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.)
"In this gem of a picture book, life imitates still life. Icons of gold, burnt orange, black and calico blossom on page after page of photos, artifacts and paintings. Wrapped in the juicy center is a lusty novella by Kanoko Okamoto in which goldfish breeder Mataichi pines for his unattainable Masako....A dip into this exquisite volume is sure to distract readers from their own priorities" -USA Today
"It makes you want to raise a few yourself." -Washington Post
"Stunningly designed, Kingyo guides American readers through the cult of goldfish breeders and collectors, and the iconic fish's impact on Japanese culture." -Time Out New York
"A marvelously visual treat, Kingyo is a wonderful gift you might not want to give away." -Art Times
"...an exquisite book that introduces us to a dazzling display of the Japanese cult of goldfish in art, design, photographs by Sachikko Kuru, and you have a visual delight in your hands." -THE Magazine
"An exquisite display of the fascinating Japanese cult of goldfish... Kingyo is the ultimate gift book for the season." -Museum Store Magazine
"This book compiles examples of goldfish beauty shots (yes, such a thing exists), paintings, and prints." -Dwell Magazine
"The fantastical Japanese goldfish gets a fitting homage in this thick, sumptuous gift book... the audience for this gorgeous book may not be large, but it will not doubt be appreciative."
"Utilizing Kanoko Okamoto's 1937 work 'A Riot of Fish'as backdrop, this work chronicles the pervasive use of goldfish in Japanese art." -Fore Word Magazine
"A goldfish lovers dream, Kingyo: the Artistry of the Japanese Goldfish is an amazing addition to anyone's book collection... you can't call your library complete without this book tucked away on your shelf." -Water Gardening Magazine
"While Kingyo: the Artistry of the Japanese Goldfish is sure to be an eye-opening introduction for Westerners to the unique culture that has grown up around the goldfish in Japan, the stunning photographs and charming collection of lore will also delight those already initiated into this 'ult'." -The Goldfish Report
"The fascinating microcosm of Japanese goldfish... Kingyo: the Artistry of the Japanese Goldfish nestles a delicate and classic novella ("A Riot of Goldfish" by Kanoko Okamoto) amid beautiful pages featuring goldfish of amazing varieties of colors and presentation. Whether in a bowl, in a pond, as statuary or lacquer or photoshopped into an environment-free existence, the multiple permutations of these fish make it easy to understand that the Japanese have a bit of an obsession with these fish." -Orlando Weekly
"There's a little bit of everything in this elegant, surprising book... Reader will marvel at the variety of coloers, and yes, even shapes, of the many different breeds depicted in Kingyo...Kingyo is sure to fascinate both aquarium aficionados and readers with an interest in things Asian." -Book Page
"...striking collection of artistic reproductions and photographs of exotic fish and also includes a 1930s novella by Kanoko Okamoto about a lover's effort to create a goldfish to imitate his beloved's beauty." -Sunday Sun Times
"The prize for sumptuous design, as well as originality, goes to a soft cover effort between dazzling white covers. [the book] is one of those curiosity pieces that can only be pulled off in book form, No web site could replicate the fascination, and satisfaction, of flipping through these near 400 graphically bold evocations of resplendent breeds of fish, in paintings and photos....Kingyo is more beautiful than owning an aquarium, and a lot less work." -Asian Wall Street Journal
"Just looking at the cover of this book will make you a little happier... It's a delightful visual romp that captures Japan's love affair with the entertaining goldfish." -Asian Week
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.
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.