• Protected: Chushingura Act 1, Number 2

    Protected: Chushingura Act 1, Number 2

    There is no excerpt because this is a protected post.

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  • The First Western-style Circus in Japan by Utagawa Yoshitora

    The First Western-style Circus in Japan by Utagawa Yoshitora

    As the previous issue briefly mentioned the Western-style circus performed in the early Meiji era, this issue will introduce an ukiyo-e that depicts the first Western circus performed in Japan on record. The Tokugawa Shogunate was forced to open its ports to overseas trade due to the arrival of the Black Ships in 1853 and […]

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  • Album of animals  by Seisai Yoshimura

    Album of animals by Seisai Yoshimura

    Following a request from an animal lover to feature a book on animals, this issue introduces the book entitled “Jūrui Gafu” (Album of Animals), which is the only book dedicated to animals among the special collections in the Lisa Sainsbury Library. This book was published in the early Meiji era, the exact year is unknown, […]

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  • The Cortazzi Ceramic Collection

    The Cortazzi Ceramic Collection

    The previous issue of the E-Bulletin mentioned that the Sainsbury Institute was given three-dimensional objects as a long-term loan from Sir Hugh and Lady Cortazzi. Among these 70 objects, around three quarters (fifty-three) are ceramics. And among the ceramics, about a third (eighteen) were made by the prominent Mashiko1 potter, Shimaoka Tatsuzō (1919-2007). Along with […]

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  • Lazuline Glass Vase with Translucent Lip

    Lazuline Glass Vase with Translucent Lip

    You may be acquainted with the Cortazzi Collections in the Lisa Sainsbury Library, such as old maps, ukiyo-e and antiquarian books, as they are regularly featured in this publication. In addition to these materials, Sir Hugh and Lady Cortazzi have also given three dimensional objects on long term loan. A glass vase created by Hamada […]

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  • Japanese Wedding Ceremonies Old and New

    Japanese Wedding Ceremonies Old and New

    Wedding gowns are supposed to be white. This tradition is believed to be attributed to the legacy of the wedding gown worn by Queen Victoria in 1840. The custom of the bride in a white gown spread not only in Britain but also in many other countries of the world, including Japan, in the 20th century.   Some Japanese brides […]

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  • The Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting

    The Mustard Seed Garden Manual of Painting

    I hope you all keep well and stay safe in these challenging times. In such strange and unusual circumstances, many of you may be bored with staying at home for more than a month. However, this situation is not unique. More than 300 years ago, in the early Qing dynasty (1644-1912) in China, there was […]

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  • Maps of Japan by Luis Teixeira

    Maps of Japan by Luis Teixeira

    I once introduced a map that has been described as ‘the earliest European rendition of Japan that depicts the state with a fair level of exactitude’ in the fourth issue of our e-magazine. It was a map sent from Luis Teixeira (dates unknown), a Portuguese cartographer, to Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598). Ortelius was a cartographer born in […]

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  • Cortazzi Collections at the Lisa Sainsbury Library

    Cortazzi Collections at the Lisa Sainsbury Library

    If you are a regular reader of this column, you may have noticed that the vast majority of the special collections materials kept at the Lisa Sainsbury Library have been generously provided by Sir Hugh and Lady Cortazzi. Sir Hugh, who was the British Ambassador to Japan between 1980 and 1984, and his wife have […]

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  • Sumo prints

    Sumo prints

    Many of the Cortazzi ukiyo-e collection held at the Sainsbury Institute are Yokohama-e, or prints depicting non-Japanese foreigners. There are, however, some unique exceptions including Sumo-e or prints depicting sumo wrestlers. Sumo, as familiar to many, is a wrestling match that takes place on a dohyō mound. Two rotund yet herculean rikishi wrestlers battle out strength by […]

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  • Edo kirie zu area maps by Owariya

    Edo kirie zu area maps by Owariya

    During the Edo period (1615-1868), some 64% of Edo city (present day central Tokyo) was occupied by mansions and residences of daimyō feudal lords, hatamoto samurai and gokenin vassals serving the Tokugawa shogun (Masai, 1975). These dwellings were typically shielded from public view with tall boundary walls. With no name plate on house number or […]

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  • Le Japon by M Breton: Part II

