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DAIKOKUYA KODAYU, NAGAO ISOKICHI. - Illustrations from the Russian accounts of Daikokuya Kodayu and Nagao Isokichi.

 1407493709,
n.p. [1808?]. Manuscript 26x18cm in ink on 17 double folded leaves (34 pages) plus cover leaves, six blank leaves in the centre and three more at the end; ribbon tied. Date and an as yet undeciphered inscription scrawled on the front cover. Cover leaves dusty; somewhat dog eared but quite a good copy. ¶ Probably the most famous of the Japanese drift accounts is the story of Daikokuya Kodayu and his fellow crew, swept off course and wrecked in the Aleutians in 1782, and his decade or so in Russia before, thanks to Erik Laxmann, he got to hang out with Catherine the Great which won him aid to return to Japan. Of course returning to Japan from anywhere not Japan could be a capital crime and any lost sailors foolhardy enough to come home needed a good story to save them from the chopper. Lucky for Daikokuya he had a lot to say about Russia and a report was prepared for the Shogun by his physician Katsuragawa Hoshu in 1794. These accounts of the outside world by returned involuntary travellers - drift accounts they are usually called - were almost never published but were circulated in manuscript copies until the middle of the 19th century when the outside world forced itself on Japan. Not many were published then. They were, after all, mostly old news and had to wait for modern scholarly editions to become available again. The make up and history of these manuscript copies is complicated - very complicated - as there was always more than one original version. The versions widely copied under titles like Hyoryuki, Hyominki or Hokuhyoki are often a bit light on illustrations. There were lots of illustrations to accompany the narrative but in the earliest copies of Katsuragawa's report they are on separate scrolls. The illustrations in this manuscript complement but don't repeat the illustrations in the Hokuhyoki I have. It makes sense that those with a copy of the account would want some more pictures. These pictures appear here and there in many works: the skin boat here appears on a scroll titled Roshia-sen Higashiezo Raiko-zu. There are two different groups here: the first 28 pages are of things and people Russian; the six pages at the end are apparently things and people of the Aleutians. I think I see two or more hands at work here. The six blank leaves in between may be there in the hope of adding more from other sources. While the first group were certainly done before binding it's possible that those at the end were done after. This is dated Bunka 5 (1808) on the front and at the beginning of the second section. Usually we must be circumspect with dates on manuscripts - they often are the date of the original not the copy - but here I'm pretty confident the date fits the book.
AUD 1200.00 [Appr.: EURO 772.5 US$ 913.25 | £UK 685.75 | JP¥ 101590] Book number 10299

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