1837. Item #90343
Yohane Fukuin no Den 約翰福音之伝 (約翰福音之傳) [Gospel of Saint John]
Kenka Shoin Zōhan 堅夏書院蔵板
Tenpō 7 天保 7 
27.5 x 18 cm volume that is considered the first translation into Japanese of any part of the Christian New Testament. Title leaf plus 60 double leaves side-sewn with knotted paper ties, Japanese style, in plain paper wrappers with Japanese text throughout. Translated into Japanese by the British missionary Karl Friedrich August Gützlaff カール・ギュツラフ (1803 -1851) between 1835 and1836 in Macau, with the assistance of three shipwrecked Japanese sailors who taught him Japanese, one of whom, Yamamoto Otokichi 音吉 or 乙吉 (1817/18 - 1867), helped with the translation. It was printed in Singapore at the Mission Press, entirely in Katakana, in 1837.
Gützlaff was the first Anglican missionary in China and one of the first Protestant ministers in Korea and other parts of East Asia, and it is believed he also wanted to become a missionary in Japan. However, Gützlaff and the three Japanese natives were denied entry into Japan and unable to introduce their translation to the country. It was not until nearly a quarter of a century later that their work was allowed into Japan, after its formal opening, in 1859.
Only a limited number of the Bibles were published as the American Bible Society pulled funding, unhappy with the completed work. It seems they were displeased with the appearance of the finished translation; katakana did not have the air of elegance that they associated with Chinese written characters. Yamamoto Otokichi was a young sailor likely not formally educated and therefore not familiar with kanji and unable to teach Gützlaff. It was an unfortunate decision for the ministry, as written as it was in katakana, a phonetic syllabary, it would have been accessible to almost any Japanese reader.
Housed in a custom, clasped chitsu case. Front wrapper is chipped and the back wrapper is missing. There is a light damp stain to the bottom third of the bookblock throughout and a few pages are heavily foxed. A scarce book, there are only 16 copies extant between OCLC First Search and Asian libraries. (Darlow and Moule, 5742).