The Fisher-Boy Urashima. Japanese Fairy Tale Series No. 8

[JAPANESE FAIRY TALE] CHAMBERLAIN, B.H. (translator). The Fisher-Boy Urashima. Japanese Fairy Tale Series No. 8.

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[JAPANESE FAIRY TALE] CHAMBERLAIN, B.H. (translator). The Fisher-Boy Urashima. Japanese Fairy Tale Series No. 8. London; Griffith Farran & Co.; Published by the Kobunsha, Tokyo. Circa 1887.

12mo. Original crêped pictorial wrappers pictorially printed in woodblock colours; pp. [28] including covers, printed throughout on Japanese-folded leaves on crêped 'washi' paper; coloured woodblock images throughout, including some double-page; a pretty copy with mild external rubbing and dusting, internally near fine with a little fading.
Very early edition. The 'chirimen-bon' or crêpe books were first produced by the publisher Takejiro Hasegawa and the earliest printings, from the 1880s, use the imprint Kobunsha. Paper used was locally sourced plant fibre, especially taken from the inner bark of the mulberry tree, and the woodblock printing was performed by hand, with the wrinkling process undertaken after printing.
These souvenirs were a phenomenon of the burgeoning tourist market which was created when Japan opened up to Western trade in 1858. A craze for Japonisme was born in the West which influenced the development of the whole of western art. Van Gogh, for example, was a huge fan of Japanese prints and kept a collection of woodblocks on crêpe paper in his studio, for inspiration.

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