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Shin'yaku Heike Monogatari, gekan

Nakazawa Hiromitsu (1874-1964)

Japanese Illustrated Book with Color Woodblocks

Shin'yaku Heike Monogatari, gekan

(New Translation of The Tale of the Heike,

last volume)

woodblocks by Nakazawa Hiromitsu, 1914

Illustrated Account of the Sino-Japanese War, Volume 7

IHL Cat. #2221

Woodblock Print Illustrations in this Volume

(right to left as they appear in the book in the Japanese style)

inside rear cover
inside front cover

opening page illustration

Chapter 9
Chapter 8
Chapter 8

Chapter 11
Chapter 10
Chapter 9

The Initiates Chapter
Chapter 12

Chapter 11

The Sword Chapter
The Sword Chapter

About This Book

The sound of the Gion Shōja bells echoes the impermanence of all things; the color of the sala flowers reveals the truth that the prosperous must decline. The proud do not endure, they are like a dream on a spring night; the mighty fall at last, they are as dust before the wind. - the first lines of Heike monogatari

The second volume of a two volume "new translation" into modern colloquial Japanese by journalist, author and poet Shibukawa Genji, of The Tale of the Heike (Heike monogatari, 平家物語), an epic account of the struggle between the Heike (Taira) and Minamoto (Genji) clans for control of Japan at the end of the twelfth century in the Gempei War (1180-1185). Published by Kanao Tanejirō through his publishing house Kanao Bun'endō in 1914 in two volumes, it was illustrated with woodblock prints designed by the Western-style artist Nakazawa Hiromitsu (1874-1964). This second, and the last, volume contains chapters 8 through 12, followed by the Initiates and Swords chapters, with each chapter having multiple sections. The five illustrations of armor and weaponry appearing in this volume are attributed to 磐瀬純 (Jun Iwase?).

Similar in physical composition to the famous and best-selling work Shin'yaku Genji Monogatari by Yokano Akiko (see IHL Cat. #2219), this translation seemed to have garnered rather little attention, although more research might bring additional facts to light.

The Tale of the Heike
Sources: The Tale of the Heike, Helen Craig McCullough, Stanford University Press, 1988 and website of New World Encyclopedia
The Tale of the Heike (Heike monogatari, 平家物語) was compiled in 1240 by an unknown author from a collection of oral stories composed and recited by traveling monks, who chanted them to the accompaniment of the biwa (lute). The most widely read version of the Heike monogatari was compiled by the blind monk Kakuichi in 1371, and includes later revisions glorifying military valor. The story is intended to be told in a series of nightly installments. Written in the genre of gunki monogatari (military tales), the story illustrates themes of samurai ethics and glorifies the military values of loyalty, bravery, and strong leadership. It also promulgates Buddhist teachings; the theme of the impermanence of the material world appears throughout the story, and the fates of the characters are preordained by the good or evil deeds of prior existences. Often characters seek enlightenment, or atone for their sins, by entering religious life. The Tale of the Heike is considered one of the great classics of medieval Japanese literature and has provided material for many later artistic works ranging from Noh plays to woodblock prints.

In the words of Helen Craig McCullough, it is the story "of a proud and mighty man, Taira no Kiyomori, of his contumacy, 'freakish caprices,' and selfishness, and of the destruction visited on his descendants in accordance with the law of karmic retribution."1

1 The Tale of the HeikeHelen Craig McCullough, Stanford University Press, 1988, p. 456.

The Author/Translator of "The New Translation"

undated photograph of the author
Sources: https://www.wul.waseda.ac.jp/kosho/bunko10/b10_8807/ and Wikipedia Japan

Shibukawa Genji 渋川玄耳 (1872-1926)
Known for his light and witty essays under the pen name Yabuno Mukuju (籔野椋十) and his renovation of the city news page of the Tokyo asahi shinbun, Shibukawa Genji was born in Saga prefecture. His real name is Shibukawa Ryūjirō 渋川柳次郎. Graduating from Tokyo Law School, he practiced law and became a judge prior to turning to poetry and journalism. 

In 1909, it was he who put Ishikawa Takuboku (later a leading tanka poetry figure who was almost nameless at the time) in charge of selecting good poems for the "Asahi kadan" column from among those submitted by readers and providing commentary. After retiring from the Asahi, Shibukawa went to the Chinese continent as a war correspondent for the Kokumin shinbun [National Newspaper].

Selected Pages including all woodblock prints

(right to left as they appear in the book in the Japanese style)

The Battle of Dan-no-ura 壇ノ浦の戦い 
On April 25, 1185, the fleet of the Minamoto clan (Genji),
led by Minamoto no Yoshitsune,
defeated the fleet of the Taira clan (Heike).

opening woodblock illustration
Battle helmet of Minamoto no Yoshitsune
verso of left leaf of inside cover and verso opening woodblock illustration
inside cover - map showing locales of power struggle

Chapter 8 woodblock print, chapter illustration
Table of Contents (last page, p. 16) and print attributions
新譯 新訳平家物語 下巻目録 終
裝釘及挿畫七葉  中澤弘光
鐙丶縅毛及太刀弓矢の圖四葉  磐瀬純
The book binding graphics and the seven prints, one at the start of each chapter, are attributed to 中澤弘光 (Nakazawa Hiromitsu.)
The five illustrations of armor and weaponry are attributed to 磐瀬純 (Jun Iwase?)
Table of Contents (first page)
新譯 平家物語 目録
下巻目録 (一)

Chapter 8
woodblock print verso and page 445

Chapter 8
woodblock print illustrating armor
Chapter 8, section 1
八 山門御幸 Sanmon gokō 
(The Imperial Journey to the Enryakuji)
woodblock print verso and 
page 414 (opening page of
chapter 8, section 1

Chapter 9
woodblock print illustrating armor
Chapter 9, Section 1
卷第 小朝拜 (生ずきの沙汰)
(The Matter of Ikezuki)
woodblock print verso and page 465 (opening page of chapter 9, section 1)
Chapter 9 woodblock print, chapter illustration
The horse Ikezuki (Ill-Tempered Biter] with his rider Takatsuma, the first to cross the Uji River.

