• Top
  •  > Part 2 The Dowa Era: From the Launching of Akai Tori to the Pre-War

Part 2 The Dowa Era: From the Launching of Akai Tori to the Pre-War

1. The Founding of Children’s Magazines

A passage from “a motto for Akai tori [Red bird],” published in the magazine’s inaugural issue, states: “Akai tori . . . is in the vanguard of an epoch-making movement to preserve and develop the purity of children by gathering together the sincere efforts of the best writers and illustrators of today and encouraging the creative work of young writers for children. ” The phrase ‘purity of children’ used in this motto reveals the typical Taisho era’s view of ‘children’. (Later, the critic and writer of proletarian children’s literature Kusuro Makimoto criticized this view for overemphasizing the ‘the pure heart of children’, branding it as doshin-shugi.)

After that a number of other important children’s magazines were founded, including Kin no fune [The golden boat] (later renamed Kin no hoshi [The golden star]), Dowa [Children’s stories], and Otogi no sekai [The world of fairy tales], which fostered the flowering of doshin literature. Dowa (children’s stories) and doyo (children’s songs) about pure-minded children were written in great quantity.

Ryunosuke Akutagawa, Takeo Arishima, Koji Uno, and other writers of Japan’s leading literary circles began writing dowa. Among the most famous and prolific dowa writers were Mimei Ogawa, and Joji Tsubota, while the best-known doyo writers included Hakushu Kitahara, Yaso Saijo, and Ujo Noguchi. Talented illustrators also lent their art to the children’s magazines: Yoshio Shimizu for Akai tori, Kiichi Okamoto for Kin no fune, and Shiro Kawakami for Dowa.

2. Popular Culture for Children

In the Showa era (1926–89), several comprehensive series of works for children in various genres were published, including the 76 volume Nihon jido bunko [Japanese children’s library] (1927–30), published by ARS and the 88 volume Shogakusei zenshu [The complete works for elementary school children] (1927–29), by the publishing houses Kobunsha and Bungei Shunjusha. These were mass-produced, low-priced popular editions published amid the recession.

Kodansha’s popular children’s magazines Shonen kurabu [Boys’ club] and Shojo kurabu [Girls’ club], both inaugurated in the Taisho era, steadily increased their circulation. Children’s literature quickly entered the mass-market era. Among the leading stories serialized with illustrations in Shonen kurabu were Shinshu tenmakyo [Heavenly horse in the divine land] by Eiji Yoshikawa, Kaiketsu kurozukin [The black hood] by Hitomi Takagaki, Aa gyokuhai ni hana ukete [Ah! Flowers in a jade cup] by Koroku Sato, Kushin no gakuyu [Hard days of a fellow student] by Kuni Sasaki, Kakubee jishi [The lion dancer] by Jiro Osaragi, Tekichu odan sanbyakuri [750 miles through enemies] by Minetaro Yamanaka, and Kaijin nijumenso [The fiend with twenty faces] by Ranpo Edogawa. Other manga series such as Boken Dankichi [Dankichi, an adventurous boy] by Keizo Shimada and Norakuro [The stray black dog] by Suiho Tagawa were also very popular.

With the spread of female education, magazines for girls, such as Shojo gaho [Girls’ illustrated magazine], which carried the serial Hana monogatari [Tales of the flowers] by Nobuko Yoshiya, and Shojo no tomo [Girls’ companion], were also widely read.

3. Before and During the War

In 1924, Chumon no ooi ryoriten [The restaurant of many orders], by the much-loved poet and writer Kenji Miyazawa, was published. It was the only collection of dowa published during his life.

At the beginning of the Showa era, stories written for preschoolers and lower elementary school students began to appear. Among the forerunners of this genre were Hirosuke Hamada’s works and Shozo Chiba’s Wanwan monogatari [The story of doggie] (1929).

In 1931, the Manchurian Incident occurred, plunging Japan into a long period of war. The second Sino-Japanese war broke out in 1937.

In 1938, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued its “Essential Points for Guidance in Juvenile Reading. ” This directive represented a case of control over freedom of speech, but because specialists in the fields of children’s literature, child psychology, and pedagogy for children were initially consulted in its implementation, the “guidance” in fact prompted a short-lived revival of children’s literature of artistic merit. Many new writers’ works came out under these circumstances, including Nankichi Niimi’s Ojiisan no ranpu [Grandfather’s lamp] (1942), and Muku Hatoju’s Dobutsudomo [Animals] (1943).

