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Shin'yaku Heike Monogatari, jōkan

Nakazawa Hiromitsu (1874-1964)

Japanese Illustrated Book with Color Woodblocks

Shin'yaku Heike Monogatari, jōkan

(New Translation of The Tale of the Heike,

first volume)

woodblocks by Nakazawa Hiromitsu, 1914

Illustrated Account of the Sino-Japanese War, Volume 7

IHL Cat. #2220

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 3 
Chapter 2
 Chapter 1

Chapter 6
Chapter 5
Chapter 4

Chapter 7

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 first 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 first volume contains the first seven chapters with each chapter having multiple sections.

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)

Shirabyōshi 白拍子 dancers

title page 
新訳平家物語 上巻 渋川玄耳
New Translation of Heike monogatari, first volume by Shibukawa Genji

 opening woodblock illustration
biwa (lute), as shown in this first print in the book, is traditionally used to accompany the chanting of Heike monogatari.
inside cover - Heian-kyō (Kyōto) map
Heian-kyō was one of several former names for the city now known as Kyoto. It was the capital of Japan for over one thousand years, from 794 to 1868 with a short interruption in 1180.

author's preface
pages 4 and 5
author's preface
pages 2 and 3
introduction and author's preface page 1
"regarding this book"

table of contents pages 4 and 5
table of contents pages 2 and 3
author's acknowledgement and table of contents page 1
Author's acknowledgement of the assistance of author and Noh critic Sakamoto Setchō 坂元雪鳥 and author Fujikawa Tansui 藤川淡水

table of contents pages 10 and 11

table of contents pages 8 and 9
table of contents pages 6 and 7

table of contents pages 16 and 17

table of contents pages 14 and 15

table of contents pages 12 and 13

Chapter 1 
woodblock print, chapter illustration
In this print we see the sisters Giō and Ginyo in self-exile in their hermitage deep in the Saga mountains where they prayed for rebirth in paradise.

table of contents pages 20 and 21

table of contents pages 18 and 19

Chapter 2, section 1
卷第 座主流し Zasshu nagashi
(The Exile of the Tendai Abbot)
woodblock print verso and 
page 59 (opening page of
chapter 2, section 1)
Chapter 2 woodblock print

chapter illustration
Chapter 1, section 1
祇園精舍 Gion Shōja 
(Gion Temple)

woodblock print verso and 
page 1 (opening page of
chapter 1, section 1)
On the first page of each chapter is a small illustration, in this case a fish in a boat. It alludes to Heike prosperity through the divine favor of the Kumano gods, who caused a large fish to jump into Taira no Kiyomori's boat while on pilgrimage to Kumano.

Chapter 4 woodblock print, chapter illustration
Under the command of Minamoto no Yorimasa warrior monks march towards Mt. Nyoi.
Chapter 3, section 1
卷第三 赦文 Yurushi bumi 
(The Pardon or The Letter of Release)
woodblock print verso and 
page 137 (opening page of
chapter 3)
Chapter 3 woodblock print, chapter illustration
In this print we see Shunkan, one of the three Kikai-ga-shima exiles, in despair after his two fellow exiles are pardoned and taken off the island.

Chapter 5, section 1
卷第五 都遷 Miyako utsuri 
(The Transfer of the Capital)
woodblock print verso and page 257 (opening page of chapter 5)
Chapter 5 woodblock print, chapter illustration
In this print we see the austere monk Mongaku, who exhorted Yoritomo to rebellion, sitting under a frigid waterfall where he vowed to recite three hundred thousand Fudō-invocations. Two divine youths sent by the Mystic King Fudō observe he has stopped breathing and will revive him allowing him to fulfill his vow.

 Chapter 4, section 1
卷第四 厳島御幸 Itsukushima gokō
(The Imperial Journey to Itsukushima)
woodblock print verso and page 197 (opening page of chapter 4)

Chapter 7 
woodblock print, chapter illustration
In this final print of the first volume we see Tsunemasa playing the cherished biwa (lute) named Seizan, which brings forth a goddess in the guise of a white dragon.
Chapter 6, section 1
卷第六 新院崩御 Shin’in hōgyo 
(The Death of the New Retired Emperor)
woodblock print verso and page 313 (opening page of chapter 6)

Chapter 6 woodblock print, chapter illustration
The Emperor's attendant Nakakuni outside Lady Kogo's house.

[Printing: November 1, 1914]

[Issuance: November 3, 1913]

[copyright reserved] 

[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]

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?]
Chapter 7, section 1
卷第七 北國下向 Hokkoku gekō 
(The Expedition to the Norther Provinces)
woodblock print verso and page 359 (opening page of chapter 7)

inside rear cover - morning glories

Editions by Kanao Bun'endō

Book Details

 IHL Catalog  #2220
 Title/Description  New Translation of The Tales of the Heike, first volume
 Shin'yaku Heike monogatari, jōkan
 新訳平家物語 上巻 
 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 7/8 x 6 in. (22.5 x 15.2 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:
12/18/2019 created