chapter  16
10 Pages

Life in Edo in the Early 19th Century

KYOTO AND OSAKA were ahead of Edo from the point of view of book publishing. However, in the course of the eighteenth century, popular books became numerous in the capital. The red-covered akahon, which were collections of stories for women and children written in cursive script with many illustrations, were in vogue at the end of Genroku period; they were followed by kurohon or black books which were semi-historical stories of brave deeds, famous tales of revenge or ghost stories. Then there were the aohon or blue books which depicted scenes of everyday life. Finally, came the yellow books kibyoshibon which satisfied the taste of the crowd that frequented the theatre and was interested in more racy stories. The fashionable author was Harumachi and he wrote novels about everyday life with the dialogue in slang and allusions to scandal and gossip, and with jokes about Confucian moralists. Often the author addressed the reader directly: 'I can't find the right word exactly, but you understand, don't you? What do you think of this tale? Don't you think it's typical? Look at the illustration on the next page. It shows you some pretty girls. The artist wanted to cheer you up .... ' Often the artist was the editor himself.