What Kidai Shôran in the Berlin East Asian Art Museum tells us: a Bookmaker Research in the Edo Period

The Kidai Shôran is a picture scroll which describes the City of Edo approximately 200 years ago, ca.1805(Bunka 2). It gives a bird's-eye view of the north of Nihonbashi Street between Imagawabashi and Nihonbashi from the east, that is on the west side of that street. It illustrates about 1,700 persons and about 90 stores. As a historical source, it provides various informations, for example, the exact location of the central Nihonbashi area at the Bunka era, marchants and daily lives of common people. We can discover three bookmakers in this picture.

Three bookmakers are "Izumoji Izuminojô", "Suharaya Zengorô" and "Suharaya Ichibei". They were famous bookmakers during that time. Several important facts can be learned from this picture. First, it is clarified that "Suharaya Ichibei" who is known as a publisher "Kaitai Shinsho", had his store that he rented in Muromachi 2chome at that time. The appearance of his store-front can be recognized from this picture. His shop did not have the "Dozô" (storehouse with the mud walls) in the place where it faced the Main Street. Secondly, it is also possible to guess impression that people who visited the shop at that time based on the advertising notes in the store-front .

It is useful as the proof material, even if this picture alone does not give full information. "Wariincho" , the publication records of Bookmakers Unionin in Edo city from 1727 (Kyôhô 12) to 1815 (Bunka 12) can be analyzed to understand from this picture that they suffered a fire in 1806 (Bunka 3) because they had business there.

This precious picture scroll is held in the Berlin East Asian Art Museum.Its title "Kidai Shoran" is masterfully written at the beginning of the scroll by a famed calligrapher of the time, Sano Tôshû. The painter is unknown because there is no signature or seal of the artist. It is said that the label on the scroll shows the "Ten"(heaven) volume. It is likely that other volumes exist, such as the "Chi"(earth), "Jin"(human). Also, because spring and summer are drawen in this scroll by a doll market in spring, a child swimming in the river in summer, the existence of such representation shows that autumn and winter can be expected. The scroll that shows the New Year event. I am looking forward to the discovery of these "Kidai Shôrans" in the future. Again in Europe!