Little treasures – Japanese Kodansha-Tuttle textiles book

I was at the JCCC Annual Bazaar today and was lucky enough to stumble upon this gem for only one dollar!

Textiles (No. 2 Arts & Crafts of Japan), original text by Tomoyuki Yamanobe, English by Lynn Katoh. Published by the Charles E. Tuttle Company by arrangement with Kodansha. First English edition, 1957. Printed in Japan by Dai Nippon Printing Co.

Book/publishing details available on Amazon.

The dust jacket on the used book was definitely showing its age, but the actual cover was in fantastic condition.


This photo gives a better sense of the fibre texture of the cover, as well as the lovely debossing and embossing on the cover text and illustration. The text on the spine itself is also embossed/debossed.


From the back of the dust jacket:

It is nearly one hundred years since the French impressionists “discovered” the beauty of the Japanese woodblock print, and over a score of years since the architectural traditions of Japan came to exert sucha  profound influence on Western architecture. This continually growing interest in the rich heritage of Japanese art has created an insistent demand for illustrated books – a demand which has been met almost exclusively with de luxe editions, published at prices beyond the reach of many. It is with some pride, then, that the present publishers and Kodansha, publishers of the Japanese editions of the same books, have at last been able to offer quality reproductions in book form at popular prices, using the latest techniques of photography and printing.

The fist Kodansha-Tuttle series, the tremendously successful Library of Japanese Art, treated individual Japanese artists. The present series, in still better quality, further extends the scope of the project by treating separate phases of Japanese art. Each volume in the new series contains up to 24 full-color reproductions which capture the full beauty of the original works, from 30 to 40 black-and-white illustrations in photogravure, and an authoritative text and discussions of the individual plates prepared by a leading authority in the field.

The detail in the black and white images is quite impressive, as you can see below.


All of the colour plates in the book have been carefully protected with tissue (possibly gampi?). They’ve been both bound into the book as smaller page inserts, and also glued onto pages. There are “mismatched” sheet sizes, but the subject matter and the beauty of the images creates an effect that is really elegant, charming and exquisite. I can’t help but think of collage, cut-and-paste, ephemera and discovering lovely little surprises tucked into the pages as you work your way through the content.

JPtextiles_colourplate1 JPtextiles_colourplate2 JPtextiles_spread

One of my favourite spreads is the section explaining the sources of various Japanese dyes. The line drawings of the plants and the inclusion of the colour swatches in this organized little reference appeals to me on so many levels.


The back of the book notes that other titles in the series are Masks, Gardens & Tearooms, Dolls & Puppets, Bronze Sculpture, Panel Paintings, Wooden Sculpture, Lacquer, Scroll paintings, Houses, Temples & Shrines, Archaic Claywork, Ceramics, and Folk Art.

The production of this title is very impressive. It’s a wonderful piece for not just textile and Japanese culture lovers but also anyone who loves art and craft, books, print and paper!