Edo picture books and Japonisme
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about this exhibit

The exhibits of the Digital Gallery of World Picture Books present a systematic series of the classics of world picture books. They make it possible to put these rare and valuable treasures on display, not only to visitors to the Library itself, but via the Internet to people around the world in both English and Japanese. This ambitious and pioneering project recreates the reading experience using computer technology and accompanying reproductions with reading and song in Japanese and English.

The fourth exhibit to be opened in this series, on the theme “Edo Picture Books and Japonisme,” features ten works selected from among kusazoshi-type books popular among the common people of the Edo period (1603-1867), presenting the stories and their illustration from the front to the back of each book. The commentary presents a richly illustrated outline of the popular culture and social conditions of that age.

We also look at the distinctive handling of space and other techniques of expression in the Edo picture books that, although little remarked until now, appear to have clearly influenced picture book artists in the West, the less-noticed manifestation of the “Japonisme” movement.

The art of the picture books of the West influenced by Japonisme, moreover, ultimately came back to Japan, as we can see in the strong influence of the art nouveau movement on the artists whose work was published in the magazine Kodomo no kuni during the 1920s. In this way, the arts and culture of countries influence those of others, in a constantly moving process. When this series of picture book exhibits is complete, we hope it will demonstrate, through the art of picture books, how images are transmitted down the centuries through interchange among cultures and the interconnectedness of the world.



Narration and Readings / Hayashiya Shojaku, Asada Yukari, Bill Benfield

Music / Shinzawa Ken’ichiro (Composition and Piano), Semba Kiyohiko (Kotsuzumi and Percussions),
Imafuji Yuko (Shamisen), Imafuji Choyuri (Shamisen), Fukuhara Kan (Fue), Mochizuki Sakyo (Otsuzumi)

Reading out the Original Texts / Kimura Yaeko
Narration Text and Commentary / Oikawa Akio
Bibliography / Kimura Yaeko, Kano Kimiko, Matsuya Sayaka
Annotation / Oikawa Akio, Kano Kimiko
Commentary about the Author / James Fraser, Shima Tayo
Translation / Abe Kimiko, Lynne Riggs, Takechi Manabu, Patricia Murray, Chikako Kobayashi

Reference and Source Materials / Tokyo National Museum,
Nara National Museum, Shigisan Chogosonshiji temple,
Tokyo Metropolitan Archives, Tokyo Metropolitan Central Library,
The Dai Tokyu Memorial Library, Gifu City Museum of History,
Kyushu University Library(Historical Records Section, Manuscript Library),
Kawanabe Kyosai Memorial Museum, National Diet Library,
Suzuki Juzo, Kimura Yaeko, Shima Tayo, Yabe Michiko
Copyright permission for The Square Book of Animals by William Nicholson / Mrs. Elizabeth Banks
Corporation by Japanese Board on Books for Young People

Calligraphy / Hirano Kouga
Authoring / Shimokihara Yasuhiko
Design / Tomita Yukihiro
Recording Technician / Hanashima Isamu
Recording Assistant / Imazeki Kunihiro
Photography / Horikiri Yasuro, Sakata Kazuhito
Editing Assistant / Nakai Keiko
Composition, Editing and Production / Kitamura Hiroaki

Corporation / Kimura Yaeko
Planning and Composition / Shima Tayo
Production / International Library of Children’s Literature

Reproduction of the images on this site without permission prohibited.




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The International Library of Children's Literature / National Diet Library


The International Library of Children's Literature / National Diet Library