Art & Design

Book Launch: Recasting the Past: An Early Modern Tales of Ise for Children

20 April 2017, London

The Tales of Ise and its hero Ariwara no Narihira have fascinated Japanese and international readers for centuries. Research has been done on the reception history of this Heian-period court tale, unveiling how the text was re-appropriated in different epochs for new audiences, their needs and their expectations. Yet, to date we did not know anything about any adaptation for children. Until the discovery of a picture-book originally owned by the scholar-diplomat Sir Ernest Satow, now kept at The British Library, opened new windows on this under-researched area.


This book introduces and examines the 1766 picture-book Ise furyu: Utagaruta no hajimari (The Fashionable Ise: The Origins of Utagaruta). It provides the full-colour reproduction of the original picture-book accompanied by the transcription in modern Japanese script and the English translation. It then offers a close-reading of the text, focussing on its intertextual relationship with The Tales of Ise and its position in the realm of children’s literature. It also provides the reader with an insightful discussion of the materiality of this early-modern book, challenging the received view around the early-modern genre of kusazoshi and its similarity with Western chapbooks. This book also hopes to inspire scholars to explore fresh perspectives on early-modern Japanese literature, by making use of original materials that lay un-researched in archives.


In this talk, Dr Laura Moretti will explore this picture-book, examining how it adapts the The Tale of Ise for an eighteenth-century audience and investigating how it challenges our expectations towards children’s literature. The audience will also have the opportunity to engage with original Japanese picture-books published in the same period of Utagaruta no hajimari.


Admission Free but booking is essential at:

20 April 2017, 6.00pm
Daiwa Foundation Japan House, 13/14 Cornwall Terrace, Outer Circle, London NW1 4QP

Tel:020 7486 4348

The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation