ONCHI, Kôshirô & TANAKA Kyôkichi, artists and designers; HAGIWARA Sakutarô, poet. TSUKI NI HOERU. [HOWLING AT THE MOON]. Tôkyô, Kanjôshisha. Taishô 6 . Bound in paper-covered boards with a thick paper printed dustwrapper, 20.0 x 14.0 mm. The dustwrapper has a design by Tanaka and there are 11 internal plates, as well as three woodblock prints by Onchi. This poetry collection, self-published by Hagiwara (1886-1942) in 500 copies, is regarded as creating a revolution in Japanese poetry. The spirit inspiring the work, according to Hagiwara, was "psychic terror"and, as such, broke all the traditional bonds with traditional poetics. Nothing can be said that would over-emphasize the importance of Onchi and Tanaka to the development of printmaking and book design in an abstract and avant garde idiom in early 20th Century Japan. With their fellow student Fujimori Shizuo at the Tôkyô School of Fine Arts, they created the wonderful art magazine TSUKUHAE in 1914. It ceased production in 1915 when Tanaka died of tuberculosis. His work, along with that of Onchi were combined in this volume. Thus the combination of the two, along with the work of Hagiwara make the first edition of HOWLING AT THE MOON one of the most important treasures of the early avant garde in Japan.
The copy in hand suffers from some cracking along the hinges, edgewear and a few nicks. The dustwrapper is fragile and split along the edges and internally strengthened with tape. There are both censored and uncensored copies in existence. Ours has pages 103-108 excised for an offending erotic poem. I have examined images from three copies in collections besides this one and they all seem to suffer from the same weaknesses. Simply a very fragile book, printed in small numbers and very difficult to find.