Post-War Miniature Art Books
Books in the Collection
Literally "bean book," the term mamehon "is used by Japanese bibliophiles for a book smaller than an ordinary pocket book, which has been artistically printed and bound, issued in a limited edition, and made exclusively to appeal to the refined taste of a collector." Although miniature books have a history going back to the Edo period, modern mamehon date from the post-war period, with the first books issued in 1953. Modern mamehon are roughly 4 x 3 in. (10 x 8 cm) and contain graphic art, essays, poems and stories. The art generally takes the form of line drawings. etchings and prints, woodblock and even potato prints tipped into pages. The books were generally string bound, knotted or stitched.
This collection's mamehon, two issues of Ezo Mamehon えぞ まめほん and four issues of Kyūshū Mamehon 九州 まめほん, were both first published in March 1953. They were sold exclusively to members of their respective book clubs, the Hokkaidō mamehon no kai (Hokkaidō Miniature Book Association) and the Kyūshū mamehon no kai (Kyūshū Miniature Book Association). Ezo Mamehon was published by Satō Yoshirō 佐藤与四郎, a Western-style painter who started the publication after his retirement from the Otaru shinbun. It ran for thirty-seven issues until Satō's death in 1962. Kyūshū Mamehon was discontinued after twenty-four issues (plus a supplemental volume) due to the illness of its publisher Mizutani Mamoru 水谷護.
During the golden age of post-war mamehon from 1953 to the early 1960s, these regional miniature art books were published in Tokyo, Fūryū Mamehon; Aomori, Aomori Mamehon; Sakata, Yamagata, Michinoku Mamehon; Shimane Prefecture, San'in Mamehon; Niigata, Echigo Mamehon among other locales.
Various Ezo Mamehon issued between 1953 and 1962
Contributing artists to Kyūshū Mamehon included Takei Takeo 武井武雄 (1894-1983), illustrator of children's books, poet, print maker and driving force behind the post-War resurgence of of mamehon; Serizawa Keisuke 芹沢 銈介 (1895-1984), a leading member of the mingei movement, stencil dyer and Living National Treasure; Maekawa Senpan 前川千帆 (1888-1960), self-taught artist who became a major figure in the sōsaku hanga movement; Sekino Juni'chirō 関野準一郎 (1914-1988), a leader of the post-War sōsaku hanga movement who worked in both etching and woodblock; Hatsuyama Shigeru 初山滋 (1897-1973), children's book illustrator and sōsaku hanga artist; Mutō Kan'ichi 武藤完一 (1892-1982), woodblock and etching artist; Kagawa Tokio 香川軍男 (1915-2002) known for his book of "potato prints" (薯版 ) of Ainu culture and Kawakami Sumio 川上澄生 (1895-1972), self-taught sōsaku hanga print artist fascinated with the intersection of foreign cultures with Japanese culture.
Contributing artists to Ezo Mamehon included Munakata Shikō 棟方志功 (1903-1975), woodblock print artist active in the mingei and sōsaku hanga movements, and the aforementioned Maekawa Senpan, Sekino Juni'chirō, Kawakami Sumio, Takei Takeo, Kagawa Tokio, among others.
Text was typically printed using mimeograph (gari-ban ガリ版.)