Early Printing at the Negoro Temple; "Negoroban”

NEGORO TEMPLE (NEGOROBAN).  Sokushin jobutsu gi [Becoming a Buddha in this Life].  19 leaves, six columns per page.  8vo (250 x 155 mm.), orig. brown paper wrappers, pasted paper leaf book (detchoso).  [Negoro Temple]: from the colophon “Koryaku 1” [1379].

An extremely early and rare example of Japanese woodblock printing, a technology introduced by the Chinese in the 8th century.  This is one of the earliest surviving publications of the great Negoro Temple in Kishu, founded in the 11th century.  The earliest known printed work from this temple is dated 1378.  In all, about twenty titles from Negoro Temple, ranging from 1378 to 1562, are known to survive.  WorldCat locates no copy nor can we find another copy of the same edition in the Japanese union catalogues.

In Japan, “printing in the centuries before 1600 was dominated by Buddhist institutions and it was used to print mostly Buddhist texts in Chinese.  It was not centralized, however, and one characteristic of this period is the geographical diffusion, for in addition to the temples of Kyoto, Nara, Mt. Koya and Kamakura, some other provincial temples also engaged in printing, such as the Negoroji in the province of Kii, which printed many titles from the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries.”–Kornicki, The Book in Japan, p. 124.  The first book printed at Mt. Koya known to exist is dated 1253.



Jonathan A. Hill, Bookseller, Inc.
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