Home > Publications > NDL Newsletter > No. 211, April 2017

National Diet Library Newsletter

No. 211, April 2017

Overflow tidbits of hot springs: From the Kaleidoscope of Books (23)
"The world of hot springs spread from books"

This is a partial translation of the small digital exhibition the Kaleidoscope of Books (23)
"The world of hot springs spread from books" in Japanese.

Lounge in hot spring water and relax your body and mind ― onsen or hot springs are truly familiar to many people living in Japan today. The 23rd Kaleidoscope of Books entitled "The world of hot springs spread from books" (in Japanese) focuses on attractive hot spring culture in Japan through various materials.

The digital exhibition consists of the following three chapters: Chapter 1 Hot springs as tojiba (a place for recuperation); Chapter 2 Hot springs in literary works; and Chapter 3 Overflow tidbits of hot springs. This article introduces some materials from Chapter 3.

<<Popular hot spring areas portrayed by Hiroshige>>

Izu Shuzenji tojiba
Artist: Ichiryusai Hiroshige, From Dainihon rokujuyoshu meisho zue,
Published by Koshimuraya Heisuke in 1856,
NDL call no. 寄別1-9-2-4
* Available in the NDL Digital Collections

Hakone Tonosawa tojiba no zu
Artist: Hiroshige, From Tokaido gojusantsugi,
NDL call no. 寄別2-3-2-4 * Available in the NDL Digital Collections

To the head of this page

Various guidebooks on hot springs

Various guidebooks on hot springs have been published since tojiba and hot spring trips became widely popular. There is a great variety of forms; for example, some are published by tourist associations of hot spring areas, some are compiled on a regional basis, while others refer to hot springs in the column of travel guides.

We can find some descriptions of hot springs and accommodation facilities in the two books published in the Edo period: Ryoko yojinshu written by Yasumi Keizan, NDL call no. 209-134 and Azumakoakindokagami edited by Ko Ryozan, NDL call no. 181-39.

In the Taisho period, hot spring guidebooks which cover hot springs throughout Japan came out, such as Zenkoku no onsen annai edited by Zenkoku Meisho Annaisha, NDL call no. 384-246.

<<This hot spring map in the San’in region shows the historical hot spring
resort Tamatsukuri Onsen in Shimane prefecture>>

Nihon onsen annai. Seibu
Edited and published by Dainihon Yubenkai Kodansha in 1930
NDL call no. 578-288
* Available in the NDL Digital Collections

In Japan, railway construction as an advanced form of public transportation started in the Meiji period, and places of scenic beauty between mountains and tourist spots came to be widely popular. In that context, railway lines bound for hot spring areas, leading tourist resorts, sprang up all over Japan. Onsen annai below was published to help with planning and estimating travel costs when people wanted to make a trip to hot spring areas along railway lines administrated by the Cabinet Railway Authority of the time. The beginning part of each line introduces the characters of hot spring areas around, and tips for fun in those areas.

Onsen annai
Edited and published by Tetsudoin in 1920
NDL call no. 389-28
* Available in the NDL Digital Collections

To the head of this page

Hot spring banzuke (ranking list of hot springs)

On the model of the sumo banzuke, people have actively listed the rankings of various things in parts of the east and west since the Edo period. One of those examples is a hot spring banzuke. Encouraged by the wide spread of hot springs as places for recuperation in the society of the Edo period, various hot spring banzuke were made. The top grade in the banzuke in the Edo period was Ozeki, but after the Meiji period, Yokozuna was added at the top.

<<Shokoku onsen kan>>

Onsen, vol.28, issue 7
Edited and published by Nihon onsen kyokai in 1960
NDL call no. Z8-270

Kinko oobanzuke 70yorui is a book on banzuke of all sorts of things, whose preface describes that "you can discuss things based on this book, or you can acquire knowledge of things and persons by reading this book." A hot spring banzuke across Japan ranks Ikaho Onsen in Gunma prefecture and Shiobara Onsen in Tochigi prefecture as Yokozuna. Note, however, that in the middle of this banzuke, some hot springs are assigned to three roles of operator side which come from sumo; torishimari (a tournament manager – not used now), gyoji (a sumo referee) and kanjinmoto (a promoter of a sumo tour), although they are supposed to be included in the rank.

<<A hot spring banzuke across Japan>>

Kinko oobanzuke 70yorui
Edited by Tokyo Banzuke Chosakai
Published by Bunsankan Shoten in 1923
NDL call no. 109-274
* Available in the NDL Digital Collections

To the head of this page

Hot springs and Japanese paintings

Various illustrated whole maps of each hot spring area, along with guidebooks on hot springs, have been created all over Japan since the Edo period. Arimayamaonsenkokagami (NDL call no. 854-109), Shichito no shiori and others are equivalent to today’s sightseeing brochures of hot spring resorts in Japan in view of their detailed and accurate information.

A part of Yumotonozenzu
From Shichito no shiori edited by Roka, proofread by Bunso
NDL call no.: ほ-13
* Available in the NDL Digital Collections

Many ukiyo-e woodblock prints in the Edo period featured hot springs and recuperation in hot springs. In and after the Meiji period, some artists have chosen hot springs as the favorable subject matter of their paintings. For example, Imamura Shiko (1880-1916), a Japanese-style artist, and Kaburaki Kiyokata (1878-1972), who is known for bijin-ga (pictures of beautiful women), painted hot springs in mountain ravines.

Yu no yado painted by Imamura Shiko
From Kodanshaban nihon kindai kaiga zenshu. vol. 20
Published by Kodansha in 1964
NDL call no. 720.8-N685
* Available in the NDL Digital Collections

Tokaidomeishofukei is one of a series of ukiyo-e woodblock prints, whose subject was taken from the visit to Kyoto in 1863 of Tokugawa Iemochi, the 14th shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate. More than 20 publishers appointed 16 artists to publish the series, containing a variety of post-station towns and notable sites on the Tokaido, from Nihonbashi, Tokyo, to Kyoto. Tokaido Hakone Toji is a work of Utagawa Kunisada II (1823-1880). A mountain scene of Hakone is depicted behind the woman staying at a hot spring, which is suggestive of hot-spring recuperation at seven hot springs in Hakone.

Tokaido Hakone Toji painted by Utagawa Kunisada II
From Tokaidomeishofukei by Ichiyosai Toyokuni
NDL call no. 寄別8-3-1-4
* Available in the NDL Digital Collections

(Translated by Kanako Ogawa and Yuko Kumakura)

To the head of this page