Japanese

Genji kokagami, richly illustrated, dating back to between 1673 and 1681 | © BSB/Cod.jap. 14
Genji kokagami, richly illustrated, dating back to between 1673 and 1681 | © BSB/Cod.jap. 14

General

The Japanese collection of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek encompasses around 50,000 titles in printed volumes and 100 manuscripts. Around 1,000 titles date back to before the Meiji period (meaning that they were produced before 1868), among them a considerable number of valuable manuscripts and bibliophilic prints. In addition, also a substantial number of publications from the field of Japanese studies are available at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in western languages. The acquisition of current Japanese monographs had to be discontinued by the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek some years ago due to budget cuts.

Catalogues

Since the conclusion of the retrospective conversion of the Japanese card catalogues in the year 2013, the Japanese titles have been searchable in the OPACplus/ BSB catalogue of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in the transcription and in the original script. However, the OPACplus/ BSB catalogue contains only very brief specifications on a number of Japanese manuscripts.

OPACplus/ BSB catalogue

Further information can be found in the handwritten repertory in some cases.
Handwritten repertory

In addition, the large majority of titles from before the Meiji period (both manuscripts and printed works) are catalogued extensively in two printed catalogue volumes:

Kraft, Eva: Japanische Handschriften und traditionelle Drucke aus der Zeit vor 1868. Part 2. In München: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Deutsches Museum, Münchner Stadtmuseum, Puppentheatermuseum, Staatliches Museum für Völkerkunde, Universitätsbibliothek. Wiesbaden, 1986. Verzeichnis der orientalischen Handschriften in Deutschland. 27,2.

Kraft, Eva: Japanische Handschriften und traditionelle Drucke aus der Zeit vor 1868. Part 5. In München: Neuerwerbungen der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek. Wiesbaden, 1994. Verzeichnis der orientalischen Handschriften in Deutschland. 27,5.

History of the Japanese collection

The systematic expansion of the collection started only in the 1950s. As of this time, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek acquired Japanese new publications and new editions of classic texts directly from Japan. With respect to content, the collection is focused on the field of humanities, one emphasis being on literature from the areas of religious studies and ethnology.

In addition to new publications, around 1,000 works have been acquired up to today, partly through several bulk purchases, which were produced before or during the Meiji period:

From the collection of the Bamberg pharmacist Josef Schedel (1865 – 1943), who lived in Yokohama from 1886 to 1897, around 60 Japanese works were acquired by the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in 1947. These works were predominantly prints from the late Edo period (1603 – 1868) and early Meiji period (1868 – 1912).

In the year 1972, 190 printed works of the time before the Meiji era were purchased from a Dutch antiquarian book trader, among them numerous early and first prints by influential representatives of the philosophical-philological Kokugaku school, such as Hirata Atsutane or Motōri Norinaga, for example. Among the illustrators, there are i.a. Hokusai with 18 editions which were printed mostly still in the Edo period, and Hiroshige with four titles.

As of 1986, further 700 early Japanese works (in around 2,700 volumes) were added, the majority of which came from an excellent Japanese scholar's library. Among them are such outstanding pieces as a Buddhist sutra manuscript created between 729 and 767 (Cod.jap. 20) or a print with old letters (kokatsujiban), which forms part of the early illustrated Japanese letter prints (4 L.jap. D 127).

The so-called Hyakumantō darani crafted in Nara between 764 and 770, a specimen of the earliest Japanese print | © BSB/L.jap. C 591
The so-called Hyakumantō darani crafted in Nara between 764 and 770, a specimen of the earliest Japanese print | © BSB/L.jap. C 591

Early Japanese works

The Japanese collection of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek contains around 1,000 manuscripts and printed works produced before 1868. There are a large number of outstanding objects among them:

Primarily, a specimen of the earliest Japanese print merits mention. It is the so-called Hyakumantō darani (L.jap. C 591) crafted in Nara between 764 and 770, a paper scroll printed with a Buddhist, magical-religious text (dharani), placed in a carved wooden pagoda. The Japanese empress Shotoku (748 – 769) had commissioned the print of allegedly one million scrolls, of which several specimens have been preserved worldwide. They were considered to be the oldest preserved prints of the world, until a print of the same text from the first half of the 8th century was found in a pagoda of the Bulguksa temple in Gyeongju (South Korea).

