artists' books, これくしょん, イラスト, 版画, editorials, 雑誌, 豆本, 趣味本, Gohachi, ＰＲ誌, Japan, japanese artists, Japanese magazines, limited editions, mingei, PR-shi, used bookstores, 古書, 吾八, 山内神斧, 山内金三郎, 挿絵, 民芸, 今村秀太郎
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Continue reading