Nihon sankai meisan zue [trans.: Illustrations of Famous Products of the Mountains and Sea].
by KIMURA, Kokyo, prob. author.
76 woodcuts (mostly double-page) by Shitomi Kangetsu. 16; 42; 29; 36; 33 folding leaves. 5 vols. 8vo, orig. wrappers (each delicately embossed with a view of the sea & mountains behind, heightened in silver), orig. block-printed title label on each upper cover, new stitching. Osaka: 1799. First edition of this finely illustrated work describing the principal arts and industries of Japan. The book was very probably written by Kokyo Kimura (1736-1802), who has signed the preface. Better known under the name Kenkado, he was a sake merchant, artist, calligrapher, bibliophile, and student of the sciences. He was one of the most important intellectuals of Osaka of the time. The numerous woodcuts are important not only for their historically accurate detail but also for their artistic quality. The artist was Shitomi Kangetsu (1747-99), a student of Tsukioka Settei (1710-86). Kangetsu was an ukiyo-e painter who studied the ancient methods of both Chinese and Japanese painting, and specialized in landscapes, portraits, and shunga paintings. The entire first volume is devoted to the manufacturing of sake, an industry the author obviously knew well. The various steps in producing sake are fully illustrated. Vol. II is concerned with stone quarrying, the manufacture of stone utensils and other products made out of stone, honey-making, cooking and preparing foods by pickling for the winter, and the hunting of birds and animals. Vols. III and IV describe the fishing industry, from catching to processing the fish. The fifth volume describes the manufacture of lime, the production of the famous Imari pottery, textile manufacturing, harvesting seaweed, etc. The blue covers have been embossed with a view of the mountains and the sea, heightened in silver, to considerable effect. WorldCat attributes the authorship to the artist Kangetsu. Fine set. Vol. II with some unimportant marginal worming. ❧ Hillier, The Art of the Japanese Book, p. 564 (with two reproductions). . (Inventory #: HillBibl-4892)
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