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Kingyo: The Artistry of the Japanese Goldfish
Synopses & Reviews
DISCOVER THE CULT OF THE GOLDFISH THROUGH JAPANESE ART, DESIGN AND LITERATURE
Goldfish were originally brought to Japan from China in 1502, to be raised exclusively by aristocrats as highly prized pets. In the 1800s, however, they became popular among the general public, and ultimately a unique culture of breeders, collectors, and connoisseurs came into being. Packed with photographs, Kingyo: The Artistry of Japanese Goldfish offers a delightful visual tour of goldfish in Japanese art and design, together with a description of the goldfish breeds that have developed in Japan over hundreds of years of meticulous cultivation.
Included in the volume is a novella written in the 1930s titled A Riot of Goldfish which tells of the impossible love of a breeder's son for the daughter of a wealthy patron. As his love grows into an obsession, he attempts to create a goldfish that will capture and reflect her beauty. The story charmingly evokes life in Japan in the early twentieth century and sheds light on the aesthetics of goldfish appreciation.
The stunning visual materials presented here reveal the vast iconography of goldfish in the graphic and decorative arts of Japan, extending to textiles, ceramics, paintings, lacquer ware, toys, and even household items. This book will be an inspiration for designers, collectors, and anyone interested in Japanese art.
"The fantastical Japanese goldfish gets a fitting homage in this thick, sumptuous gift book. First imported from China at the beginning of the 16th century, goldfish were kept and bred only by the aristocracy for some 300 years; in the 19th century, enthusiasm for goldfish swept through the rest of the country. In Kuru's vivid photographs, brilliant orange fish glow against pure white background, revealing strange, tumorous heads, bulging eyes or fins as delicate and diaphanous as silk scarves. Interspersed with photographs of shubunkin and ranchu are their images in art — on ceramic bowls, wooden buckets and delicate china plates, in textiles and watercolor paintings. Designer Takaoka gives some of the pages bright, geometric borders but otherwise keeps the layout spare and clean. Factual text is minimal — a short section in the back describes different breeds, but offers neither history of the hobby nor analysis of goldfish iconography — but Okamoto's novella, 'A Riot of Goldfish,' offers a complementary fiction, in which a confrontational young boy turns into a misanthropic, prematurely aged man as he tries to breed a goldfish that will remind him of the beautiful 'inhuman siren' he loves. The audience for this gorgeous book may not be large, but it will no doubt be appreciative." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
From the iconography of the goldfish in Japanese art and design to commentary on unique goldfish breeds, and including an exclusive publication of the 1930s short story "A Riot of Fish" by Kanoko Okamoto, "Kingyo" is the ultimate gift book for the season.
Kingyo: the Artistry of the Japanese Goldfish is an exquisite display of the fascinating Japanese cult of the goldfish. From the iconography of the goldfish in Japanese art and design to commentary on unique goldfish breeds, and including an exclusive publication of the 1930s short story "A Riot of Fish" by Kanoko Okamoto, Kingyo is the ultimate gift book for the season.
About the Author
KAZUYA TAKAOKA was born in Kyoto in 1945. As a graphic designer, he has received many outstanding awards, including the Gold Medal at the Japan Graphic Design Exhibition and the Kodansha Publication Culture Award. Among his works are Sennen (A Thousand Years; published by Mainichi Shinbunsha), Yasai kara mita miku (Meat Seen by Vegetables; published by Parco Shuppan), and Katachi: Classic Japanese Design; published by PIE Books; English edition published by Chronicle Books).
SACHIKO KURU is a commercial photographer; she has been considered a pioneer in the world of Japanese advertising and fashion since the 1980s.
KANOKO OKAMOTO (1889-1939) began her literary career as a poet, but in 1936 she wrote a work that established her as a novelist. Titled Tsuru wa yamiki (The Dying Crane) , it was inspired by the life of the writer Ryunosuke Akutagawa, whom she knew before his death a decade earlier. She is known both for her passionate temperament and the richness of her language. Kingyo ryoran (A Riot of Goldfish) was published in 1937.
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