Category : Japanese Bookbinding Books

Trip to Kinokuniya, Tokyo

As I’ve been writing these posts about my trip to Japan, I’ve become aware of how much it seems like all I did was shop. I assure you, that was not the case. I have to admit that Tokyo was shopping-heavy, but trust me, things changed once I got to Echizen.

After my stressful reunion post-Tokyu Hands, my hubby and I dragged ourselves over to Kinokuniya – a bookstore with books in both Japanese and English. Thankfully, this stop actually held interest for my husband.

Store sign outside of Kinokuniya Tokyo

Kinokuniya not only has stores in Japan, but also in the United States. I’ve been to their stores in San Francisco and Beaverton, OR. I was looking forward to conquering one of their Tokyo locations. My mission – bookbinding books written in Japanese.

Yes, you read that correctly. And no, I don’t speak Japanese.

I do, however, have a small collection of bookbinding books that are written in Japanese. They offer a different visual style than books published in the United States and I like that. They usually offer project directions that are accompanied by clear and easy to follow photos and/or diagrams. You can pretty much do the projects without knowing Japanese. They’re very cool.

So I already had 7 Japanese books in my collection and while traveling, there was no way I’d remember which titles I already owned. The fact was that I had to do some advance preparation for this particular stop on my tour. 

BookBuddy to the rescue! This app allows you to manage your home library on your phone. Under normal circumstances, you can just scan a book’s barcode to add it to your collection. Unfortunately, I had to enter most of my books manually because the app didn’t recognize the barcodes. Good thing there were only 7 books!

Yet another escalator adventure awaited me as I entered Kinokuniya.

Store sign outside of Kinokuniya Tokyo

Once I got to the floor with craft books, I approached the sales counter and showed the clerk one of the book covers I had in BookBuddy. She nodded her head and led me to the area of the store that had the bookbinding books.

Out of curiosity, I scanned the shelf sign using Google Translate and it came up as Miniature Books.

Japanese bookbinding books at Kinokuniya Tokyo

There were about a dozen bookbinding books there and I already owned several of them. I think there were six that I didn’t already own and let me be clear – I wanted ALL of them. The fact is that funds, weight, and space were issues for me (only so much room in the suitcase), so I had to control myself.

After about 30 minutes of deliberating, I finally settled on 4 books. I’m telling you – shopping for Japanese books in person is sooo much better than doing it online. There’s nothing like being able to flip through the pages yourself. Online shopping can be such a crapshoot.

By the way, I’m not writing much about my purchases now because I plan to write detailed reviews of each of these books in the future. Stay tuned!

Here are the books I purchased:

The first half of Handmade Miniature Books focuses on various bookbinding tips and techniques, with clear and easy to understand photos. The second half of the book includes 12 projects. All written content is in Japanese. ISBN: 978-4-88393-630-4.

Handmade Bookmaking offers 8 projects with directions written in Japanese, accompanied by photos and diagrams. It also includes an introduction to tools and materials, and general bookbinding tips. ISBN: 978-4-88393-555-0.

Making Beautiful Handmade Books with Misuzudo: 12-Lesson Bookbinding Textbook starts off with general bookbinding techniques, written in Japanese. 12 projects follow, accompanied by photos and diagrams, and dimensions for all needed supplies. ISBN: 978-4-309-27681-6.

The Enjoyable Guide of Making Miniature Books includes 9 projects, all with directions written in Japanese. It includes photos and diagrams to help you complete each project. ISBN: 978-4-05-800167-7.

I’m so psyched that I found some new books – and they’re direct from Japan. Now that the trip is over, I have to admit that carrying them in my backpack was a major pain (in my back). It was probably a good idea to not buy more than I did.

Buuutttttt…that didn’t stop me from buying 4 rolls of washi tape when I was there. Rationale – rolls of tape are light and small. 

Here’s a rundown of the patterns I bought (from top to bottom):

4 rolls of washi tape

I love love love the roll with the books pattern on it!

If you’d like to visit Kinokuniya, here’s the store I went to:

  • Address: 3-17-7 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
  • Phone: 03-3354-0131
  • Public Transportation: 5 minute walk from Shinjuku Station (Yamanote and Chuo lines, east exit; Marunouchi line, exits B7 and B8; Oedo and Shinjuku lines, exit 1)

Total sheets of paper purchased to date: 10

Introduction to Miniature Books: Including Materials to Make Them Now

Japanese bookbinding book: Introduction to Miniature Books - Including Materials to Make Them Now

Welcome to my fifth post in my series of Japanese bookbinding book reviews.

