189. Item #90871
Shikitei Sanba (Samba) 式亭三馬, illustrator. 東都. Shibai Kinmō Zui 戯場訓蒙図彙. Tōto [Tokyo]. Aoki Suzando, publisher. c. 1890s. 8 volumes bound as 5, 22 x 15cm bound Japanese style fukuro-toji. Original, black and white woodblock prints with Japanese text. Each volume centers on a different aspect of Kabuki theater, with single page, double-page, four to a page, and multi-page woodcuts.
This encyclopedia of Kabuki by the great comic author Shikitei Sanba (Samba) 式亭三馬 (1776 – 1822) is a novel approach to a reference work, combining a satiric and yet loving look at Kabuki on and off the stage as if they were two separate countries, based on the model of earlier Sino-Japanese encyclopedic gazetteers (See Leutner’s reference to the work in his “Shikitei Sanba and the Comic Tradition in Edo Fiction''). Sanba’s skill in humor is here combined with the artistry of Katsukawa Shun’ei 勝川春英 (1762–1819) and Utagawa Toyokuni 歌川豊国 (1769 - 1825). Toyokuni’s actor portraits and Shun’ei’s detailed drawings of stage sets, hairdos, costumes, etc. are here quite well-printed in sumi ink.
The work in general and this particular copy are quite interesting bibliographically. The Shibai Kinmō Zui 戯場訓蒙図彙 is usually regarded as having been published in Kyōwa 3  by Yorozuya Tajiemon of Edo. This copy has the Yorozuya name in the place of honor as block holder on the right of the publisher list. However, the name of Kazusaya Tadanosuke 上總屋忠助, also from Edo, is explicitly listed as the holder of the blocks. Furthermore, the colophon notes that the production of the blocks began in 1803. But the actual approval for sale (Kyuhan 求板) was 1806.
Our copy in hand has the Bunka 3 文化三  date, but a title page from Aoki Suzando - an Osaka-based publisher from mid-Meiji who had an office in Tokyo, as well. So a late printing (1890s?) in woodblock, but seemingly from the same blocks as the original edition(s). The impressions are still for the most part sharp and clear. Waseda has a very worm-eaten copy that they have published online, there are copies in both the Toda and Kerlen bibliographies, as well as citations in Hillier’s “Art of the Japanese Book.”
Spots of toning with wear to wrappers. Vol 2 has a white mark on front wrapper and Vol 5 has a hole on front wrapper with dirt staining and chipping of edges. Overall, a very clean copy, very fresh printing and paper, in what appear to be the original covers with original printed title slips. By no means a common book, and though copies reside in many Japanese institutions, it is very hard to come by in good condition. A late but very interesting edition, done in the original woodblock.