For the past two days I have been in bliss. Currently I am in Cleveland Ohio. Specifically I am in the Cleveland Museum of Art ( http://www.clevelandart.org/ ), in their Art Library. the Art Library at the Cleveland Museum of Art is the 3rd largest Art Library in the USA with millions of books. The library is free and open to the public. So, I decided to use this time to get my hands on some rare and out of print books for review. The Japanese selection is massive, with many books that have never been published in America or in English. There are a variety of books here on loan from the Tokyo Nation Museum Costume Collection.
I did not have time to personally reach each and every book, so much as glance through for info relevant to our interests. These reviews are at a glance, but serve as a source of direction for those looking. I also do not have my camera so I cant document the books this trip, but I do plan on having books for the second time I have access to this library. Mostly what I am doing today is historical research and getting a quick look at books to decide if I want to buy them or not.
This first batch of book reviews took me 7 hours, I have a second round of books coming. So this post is 1 of 2.
Title: The Politics of Reclusion
Year Published: 1997
Periods: There is a nice spread of many historical periods prior to 1500ad,
going back to the Nara period. A good part of the content tends to be oriented
toward the Momoyama period.
Subjects: Here are a few subject titles at a glance – “The Politics of Aesthetic
Reclusion”, “The Physical and Symbolic Structure of Tea”, “The Formalization of
Reclusion Ideals and Models in Gozan Poetry and Renga”, “The Adoption of
Eremitic Ideal in Early Japanese Poetry”, “Aesthetic Reclusion and
Aesthete-Recluses”, and more.
My thoughts: I flipped the book open to a random page to instantly find a
subject right at the heart of Japanese culture: tea in politics during the
Momoyama period. Flipping right to this subject means I am instantly in love
with this book. This book focuses greatly on politics and isolationist themes in
the arts. In the back of the book there is a great index, and book reference
list to enhance your studies. There also is a glossary with the English writing
followed by the Japanese characters.
Title: Illustrated Catalogs of Toyko National Museum – Noh Play Costume
Year Published: 1987
ISBN: 03-822-1111 (could be wrong but is most likely correct)
Language: Half English, Half Japanese. Most of the Japanese is followed up by an
Periods: 16th to 20th centuries, don’t be discouraged the style of dress is
historically oriented and provides insight into period styles
Subjects: This book is a visual catalog of noh costumes and props. You will see
fans, wigs, crowns, Koshiobi, Oguchi, Choken, and more. Sadly the photos are in
black and white.
My thoughts: The only bad thing about this book is that it is black and white.
There is a glossary with info in the back of the book that provides great
insight and info about Noh costuming. Noh costumes are historically oriented and
based – providing a great platform for additional studies of period attire. I
have never seen another book show so many different kinds of attire in so many
One thing I would like to note is something I have gleamed from a variety of
photos of period kosode: the ro weaving style or something similar exists.
Having worn a ro kimono on several occasions, I can say its cooling ability is
far superior to that of any lightweight cotton or linen.
Title: Kosode-to no-isho (Kosode and Noh Costume)
Year Published: 1965
ISBN: Non found, possibly due to being written in Japanese (which I cant read)
Periods: In the book I looked at, someone had taken the time to create and
English reference index of the kosode and costumes in the book along with the
periods they are dated to. Most of the examples are 16th to 18th century.
Subjects: Kosode and Noh Costumes
My thoughts: Great book, I just wish there was an English version of it! There
are many color photos of historical pieces. There is also a mini guide to mons
and stencil designs. If you are looking for an eyecandy book, this is one of
them. If someone can translate this book into English, they have a treasure
trove of info on hand packed full of period examples.
Special Note: There is a second book of tis, that is an English version. I have
reviewed it next.
Title: Japanese Costume and Textile Arts (Japanese title was Kosode-to no-isho,
the book previously reviewed)
Year Published: 1974
Language: Originally published in Japanese, this book is the republished version
Periods: This book traces the history of the kosode in detail starting back in
the Kamakura period and Heian period.
Subjects: The kosode and its history with many Momoyama and Edo examples. The
photos are in color and in black and white.
My thoughts: Priceless, just priceless – I must have this book for my personal
library and am now on the hunt for it. If you are interested in the Momoyama
period, and want to know more about the Kosode this book should be your corner
Title: Illustrated Catalogs of Toyko National Museum – Kosode Dress
Year Published: 1983 (?)
