Factbook

A Dynamic Compendium of Interesting Japanese Literary and Publishing Facts
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    Japan introduced its first copyright legislation in 1869[UPDATED: 2-14-2018]

    The Publishing Ordinance of 1869 was Japan’s first legislation on copyright. The regulations in the ordinance covered both the protection of copyright and the regulation of publishers. Prior to this, despite property rights generally being linked to the ownership (legal title) to the print blocks used to print books, the concept of and protection of author rights in Japan was very limited. 

    The ordinance of 1869 was updated becoming the Copyright Law (now known as the old Copyright Law) to comply with the Berne Convention in 1899, and is considered to be Japan’s first modern copyright law, as it complied with the international standard and norms on copyright protection. 

    The United States Copyright Office, in comparison, was created by Congress in 1897. Both nations were relatively slow to develop and adopt the legal frameworks to protect author rights. 

    In contrast, the United Kingdom, which publishes more books per capita than any other nation worldwide and is a major exporter of books and publications, can trace its copyright legislation back to the Statute of Anne 1709. Under that Statute, probably the world’s oldest, copyright lasted for 14 years with a second optional 14 period of renewal, a much shorter term than the current author’s life plus 70 years in the United Kingdom, and 50 years in Japan.
    Japan introduced its first copyright legislation in 1869 Posted by Richard Nathan
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    Japan’s first magazine targeting women, Katei-no-Tomo, was launched in 1903[UPDATED: 2-14-2018]

    It took 36 years from the launch of Japan’s first western-style magazine in 1867, Seiyo-Zasshi (Western Magazine), for a magazine exclusively targeting Japanese women to be published. Katei-no-Tomo, The Family Friend, was launched in 1903 by Yoshikazu Hani (1880-1955) and his wife Motoko Hani (1873-1957). Motoko is widely recognized as Japan’s first female journalist. She met her husband (her second), while working as a reporter for the Hochi Shimbun

    The magazine was rebranded eventually becoming Fujin-no-Tomo, Women’s Friend, in 1908 and is still published today under that name. The couple, both Christians, tried to encourage women through the publication, which was non-political, to develop their own identities and act as equals within their households. The couple also founded a private girls school in Tokyo, which the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) designed for them in 1921. 

    Fujin-Gaho, The Woman’s Illustrated Gazette, was launched two years after Katei-no-Tomo in 1905, by the novelist Doppo Kunikida (1871-1908). As it is still published under the same name today it is probably technically Japan oldest continuously published women’s magazine. 

    Kunikida, who was a fan of William Wordsworth (1770-1850), studied English at Tokyo Senmon Gakko, which became Waseda University and is now famous for its many author alumni such as Haruki Murakami, Mitsuyo Kakuta and Kazufumi Shiraishi among others. All these high profile contemporary authors successfully completed their studies, unlike Kunikida who was expelled. Kunikida, also a Christian, is known for his romantic poetry and his novel Aru Onna, A Certain Woman. He also founded a literary magazine and a publishing company despite an early death at 36 from tuberculosis. 

    Another interesting magazine launched around this time by five pioneering feminists, was Seito, Blue Stocking, in September 1911. It was named after the 18th Century British Blue Stocking Society. In its first issue Raicho Hiratsuka (1886-1971) wrote: “In the beginning Woman was the Sun. She was the genuine being. Now woman is the Moon. She lives through others and glitters through the mastery of others. She has a pallor like that of the ill. Now we must restore our hidden Sun”. The publication was extremely controversial with several issues being banned by the authorities. It folded in February 1916.
    Japan’s first magazine targeting women, Katei-no-Tomo, was launched in 1903 Posted by Richard Nathan
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    The world’s smallest printed book is a Japanese flower book[UPDATED: 2-12-2018]

    The Japanese printer Toppan produced the world’s smallest printed book in 2013, a 26-page book on Japanese flowers with pages just 0.75 mm in size.

    The micro-book titled: Shiki no Kusabana, flowers of season, lists the names of important Japanese flowers next to their illustrations (monochrome) including cherry and plum flowers, which Japan is famous for.

    Toppan, one of Japan’s largest printers, has been printing micro-books since the 1960s. This book, which is similar in size to the eye of a needle, is on display at its Printing Museum in Tokyo.

    It was printed using the same technology used to print banknotes and has a retail price of 29,400 yen.

    The Guinness Book of Records, which has a database of more than 40,000 different records of which only about 4,000 are published in its annual, lists many ‘smallest books’, including the world’s smallest edition of the Quran printed in 1875.

    It lists the smallest reproduction of a printed book as Teeny Ted from Turnip Town, a Canadian book 0.07 mm x 0.10 mm in size whose letters are carved into 30 micro-tablets on a polished piece of crystalline silicon.

    Toppan’s book is a ‘printed book’ and, unlike the Canadian book, was not produced using nanotechnology or other techniques used in the manufacture of semi-conductors. It has also received a certificate from the Guinness Book of Records.
    The world’s smallest printed book is a Japanese flower book Posted by Richard Nathan
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    The Path, by the founder of Panasonic, has outsold Harry Potter in Japan[UPDATED: 2-12-2018]

    Japan’s second bestselling book is The Path, by Konosuke Matsushita, the founder of Panasonic.

    The Path has sold more than 5.2 million copies in Japan since it was first published in March 1981 by PHP Research.

    Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the first title in JK Rowlings’ Harry Potter series, published in Japanese in December 1999, is the third bestselling title in Japan with sales of more than 5.1 million at pixel time. 

