Shosō 書窓 (Window on Books) - Conceived and Designed by Onchi Kōshirō

IHL Cat. #2652

Shosō 13, volume 3, number 1 [June 1936]

書窓 第3巻第1号(通巻13号)

A Brief Overview

The magazine Shosō 書窓, seen translated as "Window on Books", "Window for Books" and "Window of Writing," was designed and edited by the seminal artist, book designer and art theorist Onchi Kōshirō 恩地孝四郞 (1891-1955). Over its 103 issues, published between April 1935 and June 1944, it "set the standard of excellence for Japanese graphic design."[1]  Published by Onchi's good friend Shimo Tarō 志茂太郎 (1900–1980) of the Tokyo-based publishing house Aoi Shobō アオイ書房, the magazine was devoted to the art of the book in Asia, Europe and the US. Each issue was a collection of articles, illustrations, photographs and, on occasion, a woodblock frontispiece by either Onchi or a fellow print designer of the sōsaku hanga (creative print) school. It provided a platform for Onchi to expound on his design ideas, including serialization of his essays on book design, later compiled and published in book form in 1952 as Art of the Book (Hon no bijutsu 本の美術).

"Onchi planned each cover with original lettering, calligraphy, and design. Contributors of hand-printed hanga, in addition to Onchi, included Fujimori Shizuo, Fukazawa Sakuichi, Furukawa Ryusei, Henmi Takashi, Hiratsuka Un’ichi, Kawakami Sumio, Kawanishi Hide, Maeda Masao, Maekawa Senpan, Munakata Shikō, Sarshina Genzō, Sekino Jun’ichirō, Takei Takeo, and Taninaka Yasunori."[2]

The magazine must have been a labor of love for all involved as "none of the contributors were paid."[3].

"The fact that it lasted until 1944 gives evidence to its success. Only the wretched conditions prevailing at the end of World War II brought an end to its publication."[4] 

Shown below is the complete June 1936 issue of Shosō accompanied by transcriptions and English translations of the headings on each page. 

[1] Guide to Modern Japanese Woodblock Prints: 1900-1975, Helen Merritt, University of Hawaii Press, 1992, p. 122.

[2] ibid.

[3] The Graphic Art of Onchi Koshiro: Innovation and Tradition, Elizabeth de Sabato Swinton, Garland Publishing, 1986, p. 69.

[4] "Illustrated Books and Magazine by Onchi Kōshirō," by Robert Verges, appearing in the journal Andon, Vol. 5, No. 18, 1985, Society for Japanese Arts and Crafts, p. 29.

書窓 (Shosō) 13, VOL 3 NO 1, June 1936

The below issue is notable for its hand-printed woodblock frontispiece (kuchi-e) titled "Flower" by Onchi, originally designed by him in 1928.[1] It precedes by several pages a graphic feature consisting of seven black and white photographs of spring flowers contributed by Ozaki Kihachi (1892-1974); poet, keen observer of nature and amateur photographer. In addition to Onchi, contributors to this issue include poet and novelist Mizuno Yōshū (1883-1947), haiku poet and physician Mizuhara Shūōshi (1892-1981); short-story writer (sometimes referred to as the father of the Japanese short-story), poet, and essayist Akutagawa Ryūnosuke (1892-1927); prolific author of short-stories, novels and essays Uno Kōji (1891-1961); Shosō's publisher Shimo Tarō (1900–1980), avant-garde poet Kuneko Mitsuharu (1895-1975); novelist, playwright and lyricist Hata Kōichi (1886-1957); architect End Arata (1889-1951); novelist and music critic Kodō Nomura (1882-1963) writing under his music critic pseudonym Araebisu; music critic Yamane Ginji (1906-1982),  and benshi (narrator of silent films), actor, essayist, and radio and, later, television personality Tokugawa Musei (1894-1971). Sōsaku hanga artists Kawanishi Hide (1894-1965) and Maekawa Senpan (1888-1960) are also represented through reproduced illustrations from their books.

[1] Prints of Onchi Koshiro, Keishosha Ltd., 1975, cat. 114. This almost complete catalog raisonne notes that Flower was exhibited at the Tabletop Association Exhibition (卓上社展) which held its first exhibition in 1928 at the original Maruzen Nihonbashi store.

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

Onchi Kōshirō 恩地孝四郞 (1891-1955)

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.

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.

