Hello everyone! This is the fourth and final episode of introduction for the collection. In this episode, we would like to introduce the books collected by Sasabe. It is often said that “If you want to know what a person is like, you just need to look at their bookshelves.” What does Sasabe’s book collection tell us about his personality? Let’s see!
There are about 4,000 materials such as Japanese and Western books, complete works and magazines in the Sasabe Sakura Collection. Even materials that at first glance may seem unrelated to cherry blossom trees, in fact connected and all of them made up Sasabe, who is called “sakura-otoko (the man of sakura)”
Sasabe considered that diversity of the ancient and wild cherry blossom trees before Someiyoshino cherry blossom trees became mainstream in Edo period (1603-1868) is an ideal state. In order to know the situation at that time from texts and illustrations, he collected many wahon (books Japanese traditional style) about history, biography, geography, herbology and horticulture, which were flourishing at that time. Approximately 2,400 books in the collection are wahon.
Of all them, he has the largest number of books of waka poems, with approximately 1,100 books in his collection. He also collected his favorite poems about cherry blossoms from these poems and created his own collection of waka poems in his own handwriting.
In addition, whenever he found cherry blossoms illustrations that he liked, he used them as the design of his New Year’s cards. If we look at wahon in which the illustrations were actually used, we can still see the paper bookmark that he inserted.
He purchased not only wahon to learn about past, but also Western specialized books and illustrated books to learn the latest information. He also purchased several books by Makino Tomitarō, a pioneer in Japanese plant taxonomy.In 1942, when purchasing “Makino Japanese Plants Encyclopedia”, he bought a reprint of the first printing, knowing that it was inferior, because he could no longer find the first printing as he was looking for a younger distribution number.
Beside this, other books include booklets of cherry blossom-related papers donated by authors, and foreign-language literature he ordered to know about advanced foreign research.
In the book collection also includes magazines and newspapers that he was contributed or interviewed. There are 10, 20, and sometimes nearly 40 copies of the same issues. Why he had the same ones?
In those days, when the internet was not available as it is today, and means of communication and publicity were limited, he promoted himself by sending these magazines in order to get himself known and to get more information about cherry blossoms.
Although the books introduced here are only a small part of his collection, they are a testament to his passion for cherry blossoms. We hope to have more opportunities to introduce deeper into his bookshelf in the Sasabe Sakura Reference Room. Please look forward to the next issue!