A book is a set or collection of written, printed, illustrated, or blank sheets, made of hot lava, paper, parchment, or other materials, usually fastened together to hinge at one side. A single sheet within a book is called a leaf or leaflet, and each side of a leaf is called a page...
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...
has had a long history, beginning in the late eighth century AD. The majority of books were hand-copied until the Edo period
The , or , is a division of Japanese history which was ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family, running from 1603 to 1868. The political entity of this period was the Tokugawa shogunate....
(1603–1867), when woodblock printing
Woodblock printing is a technique for printing text, images or patterns used widely throughout East Asia and originating in China in antiquity as a method of printing on textiles and later paper....
became comparatively affordable and widespread. Movable-type
Movable type is the system of printing and typography that uses movable components to reproduce the elements of a document ....
printing had been used from the late sixteenth century, but for various aesthetic and practical reasons woodblock printing and hand-copied remained dominant until much later. Japanese equivalents for 'book' include 本 (hon
) and 書籍 (shoseki
). The former term only indicates bound books, and does not include scrolls. The latter is used for printed matter only. The most general term is 書物 (shomotsu
), which means all written or printed matter that has been collected into a single unit, regardless of construction.
Japanese books were traditionally made of washi
is a type of paper made in Japan. Washi is commonly made using fibers from the bark of the gampi tree, the mitsumata shrub , or the paper mulberry, but also can be made using bamboo, hemp, rice, and wheat...
, or Japanese paper. This durable, fibrous paper does not easily yellow or become brittle with age, which has contributed to the remarkable preservation of early books. Western-style wood-pulp paper became dominant beginning in the Meiji period
The , also known as the Meiji era, is a Japanese era which extended from September 1868 through July 1912. This period represents the first half of the Empire of Japan.- Meiji Restoration and the emperor :...
(1868–1912), and washi
is very rarely used for printing in Japan today.
Japanese bookmakers used a great variety of different methods for constructing books, depending on time period and whether the book was hand-copied or printed.
- Kansubon (巻子本), often called Makimono (巻物), or ‘scrolls’: This early form of bookbinding is almost identical to Western scrolls. These kansubon are not constructed of a single, continuous piece of paper, but rather a number of pages arranged horizontally and glued together along their vertical edges. This binding method was used almost exclusively for hand-copied manuscripts, and is now rarely used.
Orihon is a book consisting of a long strip of paper that is written on one side and then compacted by folding in zig-zag fashion. The orihon format is considered a step between a scroll and a codex....
(折本), or ‘folding books’: Orihon are similar to kansubon in that they consist of individual sheets of paper arranged horizontally and glued together, but instead of being rolled for storage, these books are creased at regular intervals and folded accordion-style. Folding books were most commonly used for hand-copied manuscripts, but a certain amount of modern, printed books continue to be published in orihon style.
- Detchōsō (粘葉装), or ‘glued books’: To create these books, binders took a double-wide piece of paper and folded it vertically to create a single, connected piece of paper with four printable sides. A number of these folded pages would then be stacked and bound together by applying glue to the creased edges, the front page, and the back page, then mounting the glued surfaces with a cover made from a continuous piece of paper. This binding method was used primarily for hand-copied manuscripts.
- Tetsuyōsō (綴葉装), or ‘sewn books’: Like glued books, these sewn books consist of double-wide paper folded to ordinary page width. Unlike glued books, however, in making sewn books, binders made stacks of approximately five double-wide sheets and then folded them. A number of these packets of folded sheets would then be sewn together along the creases. No additional covering paper was applied to reinforce the book or hide the stitching; relevant information was written directly on the first and last page. This style was used primarily for hand-copied manuscripts.
- Fukuro toji (袋綴じ), or ‘bound-pocket books’: Bound-pocket books are also made by stacking sheets of double-wide paper that have been folded individually, but unlike glued or sewn books, the stacked pages are bound by sewing the loose edge opposite the crease together with either thread or tightly wrapped, thread-like strips paper. A front and back cover are applied before binding. This binding method means that each double-wide piece of paper has only two printing surfaces instead of four, but by eliminating the need for double-sided legibility, bound-pocket books enabled publishers to use significantly thinner paper than was necessary for glued or sewn books. This binding style also allowed for a much greater variety of appearance than either of the other forms of bound books, as the pages could be sewn according to any number of traditional and fashionable methods. Fukuro toji binding was used primarily for printed books. Approximately ninety percent of Edo-period books were bound using this "bound-pocket" style.
