The Children’s Japan
Mrs. W. H. Smith, author
Hasegawa Takejirō 長谷川武次郎, publisher
Meiji 45 
19.5 x 16.5cm crepe paper book (chirimen-bon 縮緬本), illustrated with color woodcuts. Bound Japanese style, fukuro-toji, with stab binding (yamato-toji) and opens Western style. Colophon on rear inside page in Japanese, with the date Meiji 45  on this [2nd] edition. 20 numbered pages with illustrated inner and outer front and rear wrappers. Title cover illustration features a child in front of a line drawing of Mt. Fuji, with the word “Japan” disguised as the snowcaps and rear wrapper illustration of tendrils on a bamboo trellis spells out “Children’s.”
One of the very special crepe paper books published in Japan in different languages, it was made from mulberry paper and first printed, and then pressed (about 10 times), before it was 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.
The introduction refers to the durability of the crepe paper and explains that this is ideal for very young readers. Aimed at children, the text is informative as well as fun, yet not over simplified. Chapters include Japanese Houses, Japanese Babies, Older Babies, and The Jinrikisha, all seen from the eyes of a Westerner in the 1890s, with much delight and curiosity. The author explores the exotic appeal of all things Japanese, yet also points out the realities of life. Comparisons are often made between the two cultures, including many generalizations, with the Western side surprisingly often coming up short, either way enticing future visitors to Japan.
Some wear with a stain on rear wrapper and close to margin on p. 12.