A Collection of Korekushon

For libraries large and small, one of the most routinely challenging tasks is dealing with resources that can seem prosaic or even occasionally expendable: periodicals. For some of us, the word alone conjures up the image of unvisited library spaces desperate to be populated with “real books”; for others among us, it serves as shorthand for a cumbersome search and retrieval process followed by laborious photocopying that we’d rather someone else do for us. On the backend of the library, periodicals prevent a whole different series of frustrations: title changes, hiccups in numbering schemes and publication frequencies, and numerous special issues and supplements that defy tidy organization. But these difficulties can also serve as a fascinating view into the histories of publishers, and of the intellectual and economic trends that shaped their publications.

Select issues of the first three runs of Korekushon, housed in official portfolios.
Select issues of the first three runs of Korekushon, housed in official portfolios.

Korekushon これくしょん (from the English word collection), the little journal that could, serves as both a worthy exemplar of how the histories of publishers are encoded in their products, as well as a practical primer in the complex interrelationships among periodicals and their makers. Spanning some 66 years and four separate attempts to reboot the title, the history of Korekushon is also the story of its editors, Yamanouchi Kinzaburō 山内金三郎 (1886-1966) and Imamura Hidetarō 今村秀太郎 (1907-1994), and their half-century quest to connect art lovers with objects of beauty and the exquisite artists’ books that they helped produce.

The Birth of the Gohachi Brand: 1911-1937

The son of Osaka lumber dealer Yamanouchi Nakagobē 山内中五兵衛, Kinzaburō’s own interest in wood products veered towards the art objects that could be created from it. In 1910, at the age of 24, Kinzaburō graduated from the now-defunct Tokyo Fine Arts School 東京美術学校 (the current Department of Fine Arts of Tokyo University of the Arts), and in the following year, he established the art shop Gohachi 吾八, named in honor of his paternal grandfather. Gohachi dealt in all sorts of Japanese folk arts such as ōtsu-e folk illustration and traditional toys like kokeshi dolls こけし. In 1912, Kinzaburō turned his hand to publishing with the release of Ōtsu-e-shū 大津絵集, a compilation of ōtsu-e owned by numerous art lovers. Just two years later, under his artist’s moniker “Yamanouchi Shinpu” 山内神斧, Kinzaburō released what would become the first installment in a multivolume artist’s book, Jūjū 寿々(from the French word jou-jou, “toy”), a lovely compendium of illustrations of traditional toys from around the world.

By 1919, Kinzaburō had closed up Gohachi and began freelancing as an illustrator for the monthly women’s magazine Shufu no tomo 主婦の友, until eventually gaining full-time employment as a chief editor there. In 1936, at the age of 50, Kinzaburō retired from the company; in April of the following year, with the help of Shufu no tomo junior editor Imamura Hidetarō, he re-opened Gohachi in Ginza, Tokyo. To commemorate this occasion they launched the first issue of their PR-shi PR誌 (“house organ”) Korekushon with Kinzaburō as editor-in-chief.

The “Pre-War” Korekushon: 1937-1944

Known among collectors as the senzen-ban 戦前版 or “pre-war” edition, the first run of Korekushon lasted for 64 numbers, with the inaugural issue (no. 1, April 1937) coinciding with the opening of Gohachi.

Two spreads from
Two spreads from “paid edition” of the pre-war Korekushon, no. 18 (Sept. 1938). Top: Drawings of German folk toys from Saxony; Bottom: Playing card theme bookplate sample insert next to first page of glossy “advertising edition”.

Korekushon rode the wave of limited edition books (genteiban 限定版) and miniature books (mame-hon 豆本, literally “bean books”) that had begun to wash over Japan in the 1930s, just as the fervor for enpon 円本—the cheaply priced 1-yen books that drove the market of multivolume sets like zenshū 全集 (“complete works”)—began to ebb. In contrast to the mass-produced “collect ’em all” visual uniformity of enpon series, the special edition books of the 1930s encouraged collectibility by limiting their numbers. This first iteration of Korekushon not only advertised such books (some produced in-house at Gohachi), but also served as a limited edition collectible itself. Nominally marked as “not for sale” (hibahin 非売品), issues of Korekushon were initially printed in runs of 500 copies, and offered for sale in subscriptions of 5 issues for 50 sen (equal to half a yen).