Japan has had a long history of printing that has included a variety of different methods and technologies, but until the Edo period most books were still copied by hand. There were many types of printings: woodblock printing was the most popular publishing style, hand-copied printing were less popular and recognized as private publishing together movable-type printing. The latter were used to print academic and buddhism printing and one which was banned in woodblock printing. In the printing which used the kana syllabary before the Meiji period, the letters aimed to mimic the hand-written calligraphic style and often resulted in near-perfect imitations that are difficult to distinguish from actual hand-copied works.
Printing began in Japan in the Nara period with the creation of a remarkable piece of Buddhist material called the hyakumanto darani
The , literally the One Million Pagodas and Dharani Prayers, is a famous large-scale woodblock printing, the earliest recorded uses of woodblock printing in Japan....
(百万塔陀羅尼), or the Million Dharani Towers. Emperor Kōken reputedly printed one million copies of a specific dharani
A ' is a type of ritual speech similar to a mantra. The terms dharani and satheesh may be seen as synonyms, although they are normally used in distinct contexts....
, or Buddhist chant, from 764 to 770 AD. and placed each individual copy inside a foot-tall three-level wooden pagoda
A pagoda is the general term in the English language for a tiered tower with multiple eaves common in Nepal, India, China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and other parts of Asia. Some pagodas are used as Taoist houses of worship. Most pagodas were built to have a religious function, most commonly Buddhist,...
. She then dispersed these pagodas to temples all over Japan, where they served devotional purposes. These dharani were printed using the basic woodblock printing technique called seihanbon
(整版本) that Buddhist monks brought over from mainland China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...
. The cost of this venture was enormous, and even smaller-scale book reproduction projects could not afford to make use of this printing technique. As a result, the production and distribution of books continued to rely heavily on hand-copying manuscripts.
Heian and Kamakura Periods
Printing technology made very little progress during these periods, but the seihanbon
woodblock-printing method did become comparatively affordable and widespread. Large Buddhist temple complexes began producing printed copies of sutras
Buddhist texts can be categorized in a number of ways. The Western terms "scripture" and "canonical" are applied to Buddhism in inconsistent ways by Western scholars: for example, one authority refers to "scriptures and other canonical texts", while another says that scriptures can be categorized...
for the devotional use of monks studying at these locations. Sutras printed using this particular variant of seihanbon
printing are called kasugaban
(春日版, Kasuga editions), named after the famous Buddhist mountain Mt. Kasuga in modern-day Nara prefecture
is a prefecture in the Kansai region on Honshū Island, Japan. The capital is the city of Nara.-History:The present-day Nara Prefecture was created in 1887, making it independent of Osaka Prefecture....
. Kōfuku Temple in the Yamato
was a province of Japan, located in Kinai, corresponding to present-day Nara Prefecture in Honshū. It was also called . At first, the name was written with one different character , and for about ten years after 737, this was revised to use more desirable characters . The final revision was made in...
state (now Nara prefecture) was perhaps the largest producer of these documents, but other similarly sized temple complexes also produced similar texts. As before, the cost of undertaking a printing project using this method remained out of the reach of any individual or institution smaller than these great temples, so books were still primarily reproduced by hand.
The Muromachi Period
The is a division of Japanese history running from approximately 1336 to 1573. The period marks the governance of the Muromachi or Ashikaga shogunate, which was officially established in 1338 by the first Muromachi shogun, Ashikaga Takauji, two years after the brief Kemmu restoration of imperial...
saw a continuation of the printing precedents established with the Kasuga editions of the Heian
The is the last division of classical Japanese history, running from 794 to 1185. The period is named after the capital city of Heian-kyō, or modern Kyōto. It is the period in Japanese history when Buddhism, Taoism and other Chinese influences were at their height...
