Kaigara Danmen Zuan

Kaigara Danmen Zuan
by Yoichiro Hirase
Adopted for Conservation by
Fran Smyth
in honor of Kitson, Jack, and Tessa
on November 7, 2017
Plate from Kaigara Danmen Zuan showing damage

Kaigara Danmen Zuan

By Yoichiro Hirase. Kyōto: Unsōdō, Taishō 2, 1913.

Published in Kyoto by Unsōdō in 1913, the shapes depicted in this book feature bold calligraphic lines and organic forms share characteristics with both Japan’s Rinpa and Europe’s Art Nouveau movements. However, a scientist, not a designer, derived these shapes in a new and unique way. Yoichirō Hirase, a prominent malacologist (mollusk scientist) in Japan, collected over 3,500 seashells, 1,000 of which were new discoveries. Hirase explains in the introduction that he came up with the idea for this book while researching shells and cutting them at various angles. He found the cross sections so strange and interesting that he used seal ink to stamp them on paper. These “inside wonders” created interesting patterns which he further explored with illustrator Jun Nishikawa. The result of their efforts, Kaigara Danmen Zuan, has over fifty pages of designs based on the cross sections of 12 different shells.

Condition and Treatment: 

This book has an early 20th century Japanese binding with hand colored illustrations. The front and back covers appear to be missing. There are tears to the first few pages and additional stress tears along the gutter of some of the illustrations. Conservators will address the tears, repairing them with Japanese paper and reversible wheat starch paste.

Discover more about this book in our Catalog.

Adoption Type: Preserve for the Future