Established writers, meanwhile, became increasingly involved in cooperating with the war effort. During the wartime period, 1931–1945, numerous works were written to inculcate children with sentiments in support of the war effort but this period was largely a blank as far as children’s literature for the sake of children.

Thumbnail of Akai tori [Red bird]

Open the enlarged image of Akai tori [Red bird]

2-1Akai tori [Red bird]
Akai Tori Sha [1918]-[1929]
Call No. Z32-B339
This children’s magazine was edited by Miekichi Suzuki, who commissioned work from well-known authors and illustrators of the day in creating highly artistic content, thereby playing a leading role in the establishment of modern children’s literature. Shown here is vol. 4, no. 6.

Thumbnail of Otogi no sekai [The world of fairy tales]

Open the enlarged image of Otogi no sekai [The world of fairy tales]

2-2Otogi no sekai [The world of fairy tales]
Bunkodo [1919]-[1922]
Call No. Z32-B287
Mimei Ogawa was the editor of this magazine when it was launched. Shigeru Hatsuyama was commissioned to illustrate the cover and other parts of the magazine, which were well received. The stories were often retellings of folk tales. Shown here is vol. 1, no. 4.

Thumbnail of Tonbo no medama: Hakushu doyoshu [Eyes of a dragonfly: The collection of children’s songs by Hakushu] 1

Tonbo no medama: Hakushu doyoshu [Eyes of a dragonfly: The collection of children’s songs by Hakushu] 1 will open in a new window
Open the enlarged image of Tonbo no medama: Hakushu doyoshu [Eyes of a dragonfly: The collection of children’s songs by Hakushu] 1

2-3Tonbo no medama: Hakushu doyoshu [Eyes of a dragonfly: The collection of children’s songs by Hakushu] 1
Written by Hakushu Kitahara/Illustrated by Sue Yabe and others
ARS 1919
Call No. 児乙部19-K
This is a collection of doyo (children’s songs) with illustrations, written by Hakushu Kitahara, who created many modern doyo. It was an attempt to modernize warabeuta (traditional nursery songs).

2-4Kin no fune [The golden boat]
(Published by Kin no Hoshi Sha 1919.11) Reprint ed.
HOLP SHUPPAN, Publishing 1983
Call No. Z32-B88
This is a reprint of Kin no fune [The golden boat], which was launched in 1919 and then renamed to Kin no hoshi [The golden star] in 1922. Kiichi Okamoto was the illustrator of the magazine. The main feature was the stories that introduced masterpieces of world literature to children.

Thumbnail of Dowa [Story for children]

Open the enlarged image of Dowa [Story for children]

2-5Dowa [Story for children]
Kodomo-Sha [1920]-[1926]
Call No. Z32-B311
This magazine was launched by Kodomo-Sha in 1916 as a brother publication to Ryoyu [Good friends]. The main illustrator was Shiro Kawakami. One of the first editors, Shozo Chiba, published Kyodo dowa [Children’s stories from the provinces]. Shown here is vol. 4, no. 5.

Thumbnail of Kojiki monogatari, jokan [Records of ancient matters, vol. 1]

Kojiki monogatari, jokan [Records of ancient matters, vol. 1] will open in a new window
Open the enlarged image of Kojiki monogatari, jokan [Records of ancient matters, vol. 1]

2-6Kojiki monogatari, jokan [Records of ancient matters, vol. 1]
Written by Miekichi Suzuki/Illustrated by Yoshio Shimizu
HOLP SHUPPAN, Publishing 1969
(Akai tori no hon, daiissatsu [Books of Red bird, vol. 1])
Call No. KH6-4(First ed. 390-48-(1・2))
Reprint of the book published by Akaitori sha in 1920. Retelling of Kojiki [Records of ancient matters] for children which appeared in Akai tori [Red bird] vol. 3, no. 1 to vol. 5, no. 3.

Thumbnail of Omu to tokei[Parrots and clocks]

Open the enlarged image of Omu to tokei[Parrots and clocks]

2-7Omu to tokei [Parrots and clocks]
Written by Yaso Saijo/Illustrated by Yoshio Shimizu and Masao Kato
HOLP SHUPPAN, Publishing 1969
(Akai tori no hon, daisansatsu [Books of Red bird, vol. 3])
Call No. KH6-4(First ed. 390-48-(3))
This is a reprint of a book published by Akaitori sha in 1921. Yaso Saijo was a writer of symbolic poems who held the ideal “doyo (children's songs) as symbolic poems.”