The Japanese collection includes a further very early print, a so-called Kagusa print of the Kōfukuji temple of Nara of 1227. The print reproduces a strong and regular handwriting in high artistic quality, which makes it hard to distinguish from a manuscript. Like all early Japanese prints, the work is a Buddhist text, a chapter of the Prajñāpāramitā sutra (Cod.jap. 10).

There are several outstanding pieces among the early Japanese manuscripts of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, among other things a Buddhist sutra manuscript of 763 (Cod.jap. 20), a magnificent sutra scroll of around 1150 – 1172 with golden writing on dark blue paper (Cod.jap. 13), or two sutra scrolls on the iconography of Shingon Buddhism of around 1350 (Cod.jap. 12, Cod.jap. 15).

Magnificent sutra scroll of around 1150 – 1172 with golden writing on dark blue paper | © BSB/Cod.jap. 13
Magnificent sutra scroll of around 1150 – 1172 with golden writing on dark blue paper | © BSB/Cod.jap. 13
Genji kokagami, richly illustrated, dating back to between 1673 and 1681 | © BSB/Cod.jap. 14
Genji kokagami, richly illustrated, dating back to between 1673 and 1681 | © BSB/Cod.jap. 14
The adorned manuscript of the Genji monogatari crafted around 1615 as a wedding present for a member of the Tokugawa family | © BSB/Cod.jap. 18
The adorned manuscript of the Genji monogatari crafted around 1615 as a wedding present for a member of the Tokugawa family | © BSB/Cod.jap. 18
 

A particular jewel is the adorned manuscript of the Genji monogatari (Cod.jap. 18) crafted around 1615 as a wedding present for a member of the Tokugawa family. The dark blue covers show scenes from this famous novel in gold and silver, the text is executed in elegant calligraphy. Also the richly illustrated Genji kokagami, an abbreviated version of the Genji monogatari, dating back to between 1673 and 1681, is crafted very artistically and painstakingly (Cod.jap. 14).

Genji monogatari, 1615  (Cod.jap. 18)
Genji kokagami, 1673 – 1681  (Cod.jap. 14)

Further rarities are i.a. a Gozan print (late 15th/ early 16th century, 4 L.jap. D 72), fifteen old-letter prints (i.a. 4 L.jap. E 52, 4 L.jap. C 54, 4 L.jap. I 23), among them a Saga print of 1615 (L.jap. I 369), a Jesuit print (kirishitanban) of 1599, printed with italic sōsho letters (Cod.jap. 5) or a world map printed in 1671 (Cod.jap. 4). Moreover, 44 richly and artistically illustrated painters' books from the Edo era (1603 – 1868) merit special mention, which reproduce paintings by famous artists in virtuoso coloured xylographs.

Shūeki dengi, 1625, old-letter print  (4 L.jap. C 54)
Tenshō-ki, 1610, old-letter print  (4 L.jap. I 23)
Bankoku sōzu (printed world map), 1671  (Cod.jap. 4)

The Japanese collection stands out not only for excellent individual specimens, but also for its fair balance. It offers a representative cross section of the book production of the Edo era, which is marked by a large variety of contents and – in contrast to earlier centuries – also encompasses so-called popular or everyday literature, with novels, Haiku, Kanshi and Waka collections, theatre plays, medical manuals, travel guidebooks or general encyclopaedias. By way of example, an early ukiyozōshi volume of 1688 should be mentioned, which is titled "Nippon eitaigura" (L.jap. I 335), Hokusai's expertly illustrated "Yama mata yama" (4 L.jap. K 255) or the earliest city atlas of Edo in two hand-coloured volumes (4 L.jap. D 129).

Nippon eitaigura, 1688  (L.jap. I 335)
Yama mata yama, 1804  (4 L.jap. K 255)
Edo hōgaku anken zunkan (city atlas of Edo), 1680  (4 L.jap. D 129)

Literature

Dufey, Alfons: Die Japansammlung der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek. In: Bonner Zeitschrift für Japanologie 3 (1981), p. 121-129.

Dufey, Alfons: Recent acquisitions of Japanese rare books in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. In: British Library occasional papers. London, 1990. p. 170-178.

Dufey, Alfons: Die ostasiatischen Altbestände der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek. München, 1991.

Grönbold, Günter: Die orientalischen Handschriften der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek. In: Bibliotheksforum Bayern 9 (1981), p. 68-84.