I bought this book back in at the Kinokuniya in Beaverton, OR (near Portland). I was in town for the Focus on Book Arts conference and thought I’d swing by the store on my way there.

If you decide to check out the bookstore, please note that it’s located inside the Uwajimaya Asian Food Market – it’s really weird.

Title: Introduction to Miniature Books: Including Materials to Make Them Now (many thanks to Jill for the translation)
Author: Misuzudo Bindery
ISBN: 978-4-7661-2474-3
Publisher:  Graphics, Inc.
Year published: 2013
Paperback: 47 pages

This book reads left-to-right.

Let me start off by saying that this book is way cool for the following reason – it includes all of the project materials you need in a box that’s built into the back cover. This is super-awesome because you don’t have to cut up the pages of the book. Hooray! 

The design of this book is really clever.

Japanese bookbinding manual with built-in box for supplies

The stash of materials even includes mull!

Japanese bookbinding manual with built-in box for supplies

Let’s check out the content of the book. Pages 6-7 show images of which of the included materials you need to complete each project (click on the images to enlarge).

Pages 8-10 cover things such as basic bookbinding tools, the parts of a book, how to glue out paper, and paper grain.

Pages 11-46 focus on four book projects. The images that follow show the progression of content for each project.

Each section starts with an image of a book:

The top of the next page identifies which included materials you need to complete the project (including measurements) and the bottom half includes the beginning of the directions on how to create the book:

Page 47 offers information about the author’s studio, as well as a paper store (TAKEO) that is located in the same building.

Overall impressions:

One of my biggest peeves about bookbinding manuals is when you’re required to cut up the book in order to complete projects. I like my books in one piece, thank you. The design of this book addresses this issue in the most fabulous manner – all the materials you need are housed within the book structure. You get to work on the featured projects without destroying your book in the process – genius!

A beginner shouldn’t have any trouble completing the projects in this book. The photos and diagrams in the directions are clear and easy to follow. The techniques learned from this book can be easily translated into future work. Please note that specific project measurements in provided in millimeters. You can use an online conversion calculator to get the non-metric equivalents. 

Even though this book is more appropriate for those just starting out in the book arts, I’m still glad I purchased it. I’m so impressed with the overall presentation of the material and how all of the supplies are provided to you. The book would make a great gift. For you.

If you’re interested in buying your own copy, you can get it from the following online shops:

Just Little Books

After more than 5 ½ years, I’m finally returning to my Japanese bookbinding book reviews. Since I’m going to Japan this summer (and will likely buy more books when I’m there), I figured that I should present the remaining books in my current collection.

If you’d like to check out my previous reviews, you can do so here.

The book I’m focusing on today is the fourth in my series of reviews, and the second one written by Miyako Akai.

Just Little Books by Akai Miyako

Title: Sonomama Mamehon (Just Little Books)
Author: Miyako Akai
ISBN: 978-4-309-27206-1
Publisher: Kawade Shobo Shinsha, Publishers
Year published: 2010
Paperback: 96 pages

I wrote a brief background on Akai in this post, so I won’t repeat that here. In short, she’s pretty nifty. Like her book ABCs of Making Miniature Books, this book reads left-to-right.

Pages 2-13 show images of 17 miniature book projects (click on the images to enlarge).

Page 14 includes images of basic bookbinding tools and what seems to be a brief explanation of each tool. Pages 15-16 show bookbinding techniques such as scoring with a bone folder, cutting with an X-Acto knife, folding signatures, gluing, sewing, how to knot thread, and how to repair a torn page.

The next pages are what sets this book apart from the others reviewed to date. The pages of the book are printed with mini pages and covers that are to be cut out and then bound into the books featured in pages 2-13. Pages 17-48 contain the inside pages and pages 49-80 contain the exterior covers. The interior pages are printed on a lighter weight, cream-colored paper while the covers are printed on a heavier-weight, white paper.

Pages 82-95 show you how to create the book through photos and diagrams.

Overall impressions: This book is perfect for a beginner. Even though the book is written in Japanese, there’s no doubt in my mind that a beginner should be able to successfully complete all of the bindings in this book. The instructional diagrams and pictures are very clear and easy to follow. The majority of the projects utilize the pamphlet stitch.

There’s no measuring involved (other than thread) because all of them have been done for you with the templates you cut out and bind. Of course, this means that you have to cut up the book. I’m not a big fan of cutting up my books. If you’re a Nervous Nellie like me, you can scan the pages and print them out on a color printer. Once you work through the bindings in this book, you should feel comfortable enough to adapt them to your own work.

