|Ōyōki by Jun'ichirō Sekino|
Inside, you can see that the woodblock images are printed on thin handmade paper. From what I have been able to gather, the style of binding is called fukuro-toji, which is “bound pocket” or “pouch binding.” I found a blog post from the Fort Collins Museum & Discovery Center that discusses 20 small books of Japanese fairy tales in their collection that have this binding too. This style of binding speeds up production and allows printers to use much thinner paper because they are only printing on one side.
|Fukuro-toji style binding|
The prints in this book are incredibly detailed for their minute size; the image below of a house has tiny detailed bricks that beg you to look closer. The sequence of the images strongly suggest a narrative and I can’t help but wonder: what is the story? The book seems to be roughly divided by subject matter starting with houses and then moving into birds, flowers, and butterflies. Images of people appear within these thematic divisions and punctuate the narrative.
|House with detailed bricks|
All the prints are technically beautiful, but the most captivating moments of the book occur when the sequence is in transition. For example, the image below of what appears to be a figure using an umbrella as a boat is between images of houses and birds. The last three prints tie together images a young child and frogs using graphic shapes.
|Figure in an umbrella|
|The last three images of Ōyōki|
|Portrait of Sekino|
Meaghan Sullivan ‘17 is a student Archives Assistant in the Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections. To learn more about our artists’ books collection come visit the Archives in the Basement of Dwight!