Thumbnail of Akai rosoku to ningyo [The red candle and the mermaid]

Akai rosoku to ningyo [The red candle and the mermaid] will open in a new window
Open the enlarged image of Akai rosoku to ningyo [The red candle and the mermaid]

2-8Akai rosoku to ningyo [The red candle and the mermaid]
Written by Mimei Ogawa
Nihon Kindai Bungakukan 1969
(Kindai bungakukan: Meicho fukkoku zenshu [Modern Japanese Literature: Reprint of masterpieces] 83)
Call No. KH6-27(First ed. 501-58)
This is a reprint of a book originally published by Ten'yusha in 1921. It is an anthology of dowa (children’s stories) written by Mimei Ogawa, who is considered the father of modern Japanese children’s stories. The title story was first carried in the Tokyo Asahi Shimbun [Tokyo Asahi newspaper].

Thumbnail of Koganemaru: sanjunenme kakinaoshi [A dog named Koganemaru: revised in the 30th year]

Open the enlarged image of Koganemaru: sanjunenme kakinaoshi [A dog named Koganemaru: revised in the 30th year]

2-9Koganemaru: sanjunenme kakinaoshi [A dog named Koganemaru: revised in the 30th year]
Written by Sazanami Iwaya
HOLP SHUPPAN, Publishing 1974
(Nihon jido bungakukan: Meicho fukkoku, dainishu [Japanese children’s literature: Reprint of masterpieces, vol. 2] 14)
Call No. KH6-23(First ed. 501-100)
This book is the reprint of Koganemaru [A dog named Koganemaru], a book known as first original children’s story in Japan published by Hakubunkan in 1921, rewritten in the vernacular.

Thumbnail of Jugoya otsukisan[Full moon]

Open the enlarged image of Jugoya otsukisan[Full moon]

2-10Jugoya otsukisan [Full moon]
Written by Ujo Noguchi/Music by Nagayo Motoori /Illustrated by Kiichi Okamoto
HOLP SHUPPAN, Publishing 1971
(Nihon jido bungakukan: Meicho fukkoku [Japanese children’s literature: Reprint of masterpieces] 12)
Call No. KH6-23
This is a reprint of a book originally published by Shobundo in 1921. Ujo Noguchi wrote songs which became popular and were made into a recording, thereby creating, together with Hakushu Kitahara and Yaso Saijo, the foundation of modern doyo (children’s songs). Shown here is the book’s slip case.

【Column】 Miekichi Suzuki and Hakushu Kitahara

Thumbnail of Maza gusu: Eikoku doyoshu [Mother Goose: The collection of English nursery rhymes]

Maza gusu: Eikoku doyoshu [Mother Goose: The collection of English nursery rhymes] will open in a new window
Open the enlarged image of Maza gusu: Eikoku doyoshu [Mother Goose: The collection of English nursery rhymes]

2-11Maza gusu: Eikoku doyoshu [Mother Goose: The collection of English nursery rhymes]
Translated by Hakushu Kitahara
Ozorasha 1997
(Sosho Nihon no doyo [Series of Japanese children’s songs])
Call No. Y8-M98-111(First ed. 505-18)
This is a reprint of Hakushu doyoshu daisanshu [Anthology of children’s songs by Hakushu, vol. 3], published by ARS in 1921. The series comprises 131 volumes in total. Hakushu also researched children’s songs of Britain and the United States. Shown here is the title page.

Thumbnail of Hitofusa no budo[A bunch of grape]

Open the enlarged image of Hitofusa no budo[A bunch of grape]

2-12Hitofusa no budo [A bunch of grape]
Written by Takeo Arishima
HOLP SHUPPAN, Publishing 1971
(Nihon jido bungakukan: Meicho fukkoku [Japanese children’s literature: Reprint of masterpieces] 14)
Call No. KH6-23
This is a reprint of a book originally published by Sobunkaku in 1922. The title story depicts the inner life of a child, based on the youthful experiences of the author. It is considered as one of the masterpieces of children’s literature from the Taisho era.

Thumbnail of Shojo kurabu[Girls’club]

Open the enlarged image of Shojo kurabu[Girls’club]

2-13Shojo kurabu [Girls’club]
Dai-nihon Yubenkai Kodansha [1923]-1946
Call No. Z32-411
This is a monthly girl's magazine that played a central role in the development of novels for girls. Shojo kurabu (少女倶楽部) was succeeded by the magazine Shojo kurabu (少女クラブ). Shown here is vol. 2, no. 11.