Despite these relatively large production numbers, the 1937 Korekushon has a charming handcrafted feel to it. The covers and select pages are printed on Japanese paper (washi) and are untrimmed with a deckle edge. These washi pages feature hand-pasted inserts of full-color paper samples and unsigned woodcut prints of what was likely Kinzaburō’s own art. Interleaved with these are glossy black-and-white pages containing photographs of other artworks for sale. By Korekushon no. 16, Gohachi had implemented a new strategy: the glossy portions would serve as a self-contained catalog and be offered for free as the “advertising edition” (senden-ban 宣傳版); for a semiannual 1.5 yen subscription, however, readers could purchase six issues of the “paid edition (yūryō-ban 有料版), limited to 200 copies. These “paid editions” contained the entire glossy “advertising editions,” stapled into deluxe printed washi pages replete with content: original art by people like literatus Mushanokōji Saneatsu 武者小路實篤 (1885-1976); articles and serialized content like Kawaguchi Eizō’s 川口栄三 seventy-page bibliography on toys and figurines, Gangu ningyō bunken no shiori 玩具人形文献の栞 (included in no. 45-53); hand-inserted samples of the stationery and bookplates that Gohachi offered for sale; and, of course, the monthly editorial corner that kept fans and customers up to date on shop happenings.

Illustrations of folk dolls from Korekushon (1937)'s “paid edition”. Right: Stuffed
Illustrations of folk dolls from Korekushon (1937)’s “paid edition”. Right: Stuffed “older sister” dolls ane-sama ningyō 姉様人形 from Miyake Island (no. 34, Jan. 1940); Left: Korean female doll kaksi 閣氏 or 각시 (no. 35, Feb. 1940)

After five years of publication, Korekushon no. 64 (June 1943) was announced as the final issue, citing difficulties with the printers in a time when paper was seen as a wartime necessity and not a hobbyist’s frivolity. Not to be defeated, however, Gohachi’s final editorial announced a plan for a smaller, ostensibly less luxurious 4-8 page booklet to be distributed for free. Gohachi’s noble intentions notwithstanding, this short-lived sequel Gohachi dayori 吾八信り is no less attractive than its predecessor, but after a delayed no. 2 (December 1943), subscribers eager to read a third installment were instead greeted with a joint letter from Kinzaburō and Hidetarō, dated April 1944, announcing both the dissolution of Gohachi and a full refund on subscription fees—paid in the form of postage stamps.

Korekushon Goes Osaka: 1947-1955

Although Gohachi was the brainchild and brand of Kinzaburō, it was Hidetarō who took care of the store’s day-to-day operations. By Korekushon no. 5, Hidetarō was listed as the representative editor and publisher in the colophon. In actuality, just months after founding Gohachi, Kinzaburō was already living a bimetropolitan life, serving as the silent partner of Gohachi in Tokyo but spending most of his time in hometown of Osaka, where he dealt art objects in Hankyu Department Store 阪急百貨店. Ever the publisher, Kinzaburō served as editor of Hankyu’s newly-launched art-themed PR-shi Hankyū bijutsu 阪急美術 (later spelled 汎究美術), a little magazine that would eventually evolve into the commercially produced Nihon bijutsu kōgei 日本美術工芸 and cease in 1997 after a whopping 700 issues.

Back in Tokyo, the editorial column of Korekushon no. 47 (April 1941) announced that a new “Gohachi” was being planned as part of Hankyu Department Store. This store would instead launch under a new brand, Umeda Shobō 梅田書房 (“Umeda Booksellers”), and it would continue operations throughout the war, even as Gohachi went under in 1944. Although Kinzaburō’s flagship store had shuttered, his commitment to publishing continued. In February of 1947, taking advantage of a new post-war boom in the used book market, Kinzaburō rebooted Korekushon as the catalog of Umeda Shobō.

