Rare Books in Japan
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Rare Books in Japan

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Current Pages:
1. Haruki Murakami
2. Meiji period woodblock books
3. Japanese movies
4. Yukio Mishima
5. Edo period

RBIJ archives. Browse through some of the items I've had in the past - and may be able to get hold of again: older books, Japanese manga, modern first editions, English works in Japanese translation, books about Japan, Japanese militarism.

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Searches and requests: I get a lot of these, and I can't always handle them! If there is a book you are searching for, or you have a request, please go ahead and ask, but I may not always be able to give an answer, so if you don't hear from me, please don't be too upset!

And, please, don't send image files without asking me first! My mailbox is sometimes so full of files I didn't ask for that mails I do want can't be delivered!

Over the years, I have helped people put together collections of such things as books about Japanese airships, Japanese editions of Darwin's Origin of Species and Meiji period translations of the Bible. If I can help you, I will, but I hope you won't be too disappointed if I can't. There's enough here to keep most people busy for a lifetime!

Research & Education

Click here to go to my pages on identifying Japanese first editions.

Click here for general resources on researching Japanese books and antiques.



Books in Japanese & books related to Japan


1. Haruki Murakami Surprisingly, first editions of Murakami in Japanese are not that highly priced (often lower than the first editions in English). The reason is partly because collecting modern firsts hasn't caught on in Japan the way it has in the West, and partly because Japan is only just beginning to wake up to Murakami's international status as a novelist.

Click here for more highly collectible Murakami titles, in English as well as Japanese.

Book: m EF[̐X (Noruwei no mori)
English title: Norwegian Wood
Edition: first edition, first printing
Condition: Both volumes fine, in fine dust jackets, with publisher's wraparound bands (obi in Japanese), also fine

This set is SOLD, but I have other sets for prices between about $80 and $200, depending on condition.



More Murakami



The colophon statement on both volumes identifies this set of
Norwegian Wood
as the first edition, first printing
of Murakami's work in Japanese, making it
the true first edition worldwide.

If you are going to invest in Japanese first editions, Murakami is a good bet. Prices have been rising steadily, both in Japan and abroad, over the ten years or so that I have been involved in buying and selling his works. But it is crucial to ascertain the authenticity of what you are buying...

Anyone who wants to learn more about identifying Japanese first editions, or about technical aspects of Japanese books, please click here.

Click here to check out other Murakami titles!



2. Meiji period woodblock books

     These little books are a fascinating relic of a bygone age. They are typically made from folded sheets of rice paper, bound in soft covers and threaded together (fukuro-touji binding).

     Click here to see more books of this kind.



The publication date is partially obscured by the binding, but can still be clearly identified.

Book title: Iwami Jutaro Ichidaiki (〈dYL)
English title: A Biography of Iwami Jutaro
Publication date: February 31st, 1889
Size: 6.5 x 4.5 inches
Condition: Very good plus

This set is SOLD, but I have a fair number of books of this type. Contact me for details.

The books themselves are in excellent condition, with no worming or other significant flaws, which affect so many books of this period and of this type. The last picture shows the column of print giving the date of publication. It is partially-obscured by the binding, but still clearly legible.

More like this

 Iwami Jutaro is a legendary hero of the 16th century, serving under the daimyo General Toyotomi Hideyoshi. It is not clear who the author of this edition was. It was customary to give the name of the author, artist and publisher on the cover of the second or last volume of such publications, but this set carries only the words "p" (Kineido Azusa), without saying what part she played in the production of this book.  

Since her name crops up in relation to a 19th-century Tokyo bookstore it seems more likely that she commissioned or published, rather than wrote, the book. Japan's National Institute of Informatics (which has taken over from NACSIS as the main bibliographical record of Japanese books) does not record this work, but that is not much of a surprise; publications of this kind were basically ephemera, and only a fraction of them have been properly catalogued. However, it does list two 19th-century biographies of Jutaro, one (in a two-volume set, like this one) by Shonosuke Onishi, and one by Kinnosuke Maki. Only one copy of each of these is recorded, and I have not had an opportunity to view either. It is possible that this is taken from (or is an edition of) one of these two versions.

These images show the rest of the contents of these two books.

More Meiji period
woodblock books


3. Japanese Movies

Posters, memorabilia, etc.  
Click here to see more like this.


1960 poster for Nagisa Oshima's movie The Sun's Burial, distributed in Japan mainly for the benefit of American troops stationed in army bases. There's a small tear/crumple towards the top of the right-hand side, just under the telegraph pole (pictured right). Otherwise flawless.

Price: $75

More movie memorabilia



4. Yukio Mishima

Click here for more Mishima items, including two very special signed presentation copies given by Mrs. Mishima to Paul Schrader, director of the movie "Mishima".


Book: t (Kinkakuji)

English title: The Temple of the Golden Pavilion

Edition: first edition, first printing (Oct. 30, 1956)

Condition: Fine, in fine dust jacket, with publisher's wraparound band, also fine

This copy has been SOLD, but

e-mail me

for details of other copies or similar items.


5. Edo Period

Click here for more Edo period items.

Kaibara Ekiken (Ekken; also Atsunobu), Nikko Meishoki (A Record of a Beautiful Sunny Place), Shoutoku 4 (i.e., 1714). 18 cm. First edition, [1], 47, 8, [1] leaves, illustrations accompanying every page of text, maps. Only two holding libraries in Japan (Tsukuba and Nakiyoudai). Published in the year of the author's death. Very good plus, with some worming and other signs of age. Pages of folded rice paper, fukurotouji binding.