FIRST JAPANESE ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA
NAKAMURA, Tekisai. Kinmo zu-i. 21 kan in 14 volumes. Illustrated with hundreds of black and white woodcuts with identifying characters. 4to., 270 x 197 mm, bound Japanese-style, fukuro-toji, in original blue paper wrappers with printed paper labels, housed in a recent navy chitsu case. [Japan]: Yamagataya, [ca. 1666].
Early edition, complete, of this "all knowledge" series that inaugurated a new genre of illustrated books in early modern Japan. Designed to teach children the names and pronunciation in Japanese and Chinese of animals, plants, peoples, clothing, places, and much more, the Kinmo zu-i gained wide readership among adults as well. There were many editions and related publications building on the success of the original, including a new edition as late at the 19th century. The Kinmo zu-i has been considered an important, authoritative reference work since its first printing in 1666.
Bartlett and Shiohara identify this as the first edition, however the first was printed with different woodblocks, usually two images to a page. In this series, each page is quartered to show four images with accompanying text. The wide-ranging subject matter is illustrated simply and labeled succinctly by compiler Nakamura Tekisai (1629-1702), a Shushigaku scholar, who had in mind a juvenile audience.
There is evidence to suggest that this is perhaps the first Japanese reference book used by a Western scholar in compiling a history of Japan: the German physician Engelbert Kaempfer purchased a set on a trip to Japan in 1690-91 and reproduced a selection of images in one of his works. This set does not have the word zoho (revised) in the title, though it was probably revised and printed within two years of the first edition. Very rare complete set.
M.D. Foster, Pandemonium and Parade: Japanese Monsters and the Culture of Yokai, pp. 35-39.
Item nr. 154364