Kinzaburō’s flair for design is on full display in this 1947 edition of Korekushon. Almost every number of Umeda Shobō’s Korekushon is hand-written and mimeographed, with a zine-like feel absent from its 1937 predecessor. Only one issue is in typeset: no. 93 (August 1955), the auction catalog of Hankyu’s 18th Used Book Fair. An editorial in the following issue, no. 94 (October 1955), announced a glorious return to handwritten mimeography, due to vocal reader feedback.

Front and back covers of Korekushon (1947). Top: spread of no. 8 (Sept. 1947); Bottom: kokeshi dolls on no. 12 (Jan. 1948).

Despite the differences in textual flavor, and a stock list more naturally geared toward books than objets d’art, the content is a natural progression of the 1937 Korekushon, with preoccupations on folk craft (mingei 民芸) at the forefront. Besides features like the colorfully illustrated, 20-installment column “Meika junrai” 名菓巡礼 (“A Pilgrimage of Notable Confections”), the work of artists like of artists like illustrator Kawakami Sumio 川上澄生 (1895-1972) and textile designer Serizawa Keisuke 芹沢銈介 (1895-1984) begin to feature prominently in editorials and advertisements.

It’s difficult to say what inspired Korekushon to once again stop publishing: The Penn Libraries does not own the final issue, no. 102 (February 1957), so there is no farewell missive to consult. But this wasn’t the last that people would see of Korekushon.

Third Time’s the Charm?: 1958-1984

Prolific publisher that he was, Kinzaburō was a person of interest for Shimizu Masashi 清水雅 (1901-1994), who also happened to be the executive director of Hankyu Department Store in which Kinzaburō operated. Whether through mutual friendship or by landlordly coercion, Umeda Shobō served as the publisher for Shimizu’s 1951 collection of essays Shosai no tawagoto 書斎のたわごと (Nonsense in the Study), and in 1957, his Kobayashi Ichizō-ō ni oshierareru mono 小林一三翁に教えられるもの, a retrospective on the life of of Kobayashi Ichizō (1873-1957), industrialist and founder of multiple businesses including the company that created Godzilla, Toho Studios. After Kobayashi’s death, Shimizu was quick to ascend to the presidency of Toho. Their business relationship long established, Shimizu convinced Kinzaburō to revive his dream of Gohachi by setting up shop in the former Toho company headquarters in Yūrakuchō, Tokyo. Kinzaburō  once again recruited former Gohachi partner Imamura Hidetarō, who had been working on his own serial publication, Genteiban techō 限定版手帖 (The Limited Editions Notebook) since 1949. Hidetarō even published a few artist’s books under the imprint Genteiban Techō Hakkōsho 限定版手帖発行所, or “The Publishing Office of the Limited Editions Notebook.”

Re-inaugural issue of the Gohachi Korekushon from 1957. The back cover provides a map of Gallery Gohachi's new location in Yūrakuchō, Tokyo.
Re-inaugural issue of the Gohachi Korekushon from 1957. The back cover provides a map of Gallery Gohachi’s new location in Yūrakuchō, Tokyo.

In October 1958, the third business to bear the Gohachi brand was opened as Gallery Gohachi ギャラリー吾八. The store commemorated the occasion with the launch of yet a third Korekushon, often called the “post-war edition” (sengo-ban 戦後版). The first issue of the 1958 Korekushon both recounts the tale of its founding as well as rewrites the history of the magazine by calling itself tsūkan 通巻 65, or “cumulative number 65,” skipping over the Umeda edition completely. To further establish the link with the original 1937 Korekushon (which had ended at no. 64), the colophons of the new no. 1-34 bear the additional title Korekushon Gohachi-ban これくしょん吾八版: the “Gohachi edition” of Korekushon. Certainly this new revival has a design closer to its Tokyo forebear, with typeset text and an intermingling of washi and glossy paper, though it was now reduced to a frequency of four issues a year.

