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
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.