Nihon no hana 日本の花 (Flowers of Japan) - Conceived and Designed by Onchi Kōshirō, 1946

Book jacket and the Three Hand-Printed Woodblock Prints

Nihon no hana 詞華集 日本の花 (Flowers of Japan: Anthology of Poems),1946

"Anthology of Contemporay [sic] Japan Flowers of Japan" as printed on jacket

IHL Cat. #2658

Overview

"Nihon no hana," (Flowers of Japan) a poetry anthology accompanied by illustrations, published in May of 1946, was designed and edited by the pioneering book designer and seminal figure in the creative print (sōsaku hanga) movement, Onchi Kōshirō 恩地孝四郎 (1891-1955), working with poet Inoue Yasubumi 井上康文 (1897–1973) to select the anthology's 30 poems. Produced during the second year of the Allied Occupation of Japan (1945-1952), the anthology was part of the effort to revive the Japanese print in a time of economic hardship and Japan's rebuilding of its infrastructure and its image after many years of aggressive war and imperialism, culminating in the US firebombing of Tokyo and the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 

For Onchi, "Nihon no hana," was "a beautiful book of the early postwar period."[1] A period when, as Alicia Volk points out in her commentary on the work for the British Museum, "much of the country, including Tokyo where it was printed, remained in ruins following the previous year's aerial bombardments."[2]

Fellow print artists joining Onchi in this endeavor were the well-known Kawakami Sumio 川上澄生 (1895–1972), Kawanishi Hide 川西英 (1894-1965) and Maekawa Senpan 前川千帆 (1888-1960), each of whom contributed a single hand-printed woodblock print, tipped into the book, along with six woodcut illustrations of flowers reproduced by collotype, to accompany the poems. Onchi himself would contribute twelve illustrations and a single poem titled "Cobra Lily." 

The anthology is comprised of the work of thirty contemporary poets, accompanying illustrations, a postscript attributed to Onchi (see transcription and translation below), a table of contents, brief curriculum vitae of the artists and a colophon. Mention of a preface is made by at least one source, but this is a misidentification of the three page poem by Noguchi Yonejirō that opens the book and is transcribed below.

While not present in this collection's book, a separate four page English-language insert titled "Contemporary Japanese Poetry" was included in some copies of the book.[3] 

Each poem's author is identified under their corresponding pages below, as are the print artists whose illustration accompany each poem. 

For additional information on this important work, see Volk's commentary cited below.

[1] As quoted by Alica Volk in her commentary on Nihon no hana for the British Museum, posted October 17, 2016 Nihon_no_hana__Flowers_of_Japan_1946%20(1).pdf[2] ibid.[3] The Lella & Gianni Morra Catalog No. 12, "One Hundred Japanese Books," 2011, describes the appendix as "a four page leaflet in English on 'Contemporary Japanese Poetry.'” 

Transcription and Translation of the Book's Afterword

Note: The transcription and translation are my own and subject to errors.

The unsigned afterword (巻後に) to "Nihon no hana," almost certainly written by Onchi Kōshirō, "hints at the difficulty of collecting poems and pictures from Japan’s top poets and artists in the wake of the Pacific War, when many still remained in the countryside following evacuation."[1]

現代日本詩より花を主題にしたもの三十篇を集めた。 收載を希つた作家に花の詩が求め得られず。 作を逸したものあるは殘念であつたが、殆どすべての優れた作家の作 を收め得たのは辛である。 日本原産の花のみに限らなかつたのは、異國の花も又󠄂現代日本に就て親しみ深いものがあるからである。之に配󠄃する木版畫、又󠄂現在日本の創作版畫の最高作を收め得て欣快である。 ただ豫定した平󠄁塚運一氏の清麗な版畫を、同氏不在のため得られず急に恩地作を以てするの止むなかつたのは遺憾であつた。 選輯は井上康文、恩地孝四郎二者協議を以て之をなした。

"I have gathered thirty poems with the theme of flowers from modern Japanese poetry. Unfortunately, we could not obtain flower poems from [all] the desired contributors. While it is regrettable that some works were not included, [despite the challenges] we were able to gather works from almost all outstanding writers.