Thumbnail of Hirosuke dowa dokuhon: daiisshu [Children's story book of Hirosuke, vol. 1]

Open the enlarged image of Hirosuke dowa dokuhon: daiisshu [Children's story book of Hirosuke, vol. 1]

2-14Hirosuke dowa dokuhon: daiisshu [Children's story book of Hirosuke, vol. 1]
Written by Hirosuke Hamada
Bunkyo Shoin 1924
Call No. Y8-N05-H151
The author's works, which were sentimentally lyrical stories of the good will of human beings, were popularly known as Hirosuke dowa [Hirosuke’s children’s stories]. Shown here is the title page.

Thumbnail of Chumon no ooi ryoriten [The restaurant of many orders]

Open the enlarged image of Chumon no ooi ryoriten [The restaurant of many orders]

2-15Chumon no ooi ryoriten [The restaurant of many orders]
Written by Kenji Miyazawa
Nihon Kindai Bungakukan 1969
(Kindai bungakukan: Meicho fukkoku zenshu [Modern Japanese Literature: Reprint of masterpieces] 91)
Call No. KH6-27
This is a reprint of a book originally published by Toryo shuppanbu in 1924. This is the only existing anthology of the author’s dowa (children's stories), which were self-published before his death. The unique world he created received critical acclaim posthumously, and is now considered a masterpiece of Japanese children's literature.

Thumbnail of ピPinochio: Ayatsuri ningyo no boken: Dowa [Pinocchio: Adventure of the puppet: children's stories]

Open the enlarged image of ピPinochio: Ayatsuri ningyo no boken: Dowa [Pinocchio: Adventure of the puppet: children's stories]

2-16Pinochio: Ayatsuri ningyo no boken: Dowa [Pinocchio: Adventure of the puppet: children's stories]
Originally written by C.Collodi/Translated by Haruo Sato
Kaizosha 1925
Call No. Y9-N05-H224
This is a retranslation of an English version of the original Italian. The original Japanese translation first appeared in Akai tori [Red bird] vol. 4, no. 2 to vol. 5, no.3 as a series titled Itazura ningyo no boken [The adventures of a mischievous puppet], but was never completed.

Thumbnail of Shinshu tenmakyo, dainikan [Shinshu chivalry, vol. 2]

Open the enlarged image of Shinshu tenmakyo, dainikan [Shinshu chivalry, vol. 2]

2-17Shinshu tenmakyo, dainikan [Shinshu chivalry, vol. 2]
Written by Eiji Yoshikawa
Dai-Nihon Yubenkai Kodansha 1927 (26th ed. : 1930)
Call No. Y8-N03-H1190 (vol.1, vol.3 517-570)
Carried in Shonen kurabu [Boys' club] vol. 12, no. 5 to vol. 15, no. 12. Three volumes in total. Popular for its magnificent scale and dramatic story line. Illustrated by Shokichiro Yamaguchi, a Japanese-style artist.

Thumbnail of Ootoko to issunboshi [Big man and the little one inchb

Ootoko to issunboshi [Big man and the little one inchb will open in a new window
Open the enlarged image of Ootoko to issunboshi [Big man and the little one inchb

2-18Ootoko to issunboshi [Big man and the little one inch]
Edited by Masao Kusuyama/Illustrated by Teiji Kawame
Fuzambo 1925
(E to ohanashi no hon [Book of pictures and stories] 3)
Call No. 児乙部25-K-24
E to ohanashi no hon [A book of pictures and stories] is a six volume series with a cohesive presentation of text and illustrations and is considered a forerunner of modern picture books.

Thumbnail of Yume no tamago[The dream egg]

Yume no tamago[The dream egg] will open in a new window
Open the enlarged image of Yume no tamago[The dream egg]

2-19Yume no tamago [The dream egg]
Written by Yoshio Toyoshima/Illustrated by Jun Suzuki
Akai Tori Sha 1927
(Akai tori sosho [Series of Red bird] 4)
Call No. 児乙部27-T-1
This book represents the original fairytales created during the Taisho era. The author believed that dowa (children’s stories) should make readers feel “confidently liberated.”

Thumbnail of Aa gyokuhai ni hana ukete [Ah! Flowers in a jade cup]

Open the enlarged image of Aa gyokuhai ni hana ukete [Ah! Flowers in a jade cup]

2-20Aa gyokuhai ni hana ukete [Ah! Flowers in a jade cup]
Written by Koroku Sato
Shonen kurabu [Boys’ club] vol.14, no. 9
Dai-Nihon Yubenkai Kodansha 1927
Call No. Z32-387
This work was serialized in Shonen kurabu [Boys' club] vol. 14, no. 5 to vol. 15, no. 4. The title originates from a song used at a dormitory of the First Higher School (Tokyo). The story is an idealized depiction of perseverance, constant effort, and friendship between boys.

