akahon 赤本
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Lit. red book. Forms of illustrated popular fiction, *kusazoushi 草双紙, with woodblock printed pictures produced in the Edo period. Akahon have covers *hyoushi 表紙, that are red in color, ni-iro 丹色. They first appeared in 1662, and continued to be popular until around 1750. They were primarily geared toward children, and their content derived from fairy tales such as *Momotarou 桃太郎, and ghost and monster stories. Later, abridged plots of *kabuki 歌舞伎 and joururi 浄瑠璃 plays were published as well as stories pertaining to auspicious occasions. The stories were written in a simple colloquial style and were accompanied by woodblock-printed illustrations. From the Kyouhou 享保 era (1716-36), the format became regularized. A book would be made from Mino paper *minogami 美濃紙 of hansetsu 半切 size (about 18cm by 13cm), folded in half and stitched to produce a *fukurotoji 袋綴, which made the inner side of the folded sheet redundant but was strong and allowed the use of very thin paper usually having five folded leaves. Among the print designers who contributed illustrations were Kondou Kiyoharu 近藤清春 (fl. ca.1704-20), Nishimura Shigenaga 西村重長 (1697?-1756), Shigenobu 重信 (fl. ca. 1724-35), Okumura Masanobu 奥村政信 (1686-1764), and Hanegawa Chinchou 羽川珍重 (1679-1754). Akahon were forerunners of subsequent kusazoushi, such as *kurohon 黒本, *aohon 青本, *kibyoushi 黄表紙, and *goukan 合巻.


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