Children’s Textbook Covers in 1920s Japan

Covers and endpapers from a series of Japanese textbooks, 小学生全集 ("Complete Works for Elementary School Students") via the National Diet Library

1929 (cover used for both "Little Lord Fauntleroy" and "Marshal Togo and General Nogi")

I stumbled upon this book series while rooting around again in the massive NDL. I featured a handful of these covers back in 2009 in some posts of Japanese book covers, though at the time I knew nothing about them (not that I know much more now). I also featured Takeo Takei's illustrations for the H. C. Andersen volume.

I think the series ran to 80+ books—the NDL has digitized 37 volumes published between 1927 and 1929. The books covered many topics—Western classics, Japanese history, fairy tales, science, religion—as you'll see from the rough Google translations given below each image. Many volumes were edited, translated, or written by Kan Kikuchi (菊池 寛).

It's hard to determine the illustrators and designers responsible for most of these. (One problem is that often different artists are responsible for the covers and interior illustrations, but the NDL usually catalogs only the interior illustrator. Another is that I don't read Japanese!)

If you like this post, don't miss the "Takeo Takei" filter.

1929, "Story of Astronomy and Minerals"

1928, illustration by Seiko for The Blue Bird

1927, Alice in Wonderland (appears to have been translated by the mighty Akutagawa)

1927, "Interesting Library"

1928, "Physical Chemistry," illustration signed "BIN"

1928, "Children's Industrial Story"

1928, "Story of Insects," illus. signed "SA"

1927, "Meiji Emperor"

1927, "Robinson Crusoe"

1928, "Story of an Airplane," illus. signed "Sen"

1928, "Religious Fairy Tale Collection"

1929, "Animal Botany for Children"

1929, "Engineering for Children"

1929, "To the mountain to the sea"

1928, "Japanese Tale of Heroism"

1929, "Boy's Encyclopedia"

1929, "Foreign History"

1929, "Story of the Army and Land Battles"

1928, "Taiheiki Story"

1928, "Chushingura Story, Soga Story"

1929, "Way to the World"

1929, endpapers, "Story of Astronomy and Minerals"

1928, endpapers, "Chushingura Story, Soga Story"

1928, endpapers, "Story of an Airplane"

1928, endpapers, "Physical Chemistry"

1928, endpapers, "Story of Insects"

1928, endpapers, "Children's Physiology and Hygiene"

1929, endpapers, "Way to the World"

1929, title page, "Story of Astronomy and Minerals"

1928, title page, "Story of Insects"

1928, cover by Takeo Takei
I've featured this before but NOW I KNOW IT'S FOR THE JUNGLE BOOK!

Previous posts on Japan

This post first appeared on June 18, 2013 on 50 Watts