Covers designed by Onchi Kōshirō (1891-1955)

書窓 (Shosō) 13, VOL 3 NO 1, juni 1936 

Inserted Picture: "Flower" hand-printed woodblock kuchi-e by Onchi Kōshirō


花 (木版手摺) (口繪) 恩地孝四郞 

Table of Contents

No. 425 of an edition of 500

p. 8 - 9

p. 6 - 7

Spring Festival by Mizuno Yōshū (1883-1947)

春の祭 / 水野葉舟

Inside Cover

書窓 (Shosō)

第二年 (2nd year)

13 VOL 3 NO 1

昭和十一年 (1936)

五月刊 (May Issue)

四月・ 五月合輯 (April and May combined)

p. 14 - 15

p. 14: Viola patrinii (top)

Rosa multiflora (bottom)



p. 12 - 13

p. 12: Calanthe striata (top)

Epimedium grandiflorum Morr. (bottom)



p. 10 - 11

p. 11: Spring wildflowers blooming (photographs) Ozaki Kihachi (1892-1974)

Rhododendron dilatatum (top)

unread (bottom)

春の野の花花 (寫眞) 尾崎喜八 写



p. 20 - 21

p. 18 - 19

p. 19: Publication Creation by Onchi Kōshirō

出版創作 / 恩地孝四郞 

p. 16 - 17

Diary of a Flower by Mizuhara Shūōshi (1892-1981) 

花の日記 / 水原秋

p. 26 - 27

p. 26: "Henna Reader" a work by Kawakami Sumio (1895-1972)

変なリードル」 / 川上澄生作 

p. 27: "Circus" back cover by Kawanishi Hide (1894-1965)

サーカス」 裏表紙 / 川西英 

p. 24 - 25

p. 24: Pages (from Mittsu no takara)


p. 25: Illustration (from Mittsu no takara)


p. 22 - 23

p:23:  Akutagawa Ryūnosuke (1892-1927) Fairy-Tale Collection "Mittsu no takara" (Three Treasures)

Oana (Koana) Ryūichi (1894-1966) artist

1928 revised edition




昭和三年 改造社版

p. 32 - 33

p. 33: Woodblock Book, Circuses, etc. by Kawanishi Hide (1894-1965)

版画本サーカスなど / 川西英  

p. 30 - 31

p. 30: "Quelques poèmes" by Ōmi Komaki with drawings by Tsuguharu Foujita

publisher: [La Belle Édition] Bernouard, Paris 



パリ ベルヌアル刊

p. 31: Foolish Talk by Maekawa Senpan (1888-1960)

愚辯駄辯 / 川上澄生 

p. 28 - 29

p. 28 and 29: "Quelques poèmes" (1919) by Ōmi Komaki (1894-1978), with drawings by Tsuguharu Foujita (1886-1968)


p. 38 - 39

p 38: Page from "Equestrian Acts" by Kawanishi Hide

曲馬帖 川西英  私刊


p 39: Cover from "Circus" by Kawanishi Hide

1935 - Publisher Hangasō



昭和年 版画莊刊

Page from "Carmen" by Kawanishi Hide


ルメン」 頁面

p. 36 - 37

p. 36: Cover and page from English People ABC by Kawakami Sumio

1935 - Publisher Hangasō 




昭和十年 - 版画莊刊

p. 34 - 35

p. 35:Cover and page from "Egeresu Iroha" (English ABC) by Kawakami Sumio

Privately published in 1929

出版創作  六種





p. 44 - 45

p. 44: My Published Works by Onchi Kōshirō 

私の出版作 / 恩地孝四郞

p. 45: [William] Blake's Collection of Creative Copperplate Poems by Uno Kōji (1891-1961)

ブレークの創作銅版詩画集 / 宇野浩二 

p. 42 - 43

p. 42: The Sensation of Flight by Onchi Kōshirō

飛行官能 / 恩地孝四郞

p: 43: Umi no dōwa (Fairy-tale of the Sea) by Onchi Kōshirō

海の童話 / 恩地孝四郞

p. 40 - 41

p 40-41: The Sensation of Flight by Onchi Kōshirō

飛行官能 / 恩地孝四郞 

p. 50 - 51

p. 50: "Miyoko" by Satō Haruo (1892-1964), Hazama Inosuke (1895-1977), artist. Published by Seikadō, 1933

みよ子 / 佐藤春夫著 / 硲伊之助画

昭和 八年 青果堂,刊 

p. 51: "Yōma shiwa" by Koizumi Yakumo (Lafcadio Hearn) posthumous manuscript publication by Oyama Shoten

妖魔詩話 / 小泉八雲 稿 / 小山書店 刊

p. 48 - 49

p. 48-49: pages from "Songs of Innocence" by Blake

歌の垢無 / ブレーク

p. 46 - 47

p. 47: "Songs of Innocence" by Blake

Self-made Copperplate Prints from the 1926 facsimile edition

歌の垢無 / ブレーク



p. 56 - 57

p. 54 - 55

p. 54: Specimen of Hearn's MS., four drafts

p 55: "Yōma shiwa" a digression by Koyama Jirō (?-?)