Thumbnail of Jaga no me [A jaguar's eyes]

Open the enlarged image of Jaga no me [A jaguar's eyes]

2-21Jaga no me [A jaguar's eyes]
Written by Kinji Ome/Illustrated by Hikozo Ito
Shonen kurabu [Boys' club] vol. 14, no.9
Dai-Nihon Yubenkai Kodansha 1927
Call No. Z32-387
This work was serialized in Shonen kurabu [Boys' club] vol. 14, no. 1–12 as a popular adventure novel. The author was inspired by serial action films from overseas, which were popular at the time.

Thumbnail of Jidogekishu, jo[The collection of children's theater, vol. 1]

Open the enlarged image of Jidogekishu, jo[The collection of children's theater, vol. 1]

2-22Jidogekishu, jo [The collection of children's theater, vol. 1]
Written by Shoyo Tsubouchi/Illustrated by Ryo Tanaka
ARS 1927
(Nihon jido bunko [Japanese children's library] 21)
Call No. 児乙部全集-N-21
The Nihon jido bunko [Japan children's library] was launched in 1927, and grew into a comprehensive collection of children's literature, comprising 76 volumes in total. The publisher, ARS, was founded by Hakushu Kitahara's younger brother, Tetsuo. Shown here is vol. 21.

Thumbnail of Yonen dowashu, jo[The collection of young children's stories, vol. 1]

Open the enlarged image of Yonen dowashu, jo[The collection of young children's stories, vol. 1]

2-23Yonen dowashu, jo [The collection of young children's stories, vol. 1]
Edited by Kan Kikuchi/Illustrated by Teiji Kawame
Bungei Shunjusha, Kobunsha 1927
(Shogakusei zenshu [The complete works for elementary school children] 1)
Call No. 児乙部全集-S-1
Shogakusei zenshu [Collected stories for elementary school children] was published from 1927 to 1929. Kan Kikuchi was editor in chief of the series, which reached a total of 88 volumes. It competed directly with Nihon jido bunko [Japanese children's library] with content similar enough to result in a court case. Shown here is the title page.

Thumbnail of Kushin no gakuyu[Hard days of a fellow student]

Open the enlarged image of Kushin no gakuyu[Hard days of a fellow student]

2-24Kushin no gakuyu [Hard days of a fellow student]
Written by Kuni Sasaki
Dai-nihon Yubenkai Kodansha 1930
Call No. 603-75
This work was serialized in Shonen kurabu [Boys' club] vol. 14, no. 10 to vol. 16, no. 12. The author was a scholar of English literature and translator as well. It is considered the first comic novel for boys written in Japanese.

Thumbnail of Mittsu no takara[Three pieces of treasure]

Open the enlarged image of Mittsu no takara[Three pieces of treasure]

2-25Mittsu no takara [Three pieces of treasure]
Written by Ryunosuke Akutagawa/Illustrated by Ryuichi Oana
HOLP SHUPPAN, Publishing 1971
(Nihon jido bungakukan: Meicho fukkoku [Japanese children's literature: Reprint of masterpieces] 22)
Call No. KH6-23(First ed. 553-26)
This is a reprint of a book originally published by Kaizosha in 1928. It is the only collection of Akutagawa’s dowa (children's stories) to be published after his death. These detailed, almost perfect stories elevated the quality of children's literature.

Thumbnail of Kyucho no tantei[Class president as a detective]

Open the enlarged image of Kyucho no tantei[Class president as a detective]

2-26Kyucho no tantei [Class president as a detective]
Written by Yasunari Kawabata/Formatted and illustrated by Shozo Fukazawa and Koko Fukazawa
HOLP SHUPPAN, Publishing 1974
(Nihon jido bungakukan: Meicho fukkoku, dainishu [Japanese children's literature: Reprint of masterpieces, vol. 2] 25)
Call No. KH6-23(First ed. 764-145)
This anthology of nine stories was published by Chuokoron sha in 1937. The title story was first published in Shonen kurabu [Boys' club] vol. 16, no. 3.

Thumbnail of Tote basha: dowashu [The horn of a village omnibus: Collection of stories for children]

Tote basha: dowashu [The horn of a village omnibus: Collection of stories for children] will open in a new window

2-27Tote basha: dowashu [The horn of a village omnibus: Collection of stories for children]
Written by Shozo Chiba/Illustrated by Shiro Kawakami
Kokon Shoin 1929
Call No. 児乙部29-T-1
Shozo Chiba's first dowa (children's stories) collection. Includes his masterpiece Torachan no nikki [Tora's diary]. He wrote the series called Sondo mono (village children stories) when this book was published.