At first, I was disappointed because this book is a lot more oriented towards the beginner. There was less room for creativity because the form and content was already done. You don’t get to choose your own paper, which for me was a bit of a bummer. Also, most of the binding structures are fairly basic. A couple of them, however, are pretty cool – they involve complex shapes and folding – these I love.

I came to the realization that I would probably not do the projects in the book as they are presented. However, it still has a use. I can scan the template pages and increase or reduce them in size and use them for my own books. The advantage here is that I just trace around the template and voila! No measurements needed. The cover templates seem to have great possibilities.

Had I known the contents of this book, I probably would not have bought it – it’s too basic for my needs. I do want to emphasize though that it has great value for someone just starting out in the book arts.

If you’re interested in buying your own copy, you can get it from the following online shops:

ABCs of Making Miniature Books

ABCs of Making Miniature Books

This is the third post in my series of Japanese bookbinding book reviews. This book is one of two that I’ll be reviewing by Miyako Akai.

Title: ABCs of Making Miniature Books
Author: Miyako Akai
ISBN: 430927143X
Publisher: Kawade Shobo Shinsha, Publishers
Year published: 2009
Paperback: 95 pages

Akai came to book arts through writing. While studying architecture, she wrote her own novels. In 2001, she started making books. Her writing transitioned from novels to short stories and her books became smaller – this was what led to her current focus on miniature books.

Akai has been a member of Miniature Book Society since 2007. That same year, she won the Distinguished Book Award for Dancing on the Cloud. You can see an image of the book in the 2007 MBS Exhibition Catalog.

To learn more about Akai, you can visit her website. She has miniature books available for purchase. If you click on one of the images, you’ll be brought to a page with more photos, book details, and process photos (these are really great).

Like the other books I’ve reviewed thus far, this book reads left-to-right. I usually take off the book jackets when I scan pages and discovered that the inside book cover was just as cool:

ABCs of Making Miniature Books

Pages 8-11 cover things such as the parts of a book, basic bookbinding tools, spacing text, and paper grain.

Pages 12-85 focus on 10 miniature book projects. The images that follow (click to enlarge) show the progression of content for each project.

Each section starts with an image of a book:

The next page seems to identify some of the creative and/or structural elements:

The following pages show you how to create the book through photos and diagrams:

At the end of each section are images of variations on the binding.

Pages 90-93 include images of the author’s own work. Pages 94-95 are an index of the book contents.

Overall impressions:

This book is my favorite out of the ones I purchased. I like the way it’s organized, in that the image of a handmade book is in the same section as the project directions. I think that the flow of each section is great – you see the project, execute it, then see what you can do next – it inspires you to take what you’ve learned and apply it to your own work.

There is a range of skill level involved in the projects and there’s something for everyone – from simple accordion folds to sewing over cords, headbands to gold tooling. There are even directions for making a miniature hinged box. As you move through the projects, they increase in difficulty. The instructional images are fabulous and there are lots of them. It’s really easy to follow along with the process.

As with the other books I’ve reviewed, specific project measurements in millimeters. You can use an online conversion calculator to get the non-metric equivalents. Beginners could easily complete a few of the projects in the book. Unfortunately, once you move into the sewn bindings, it would likely prove difficult to continue – you need some sewing experience to take best advantage of the book.

The featured handmade books are so adorable. I know that sounds girly, but seriously – I want to hug them. This book gave me what I was craving – fresh inspiration. This is the first book I’ve “read” that has gotten me revved up about miniature books.

If you’re interested in buying your own copy, you can get it from the following online shops:

Make Books and Boxes with Even Greater Ease

Make Books & Boxes with Even Greater Ease

Welcome to the second post in my series of Japanese bookbinding book reviews. If you missed the first post, you can read it here.

Title: Make Books and Boxes with Even Greater Ease
Author: Yo Yamazaki
ISBN: 4579210433
Publisher: Bunka Publishing Bureau
Year published: 2008
Paperback: 99 pages

Yo Yamazaki was born in Tokyo in 1962. He graduated from the Tokyo University of the Arts and had his first solo exhibition in 2000.

He is also the author of another book titled Handmade Bookbinding, which was written in 2006 (it’s a different book).

To learn more about Yo, you can visit his website and his blog. Note: This website is in Japanese.

This book reads left-to-right.

Pages 8-41 of the book are dedicated to images of Yamazaki’s handmade books. He used corrugated cardboard in a number of his books, which I found really interesting. He also wrote notes to accompany each book, but I’m not sure of the content. There are no measurements included in the notes.

Click on the images below to enlarge them:

Pages 42-45 cover ways to add a title to the cover of your book, including use of gold tooling. Pages 46-47 cover basic bookbinding tools and materials.