Gallery Gohachi’s Korekushon coincided with many changes for the brand. Yamanouchi Kinzaburō died at the age of 81 in December 1966, and his was death memorialized with a special obituary of issue of Korekushon (no. 31, February 1967). This issue collects reminiscences of Kinzaburō from the likes of Toho Studios head Shimizu Masashi, longtime supporter Mushanokōji Saneatsu, and artists Serizawa Keisuke and Takei Takeo 武井武雄 (1894-1983), both of whom had been published in Gallery Gohachi’s limited edition artists’ books and had featured prominently in Korekushon’s pages.

With Imamura Hidetarō in charge, Gohachi continued to publish high-quality books across two separate brands. By May 1968 (and probably as early as 1966), the imprint Gohachi Press 吾八ぷれす had been established by Hidetarō’s son Takashi 今村喬. Whereas Gallery Gohachi primarily focused on illustrated works, Gohachi Press specialized in literary work and belles-lettres from notable Japanese authors like Ogawa Kunio 小川国夫 (1927-2008) and Tsuji Kunio 辻邦生 (1925-1999). Takashi’s role expanded with the opening of sister shop Gohachi Shobō 吾八書房 in the bookish neighborhood of Kanda, Tokyo, a move announced in the editorial column of the July 1982 issue (no. 82) of Korekushon—which had now swelled to publishing a “limited edition” of 1300 copies per issue. Like his father, Takashi began to publish a catalog: the less imaginatively named Gohachi Shobō kosho mokuroku 吾八書房古書目録 (Gohachi Booksellers’ Secondhand Book Catalog). Nevertheless, the catalog took a cue from Korekushon and had themed issues, including obituary issues for Takei Takeo (no. 4, 1983) and Serizawa Keisuke (no. 8, 1984).

Just as the Imamura family were mourning the passing of artists with whom Gohachi had admired for decades, so too were they about to experience the death of the Gallery and its long-lived edition Korekushon.

From Father to Son: 1984-1987

In April 1984 (no. 89), Gohachi Gallery alerted readers of Korekushon that the building the store occupied would be demolished. Once again, however, longtime booster Shimizu Masashi stepped in to secure a space in the adjacent neighborhood of Marunouchi, and by the next issue (no. 90, July 1984), the Gallery had moved shop to the shopping plaza of the Teigeki Building—a large complex that houses the Imperial Theater and is managed by none other than Shimizu’s company Toho. The year 1984 also appears to have marked the end of the label Gohachi Press, its publishing function likely subsumed under Gohachi Shobō’s operations.

In 1986, Gohachi celebrated its 50th year in operation with the publication of Gohachi Shobō kosho mokuroku no. 17, The Gohachi Fiftieth Anniversary Issue, and added a less obvious mention of this fact in the editorial column of Korekushon no. 98/99 (July 1986). But this column ends on a bitter note, as the author is revealed to be Takashi, writing on behalf of his elderly father Hidetarō who had been hospitalized. The next issue of Korekushon, no. 100 (cumulative no. 156, November 1986) was its last one, and the ever-sentimental Gohachi collected a round of essays for what would effectively be a festschrift for Hidetarō and a send-off for Gallery Gohachi. Back behind the editor’s desk for the final issue, Hidetarō left one glimmer of hope for Korekushon fans: the serialized content would continue in Gohachi Shobō kosho mokuroku, and the name “Korekushon” would be bequeathed to it.

Four illustrated advertising postcards inserted into the pages of Gohachi Shobō’s 1987 Korekushon. All illustrations sourced from Kawakami Sumio’s (1895-1972) work.

Sure enough, instead of no. 18 of the Gohachi Booksellers’ catalog, subscribers instead got the first issue of Gohachi Shobō korekushon 吾八書房これくしょん. Takashi’s new publication was a hybrid of his father’s Korekushon and his own Gohachi Shobō kosho mokuroku: an oblong, glossy-paged catalog with far less editorial content by volume. Still, Hidetarō was in better health since the closure of the Gallery, and in this new first issue he was back on his feet penning content for the magazine while also operating the Gohachi Booksellers’ Annex (Gohachi Shobō Bunshitsu 吾八書房分室), the fifth location in what appears to have been a healthy franchise.