Kraft, Eva: Japanische Handschriften und traditionelle Drucke aus der Zeit vor 1868. Part 2. In München: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Deutsches Museum, Münchner Stadtmuseum, Puppentheatermuseum, Staatliches Museum für Völkerkunde, Universitätsbibliothek. Wiesbaden, 1986. Verzeichnis der orientalischen Handschriften in Deutschland. 27,2.

Kraft, Eva: Japanische Handschriften und traditionelle Drucke aus der Zeit vor 1868. Part 5. In München: Neuerwerbungen der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek. Wiesbaden, 1994. Verzeichnis der orientalischen Handschriften in Deutschland. 27,5

Meier, Franz Joseph: Aus der Geschichte der Asia-maior-Bestände der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek und ihrer Bearbeitung. In: Orientalisches aus Münchner Bibliotheken und Sammlungen. Wiesbaden, 1957. p. 39-59.

Rebhan, Helga: Ausstellungen orientalischer und asiatischer Bestände der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek. In: Griebel, Rolf; Ceynowa, Klaus (ed.): Information, Innovation, Inspiration: 450 Jahre Bayerische Staatsbibliothek. München: Saur, 2008. p. 639-665.

Rebhan, Helga: Orientalische und asiatische Handschriften und seltene Drucke der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek. In: Ceynowa, Klaus; Hermann, Martin (ed.): Bibliotheken: Innovation aus Tradition: Rolf Griebel zum 65. Geburtstag. Berlin: De Gruyter Saur, 2014. p. 322-333. Available on: http://dx.doi.org/10.1515/9783110310511 [Last access 21.03.2016].

Streb, Inga: Die Geschichte vom Prinzen Genji: eine Prachtausgabe des Genji monogatari in der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek. In: Asia Intercultura Magazin 2 (2008), p. 8-14.

Tabery, Thomas; Holbach, Werner: Die Retrokonversion der Ostasienkataloge der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek. In: Zeitschrift für Bibliothekswesen und Bibliographie 59 (2012) 1, p. 12-19.

Walravens, Hartmut: „Josef Schedel, ein deutscher Apotheker und Sammler in Ostasien (1856-1943)“. In: Oriens Extremus 19 (1972), p. 223-230.

Exhibitions

Dachs, Karl (ed.): Erwerbungen aus drei Jahrzehnten: 1948 – 1978: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek: abendländische und orientalische Handschriften, Inkunabeln und seltene Drucke, Noten und Landkarten: Ausstellung April – Juli 1978. Wiesbaden: Reichert, 1978.

Dachs, Karl (ed.): Das Buch im Orient: Handschriften und kostbare Drucke aus zwei Jahrtausenden: Ausstellung, 16. November 1982 – 5. Februar 1983. Wiesbaden: Reichert, 1982.

Dachs, Karl (ed.): Thesaurus librorum: 425 Jahre Bayerische Staatsbibliothek: Ausstellung München 18. August – 1. Oktober 1983 = 425 years Bavarian State Library: exhibition. Wiesbaden: Reichert, 1983.

Dufey, Alfons (ed.): Kalligraphische japanische Werke der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek: Ausstellung München 12. September bis 28. Oktober 1988. München: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, 1988.

Dufey, Alfons; Hayashi, Kimiko; Laube, Johannes (ed.): Alltag in Japan: Sehenswürdigkeiten der Edo-Zeit: Katalog zur Ausstellung Japanischer Holzdrucke des 17. bis 19. Jahrhunderts in der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek München, 10. Oktober – 16. November 1995. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1995.

Grönbold, Günter: Die Worte des Buddha in den Sprachen der Welt = The words of the Buddha in the languages of the world: Tipitaka – Tripitaka – Dazangjing – Kanjur: eine Ausstellung aus dem Bestand der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek, München, 27. Januar – 20. März 2005. With a contribution by Renate Stephan. München: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, 2005.

Noichl, Elisabeth (ed.): Schrift-Stücke: Informationsträger aus fünf Jahrtausenden: eine Ausstellung der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek und des Bayerischen Hauptstaatsarchivs: München, 19. Juli – 20. September 2000. München: Generaldirektion der Staatlichen Archive Bayerns; Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, 2000.

Rebhan, Helga (ed.): Liebe, Götter und Dämonen: wertvolle asiatische Handschriften der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek: Ausstellung 2. – 27. Januar 2008. München: Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, 2007.

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