The reason for not limiting it to flowers native to Japan is that there are also foreign flowers that are familiar in modern Japan. It is delightful to include woodblock prints related to this and the finest contemporary Japanese creative prints.

It is unfortunate that, due to the absence of the planned artist Un'ichi Hiratsuka, we had to hastily substituted works by Onchi. It is regrettable that we couldn't obtain the elegant prints by Hiratsuka Un'ichi, as originally planned.

The [poem] selection was made through discussions between Inoue Yasubumi and Onchi Kōshirō."

[1] Alica Volk's commentary on Nihon no hana for the British Museum, posted October 17, 2016 Nihon_no_hana__Flowers_of_Japan_1946%20(1).pdf

Undated photo of the poet Noguchi Yonejirō

The opening poem in this anthology (see transcription to the right) belongs to poet, essayist and and literary critic Noguchi Yonejirō (1875–1947) who "can be considered one of the most intriguing figures in Meiji-Taisho literature."[1]  Departing for America at the age of 18 in 1893, he would spend the next ten years overseas until his reporting on the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905) for American newspapers brought him back to Japan.

His poem's placement at the beginning of "Nihon no hana" may well reflect his appeal to a Western audience, his work and life serving as a bridge between east and west, introducing Japan to the west and "render[ing] it accessible to them."[2] Although written in Japanese, this anthology was targeted in large part to an American audience of Occupation personnel. 

[1] "The Silver Age of Japanese Poetry, Romanticists and Symbolists," A. Dolin, p. 307.[2] "What the Son Inherited from His Father? Preceded by A Brief Introduction to the Noguchi Legacy as a Working Hypothesis,"  Shigemi Inaga appearing in Artistic Vagabondage and New Utopian Projects, International Research Center for Japanese Studies, March 2011 (Second Corrected Printing : Feb. 2012) Kyoto, Japan, p. 61. https://inagashigemi.jpn.org/uploads/pdf/110331what_the_son.pdf [accessed 1-9-2024]

The Old Plum Tree (Ume no rōbo)- a poem by Noguchi Yonejirō, composed in 1922.

梅の老木

薄墨色の空を白く染め抜く梅の老木、
私の霊もお前のやうに年老いて居る。
お前の祈禱に導かれて
(お前は単に人を喜ばせる花でない、)
私も高い空に貧しい祈禱を捧げる、
言葉のない喜悦の祈禱を。
お前は形態の美を犠牲にして香気を得た、
花としてお前は、進化の極点に達したものだ……
お前は力の節約から得た充実を完全に表象して居る。
私は昔菅原道真がお前を歎美したやうに、
お前の前に尊敬を捧げる。
百年前のお前も、五百年前のお前も、
乃至は千年前のお前も、
今日のお前とたいした相違がなかつたであらうと思ふと、
如何に徐々と進化がお前の上に働いたかに驚かざるをえない。
私の霊に於いてもお前と同様だ……
私は幾千年間この地上に生きて来たか知れやしない。
お前の風に揺れる白い花弁を見ると、
私の忘れられた追憶の幽霊が
無終の波の表から漣のやうに目覚めるやうに感ずる。
若し私が花であるならば、お前となつてこの庭を飾るであらう、
若しお前が人間であるならば、私となつてこの書斎に坐るであらう。
お前と私は存在の形は異つて居るが、
等しく単純で真実な一表現に過ぎない。
お前が花咲いて一陽来復を語る態度に、
なんたる凛とした大胆さがあるだらう。
もし私になにかの快活があるとしたならば、
年取つた私の霊の幹から白く笑ふ梅花一枝の快活であらう。

Transcription source: https://uho360.hatenablog.com/entry/2020/06/30/000741] [accessed 1-9-24]

