Book Design for the 2nd volume of Shinsen Daihyō Tanka Sōsho (slipcover, front and rear covers and frontispiece known as Ant and Eggplant), 1936

by Nakagawa Kazumasa

IHL Cat. #2641

Hōsuiro, Shinsen Daihyō Tanka Sōsho, 1936

放水路 新撰代表短歌叢書 第2篇


Woodblock printed rear cover

Woodblock printed front cover

Woodblock printed frontispiece

image: 5 15/16 x 4 in.

sheet: 7 5/16 x  5 in.

Photo of Bunmei Tsuchiya 土屋文明 (1890-1990)

IHL Cat. #2639

Ant and Eggplant with added tanka, 1936

A tanka by Zenjō Yanase added to the original frontispiece in  the 2nd volume of Shinsen Daihyō Tanka Sōsho

蟻と茄子 新撰代表短歌叢書 第2篇, 1936

The top line of the print's text reads 放水路 土屋文明著 (Hōsuiro, author Bunmei Tsuchiya). Hōsuiro, possibly translated as "floodway" references the title of this second volume. Beneath the image is the title of the six volume compilation 新撰代表短歌叢書 (Shinsen daihyō tanka sōsho, New Representative Tanka Collection.)

image: 5 15/16 x 4 in.

sheet: 7 5/16 x  5 in.


Among Nakagawa's many extraordinary talents was book design, as we see in the above designs for volume two of six volume compilation of poetry titled Shinsen Daihyō Tanka Sōsho (A New Collection of Tanka). The slipcover and book covers were identical for each of the volumes, with the exception of titles. This second volume contains the poetry of tanka 短歌 (a short 31-syllable poem originating in the 7th-century.) poet Bunmei Tsuchiya 土屋文明 (1890-1990), a member of the Japan Art Academy who would go on to received the Order of Cultural Merit in 1986, as Nakagawa did in 1975. 

Of particular interest is the frontispiece for this volume, known as Ant and Eggplant 蟻と茄子. This collection has two copies of this woodblock print, one bound in the book as issued and another that has been removed from the book and inscribed along its right side with a tanka by the nihonga artist Zenjō Yanase 梁瀬善城 (1913-?), a disciple of the well-known female nihonga artist Kajiwara Hisako 梶原緋佐子 (1896-1988) of Kyoto. The thirty-one syllable tanka by Zenjō is followed by his signature 善城 Yanase. It is reasonable to assume that Zenjō, the Japanese-style artist, and Nakagawa, the Western-style artist, were friends.

Print Details

Ant and Eggplant #2639
Hōsuiro, Shinsen Daihyō Tanka Sōsho

artist's signature reading 

一政裝 Kazumasa sō appearing on the frontispiece