For my 50th post, I am excited to host PDF copies of two gorgeously illustrated Journey to the West children’s books produced in Japan during the middle part of the 20th-century.
1. Son Goku (孫悟空, 1939)
This work was illustrated by Shotaro Honda (本田庄太郎, 1893-1939), a Western-trained artist closely associated with children’s literature for nearly 30 years. As the title suggests, the book focuses on the first 7 chapters of the novel, from the time of Monkey’s birth to his final imprisonment under Five Elements mountain. Literally every single panel is worthy of framing. The illustrations are bright and vibrant, seemingly jumping from the page. See below for an example.
Monkey in the underworld striking his name from the Book of Life and Death (larger version).
Click to access e5ad99e6829fe7a9ba-e7bb98e69cac-e5ae87e9878ee6b5a9e4ba8ce69687-e69cace794b0e5ba84e5a4aae9838ee7bb98-1949e5b9b4e78988.pdf
2. The Illustrated Journey to the West (繪本西遊記, 1950)
This three volume work was illustrated by Mizushima Nio (水島爾保布, 1884-1958). The first volume covers Monkey’s birth to the submission of Sandy; the second covers the Ginseng fruit tree to the battle with Guanyin’s goldfish; and the third covers the Rhino demon to the end of the novel. The dark on light line work reminds one of delicate paper cut artwork brought to life. Here’s a sample.
The group bowing before a Buddhist figure (larger version).
Click to access e7bb98e69cace8a5bfe6b8b8e8aeb0-e4b88ae4b8ade4b88b-e6b0b4e5b29be5b094e4bf9de5b883-e794bb-1950e5b9b4.pdf
The original PDFs are hosted on shuge.org and are free to download. I’m posting them here for posterity. 50Watts appears to be the first English site to host images from both Son Goku and The Illustrated Journey to the West, but they either skip some images or only show a partial spread.
One thought on “Archive #4 – Mid-Century Illustrated Journey to the West Children’s Books from Japan”
It’s interesting that the figure of Guanyin that is portrayed during the Red Boy episode in this book is in the form of Hayagriva, a wrathful incarnation of Guanyin that does not seem to have directly appeared in the original Journey to the West.