    Japan’s all time bestselling novel is Totto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window by Tetsuko Kuroyanagi.
    The Path, by the founder of Panasonic, has outsold Harry Potter in Japan Posted by Koji Chikatani
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    Limited consolidation within Japan’s publishing industry[UPDATED: 2-12-2018]

    Mergers and acquisitions (M&A) amongst Japanese publishers is very rare, unlike in the United States and the United Kingdom where the big story is consolidation.

    The vast majority of Japan’s publishing houses are small or medium sized. 60% of publishers in Japan employ less than 10 people.

    Only 30 publishers employ more than 1,000 people across all forms of publishing and the five largest Japanese publishers are all relatively small when compared to the largest international publishing houses. 

    Currently, there are about 3,700 publishers in Japan. The top 500 publishers account for more than 90 percent of sales.
    Limited consolidation within Japan’s publishing industry Posted by Richard Nathan
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    76,000 new books published in Japan every year[UPDATED: 2-12-2018]

    Around 76,000 new books are published in Japan every year. This compares to 470,000 in China, 340,000 in the United States and 170,000 in the United Kingdom, the top three nations, according to the International Publishers Association (IPA).

    Japan is ranked 8th behind Russia, France, Germany and Brazil in terms of the number of new titles published annually.

    There are about 1 million books in print in Japan. The number of new titles published each year in Japan is relatively stable, but overall sales of books is falling.

    When measured on a per capita basis Japan, according to IPA analysis, is ranked 20th in terms of new books or new editions published per million inhabitants.
    76,000 new books published in Japan every year Posted by Richard Nathan
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    In the 17th century Japan experienced the world’s first camellia publishing boom[UPDATED: 2-9-2018]

    A confluence of events created Japan’s, and probably the world’s first, camellia publishing boom in the second quarter of the 17th century. 

    The arrival from Korea of movable type technology and the printing of the first Japanese book using the technology in 1593 was the catalyst for the commercial publishing that kicked off about a decade later in 1609, in Kyoto, at the start of the Edo Period (1603-1868). Interestingly, most commercial publishers reverted to traditional methods and did not use the new movable type technologies as the local publishing market developed and expanded. 

    The Shogun, Ieyasu Tokugawa (1543-1616), who initiated the Edo Period when he took control of the country, loved flowers and his successor Hidetada Tokugawa (1579-1632), the next Tokugawa Shogun, was particularly fond of camellias. Interest spread to feudal lords and then onwards creating the Kan’ei Era (1624-1644) boom in camellias. Dozens of books, and illustrated guides were produced, at a time before these plants had even arrived in Europe. A similar boom happened in Europe after the arrival of Camellia japonica in the 1830s. 

    Some of the illustrated guides that still exist today are impressive and beautiful as they must have been when produced more than 300 years ago and would not look out of place in a European art museum displayed alongside modern pictures. 

    One of the best examples of these amazingly beautiful Japanese publications is: One Hundred Camellias, attributed to Kano Sanraku (1559-1635), which was created in the midst of this unprecedented camellia gardening boom at the start of the Edo Period. 

    It is 24-meters long and consists of two scrolls and commences with an introduction consisting of prose and poems from 40 different individuals including members of the Japanese imperial family. Camellias are painted and drawn in vivid colours in different containers; baskets, vases, trays, and tea-bowls to name just a few. Following its donation it is displayed annually to welcome in the New Year at The Nezu Museum in Tokyo. 

    One of the best places to witness the long-term effects of this publishing boom is the garden of the central Tokyo hotel Chinzan-so. The hotel’s name means “mountain of camellias” and houses about a hundred different varieties from across Japan with exotic names such as Camellia Akashigata, Kingyohatsubaki, Yokogumo and Hikaru Genji. The famous Haiku poet Mastuo Basho (1644-1694) is said to have lived in a hut facing the garden for four years, long before the hotel was built.  
    In the 17th century Japan experienced the world’s first camellia publishing boom Posted by Richard Nathan
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    Japan is ranked 20th worldwide in terms of output per person of new books and new editions[UPDATED: 12-4-2017]

    In terms of new title publication per capita, the United Kingdom, which is a major international exporter of books and publications, leads the world with the highest ratio of 2,875 new titles published per million inhabitants.

    Japan, which has a larger domestic market than the United Kingdom (40 percent larger) and is the world’s fourth largest domestic market for books and publications, is ranked 20th with a ratio of 613 new titles or new editions per million people, according to the International Publishers Association (IPA)

    Japan is significantly behind the United States (56 percent), when measured using this IPA international benchmark. The United States, which publishes 959 titles per million people, is ranked 12th -despite being the world’s largest market for books and publications, five times larger than the Japanese market, according to the IPA’s Global Publishing Monitor 2014.

    Nevertheless, despite Japan having a much smaller overall market than China, the world’s second largest market, publishes more new books per head than China, which has a ratio of 325 and is ranked 25th in the world on this measure. However, Japan is ranked behind Taiwan 1,831, Korea 795 and Russia 699 when measured using this ratio. 

    The United Kingdom’s figures are exaggerated by its large number of academic presses that target libraries around the world and educational publishers that often publish language learning series with multiple components each of which are often counted as individual titles despite being associated with a textbook. Its domestic market is 60% the size of Japan’s.
    Japan is ranked 20th worldwide in terms of output per person of new books and new editions Posted by Richard Nathan