akiyama Tokuzō (1888-1974), who worked u ...

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A Collection of Humorous Poems

Comical Great Poets Compared: Large New Edition of Elegant Words

"大しんぱん 大笑歌仙合 やさことば"

[Creator unidentified].

Gion, [Kyōto]: Yamasa, [ca. Edo period (early 19th century)].


A woodblock-printed collection of risqué poems, mostly about courtesans, published in the entertainment district of Kyōto in the early 19th century. The publisher, Yamasa, also produced kappazuri prints designed by Urakusai Nagahide in ...

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A Colourful Album of People of the World

Compilation of People from Overseas


Nagata, Nankei [text by]; Ikkōsai [Utagawa, Yoshimori] [illustrations by].

[Japan: publisher unidentified, preface dated Kaei 7 (1854)].


An album of people and traditional clothing from 42 countries around the world, with brief descriptions of the customs and geography of each country. The set was published as a revised edition of Nishikawa Jo ...

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An Advertisement for the Mysterious Men and Miss Nelly

Curieuse Soirée Fin de Siècle par Les Hommes Mystérieux

Lyon: G. Véronnet, [ca. 1880s].


An advertisement for a theatrical event in Lyon featuring the Mysterious Men, Miss Nelly, Sir Robertson, and Doctor Méphisto, on flat (non-crêped) paper with decorative margins printed in Japan. The illustration features a woman and a child looking up at two cranes while an elderly man ties his shoelaces, missing the sig ...

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Ōji Seishi-Gaisha Ryakuzu

Diagram of a Papermaking Factory

Ōji Seishi-Gaisha Ryakuzu ["Diagram of the Ōji Paper Company"]

Ōsai [Utagawa], Fusatane [Murai, Shizuma] [illustrated by]. 

Asakusa, [Tōkyō]: Tsunashima Kamekichi, Meiji 10 [1877].


A copperplate-engraved diagram of the different stages of papermaking at the Ōji Paper Company. The illustration depicts the paper mill the company built in 1875 ...

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An English Translation of Two of the Chinese Four Books

Eiwa Shisho: Bessatsu Daigaku, Chūyō, Eibun, Zen

英和四書:別冊 大學・中庸 英文 全 [Eiwa Shisho: Bessatsu Daigaku, Chūyō, Eibun, Zen, “Four Books of the Chinese Classics Translated into English”]

[Confucius; Zisi (original texts by)]; Legge, James [translated by]; Imamura, N[agayoshi] [revised and translated into Japanese by].

Tōkyō: Z.P. Maruya & Co., Meiji 18 [1885]. "New edition".


Jame ...

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Four Hansatsu Notes

Four Hansatsu

Okada Domain, [Okayama]: Shichiya Kojimaya, Kyōho 17 [1732].


Four woodblock-printed hansatsu, feudal scrip used in the place of legal tender. These ginsatsu ("silver notes") each represent one monme (3.75g) of silver, and were issued in Kyōho 17 (1732).


Four leaves, printed on both sides. Wear, light soiling, creases. Each leaf measures 19.7 × ...

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Four Book-Envelope Designs from Sōshi Mon'yōshu

Four Sōshi Patterns

[Koshōtei, Sanjin (edited by).

Kyōto: Maria Gabō, ca. early Shōwa period (1920-30s)].


Four colour woodblock-printed reproductions of book-envelopes and wrappers of kusazōshi books, affixed at the edges to make one large leaf. The illustrations are probably from Sōshi Monyōshū (草紙文様集), a collection published in the early Shōwa period by Maria Gabō.

& ...

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A Game Sheet of 1904 Buzz-Names

Fukubiki Kuchinamari-e

福引口訛絵 [Fukubiki Kuchinamari-e, “A Lottery Illustration of Provincialisms”]

Nagoya, Aichi: Tsukamoto Sutesaburō, [ca. Meiji 37 (1904)].


This print depicting famous figures of the early 1900s may have been used as a paper "board" game for gambling. The illustration uses a bright red pigment characteristic of Meiji period prints and features mil ...

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An Early Japanese Cocktail Book

Hobby Cocktails


Momose, Susumu [text by].

Tōkyō : Kinseidō , Shōwa 8 [1927]. First edition.


One of the earliest Japanese cocktail books, containing information on the history of cocktails, notes on mixing liquors, illustrations of implements used in bartending, and, of course, many cocktail recipes.