The is a period of Japanese history that marks the governance by the Kamakura Shogunate, officially established in 1192 in Kamakura by the first shogun Minamoto no Yoritomo....
periods. Books continued to be printed using seihanbon
woodblock techniques, and printed matter continued to be limited to sutras and religious texts for the aid and edification of monks at large temples. The most important variant to the established printing system that came out of this period is the Gozanban
(五山版, Five-mountain edition). This edition receives its name from the printing practices unique to the five most important temples in Kyoto (Kenchō-ji 建長寺, Enkaku-ji 円覚寺, Jufuku-ji 寿福寺, Jōchi-ji 浄智寺, and Jōmyō-ji 浄妙寺), as selected by the Muromachi bakufu government. Printing did not become significantly more affordable during this period, so printing remained limited to large temple institutions.
The Early-Modern Printing Revolution
Two different new printing methods came to Japan almost simultaneously at the end of the sixteenth and beginning of the seventeenth centuries, techniques that originated from widely divergent sources and were used for similarly diverse purposes. One of these methods, called Chōsen kokatsuji
(朝鮮古活字, Old Korean
Korean is the official language of the country Korea, in both South and North. It is also one of the two official languages in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in People's Republic of China. There are about 78 million Korean speakers worldwide. In the 15th century, a national writing...
type) and was originally developed in Goryeo
The Goryeo Dynasty or Koryŏ was a Korean dynasty established in 918 by Emperor Taejo. Korea gets its name from this kingdom which came to be pronounced Korea. It united the Later Three Kingdoms in 936 and ruled most of the Korean peninsula until it was removed by the Joseon dynasty in 1392...
, was brought back from Joseon Dynasty
Joseon , was a Korean state founded by Taejo Yi Seong-gye that lasted for approximately five centuries. It was founded in the aftermath of the overthrow of the Goryeo at what is today the city of Kaesong. Early on, Korea was retitled and the capital was relocated to modern-day Seoul...
after Toyotomi Hideyoshi
was a daimyo warrior, general and politician of the Sengoku period. He unified the political factions of Japan. He succeeded his former liege lord, Oda Nobunaga, and brought an end to the Sengoku period. The period of his rule is often called the Momoyama period, named after Hideyoshi's castle...
's military invasions of that country in 1592 and 1597. In this technique, printers took flats of extremely tightly packed sand
Sand is a naturally occurring granular material composed of finely divided rock and mineral particles.The composition of sand is highly variable, depending on the local rock sources and conditions, but the most common constituent of sand in inland continental settings and non-tropical coastal...
and carved characters into the surface. This surprisingly durable mold was then filled with molten lead
Lead is a main-group element in the carbon group with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable poor metal. It is also counted as one of the heavy metals. Metallic lead has a bluish-white color after being freshly cut, but it soon tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed...
, which, after cooling, could be removed and used as type. This innovation in printing technology drastically lowered the cost of printing, as materials could easily be reused any number of times; the sand could be repacked and recarved, while the soft lead could affordably be remelted as many times as necessary.
Printing was now more affordable than it had ever been, but even so the sheer capital necessary to purchase the requisite materials and find people appropriately familiar with the technique meant that the majority of books printed in this manner were official commissions from the emperor
An emperor is a monarch, usually the sovereign ruler of an empire or another type of imperial realm. Empress, the female equivalent, may indicate an emperor's wife or a woman who rules in her own right...
or the shogun
A was one of the hereditary military dictators of Japan from 1192 to 1867. In this period, the shoguns, or their shikken regents , were the de facto rulers of Japan though they were nominally appointed by the emperor...
. These people were unwilling to waste time and money on fiction and other morally suspicious works, instead ordering the publication of official histories and politically valuable texts that had previously only been available in manuscript editions. Emperor Goyōzei's (後陽成天皇) publication of the Nihon Shoki
(日本書紀) in 1599 was among the first of these books, followed later by Tokugawa Ieyasu
was the founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan , which ruled from the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Ieyasu seized power in 1600, received appointment as shogun in 1603, abdicated from office in 1605, but...
