Gotō Seikichirō 後藤清吉郎, artist and author. Nihon No Kami 日本の紙 [Japanese Hand-made Paper] Vol.1 Northeastern Japan 東日本 and Vol. 2 Western Japan 西日本. Bijutsu Shuppansha 美術出版社. Tokyo 1958, 1960. Two oversize volumes 42.3 x 26 cm, Folio in size, string-bound Japanese-style, fukuro-toji. Vol 1 has a vertical title in Japanese in black with a persimmon color printed background design and Vol 2 has a vertical title in rust with a blue background. With many paper samples (approx 6 x 7cm) tipped in and illustrated throughout with katazome prints (approx 13.5 x 16.5cm) in black and white or vibrant multicolor designs (101 in Vol 1, 71 in Vol 2) as well as small illustrations of details. Vol 1 has a number of stencils that are 2 to a page. Tipped-in colophons. Both volumes are printed in both English and Japanese text.
Volume 1 has text detailing a journey to the main paper-making sites in Northeastern Japan undertaken in 1957 by Gotō Seikichirō (1898-1989), the foremost scholar of papermaking in the post war period. Vol 2 focuses on his travels to Western Japan. Gotō, a scholar and skilled printmaker, gives anecdotes of his travels and interactions with craftspeople in traditional papermaking, chronicling their villages, processes and concerns for the future of their craft in this “Picture Diary.” His writing is lyrical as well as informative and within the details of papermaking he recalls a chat with an old man taking a rest from the hard work, children playing in empty vats as a woman scooped wet paper nearby, a trip 40 years earlier with his father and the delicious broiled fish they ate together, a description of carp, “which are huddled together in the cold water and as still as painted fish.” He also notes villages that are producing poor quality paper, influenced by modernization and industrialization.
The first volume begins with a Bible quote from Romans 11.33 that begins “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” followed by a Foreword and a Title Page entitled, “Paper Produced in the East Part of Japan” in English with a large, brilliant red stencil tipped in. On the following page is a tipped-in stencil in a persimmon color entitled, “Methods Used in the Preparation of Paper” with text that details the very beginning steps of paper making in a simplified manner, listed A through L, starting with the mulberry bark itself. It is then organized in sections - Tools, Materials and Prefecture.
The second volume is organized in sections by Prefecture after a foreword on the 3 essential materials for Japanese paper - Gampi, Mitsumata and Kozo - and their properties, with an intricate, multicolor stencil above entitled, “The Paper Produced in Western Japan” 西日本の紙 [Nishi Nihon no Kami]. Most pages have tipped-in stencil prints in the deep, rich colors for which the mingei movement is known while others are lovely in black and white. A touching Postscript by the author describes his trip to Tokyo in 1944 amid air raid alarms and planes flying overhead, in order to obtain a copy of a book on the topic of papermaking, and from that day forward he began his lifelong devotion to preserving the art of Japanese paper and all it involved.
Both volumes are signed in kanji by Gotō and numbered - the 1st volume as #190 第百九拾号 and the 2nd volume as #9 第九号 (out of an edition of 200). Our volumes are both in their individual chitsu 43 x 26cm (Vol 1 is cream color and Vol 2 is rust) with ties and embossed titles on a gold background and with shipping boxes 45 x 28.5cm.
Vol 1 chitsu is detached at binding and has tears at edges. Vol 2 has nicks and tears at binding edges and corners. Wear/rubbing to front and rear wrappers at the bottom. Toning to initial stencil print in Vol 2. Foxing to a few of the samples and a few pages in the rear of Vol 2. Interior pages in near fine condition overall. A lovely set of this classic work.