Japanese Bookbinding

by Kojiro Ikegami

Weatherhill, Inc, 1986

readability rating
4 star readability rating Filled with excellent explanations and pictures, this book bridges the cultural gaps between Japan and the West beautifully.
content rating
4 star content rating A comprehensive survey of Japanese binding styles.

My father bought this book in California as a gift for me. It's one I've looked at on ebay and in shops, but never managed to persuade myself to buy. It seemed too far off my main focus of fine (Western) binding styles to justify the purchase. But the lessons of a master bookbinder transcend focus.

The Good Stuff
This is the finest reference book on Japanese bindings available in the West. The materials sections include information on paper sizing, and the construction instructions also have notes on "Westernising" the designs (Japanese books have the spine on the right). The clear illustrations are clear and systematic, and the text well-written.
Could Do Better
As a survey book, this suffers from all the standard failings of the type. There is one binding description each for a number of styles, but little information on the possible variations within each style.
Best Bit
Each project starts with an introductory bit on the history of the style. This is followed by a box listing the finished dimensions and all the materials and tools needed for the project. A beautiful bit of scene-setting.