Quite curiously, in the preface of Gohachi Shobō korekushon no. 2 (October 1987), Takashi breezily notes that this issue should be also considered cumulative number 175, and from no. 3 (= no. 176) onward, every issue bears both the “new” and “old” numbering schemes. By this logic, the former Korekushon (which ended at no. 100 = no. 156) had somehow transmuted into Gohachi Shobō korekushon no. 1 (i.e. Korekushon no. 174), skipping 17 numbers in the process. While Takashi makes no mention of his rationale, he appears to have rewritten himself more deeply into the mythology of Korekushon, retroactively dubbing the 17 issues of his booksellers’ catalog as numbers 157-173—and perhaps encouraging obsessive collectors (or libraries) to fill in the missing gaps.

From Boom to Bust: 1988-2003

The quarterly Gohachi Shobō korekushon, while feeling rather businesslike, is not devoid of charm. From 1988 onward, most of its issues feature a striking, near-primitivist cover illustration by woodblock artist Kanamori Yoshio 金守世士夫 (1922-2016); articles from outside experts and commentators add value to what would otherwise be a mere price list. And while Takashi’s interests hewed closely to his father’s, he also expanded the geography of his collectomania, eventually featuring bookplates from Korea (no. 28, March 1994), Taiwan (no. 32, April 1995), and China (no. 34, October 1995). Nevertheless, the handmade feel of Korekushon was gone, perhaps running parallel to the decline in demand for handcrafted artists’ books. Indeed, anxieties about the publishing industry’s health form the backdrop of Takashi’s missive in a 1992 leaflet to customers, which was meant instead to celebrate 10 years of Gohachi Booksellers and to advertise their bibliography of in-house publications.

Imamura Hidetarō died on the morning of April 12, 1994, at the age of 88. Takashi dutifully obituarized his father in Gohachi Shobō korekushon no. 29 (July 1994), which gathered the sentiments of bookseller peers, artists like Kanamori Yoshio, the historical novelist Nagai Michiko 永井路子 (b. 1925), and even Takei Miharu 武井三春, the daughter of artist Takei Takeo, who like Takashi was tasked with eulogizing her own famous father.

Four covers from Gohachi Shobō’s Korekushon. All illustrations sourced from Kanamori Yoshio’s (1922-2016) work. Top left: no. 29, Obituary for Imamura Hidetarō; Top right: no. 40, The Gohachi Sixtieth Anniversary Issue [part. 1]. Bottom (left to right): nos. 42-43, The Gohachi Sixtieth Anniversary Issue parts 2 and 3.
Though Hidetarō was gone, his Annex stayed in business, and Gohachi Shobō kept churning out new issues of its own Korekushon and publishing new limited edition art books. And while their exact locations and names changed, the several Gohachi Booksellers branch stores stayed open through November 2003, the date of Gohachi Shobō korekushon no. 66 (no. 238), the last known extant issue. What exactly happened is unclear, but Takashi’s preface to no. 66 has a whiff of panic:

不況とはいえ古書市場では商品が不足しております。どんなものでもご処分可能でございますので、ご一報下さいませ. (Although it is a recession, products are in short supply in the used book market. We can sell anything, so please let us know.)

Even with a fine selection of 2004 calendars offered for sale, Gohachi would be gone in the new year.

December 18, 2003 marked the final crawl of the store’s website available through the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. The site is sparsely populated, and no updates had been registered since February 18th of that year.  A search of pages indexed by Google between 2002 and 2005 reveal no evidence of the shop’s demise, and an email sent to the last available email address, gohachi@nifty.com, bounced back with the recipient not found.