Chapter 10, Section 1
卷第 首渡 Kubi watashi
(The Parade of Heads)
woodblock print verso and page 547 (opening page of chapter 10, section 1)
Chapter 10 woodblock print, chapter illustration
Middle Captain Koremori has taken vows at Mt. Koyo and will soon take his life entering the sea chanting "Hail, Amida Buudha!" 
Chapter 9
woodblock print verso and page 509

Chapter 11
woodblock print illustrating
armor patterns
Chapter 11, section 1
卷第 逆櫓 Sakaro
(Reverse Oars)
woodblock print verso and page 611 (opening page of chapter 11, section 1)
Chapter 11 woodblock print, chapter illustration
The Genji archer Munetaka's arrow has met the Heike's challenge, sending their taunting red fan with the golden orb, which had been mounted on a pole in the prow of her ship by a beautiful Heike lady, towards the heavens.

Chapter 12, section 1
卷第二 重衡斬られ  
(The Execution of Shigehira)
woodblock print verso and page 683 (opening page of chapter 12, section 1)
Chapter 12 woodblock print, chapter illustration
The Heike had been destroyed and the remaining males subject to execution. The Heike boy Rokudai sits on a rug awaiting his execution when the monk Mongaku gallops in on a white horse to save him, saying "The Kamakura Lord has pardoned the young master."
Chapter 11
woodblock print verso and page 637

The Sword chapter woodblock print,
chapter illustration

The Initiates chapter
灌頂卷 女院御出家
(The Imperial Lady Becomes a Nun)
woodblock print verso and page 727 (opening page of Initiates chapter, section 1)

The Initiates chapter woodblock print, chapter illustration 
On the First Day of the Fifth Month in the first year of Bunji, the Imperial Lady became a nun. "No words could describe her melancholy."

The Sword chapter
woodblock print verso
and page 765

The Sword chapter
woodblock print illustrating weapons

The Sword chapter
woodblock print verso and page 743 (opening page of The Sword chapter)
This chapter, supplemental to the main story, tells the story of the Imperial Sword Kusanagi-no-Tsurugi (草薙の剣), lost to the bottom of the sea during the battle of Dan-no-ura, and the two treasured swords of the Minamoto clan, Higekiri (髭切) and Hizamaru (膝丸).

inside rear cover Heike Crabs
These crabs are said to hold the spirits of the Taira warriors who died in the Battle of Dan-no-ura fought in the Shimonoseki Strait.

[Printing: November 1, 1914]

[Issuance: November 3, 1913]

[copyright reserved] 

著者 澁川玄耳
[author Shibukawa Genji]
發行者  金尾種次郎
[publisher: Kanao Tanejirō]
印刷者 中村政雄
[printer: Nakamura Masao] 
印刷所 報文社
[printing place Hōbunsha]

發兌元 金尾文淵堂
[publishing house: Kanao Bun'endō]
production credits
木版彫刻 長谷川香木
[woodblock carving: Hasegawa Katsura]
木版彫刻 前田剛二
[woodblock carving: Maeda Gōji]
木版彫刻 大倉半兵衞
[woodblock carving: Ōkura Hanbē]
木版彫刻 五島徳次郎
[woodblock carving Goshima Tokujirō]
木版彫刻 岡田淸二郎
[woodblock carving: Okada ?jirō
木版印刷 西村熊吉
[woodblock printing: Nishimura Kumakichi]
活版 報文社
[typography: Hōbunsha]
製本 金子督太郎
[bookbinding: Kaneko Tokutarō?]

Book Details

 IHL Catalog  #2220
 Title/Description  New Translation of The Tales of the Heike, last volume
 Shin'yaku Heike monogatari, gekan
 新訳平家物語 下巻 
 Artist / Author
 Nakazawa Hiromitsu (1874-1964) / Shibukawa Genji 渋川玄耳 (1872-1926)
 no artist signature
弘 Hiro seal appears on all woodblock illustrations except the opening woodblock illustration of curtain and fan 
 Publication Date  December 3, 1914 大正二年十一月日發行
 Edition  first
 Publisher  發行者 金尾種次郎 publisher Kanao Tanejirō
發兌元 金尾文淵堂 publishing house Kanao Bun'endō
 Woodblock printing  Nishimura Kumakichi 西村熊吉
 Woodblock carving  Maeda Gōji 前田剛二 and Hasegawa Katsura 長谷川香木
 Impression  excellent
 Colors  excellent
 Condition  good - toning of woodblock prints mainly noticeable in margins; binding loose but largely in tact
 Genre  illustrated book zuroku 図録
 H x W (front cover)  8 3/4 x 6 in. (22.2 x15.2 cm)
 Collections This Book  National Diet Library 968935 Call No. 913.45-SH21ウ (first volume)National Diet Library 968936 Call No. 913.45-SH21ウ (last volume); National Library of Australia Libraries Australia ID 15884006
 Reference Literature  
last update:
12/20/2019 created