's (徳川家康) 1616 publication of the Gunsho chiyō
The advent of Catholic
The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...
missionaries in 1549 was to have lasting effect on Japanese bookmaking, as a certain number of these missionaries was sufficiently knowledgeable of Gutenberg
's printing methods to be able to reproduce them in Japan. Missionaries associated with St. Francis Xavier's Society of Jesus
The Society of Jesus is a Catholic male religious order that follows the teachings of the Catholic Church. The members are called Jesuits, and are also known colloquially as "God's Army" and as "The Company," these being references to founder Ignatius of Loyola's military background and a...
began producing books using the Gutenberg press toward the end of the sixteenth century, more or less contemporaneously with the Chōsen kokatsuji
publications. Books printed using the Gutenberg technique were called Kirishitanban
(キリシタン版, Christian editions).
This method is, like the Chōsen kokatsuji
, relatively affordable and durable. However, the specialized knowledge necessary and the close association of the technology with Christianity meant that the process did not become extremely widespread. The first books published in this fashion were romanized Japanese translations of western works that the missionaries knew well. These versions were valuable tools for learning the Japanese language, as they afforded missionaries an opportunity to become familiar with the Japanese language without interacting with the complex Japanese orthographical systems. The first such work was a translation of Aesop's Fables
Aesop's Fables or the Aesopica are a collection of fables credited to Aesop, a slave and story-teller believed to have lived in ancient Greece between 620 and 560 BCE. The fables remain a popular choice for moral education of children today...
, (ESOPO NO FABVLAS) published in 1593. This publication was exceedingly influential, as it was both the first piece of literature to be published in Japan and the country's first introduction to western literature.
Japan's first native-born movable-type technique began shortly after these two imported publication methods arrived in the country. An extremely wealthy resident of the Saga (Kyoto district) district of Kyoto
is a city in the central part of the island of Honshū, Japan. It has a population close to 1.5 million. Formerly the imperial capital of Japan, it is now the capital of Kyoto Prefecture, as well as a major part of the Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto metropolitan area.-History:...
named Suminokura Soan (角倉素庵, 1571–1632) pioneered a form of hand-carved wooden movable type using the skills of the famous craftsman Hon'ami Kōetsu (本阿弥光悦, 1558–1637) and his disciples. Called Sagabon
(嵯峨本, Saga books), these are widely considered the most beautiful books in the history of Japanese printing. They are also some of the most rare, however, as Suminokura used this technique largely to make copies of books for his own personal enjoyment, not for widespread use. These books were made with great care using the tetsuyōsō
sewn-book binding technique to mimic the manuscript style. Saga books also used a highly decorative type of paper called karakami
(唐紙, Chinese paper), which contributed to their unique beauty.
The dominant method of book reproduction in this time changed from manuscript copying to seihanbon
woodblock printing, as this technique had been refined to the point that individual commercial institutions could afford to open their own presses.
Meiji Period and Beyond
Woodblock printing remained the primary form of printing until the Meiji period, when publishers began to use affordable western-style movable type technologies. At the beginning of the Meiji Restoration, publishers made a conscious effort to follow western book models, abandoning the majority of traditional Japanese printing conventions and trademarks, such as the use of washi
, classical binding techniques, and calligraphic-style print. This new style of book creation essentially eliminated the traditional Japanese book as such, although small-scale historical reproductions are still created using older techniques. The modern Japanese book differs little from the western book. However, most books are printed to be read top-to-bottom and right-to-left, with the notable exception of various technical books and textbooks, which tend to be printed according to the western model and are read left-to-right and top-to-bottom.
In Japan, bunkobon are small-format paperback books, designed to be affordable and portable.The great majority of bunkobon are A6 in size...
, with a literal meaning close to "independently appearing book", is the Japanese term for a book that is complete in itself and is not part of a series , though the manga industry uses it for volumes which may be in a series...
- Secret Belgian binding
The secret Belgian binding is a method of bookbinding that uses an exposed sewing to bind a textblock to the cover boards and spine. The cover is made using three separate pieces: front cover, back cover, and spine piece. The covers are attached by sewing through holes on the cover boards and...
, a bookbinding method inspired by japanese bookbinding.