    Le Japon by M Breton: Part II

    Following on from my last e-magazine article, this article highlights further interesting details found in M Breton’s Le Japon, ou Moeurs, usages et costumes des habitans de cet empire (Japan: Customs and costumes of the inhabitants of this empire). Published in 1818 by A. Nepveu, this four volume set includes abundant illustrations to provide a glimpse into Japanese […]

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  • Le Japon by M. (Jean Baptiste Joseph) Breton

    Le Japon by M. (Jean Baptiste Joseph) Breton

    In June 2017, Sir Hugh and Lady Cortazzi gifted the Lisa Sainsbury Library with a set of four books printed in Paris in 1818. Entitled ‘Le Japon’ (see note 1 for the full publication title), each palm sized book contains 13 to 15 images in addition to the illustrations at the front and back pages […]

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  • Album of One Hundred Birds by Kōno Bairei

    Album of One Hundred Birds by Kōno Bairei

    The title introduced in this edition is the Album of One Hundred Birds by Kōno Bairei at the request of its donor, Sir Hugh Cortazzi. The title contains images by Kōno Bairei, a prominent artist in the Kyoto art circle in the early Meiji period (1868-1912). Published in 1881, the three-volume album set contains dual […]

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  • Sights and Scenes in Fair Japan

    Sights and Scenes in Fair Japan

    Many of the readers may have experienced the fortune of a stranger having a profound effect on one’s life. This is precisely what happened when Ogawa Kazumasa (Isshin) (1860-1929), a Meiji and Taishô era pioneer in photography and photographic print publishing, met Okabe Nagatomo (1855-1925), domain lord of the former Kishiwada domain near Osaka. In […]

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  • Photography Albums by Ogawa Kazumasa

    Photography Albums by Ogawa Kazumasa

    In this issue and next, I hope to introduce a series of photography albums by Ogawa Kazumasa, an early pioneer in Japanese photography, in response to a special request made by Sir Hugh Cortazzi, patron to the expanding Lisa Sainsbury Library’s rare books collection. Ogawa Kazumasa (1860-1929) was one of the key giants of the […]

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  • Pedagogic polychrome nishiki-e prints published by the Ministry of Education

    Pedagogic polychrome nishiki-e prints published by the Ministry of Education

    As many of our readers may already be familiar with the Cortazzi Map Collection through a series of our e-magazine articles, I would like to take the opportunity in this article to introduce the Cortazzi Ukiyoe Collection. The Collection comprises of 43 titles of polychrome woodblock prints on long-term loan from Sir Hugh and Lady […]

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  • Keepsake 1921

    Keepsake 1921

    95 years ago on 3 March 1921, the then 19-year-old Crown Prince Hirohito (later Showa Emperor) set sail from Yokohama port to spend nearly six months traveling abroad on the Japanese naval ship Katori, accompanied by another naval ship, Kashima. To organise the Imperial Prince’s tour to the West was a complex task and took […]

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  • Tale of Two Historic Maps of Japan

    Tale of Two Historic Maps of Japan

    The Lisa Sainsbury Library holds 65 historic maps of Japan and the rest of the world. Produced in Japan and Europe, the important collection is on long-term loan to the Library by Sir Hugh Cortazzi, former British Ambassador to Japan, and Lady Cortazzi with a view to be donated in the future. The oldest map […]

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  • Letter from Yukio Mishima to Professor Geoffrey Bownas

    Letter from Yukio Mishima to Professor Geoffrey Bownas

    The Lisa Sainsbury Library holds a letter written in English by Mishima Yukio, who is considered to be one of the most distinguished literary figures of 20th century Japan, to the late Professor Geoffery Bownas in his lifetime. Geoffrey Bownas’ involvement with Japan began when he was drafted into the army in 1942 while still […]

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  • The Flowers of Japan and the Art of Floral Arrangement

    The Flowers of Japan and the Art of Floral Arrangement

    The Flowers of Japan and the Art of Floral Arrangement by Josiah Conder was published by Hakubunsha, a bookseller once in the Ginza district of Tokyo in 1891. One of the striking features of the book are the fourteen beautifully coloured woodblock prints of seasonal flowers, of which six are depicted by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892). Yoshitoshi […]