Page 48 identifies the parts of a book. Pages 49-52 cover bookbinding techniques, including what appears to be tips on using jigs.

Page 53 includes resources for bookbinding supplies, leather, and paper.

Pages 54-99 include step-by-step instructions on how to create the books featured in the front of the book. There are no photos in this section, but there are really detailed diagrams. Measurements are given in millimeters.

Overall impressions: I loved the handmade books included in this book. The main reason I bought all of these Japanese books was because I was tired of seeing the same types of book projects. This book gave me what I wanted – a different perspective. Yamazaki uses familiar materials in innovative ways – I don’t think I’ve ever seen corrugated cardboard used this manner. I was really inspired.

Each of the featured books has accompanying project directions. The process illustrations are great and in particular, the stitching diagrams are clear and easy to follow. As I mentioned in my last post, you can use an online conversion calculator to get the non-metric equivalents for each of the projects in the book.

Be advised that this book is not for a beginner. There are many sewn bindings and you’d be at a disadvantage without directions in English. Those with a basic knowledge of bookbinding technique will get more out of it. Of course, if you’re just looking for inspiration, then you’ll get that from the images.

If you’re interested in buying your own copy, you can get it from the following online shops:

You can get more information about the bindings in his book by visiting Yamazaki’s website. He has a series of photos that show some of his process. If you click on any of the photos, you’ll get a drop-down with more details.

No surprise, the details are in Japanese. You can use an online translator like Google Translate to help you read it, but then you’ll get fun stuff like this:

One pass was scooped up in the thread has been stuck in place by tape, and I like a pattern. In this image I have scooped from the bottom, “changed the way! … More freedom in the scoop from the top. It could be that way, our way With one sewing-frame itself, I think whether it’s from the slightly more comfortable.

Babel Fish wasn’t much better. If you know of a good online translator, please let me know.

Miniature Books You Can Make Yourself

Welcome to the first of my Japanese bookbinding book reviews!

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m reviewing these books from the perspective of someone who does not know Japanese, but has enough bookbinding experience to be able to learn through images and diagrams.

Luckily, I am blessed with not only a friend who can read Japanese, but also loves bookbinding. She translated the book titles for me – apparently this is a subjective process. There are nuances to deciphering intent and emotion, so the language can be translated in different ways.

I decided that I’m okay with the Jill way – thanks Jill!

Btw, I’d like to apologize in advance for quality of the scans – I’m still trying to figure out the settings on my scanner.

And now, on to the review!

Miniature Books You Can Make YourselfTitle: Miniature Books You Can Make Yourself
Author: Yoshie Tanaka
ISBN: 4579208080
Publisher: Bunka Publishing Bureau
Year published: 2002
Paperback: 80 pages

Something I learned is that Japanese books can read left-to-right or right-to-left. If the characters run horizontally on the page, then the book reads left-to-right. If the characters run vertically on the page, then the book reads from right-to-left. This book reads left-to-right.

I was able to find a bit of information about the author. Yoshie Tanaka graduated from Musashino Art University. She started making miniature books while she was a junior in high school. Later in life, she worked in publishing as a book designer.

To learn more about Yoshie, you can visit her website. She has some videos where you can watch her miniature books in action. Note: This website is obviously in Japanese.

Pages 6-35 of the book are dedicated to images of handmade miniature books. Book measurements are given in millimeters. The books are really sweet (click on the images to enlarge):

Pages 36-37 cover basic bookbinding tools and materials. Pages 38-48 include step-by-step instructions on how to create some of the books featured in the front of the book:

 

Pages 49-51 cover things such as the parts of a book, paper grain, and how to punch holes in signatures. Looking at the diagrams on the left of page 51, I believe that there are directions on how to construct a slipcase:

 

Pages 52-72 are a bit of a mystery to me. They focus on each of the handmade books, but not with directions. Photos and sketches seem to offer specifics on different parts of each book. If you read Japanese and can shed some light here, please do!

 

The last few pages of the book include pre-printed pages you can cut out and use to create your own handmade book.

Overall impressions: The instructional pages offer great photos of bookbinding technique – you could easily pick up some tips by checking them out. Although I couldn’t read the materials list for each project, I could easily figure out what was used based on the photos. Since the book offers specific project measurements in millimeters, you can use an online conversion calculator to get the non-metric equivalents.

Not all of the miniature books featured in the front of the book have accompanying project directions. That didn’t really bother me because I can never see too many examples of handmade books. In general, I’m pretty happy with my purchase.

If you’re interested in buying your own copy, you can get it from the following online shops:

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