ISBN: None found (Possibly due to the isbn being written in Japanese, which I
Language: Half Japanese, Half English – great mix of the two with easy to
understand and follow info.
Periods: Mostly Momoyama into Late Edo
Subjects: Kosode and Kimono
My thoughts: The only draw back to this book is the lack of color and that most
of the examples are from the 18th and 19th centuries. There are examples from
the 16th century, but not many. All the same, the book has many beautiful kosode
and kimono. I find the particular value of this book to be in the short and
simple introduction that gives a brief history of the kosode.
Title: Kosode: 16th-19th Century Textiles from the Nomura Collection
Year Published: 1984 (?)
Periods: This book touches down on it all – it even has a section dedicated to
color ranks in fashion from the Kamakura up into Late Edo! There is an entire
selection dedicated to the history of the kosode dating from its creation in
Heian up to Momoyama.
Subjects: Here are a few titles of various insightful sections of this book:
“Color Names and Their Literary Associations”, “Chinese Influence”, “Early
Kosode Design: Late Muromachi and Early Momoyama”, “Tsujigahana Designs”,
“Kanoko Shibori”, “Measurements and Cutting Layouts”, “From Dye Plants to Dyed
Fabrics”, and many more.
My thoughts: I must own this book. This book will become the new cornerstone
book for my private library and collection about kosode. This book includes
`how-to’, info on personalizing measurements, details about historical dying,
and more. The catalog of kosode is rich with many styles displayed that are
certain to inspire. More so, I like that this book clearly defines which
techniques and styles for decoration are used in the different periods. Kosode
in the Momoyama were decorated with techniques different from Edo and so on.
Title: Kosode: Haute Couture Kimonos of the Edo Period
ISBN: None Found, most likely due to it being written in Japanese (I do not
Year Published: 2008
Language: Japanese, with a few pages in English in the back that explain what
the book is about. There are scattered English subtitles on some pages as well.
Periods: Early to Late Edo
Subjects: Edo period Kosode and related items.
My thoughts: What a stunning and beautiful book. Most of the photos are in
color. Just because this book is for edo does not mean it doesn’t provide some
insight, as it has a few kosode from VERY early Edo. I do not really recommend
this book for research, so much as for eye candy. There are sections dedicated
to combs, paintings, hairpins, games, a fumagation cage for kosode, fukusa, Noh
masks, and more. There is an interesting section featuring antique kimono in
famous works of art.
Title: Art of the Samurai – Japanese Arms and Armor
Year Published: 2009
Periods: 1156 – 1869
Subjects: All about Japanese armor, arms, and the people who used them: the
Samurai Class. Here are some items I have seen at a glance: a leather jinhaori
(Momoyama period), Sword Fittings, a Crimson Hitatare (long Jacket) and matching
Hakama (from the Muromachi Period), blades for tachi (from the Nanbokucho
period, 1366ad), Mitokoromono (Muromachi period), Saihai (Edo), Hoshi-kabuto
(Kamakura period), and much more.
My thoughts: This strikes me as the ultimate reference book for someone looking
to build their own Samurai armor and weapons. This book is packed full of large
full color photos of armor, and arms as well as detailed info about each and
every piece including when they were built and info about the particular style
of the time. There is even discussion about the different styles of warfare
during the different periods, with cited sources for creditable info. Very
insightful. Got a Samurai in your life? Get him this book as a gift.
Title: Chikubushima – Deploying The Sacred Arts in Momoyama Japan
Year Published: 2004
Periods: The central focus is Momoyama Japan, with some references back into
Subjects: The book is about a sacred island in Japan build during the Momoyama
period. On this island there are a variety of sacred art artifacts and holy
items as well as an amazing temple. Some subjects in the book – “Pure Land
Represented: The Decorative Program of the Interior”, “Hideyoshi and Sacred
Construction”, “Religious Institutions in the War-Torn Realm”, “Beyond Koyoto:
Chikubushima”, “The Toyokuni Festivals”, and more.
My thoughts: Wow, this book brings to light a really unique element in Japanese
history if not the whole world. This island serves as a holy treasure trove. The
book provides outstanding documentation for its cited info and insights. There
are many full color photos of the holy art works, and even temple maps and
layouts of structures. If you are or know a scholar interested in religious
history in Japan this book is a must.