Hasegawa Takejirō

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Cover of Momotaro, 1885

Hasegawa Takejirō (長谷川武次郎?, 1853–1938) was an innovative Japanese publisher specializing in books in European languages on Japanese subjects. Hasegawa employed leading foreign residents as translators and noted Japanese artists as illustrators, and became a leading purveyor of export books and publications for foreign residents in Japan.


Hasegawa's earliest known books were published under the "Kobunsha" imprint in the mid-1880s but around 1889 he began publishing under the names "T. Hasegawa" and "Hasegawa & Co." Early publications included a monochrome woodcut illustrated Hokusai collection and a two volume Writings of Buddha (Kobunsha, 1884).[1]

Many of Hasegawa's early books were in the form of chirimen-bon (ちりめん本) or crêpe paper books.

Japanese Fairy Tale Series[edit]

In 1885, Hasegawa published the first six volumes of his Japanese Fairy Tale Series, employing American Presbyterian missionary Rev. David Thomson as translator. As the series proved profitable, Hasegawa added other translators beginning with James Curtis Hepburn for the seventh volume, including Basil Hall Chamberlain, Lafcadio Hearn, and Chamberlain's friend Kate James, wife of his Imperial Japanese Naval Academy colleague, Thomas H. James.[2] The books were illustrated by Kobayashi Eitaku until his death in 1890, and by various other artists afterwards.[3] By 1903, the series reached 28 volumes in two series. Most of the stories were based on well-known Japanese folk tales, but some of the later books, including several by Lafcadio Hearn, are thought to have been invented rather than translated, or perhaps combine elements of several folk tales.[4] The books continued to be reprinted, sometimes with variant titles, for several decades.

Number Title(s) Japanese Name Translator Publication
1 Little Peachling


Momotaro David Thomson 1885
2 Tongue-Cut Sparrow

Tongue Cut Sparrow

Shita-kiri suzume David Thomson 1885
3 Battle of the Monkey and the Crab

Battle of the Monkey & Crab

Saru kani gassen David Thomson 1885
4 The Old Man Who Made the Dead Trees Blossom

Hanasaki Jiji

Hanasaki jiji David Thomson 1885
5 Kachi-Kachi Mountain

Kachi-Kachi Yama

Kachi-kachi Yama David Thomson 1885
6 The Mouse's Wedding

Nedzumi no Yome-Iri

Nezumi no Yomeiri David Thomson 1885
7 The Old Man and the Devils

The Old Man & the Devils

Kobutori James Curtis Hepburn 1886
8 Urashima, The Fisher-Boy

Urashima, The Fisher-Boy Urashima

Urashima Taro Basil Hall Chamberlain 1886
9 The Serpent With Eight Heads

Yamata No Orochi

Yamata no orochi Basil Hall Chamberlain 1886
10 The Matsuyama Mirror

Matsuyama Kagami

Matsuyama kagami Mrs. T.H. (Kate) James 1886
11 The Hare of Inaba Inaba no shirousagi Mrs. T.H. (Kate) James 1886
12 The Cub's Triumph

Kitsune no Tegara

Kitsune no tegara Mrs. T.H. (Kate) James 1886
13 The Silly Jelly-Fish Kurage honenashi Basil Hall Chamberlain 1887
14 The Princes Fire-Flash and Fire-Fade Tamanoi Mrs. T.H. (Kate) James 1887
15 My Lord Bag-O'Rice Tawara no Toda Basil Hall Chamberlain 1887
16 The Wooden Bowl Hachi kazuki Mrs. T.H. (Kate) James 1887
16* Wonderful Tea Kettle Bunbuku chagama Mrs. T.H. (Kate) James 1896
17 Schippeitaro Shippeitaro Mrs. T.H. (Kate) James 1888
18 The Ogre's Arm Rashomon Mrs. T.H. (Kate) James 1889
19 The Ogres of Oyeyama Oeyama Mrs. T.H. (Kate) James ?
20 The Enchanted Waterfall Ko wa shimizu Mrs. T.H. (Kate) James ?
21 Three Reflections Ama saiban Mrs. T.H. (Kate) James 1894
22 The Flowers of Remembrance and Forgetfulness Mrs. T.H. (Kate) James 1894
23 The Boy Who Drew Cats Eneko to nezumi Lafcadio Hearn 1898
24 The Old Woman Who Lost Her Dumpling Lafcadio Hearn 1902
25 Chin Chin Kobakama Chiichii kobakama Lafcadio Hearn 1903
2-1 The Goblin Spider Lafcadio Hearn 1902?
2-2 The Wonderful Mallet Mrs. T.H. (Kate) James 1899
2-3 The Broken Images Mrs. T.H. (Kate) James 1903
- Princess Splendor: The Woodcutter's Daughter

Princess Splendor, Japanese Fairy Tale

Taketori monogatari Edward Rothesay Miller 1889
- The Fountain of Youth Lafcadio Hearn 1922

The two series of fairy tale books were also packaged into various types of sets. In 1922 an additional Lafcadio Hearn title, The Fountain of Youth was added, and a five volume Hearn set was sold. Princess Splendor: The Woodcutter's Daughter, a translation of Taketori monogatari by American missionary Edward Rothesay Miller, was presumably excluded from the series because of its greater length. A three volume series of Aino Fairy Tales translated by Basil Hall Chamberlain, consisting of The Hunter in Fairy-Land, The Birds' Party, and The Man Who Lost His Wife, was also issued in 1887.

Many of the fairy tale books appeared in other European language translations, including French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Swedish.

Other Publications[edit]

Japanese Topsyturvydom by Mrs. E.S. Patton (1896)

Besides the popular fairy tale books, Hasegawa produced other books for Japan's tourist trade and foreign community. Many, like his illustrated calendars with humorous verses, were of an ephemeral nature. There were also translations of Japanese poetry, including the three volume series, Sword and Blossom: Poems from Japan translated by Charlotte Peake and Kimura Shotaro (1907-1910), collections of prints by famous artists such as Hiroshige and Hokusai, and illustrated books on Japanese life and customs, such as Japanese Pictures of Japanese Life (1895), Japanese Topsyturvydom by Mrs. E.S. Patton (1896),[5] and The Favorite Flowers of Japan, with text by Mary E. Unger and illustrations by Mishima Shoso (1901).


  1. ^ Frederic A. Sharf, Takejiro Hasegawa: Meiji Japan's Preeminent Publisher of Wood-Block-Illustrated Crepe-Paper Books (Salem, Peabody Essex Museum, 1994) (Peabody Essex Museum Collections, vol. 130), 10.
  2. ^ Sharf, Takejiro Hasegawa, 10.
  3. ^ Andrew Gosling, Asian Treasures: Gems of the Written Word (National Library of Australia, 2011) ISBN 978-0-642-27722-0, Andrew, 78
  4. ^ Crepe-Paper Books and Woodblock Prints at the Dawn of Cultural Englightenment in Japan, Kyoto University of Foreign Studies, 2007
  5. ^ Japanese Topsyturvydom by Mrs. E.S. Patton (1896) on Open Library

Franci Riccardo, Takejiro Hasegawa e le fiabe giapponesi del Museo Stibbert, Livorno, 2008 ISBN 9788883474781