HEARN, Lafcadio.

Japanese Fairy Tales.

[Comprising:] The Boy Who Drew Cats; The Goblin Spider; The Old Woman Who Lost Her Dumpling; Chin Chin Kobakama; The Fountain of Youth. Rendered into English by Lafcadio Hearn.

Tokyo: T. Hasegawa, Publisher & Art-Printer, [1931] Stock Code: 149231
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First edition thus of the illustrated 5-volume set of Japanese folklore stories. These five tales were first published on plain paper between 1898 and 1922 in a larger format than this one. They were also issued separately in small crêpe-paper editions (the crêpeing process was applied after printing) sometimes simultaneously as the first plain paper edition, and sometimes later.

Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904) went to Japan in 1890 with a commission as a newspaper correspondent, which was quickly terminated. It was there, however, that he found a home and his greatest inspiration, and he later became known to the world by his writings concerning Japan. He became a naturalized Japanese, assuming the name Koizumi Yakumo, in 1896 after accepting a teaching position in Tokyo and was "recognized as interpreter of Japanese culture for the West" (Bleiler).

Takejirō Hasegawa (1853-1938) was an innovative Japanese publisher specializing in European-language books on Japanese subjects, notably fairy tales, poetry, and ephemera such as calendars, to help Japanese people learn foreign languages. "He chose traditional stories whose subjects would already be familiar to his readers and presented these tales in a Western format. The books would open in the Western manner, reading from left to right, and the illustrations would be positioned as adjuncts to the text, instead of having text superimposed on them in the traditional traditional Japanese fashion" (Sharf). By the time the first versions of the Japanese Fairy Tales were successfully published, Hasegawa was well on his way to creating an entirely new range of books of ambitious design and contents, this time bringing "aspects of Japanese culture and traditions to a Western audience that was increasingly hungry for such material, and they would primarily be produced on crepe-paper" (ibid.). Copies of this book intended for the Western audience bear a "Macrae-Smith, Philadelphia" imprint on the wrap-around label, as here.

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5 volumes, octavo. Original light blue silk-backed pictorial crêpe paper covers bound with stab ties in light green silk in the Yamato toji style. Housed in the publisher's blue cloth wrap-around case with toggle clasps, titles in white to spine and printed on gilt-heightened label to front flap, lined with colour-illustrated paper, as issued.


Woodblock-printed colour illustrations throughout.


Bookseller's ticket to front pastedowns of case. The volumes bright and sharp. A fine set in very good, unrestored case, sunned, slight wear to corners, title label partly torn, a small water stain, else firm and complete with both toggles.


Bleiler (Supernatural), p. 237; Sharf, Frederic A., "Takejiro Hasegawa", p. 10.


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