Lafcadio Hearn, translator. Japanese Fairy Tales [crepe paper], 5 vols. Hasegawa Takejirō 長谷川武次郎, publisher (for Macrae-Smith Company, Philadelphia). Tokyo. C. 1931. (19x 13.5cm) 5 crepe paper books (chirimen-bon 縮緬本), illustrated with color woodcuts and text in English. Bound Japanese style, fukuro-toji and opens Western style. Although there are publication dates in each volume, this special collection in a labelled case appears to have been published in 1931. In a partial chitsu with clasps. Chitsu title slip lists the titles in English with translator and US publisher name; a name written in handwriting in English is on the bottom right-hand corner (appears to be “Harry Cole dr.” “Made in Japan” is printed inside the chitsu, which has a lovely orange and yellow design of flowers, birds, and butterflies. The 5 volume titles are The Boy Who Drew Cats, The Goblin Spider, The Old Woman Who Lost Her Dumpling, Chin-Chin Kobakama, and The Fountain of Youth.
“The Boy Who Drew Cats” follows a young boy who must find his way in the world as a temple acolyte, despite his tendency to draw cats in the most unlikely places. 18 pp. List of books issued by the publisher in English. Colophon on rear wrapper in Japanese dated Meiji 31 .
“The Goblin Spider” is a frightening tale of a brave samurai who tries to defeat a gigantic spider-turned-goblin in the middle of the night.  cho with story ending on inside rear wrapper. Colophon in Japanese on the inside front wrapper dated Meiji 32 .
“The Old Woman Who Lost Her Dumpling” is an Alice in Wonderland type story about the adventures of an elderly lady who falls into a hole in the floor and encounters talking statues, ogres, and a magic rice paddle.  cho. Colophon on rear inside wrapper in Japanese gives the date Meiji 35 .
“Chin-Chin Kobakama” is a cautionary tale of a lazy young girl turned woman who is taunted by the fairies who live within the tatami mats. Introductory notes by the translator.  cho with the story ending on the inside front wrapper. Colophon in Japanese on the inside front wrapper with the date Meiji 36 .
“The Fountain of Youth” is a brief yet sad story of an elderly couple who live together peacefully until the husband stumbles upon a spring with mysterious powers.  cho with a list of titles from the publisher on the inside rear wrapper. Colophon on the inside front wrapper in Japanese gives the date of Taisho 11 .
These volumes of very special crepe paper books published in Japan in different languages, made from mulberry paper and first printed, and then pressed (about 10 times), before they were bound. Incredibly, the writing and illustrations are clear despite this Chirimen-bon “shrinking” process that resulted in a textured feel to the pages that resemble the chirimen 縮緬 or crepe fabric that gives the paper its name.
Occasional spots of toning. Bright colors and good condition. A lovely example of the genre. Complete set of 5 volumes by Hearn.