「妖魔詩話」 餘談 / 小山二郞 

p. 52 - 53

p. 52-53: photographs of Hearn's original hand written notes and illustrations

妖魔詩話 頁面

次頁- 遺稿複 圗寫

p. 62 - 63

p. 62-63: Pages 14 and 15 from Kisetsuhyō (Milestones of the Season)


p. 60 - 61

p. 60: Publisher's Remarks [on Kisetsuhyō] by Shimo Tarō (1900–1980) 

刊者小言 / 志茂太郞

p 61:  Kisetsuhyō (inside title page) by Onchi Kōshirō, published by Aoi Shobō

季節標」 / 恩地孝四郞 著


p. 58 - 59

p. 59: About Kisetsuhyō (Milestones of the Season), a poetry anthology by Onchi Kōshirō 

「季節標」 に就て / 恩地孝四郞 

p. 68 - 69

p. 68: Cloudy Day, a poem by Inui Naoe (1901-1958)

曇日(詩) / 乾直惠 

p. 66 - 67

P. 66: About Illustrated Books by Kamuro Tōru (?-?)

繪入本に就て / 禿徹 

p. 64 - 65

p. 64: Kisetsuhyō (Milestones of the Season), illustration of self-printed woodblock print by Onchi Kōshirō

「季節標」 挿画 恩地孝四郞 自刻木版画

p. 74 - 75

p. 74: Harunobu by Hata Kōichi (1886-1957)

春信 / 畑耕一 

p. 72 - 73

p 72: Shosō Theory? by End Arata (1889-1951)

書齋偶說 / 遠藤新 

p. 70 - 71

p. 70: Makino's Death, a poem by Kuneko Mitsuharu (1895-1975)

牧野君の死に (詩) / 金子光晴 

p. 80 - 81

p. 80: The Benefits of Recorded Music by Yamane Ginji (1906-1982)

レコード音樂の効用 / 山根銀二 

p. 78 - 79

p. 78: Recent Events in the Music World by Kodō Nomura (1882-1963) [writing under his music critic pseudonym Araebisu]

音盤界近事 / あらえびす 

p. 76 - 77

p. 76: Shosō Bookshelf by Onchi Kōshirō 

書窓書架 / 恩地孝四郞 

p. 86 - 87

p. 86: Book Design Art, part 7, by Onchi Kōshirō 

裝本美術の構成(7) [Sōhon bijutsu no kōsei] / 恩地孝四郞 

p. 84 - 85

p. 84: I Am a Cat by Tokugawa Musei (1894-1971)

吾輩は猫である / 德川夢聲 

p. 82 - 83

p. 92 - 93

p. 90 - 91

p. 88 - 89

p: 89: Typeface Manufacturing, part 3, by Uehara? Ryūnosuke (?-?)

活字の製造(3) / 上原龍之助 

p. 98 - 99

p. 96 - 97

p. 94 - 95

p. 104 - 105

p. 102 - 103

p. 100 - 101

p. 110

colophon - see details below

p. 108 - 109

p. 109: Miscellaneous Notes by Shimo Tarō (1900–1980) 

雜用手帖 / 志茂太郞 

p. 106 - 107

p. 106: Theory and Practice of Photoengraving, part 3 by Morimoto Takeo (?-?)

寫眞製版の理論と實際 (3) / 森本武夫

p. 107: Shosō Salon


Magazine Details



書齋 (Shosō)

昭和十一年五月十五日印刷 (Printed: May 15, 1936)


(Published: May 19, 1936)

第三巻第一號 (Volume 3, No. 1)

編輯者  恩地孝四郞 (Editor Onchi Kōshirō)

發行者  志茂太郞 (Publisher Shimo Tarō)

Address: 東京市中野... (Nakano City, Tokyo...)

印刷者  市川憲次 (Printer Ichikawa Kenji)

Address: 東京市豊島区… (Toshima City, Tokyo...)

製版印刷 美術印刷株會社 (Plate Making and Printing: Art Printing Corporation)