A portrait of Onchi, titled Onchi Kōshirō sensei (恩地孝四郎先生), c. 1942-1943 by Sekino Jun’ichirō (1914-1988)

IHL Cat. #2643

While best known as a pioneer of abstract art in Japan and a founder of the sōsaku hanga (creative print) movement, Onchi was a book designer by profession. "Drawings, woodblock prints, books, magazine lay-out and illustration poured from an endless reservoir inside of him, while he continually defined himself as a serious visual artist. The juxtaposition of avant garde ideas and the conservatism of the commercial book world is a fundamental part of his art. His book and magazine work involved him in a literary and creative circle that offered him continuous exposure to new ideas and helped sustain his serious artistic interests.”[1]


For information on the artist see his biography on this site.


[1] The Graphic Art of Onchi Koshiro: Innovation and Tradition, Elizabeth de Sabato Swinton, Garland Publishing, Inc., 1986, p. 247.

Undated photo of the poet

Inoue Yasubumi 井上康文 (1897–1973)

Inoue, born in Odawara City, co-founded the magazine "Minshū" (民衆) with fellow poet Fukuda Masao 福田正夫. (1893-1952). He was known as the "People's Poet" (民衆詩人), establishing his own literary society and nurturing younger poets. Embracing the trend of Taisho Democracy, he incorporated colloquial language into his poetry, focusing on the lives of common people. 

Please click on any image below for a detailed enlargement.

Pages are shown in Japanese order, reading from right to left.

All transcriptions and translations are my own and subject to error.

Blank pages have not been reproduced

Cover Back

Cover Front

p. 3

梅の老木

野口米次郎 

Old Plum Tree by Noguchi Yonejirō

p. 2

梅の老木

野口米次郎 

Old Plum Tree by Noguchi Yonejirō

p. 1

野口米次郎 

Plum

Noguchi Yonejirō

(1875-1947)

title page

詞華集

日本の花

富岳本社

Nihon no hana: Shikashū 

[published by] Fugaku Honsha

p. 8

水仙

深尾須磨子

Narcissus by Fukao Sumako 

p. 7

水仙

深尾須磨子

Narcissus

Fukao Sumako (1888-1974)

p. 5

Plum by Maekawa Senpan 川上澄生

(1888-1960)

[woodblock print, hand-printed; "happiness" 福 is printed on the pitcher holding the sprig of plum.]

p. 4

梅の老木

野口米次郎 

Old Plum Tree by Noguchi Yonejirō

p. 13

Cherry Blossom by Kawakami Sumio 川上澄生 (1895–1972)


p. 12

丸山薰

Chery Blossom by Maruyama Kaoru*

p. 11

丸山薰

Chery Blossom Maruyama Kaoru

(1899-1974)

p. 9

Narcissus by Onchi Kōshirō (1891-1955)

* Onchi comments in the English language appendix (a four page leaflet) included in some copies of "Nihon no hana": “Cherry-flower is written by Kaoru Maruyama, a poet of the modern type. Though the cherry flower was thought to be a symbol of the Japanese soldier, he, in this poem, points out the languid melancholy of spring.”

Source: Commentary by Motoko Shimizu Lezec, Coordinator at the Gordon W. Prange Collection at the University of Maryland’s Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA) https://prangecollection.wordpress.com/2023/03/27/nihon-no-hana/ [accessed 1-11-24]

p. 19

椿

三好達治

Camellia

Miyoshi Tatsuji (1900-1964)

p. 17

Peach by Maekawa Senpan

p. 16

菱山修三 

Peach by Hishiyama Shūzō 

p. 15

菱山修三 

Peach

Hishiyama Shūzō (1909-1967)

p. 24

連翹

大手拓次

Forsythia by

Ōte Takuji

(1888-1934)

p. 23

連翹

大手拓次

Forsythia

Ōte Takuji (1888-1934)

p. 21

Camellia by Kawanishi Hide (1894-1965)