Thumbnail of Wanwan monogatari [The story of doggie]

Wanwan monogatari [The story of doggie] will open in a new window
Open the enlarged image of Wanwan monogatari [The story of doggie]

2-28Wanwan monogatari [The story of doggie]
Written by Shozo Chiba/Illustrated by Shiro Kawakami
Kinran-Sha 1929
(Kinran ebanashi sosho [Kinran picture story series] 2)
Call No. 児乙部29-T-5
This classic of children's literature is a groundbreaking work of nonsense stories that has been read by generation after generation.

Thumbnail of Tekichu odan sanbyakuri [750 miles through enemies]

Tekichu odan sanbyakuri [750 miles through enemies] will open in a new window Open the enlarged image of Tekichu odan sanbyakuri [750 miles through enemies]

2-29Tekichu odan sanbyakuri [750 miles through enemies]
Written by Minetaro Yamanaka
Kodansha 1970
(Aizo fukkokuban Shonen kurabu meisaku zenshu [Collector's edition Reprint of the masterpieces of Boys' club])
Call No. KH718-11 (First ed. 児乙部31-Y-3)
This is a reprint of a book originally published in 1931. The story was first serialized in Shonen kurabu [Boys' club] vol. 17, no. 4–9 as a non-fiction novel about the Russo-Japanese war. Yamanaka was a leading author of military adventure novels.

Thumbnail of Norakuro nitosotsu[Private Second-class Norakuro]

Open the enlarged image of Norakuro nitosotsu[Private Second-class Norakuro]

2-30Norakuro nitosotsu [Private Second-class Norakuro]
Written by Suiho Tagawa
Shonen kurabu [Boys' club] vol. 18, no.1
Dai-Nihon Yubenkai Kodansha 1931
Call No. Z32-387
Serialized in Shonen kurabu [Boys' club] vol. 18, no. 1–12, this story established a place in children's culture for comics as well as the basis for the panel layout.

Thumbnail of Chiisai doshi: Puroretaria doyoshu [Small comrades: The collection of proletarian children's songs]

Open the enlarged image of Chiisai doshi: Puroretaria doyoshu [Small comrades: The collection of proletarian children's songs]

2-31Chiisai doshi: Puroretaria doyoshu [Small comrades: The collection of proletarian children's songs]
Edited by Kusuro Makimoto and Daiji Kawasaki
HOLP SHUPPAN, Publishing 1974
(Nihon jido bungakukan: Meicho fukkoku, dainishu [Japanese children's literature: Reprint of masterpieces, vol. 2] 23)
Call No. KH6-23(First ed. 特500-163)
This is a reprint of a book originally published by Jiyu sha in 1931. Kusuro Makimoto denied the doshin (the pure heart of children) approach that held sway during an earlier generation and worked to promote theories of proletarian children's literature.

Thumbnail of Gongitsune [Gon, the little fox]

Open the enlarged image of Gongitsune [Gon, the little fox]

2-32Gongitsune [Gon, the little fox]
Written by Nankichi Niimi
Akai tori fukuseiban [Reprint of Red bird] revised edition, vol.3, no.1
Nihon Kindai Bungakukan 1968
Call No. Z13-890
This story is written by Nankichi Niimi in 1932, when he was 18. Gongitsune has been a familiar part of elementary school textbooks since 1980.

Thumbnail of Hoeru mitsurin: Moju seifuku [Roar in the jungle: Conquest of beasts]

Hoeru mitsurin: Moju seifuku [Roar in the jungle: Conquest of beasts] will open in a new window
Open the enlarged image of Hoeru mitsurin: Moju seifuku [Roar in the jungle: Conquest of beasts]

2-33Hoeru mitsurin: Moju seifuku [Roar in the jungle: Conquest of beasts]
Written by Yoichiro Minami
Dai-nihon Yubenkai Kodansha 1938
Call No. Y7-3521
This work was first serialized in Shonen kurabu [Boys' club], vol. 19, no. 4–12. The first edition of this adventure novel was published in 1933 and was popular with children. The highly realistic illustrations by Gyosui Suzuki and Katsuichi Kabashima also livened up the story. Shown here is the title page.

2-34Akanoppo Aonoppo [The red ogre and the blue ogre]
Written and illustrated by Takeo Takei
HOLP SHUPPAN, Publishing 1978
(Fukkoku ehon ebanashishu [Reprinted collection of picture story books ] 17)
Call No. KC511-20
This is a reprint of a book originally published by Suzuki Jinseido in 1934. This illustrated story was first serialized in the Asahi Shimbun [Asahi Newspaper] and then published in book form. This emonogatari (picture story) format is similar to a comic.

