There are many beautiful and delicate things in the world. but among the most beautiful and delicate are the 19th century Japanese Crepe Paper books produced by Tikejiro Hasegawa. They hardly weigh a thing, which likely helped ship and carry them to the United States back in 1885 when they were first being made. While they are in fact extraordinary Japanese traditional woodcuts prints, each page done by hand, they were produced largely for the western market as souvenirs, but more. Seldom has such attention been paid to mere exports, and I suspect not only the extremely high artistic standards of the artist, but the desire to share same with the rest of the world was just as important as profit.
Takejiro Hasegawa was born in 1853 and lived until 1938, thus just missing the Second World War. The books were printed in quite small editions, some 400 copies, so are quite scarce and highly prized today. He first intended the books to help educate Japanese children in the speaking of English, but as they caught on with travelers he had found his true market. Despite being (almost) strong enough to withstand children's play, the "Chirimen bon" crepe paper he printed on was light as a feather.
These selected images are from but a few in the 66 page book "Japanese Jingles" from 1891 which I proudly own. The books were in fact printed on crepe...a light as air paper fabric...hand sewn and bound. Mine is 5" x 6" in size and nearly an inch thick. The entire book is reproduced HERE.
Japanese Jingles: Being a Few Little Verses... by Mae St. john Bramhall, Published T. Hasegawa 1891 Collection Jim Linderman
With this post, I am taking a break to finish up another Dull Tool Dim Bulb Press book. More details will emerge soon...keep following!