SOKENDAI Review of Cultural and Social Studies


vol.20 (2024)

A Brief Study on Kiritsukebon in the Meiji Era

ITO Miyuki

Department of Japanese Literature,
School of Cultural and Social Studies,
The Graduate University for Advanced Studies, SOKENDAI

Key words:

kiritsukebon, flush cover, kusazōshi, Meiji era, publisher, jitsuroku

In the context of changes in bookbinding styles, kiritsukebon is positioned at the end of the yomihon style of the chūhon format, and it is considered to be ahead of the kusazōshi format published in the Meiji era. In general, kiritsukebon before the appearance of kusazōshi published in the Meiji era is often analyzed, but the words kiritsuke, kiritsukebon, and kiritsuke-mono appear frequently in advertisements for books such as kusazōshi published in the Meiji era. It is considered to be necessary to examine the word kiritsukebon in detail to clarify the aspect of publishing culture from the end of the Edo period to the Meiji era. This paper analyzes the word kiritsukebon in the Meiji period, and clarifies what publications were being referred to.

A survey of the term kiritukebon in advertisements around 1877–1887 confirmed that publishers commonly referred to kiritsukebon as inexpensive books with kiritsuke covers (flush covers) whose content were jitsuroku (historical stories) and the popular songbooks called hauta and dodoitsu. In particular, the word kiritsuke is used in conjunction with words such as ichidaiki (biography), katakiuchi (revenge stories), and jitsuroku. In terms of inexpensive books that introduce jitsuroku storylines, kiritsukebon has a commonality that connects the end of the Edo period to the Meiji era.

Bibliographic research confirmed that kiritsukebon in the Meiji era were in principle two-volume complete stories, with each volume nine to ten pages, and a kiritsuke cover with a multicolor woodblock print, particularly those using bright red and purple colors. Considering the characteristics of their bookbinding and format, the kiritsukebon published in the Meiji period should be referred to as the style of kusazōshi or gōkan. However, according to ukiyo-e painters, the kusazōshi published from the early modern period and the kiritsukebon of the Meiji era are different works considering the importance of the illustrations.

Around 1887, when the old publishing system began to change, the word kiritsukebon was no longer used in advertisements compared to the early Meiji period. Therefore, the author attempted to examine usage examples mainly from recollections of the time. With the popularity of magazines and kodanbon, it was confirmed that people recognized kiritsukebon as a type of Western-style temporary bookbinding. kiritsukebon of the Meiji period has the quantity and characteristics to form a genre. In the future, it is necessary to examine the difference between gōkan and kiritsukebon for kusazōshi published in the Meiji era.