Thumbnail of Maho: Tsubota Joji dowashu [Magic: The collection of children's stories by Joji Tsubota]

Open the enlarged image of Maho: Tsubota Joji dowashu [Magic: The collection of children's stories by Joji Tsubota]

2-35Maho: Tsubota Joji dowashu [Magic: The collection of children's stories by Joji Tsubota]
Written by Joji Tsubota
Kenbunsha 1935
Call No. Y8-N03-H715
The author created a unique fusion of romanticism and realism, which led to establish a new type of children's literature.

【Column】Proletarian Children’s Literature

Thumbnail of Kokoro ni taiyo wo mote: Mune ni hibiku hanashi nijippen [Have the sun in your heart: Twenty impressive stories]

Open the enlarged image of Kokoro ni taiyo wo mote: Mune ni hibiku hanashi nijippen [Have the sun in your heart: Twenty impressive stories]

2-36Kokoro ni taiyo wo mote: Mune ni hibiku hanashi nijippen [Have the sun in your heart: Twenty impressive stories]
Written by Yuzo Yamamoto
Shinchosha 1935
(Nihon Shokokumin bunko; daijunikan [Series for Japanese young nationals; vol. 12])
Call No. Y8-N03-H896
This is one of the 16 volumes that comprised the Nihon shokokumin bunko [Series for Japanese young nationals]. Although it was published at a time when freedom was restricted, it was a pioneering series in children's education.

2-37Kaijin nijumenso [The fiend with twenty faces]
Written by Rampo Edogawa
Shonen kurabu [Boys' club] vol. 23, no.1
Dai-Nihon Yubenkai Kodansha 1936
Call No. Z32-387
This detective novel for boys was serialized in the Shonen kurabu [Boys' club], vol. 23, no. 1–12. It was tremendously popular with children and was published in book form after the series ended.

Thumbnail of Harappa no kodomokai: Makimoto Kusuro dowashu [Children's meeting in the field: The collection of children's stories by Kusuro Makimoto]

Open the enlarged image of Harappa no kodomokai: Makimoto Kusuro dowashu [Children's meeting in the field: The collection of children's stories by Kusuro Makimoto]

2-38Harappa no kodomokai: Makimoto Kusuro dowashu [Children's meeting in the field: The collection of children's stories by Kusuro Makimoto]
Written by Kusuro Makimoto
Kodomo Kenkyu-Sha 1937
(Shin dowa senshu [New collection of children's stories] 1)
Call No. Y8-N03-H900
After the disbanding of the proletarian children's literature movement, this author advocated ‘seikatsu shugi dowa’ (children's stories that portrayed daily life) which influenced later works.

Thumbnail of Kimitachi wa do ikiruka [How should you live?]

Open the enlarged image of Kimitachi wa do ikiruka [How should you live?]

2-39Kimitachi wa do ikiruka [How should you live?]
Written by Genzaburo Yoshino/Illustrated by Kazu Wakita
Shinchosha 1949
(Nihon shokokumin bunko [Japanese little citizens library] 4)
Call No. 児15-Y-1
The final volume of the Nihon shokokumin bunko [Series for Japanese young nationals] series. It is known as a pioneering work of ethics novels in Japanese children's literature.

2-40Kuma no Pusan [Winnie-the-Pooh]
Written by Alan Alexander Milne/Translated by Momoko Ishii/Illustrated by Ernest Howard Shepard
Eihosha 1950
Call No. 児93-M-41
The first Japanese edition of this work was published by Iwanami Shoten in 1940, and was considered an innovative work for using contemporary stories at time when classics were the mainstream in the world of translation.

Thumbnail of Doritoru sensei afurika yuki [The story of doctor Dolittle]

Doritoru sensei afurika yuki [The story of doctor Dolittle] will open in a new window
Open the enlarged image of Doritoru sensei afurika yuki [The story of doctor Dolittle]

2-41Doritoru sensei afurika yuki [The story of doctor Dolittle]
Written by Hugh Lofting/Translated by Masuji Ibuse/Illustrated by Teiji Kawame
Kobunsha 1946
Call No. 児995-78(First ed. 793-173)
The first Japanese edition was published by Hakurin Shonenkan Shuppanbu in 1941. This story is based on picture-letters of British author Lofting, which were written from the frontlines to his children at home. At the strong recommendation of and with the full support of Momoko Ishii, Masuji Ibuse filled the translation with humor. Shown here is the title page.

