Friday, January 01, 2010

The Frogs' Discovery

When I first picked up this little pamphlet of Japanese folk stories, I thought it might belong to the Tourist Library series issued in the years leading up to the Second World War by the Japanese Government Railways. Although a bit smaller than those books, it has a similar pasted-on cover illustration, onion-skin wrapper, and layout, and was obviously designed for visitors from the West.

In fact it was published after the war, in 1950, and I haven't been able to find any record of the book, its author Fujiya Iida, the Bunka Pony Series in which it was the first and perhaps only volume, or of the publishing company Bunkaen. It may have been a self-published or family production, as Y. Iida, presumably a relative of Fujiya, is listed on the title page (or colophon, if you like, as it's in the back of the book) as "publisher." It was printed by Nihon Dempo Tsushinsha, which Wikipedia identifies as the Japan Telegraphic News Agency.

This copy is signed, both in Roman script and in characters, and is dated Dec. 25, 1952, so perhaps it was a Christmas purchase. The original price on the title page appears to have been ¥100, but this has been overstamped to ¥80, and a little red outline of a volcano has also been impressed next to the author's name.

In addition to the cover image, which I rather like, there are two fairly dull interior plates, printed in a bluish ink. The cover and the title story both read "Frogs' Discovery," without "The," which appears only on the title page / colophon. Five additional tales are included: "Silence Competition," "Wrestling a Water-Imp," "An Inelastic Answer," "The Cheated Foxes," and "The Panacea."


Anonymous said...

Just found copy in old cedar chest. Ever find any information about this little book? Thanks

Chris said...


Not a thing, I'm afraid.

Best wishes,