ninjoubon 人情本
KEY WORD : art history / paintings
Also called *chuuhon 中本 or eiri chuugata yomihon 絵入中型読本; in the kamigata 上方 (Kyoto-Osaka region) they were known as suishobon 粋書本. Lit. books about human feelings. A type of prose narrative which flourished during the early 19c and continued to be published until the early Meiji period. The ninjoubon developed from the *sharebon 洒落本 and similarly dealt with contemporary life in the pleasure quarters of Edo, but the focus of each genre differed. The ninjoubon placed greater emphasis on the loves and lifestyles of townspeople and the emotional and psychological aspects of their amorous affairs. In contrast to sharebon which were written for male readers, ninjoubon were designed to appeal to women of the upper merchant and samurai 侍 class. The ninjoubon achieved a novelistic quality that both foreshadowed and to some extent influenced the work of modern novelists. The ninjoubon contained both woodblock printed frontispieces and illustrations. To compete with *goukan 合巻, frontispieces and illustrations were designed to attract more readers. Later, even the covers of the books and book wrappers were brightly colored and decorated. Notable illustrators of ninjoubon included Keisai Eisen 溪斎英泉 (1790-1848), Utagawa Kuninao 歌川国直 (1793-1854) and other artists of the Utagawa school *Utagawaha 歌川派. The depiction of clothing and scenes was colorful and realistic, and the reader could learn of the fashions and taste expressed in the sensibility of *iki いき.


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