Thumbnail of Ojiisan no ranpu[Grandfather's lamp]

Ojiisan no ranpu[Grandfather's lamp] will open in a new window
Open the enlarged image of Ojiisan no ranpu[Grandfather's lamp]

2-42Ojiisan no ranpu [Grandfather's lamp]
Written by Nankichi Niimi/Illustrated by Shiko Munakata
Yuko-Sha 1942
Call No. 児952-23
This first anthology of dowa (children's stories) by Nankichi Niimi was published with the strong support of Seika Tatsumi. All stories vividly depict the intricate inner working of the minds of young boys.

Thumbnail of Dobutsudomo[Animals]

Open the enlarged image of Dobutsudomo[Animals]

2-43Dobutsudomo [Animals]
Written by Muku Hatoju/Illustrated by Tai Yasu
Sanko-Sha 1943
Call No. 児970-48
This anthology of short stories about the relationship between animals and humans includes four new stories added to eleven stories that first appeared in Shonen kurabu [Boys' club].

Thumbnail of Tsuru no ongaeshi[The grateful crane]

Open the enlarged image of Tsuru no ongaeshi[The grateful crane]

2-44Tsuru no ongaeshi [The grateful crane]
Written by Joji Tsubota
Shinchosha 1943
(Nihon mukashi banashi [The old stories of Japan])
Call No. Y8-N09-J980
This is the first collection of folktales by Joji Tsubota, who was said to have turned to retelling folktales rather than creating original stories in order to resist censorship during the war.

【Column】 Kenji Miyazawa and Nankichi Niimi

ColumnMiekichi Suzuki and Hakushu KitaharaBack

Miekichi Suzuki (1882–1936), novelist and apprentice of Soseki Natsume, was the supervisor of the children’s magazine Akai tori [Red bird]. His novels, such as Chidori [The plover], have a tendency to romanticism.

Hakushu Kitahara (1885–1942) contributed many doyo (children’s songs) to Akai tori from the first issue. He also was a member of Tekkan and Akiko Yosano’s Myojo [Morning star] magazine. He is known for his aesthetic works such as the poetry collection Omoide [Remembrance] and the song collection Kiri no hana [Paulownia blossoms].

Both men came from the romantic literary group and it could be said that this background helped lead them to their principle of ‘doshin’ (the pure heart of children). Akai tori called for submissions from children for tsuzurikata (compositions), free verse poems and free drawings. Miekichi would select from among composition submissions and Hakushu would select from among the free verse poems submissions. The magazine played a major role in the history of children’s expression.

ColumnProletarian Children’s LiteratureBack

During the end of the Taisho era (1912–26) through beginning of the Showa era (1926–89), proletarian children’s literature written from the standpoint of the working class, was born from the Proletarian literature. In 1925 (Taisho 14), Musansha Shimbun [The proletarian news] created a corner called ‘Kodomo no sekai (Children’s world)’ and in 1929 (Showa 4), Senki [Battle flag] carried a supplement Shonen senki [Children's battle flag], preparing the stage to publish works. In 1931 (Showa 6), Kusuro Makimoto and Daiji Kawasaki edited and published a collection of proletariat doyo (children’s songs) entitled Chiisai doshi [Small comrades].

The significance of proletarian children’s literature was discovering ‘children in the society’ as a subject, but authors were unable to find literary methods to expand it. Those works nowadays are rarely read. This subject could not sufficiently portray itself until contemporary children’s literature could gain a prose writing style after the World War II.

ColumnKenji Miyazawa and Nankichi NiimiBack

The dowa (children’s stories) collection Chumon no ooi ryoriten [The restaurant of many orders], written by Kenji Miyazawa (1896–1933), was published under the name Ihatov dowa (Children’s stories of Ihatov). He visualized his birthplace and home of Iwate Prefecture as a dreamland called Ihatov.

Nankichi Niimi (1913–1943) sets his works in Handa City, Aichi Prefecture, where he was born and raised. He published many dowa (children’s stories), weaving existing place names into the story.

Their approaches differ, but both authors died young and the original fantasy world they created stands out from the others. Kenji’s Chumon no ooi ryoriten [The restaurant of many orders], Yukiwatari [Snow treading], Yamanashi [Wild pear], Otsuberu to zo [Ozbel and the elephant] and Niimi’s Gongitsune [Gon, the little fox], Tebukuro wo kai ni [Buying mittens] are even read by children today, due to their use in Japanese language textbooks and picture books.