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  • Map plate of Kyushu

    Map plate of Kyushu

    Lobed underglaze blue porcelain dish with map of Kyushu A porcelain dish with the map of Kyushu measuring some 24 centimetres in diameter is kept at the Lisa Sainsbury Library as part of the Cortazzi map collection. The inscription on the underside of its wooden box lid mentions the content being a gift to the […]

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  • The Colour of London: Historic, personal & local

    The Colour of London: Historic, personal & local

    Published under Edward VII’s reign in 1907 by London publisher Chatto & Windus, this book was written by William John Loftie. Essays on the geographic history of London together with 26 colour and 12 sepia illustrations compose the book. The book appears to have been popular as in 1908, The Colour of Paris: Historic, personal & […]

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  • Papier-Shmetterlinge aus Japan

    Papier-Shmetterlinge aus Japan

    Curt Adoph Netto, who authored Papier-Shmetterlinge aus Japan, is perhaps a less well-known name even amongst the more versed Japanese art enthusiasts. Netto arrived in Japan in the early Meiji period as oyatoi gaikokujin, or foreign advisors hired by the Japanese government. He worked as the first Professor of Geology as well as Mining and Metallurgy at […]

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  • Morning Glories and Edo Period Japan

    Morning Glories and Edo Period Japan

    The English are world famous for their love of gardening. Perhaps less obvious is the horticultural enthusiasm of the Edo period Japanese, who were just as keen a gardener as the English. In fact, Japanese Edo period eras are often twinned with certain flowers and plants that became particularly fashionable during the period. For instance, […]

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  • History of Textiles: Reproductions of Shōsōin Treasures

    History of Textiles: Reproductions of Shōsōin Treasures

    Let me first draw your attention to the image below. While it is difficult from a computer screen to detect the subtle texture, colour and lustre, the textile sample shown here is a woven fabric rather than an embroidered piece. This is one of 15 textile samples in the Lisa Sainsbury Library holdings entitled ‘History […]

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  • Namban Ema: Illustrated Votive Plaque of Portuguese People Strolling in the City

    Namban Ema: Illustrated Votive Plaque of Portuguese People Strolling in the City

    This year falls on the Chinese zodiac Year of the Horse. The jūnishi or twelve symbols of the Chinese zodiacs are horary signs based on the point at which Jupiter can be found annually as it makes its twelve year orbit round the sun. The zodiac is divided into twelve parts with a particular Chinese […]

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  • Nampō Gafu: Album of Birds and Flowers

    Nampō Gafu: Album of Birds and Flowers

    I would like to start my article for this e-magazine with a request to our readers to enlighten me on the album I am introducing here. Red and white plum blossom from Nampō Gafu: Album of Birds and Flowers. The book is bound in an accordion fold format and appears to have no evidence or […]

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  • Iaponiae Insvlae Descriptio

    Iaponiae Insvlae Descriptio

    The map introduced in this issue, the Iaponiae Insvlae Descriptio map, is the earliest European rendition of Japan that depicts the state with a fair level of exactitude. It is by Luís Teisera, a celebrated Portuguese cartographer who was backed by the Spanish court. In 1595 the Dutchman Abraham Ortelius published a map based on […]

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  • Oldest map of Japan

    Oldest map of Japan

    Do you know why Japan is called ‘Japan’ in English and not ‘Nihon’ or ‘Nippon’ as it is pronounced in Japanese? It is said that Marco Polo was the first to bring Japan’s existence to the attention of Europe. The exact time and place of Marco Polo’s birth are unknown. However, today the accepted narrative […]

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  • History of Japan by Engelbertus Kæmpfer

    History of Japan by Engelbertus Kæmpfer

    “The history of Japan : giving an account of the ancient and present state and government of that empire, of its temples, palaces, castles and other buildings, of its metals, minerals, trees, plants, animals, birds and fishes, of the chronology and succession of the emperors, ecclesiastical and secular, of the original descent, religions, customs, and […]

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  • Atlas Japannensis by Arnoldus Montanus

    Atlas Japannensis by Arnoldus Montanus

    “Atlas Japannensis: being remarkable addresses by way of embassy from the East-India Company of the United Provinces, to the Emperor of Japan: containing a description of their several territories, cities, temples, and fortresses, their religions, laws, and customs, their prodigious wealth, and gorgeous habits, the nature of their soil, plants, beasts, hills, rivers, and fountains […]

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