p. 20

椿

三好達治

Camellia by

Miyoshi Tatsuji

p. 29

Japanese Plum by Kawanishi Hide

p. 28

川路柳虹

Japanese Plum by

Kawaji Ryūkō

p. 27

川路柳虹

Japanese Plum

Kawaji Ryūkō 川路柳虹

(1888-1959)


p. 26

Forsythia by Kawakami Sumio

p. 35

井上康文

Pear

Inoue Yasubuni (1897-1973) 

p. 33

Horsetail by Maekawa Senpan

p. 32

土筆

室生犀星

Horsetail by

Murō Saisei

p. 31

土筆

室生犀星

Horsetail 

Murō Saisei

(1889-1962)

p. 40

村野四郎 

Violet by

Murano Shirō

p. 39

村野四郎 

Violet

Murano Shirō

村野四郎 (1901-1975)

p. 37

Pear by Kawakami Sumio

p. 36

井上康文

Pear by

Inoue Yasubuni

p. 45

Roses by Kawanishi Hide

[woodblock print, hand-printed]

p. 44

薔薇

笹澤美明 

Roses by

Sasazawa Yoshiaki 

p. 43

薔薇

笹澤美明 

Roses

Sasazawa Yoshiaki (1898-1984)

p. 41

Violets by Kawakami Sumio

p. 51

牡丹

長田恒雄

Peony

Osada Tsuneo (1902-1977)

p. 49

Forget-Me-Not by Maekawa Senpan

p. 48

Forget-Me-Not by

Kitahara Hakushū

p. 47

忘勿草

北原白秋

Forget-Me-Not

Kitahara Hakushū (1885-1942)

p. 56

Japanese Rose

by Miki Rofū

p. 55

野茨

三木露風

Japanese Rose

Miki Rofū

p. 53

Peony by Onchi Kōshirō

p. 52

Peony by

Osada Tsuneo

p. 61

Cobra Lily (Jack-in-the-Pulpit) by Onchi Kōshirō

p. 60

Cobra Lily (Jack-in-the-Pulpit) by Onchi Kōshirō

p. 59

天南星

恩地孝四郞 

Cobra Lily (Jack-in-the-Pulpit)

Onchi Kōshirō

p. 57

Japanese Rose by Kawakami Sumio

p. 67

南江治郞 

Nan'e Jirō (?-?)

Tea

p. 65

Magnolia by Onchi Kōshirō


p. 64

Magnolia by

Ōki Atsuo 

p. 63

辛夷

大木惇夫 

Magnolia

Ōki Atsuo (1895-1977)

p. 72

Paulownia by

Inoue Kiyoko

p. 71

井上淑子 

Paulownia

Inoue Kiyoko (1903-1989)

p. 69

Tea by Maekawa Senpan

p. 68

Tea by Nan'e Jirō

p.77

Opium Poppy by Kawanishi Hide

p. 76

Opium Poppy by

Andō Ichirō

p. 75

罌粟

安藤一郞

Opium Poppy

Andō Ichirō (1907-1972)

p. 73

Paulownia by Onchi Kōshirō


p.83

百合

堀口大學

Lily

Horiguchi Daigaku (1892-1981)

p.81

Azaela by Maekawa Senpan

p.80

Azaela by 

Tanaka Fuyuji

p.79

躑躅

田中冬二

Azaela

Tanaka Fuyuji (1894-1980)

p.88

Sunflower by

Kitahara Hakushū 

p.87

向日葵

北原白秋

Sunflower

Kitahara Hakushū 

p.85

Lily by Kawanishi Hide

p.84

Lily by

Horiguchi Daigaku

p.93

Amaryllis by Onchi Kōshirō

p.92

Amaryllis​ by

Kambara Ariake

p.91

あまりりす

蒲原有明

Amaryllis​

Kambara Ariake (1876-1952)

p.89

Sunflower by Onchi Kōshirō

p.99

藏原仲二郞

Thistle

Kurahara Shinjirō (1899-1965)

p.97

Morning Glory by Onchi Kōshirō

p.96

Morning Glory by

Yamamura Bochō