Kokatsuji-bon (Old Movable Type Imprints) (古活字本)

Kokatsuji-bon or Kokatsuji-han (old type editions) are general terms for movable type imprints published in Japan from the Bunroku era (1592 - 1596) to around the Keian era (1648 - 1652).


Katsuji-bon (movable type imprints) published in late modern times are called 'Mokkatsuji-bon (wooden movable type imprints)' and are distinguished from Kokatsuji-bon. Also, Katsuji-bon made with the Western printing technique and instruments brought by missionaries called Kirishitan-ban (Jesuit Mission Press) are usually distinguished from Kokatsuji-bon. Kokatsuji-bon covered a variety of topics, but since type-printing itself went out of use soon, there are quite a few so-called rare books.

In a commonly accepted view, Kokatsuji-bon originated from Keicho Chokuhan-bon, published by imperial order using copper types that the Japanese army had plundered from Korea during the Bunroku campaign. After that, wooden types (including Kana characters) started being produced in Japan, and Japanese and Chinese books were published in a wide range of subjects. Among books in their early stage are Keicho Chokuhan, published by order of the Emperor Goyozei; Fushimi-ban and Suruga-ban editions, published by order of Ieyasu TOKUGAWA; and Yoboji-ban and Honkokuji-ban editions, published by temples. Although many of them were philanthropic publications made through the use of authority and financial power, later townspeople also started publishing imprints such as Saga-bon. Until around the Keian era, type printing had been rather widespread, but because the cost of publication increased due to the labor of setting up type for reprinting, typography gradually lost its position in the developing publishing industry and gave place to ordinary wood-block printing.

[Original Japanese]