Writing in the pages of the May 2007 issues of secondhand book news magazine Nippon Kosho Tsūshin 日本古書通信—a publication that had previously featured oral histories of the Imamura family—scholar of Japanese literature Ōya Yukiyo 大屋幸世 (1942-2016) appears equally befuddled, mentioning that Takashi’s whereabouts were unknown. Ōya nevertheless surmises that the end of Gohachi was due to the collapse of market for shumi-bon 趣味本, or “amusement books”—a nebulous word encompassing the nuance of “novelty” or even “triviality.” Having placed the success of Gallery Gohachi squarely in the context of the so-called “Japanese economic miracle” of the post-war period, Ōya notes that the shumi-bon market was on the downswing by the mid-80s (just as Takashi was taking over the business), and it likely bottomed out in the “lost decade” of stagnation in the 1990s. To Ōya, Korekushon is an important source for the history of the secondhand book in Japan, as well as of the limited edition book market. He laments, however, the relative scarcity of the magazine at used book shops.

Luckily for the Penn Libraries, Korekushon had since reappeared in the used book market, and thanks to presence of Nihon no Furuhon’ya—the online database of the Japanese Association of Dealers in Old Books—we have been able to assemble a near-complete collection of the 350 or so issues of Korekushon in its various manifestations from 1937-2003. While the cataloging of these interrelated titles and the documentation of their often-conflated corporate identities has been a challenge, it is also a joy to acquire and preserve this piece of Japanese cultural history. For those of us who simply rifle through journals to find That One Article We Need, or who overlook the colophons, the back matter, and the jacket blurbs of publications in favor of “the good stuff,” the self-documenting Korekushon is an object lesson in uncovering hidden histories of print culture and of people who simply adore books just as we do.

Handlist of Korekushon Titles

  • Korekushon (Gohachi, 1937-1943) : 64 numbers* + 1 supplement
    UPenn shelfmark N8640 .G9269
  • Gohachi dayori (Gohachi, 1943) : 2 numbers
    UPenn shelfmark N8640 .G92692
  • Korekushon (Umeda Shobō, 1947-1957) : 102 numbers
    UPenn shelfmark N8640 .G92693
  • Korekushon (Gyararī Gohachi, 1958-1986) : 100 numbers
    UPenn shelfmark N8640 .G927
  • Gohachi Shobō kosho mokuroku (Gohachi Shobō, 1982-1986) : 17 numbers
    UPenn shelfmark N8640 .G9272
  • Gohachi Shobō korekushon (Gohachi Shobō, 1987-2003) : 66 numbers
    UPenn shelfmark N8640 .G9273

    *Because of double- and even triple-numbered issues, the term “number” above indicates issue enumeration, and not the count of physical pieces (e.g.
    Korekushon (1958) no.98/99 was a single issue).

Other Works Consulted

  • Hashimoto, Masaaki 橋本正明. “Bokujinshi kanwa (27): Yamanouchi Kinzaburō to Gohachi” 木人子閑話 (27)—山内金三郎と吾八. Bokujinshiya (Blog). http://bokujinshi.info/kanwa27.htm
  • Imamura, Takashi 今村喬, and Yagi, Fukujirō 八木福次郎. “Gentei-bon 35-nen: Shumi-bon no mise ‘Gohachi’” 限定本35年—趣味本の店〝吾八〟. Nippon Kosho Tsūshin 日本古書通信 38(5) = no.349, p. 20-22, May 1973.
  • Ōya, Yukiyo 大屋幸世. “Nihon kindai bungaku shōshiryō (11): ‘Korekushon’ Gohachi Umeda Shobō” 日本近代文学小資料(11)「これくしょん」吾八・梅田書房. Nippon Kosho Tsūshin 日本古書通信 72(5) = no.934, p.11-14, May 2007.

Many thanks to Chris Lippa and Mick Overgard for providing the high quality scans in this post.

One response to “A Collection of Korekushon”

  1. How wonderful! Collection of “Korekushon”!
    In Japan, we have exhibit also whole “Korekushon” in Fukushima in 2020,
    “The Age of Yamanouchi Shimpu and Gohachi”.
    You can see on YouTube about that.

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