Original boards, minor wear t ...

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A Scene from a Nanshoku Play

Honour in a Loyal Death: the Great Fire at the Hosokawa Residence


Kōchōrō, Kunisada [Utagawa, Kunisada III (illustrated by)]; Kawatake, Shinshichi III [original play by].

Nihonbashi, [Tōkyō] : Fukuda Kumajirō, Meiji 22 [1889].


A triptych by Utagawa Kunisada III (1848–1920) depicting the most famous scene from the kabuki play Tsutamoyō Chizome no Goshuin (蔦模様血染御書, “The Ivy-Patterned Blo ...

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Examples of Ways to Fold Envelopes

How to Elegantly Package Gifts, Warrior-Style

Tsutsumimono Orikata Hinagata ["Examples of Ways to Fold Envelopes"]

[Creator unidentified].

[Japan, ca. Meiji period (1868-1911)?].


A collection of 54 samples of papers folded in specific ways for various occasions. Rules for the correct pre ...

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Two Hundred Uncut Hyakunin Isshu Cards, Illustrated by Keisai Eisen

Hyakunin Isshu Karuta

[百人一首歌留多 (Hyakunin Isshu Karuta, “Cards of One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets”)]

[Keisai, Eisen (illustrated by)].

[Tōkyō]: Shiba Senichi, [ca. 1850-60s].


A complete set of two hundred uncut hyakunin isshu cards (one hundred poem cards and one hundred poet cards) in eight leaves. The publisher and printer was Shiba Senichi (芝泉市), ...

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A Movable Advertisement for an Exhibition of New Fabric Designs

Information on the Fifth Miyabi-kai

Kyōto: Miyabi-kai, [ca. 1920-30s].


An early Shōwa period invitation to an exhibition of fabrics with new dyeing and weaving designs held by the Miyabi-kai. Information about the location and time of the event appears in the illustration of the gramophone and its base when the lower moving section of the card is revolved.


One card, complete. Light di ...

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A Japanese Packet for Scottish 'Turkey Scarlet'

John Orr Ewing & Co. Best Turkey Scarlet: H. Ahrens & Co., Yedo, Yokohama & Hiogo

[Japan]: H. Ahrens & Co., [ca. 1870-1910].


A piece of packaging for 'Turkey red' (a colour used to dye cotton fabrics) with a lithographic label tipped-in. H. Ahrens & Co. was a German trading company based in Tōkyō with branches in Yokohama and Kōbe. John Orr Ewing & Co. was the name of a prominent Turkey red firm in Scotland.


O ...

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Mountain River on the Kiso Road: A Postcard Triptych

Kisoji no Yamakawa

木曽路之山川 [Kisoji no Yamakawa, “Mountain River on the Kiso Road”]

[Utagawa], Hiroshige I [illustrated by].

[Japan: unidentified publisher, ca. early to mid-20th century].


A set of three unused postcards delicately woodblock-printed with Hiroshige's famous illustration of the snowy Kiso Valley. Originally printed in 1857, Mountain River o ...

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Trials of Strength Between Celebrity Rivals

Kōkoku Raimei no Shokun Mitate Chikara Kurabe


[Katsushika?], Masahisa [illustrated by].

Tōkyō : [publisher illegible], Meiji 15 [1882].


An engrossing triptych featuring over three hundred famous people engaged in bouts of kubihiki. Kubihiki was a Japanese game in which a looped string was placed around the necks of two people and a trial of strength would ensue. In this work, cel ...

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Kyōsai's Drawings for Pleasure

Kyōsai's Drawings for Pleasure


Kawanabe, Dōiku [Kyōsai] [illustrated by].

Tōkyō : Takeda Den'emon, Meiji 14 [1881].


A delicately woodblock-printed album of 34 double-page illustrations of plants, flowers, and animals by Kyōsai. The theme of the set is uncommon for Kyōsai, who is more widely known for his satirical illustrations. Each volume includes seventeen double-pag ...

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Classic Illustrated Books Modern Art and Design Books Translations of Western Texts Japanese Literature Prints and Ephemera Western Books Photo Books Paintings & Scrolls Australia & New Zealand Others


Australia New Zealand Antarctica Japan Korea China Other


Edo Period [1603-1853] Bakumatsu Period [1853-1868] Meiji Period [1868-1912] Taishō Period [1912-1926] Shōwa Period [1926-1989]

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