Kingyo Ryōran

Front Cover
Kodansha International, 2004 - Design - 390 pages
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Goldfish were originally brought to Japan from China in 1502, to be raised exclusively by aristocrats as highly prized pets. In the 1800s, however, they became popular among the general public, and ultimately a unique culture of breeders, collectors, and connoisseurs came into being. Packed with photographs, Kingyo: The Artistry of Japanese Goldfish offers a delightful visual tour of goldfish in Japanese art and design, together with a description of the goldfish breeds that have developed in Japan over hundreds of years of meticulous cultivation.

Included in the volume is a novella written in the 1930s titled A Riot of Goldfish which tells of the impossible love of a breeder's son for the daughter of a wealthy patron. As his love grows into an obsession, he attempts to create a goldfish that will capture and reflect her beauty. The story charmingly evokes life in Japan in the early twentieth century and sheds light on the aesthetics of goldfish appreciation.

The stunning visual materials presented here reveal the vast iconography of goldfish in the graphic and decorative arts of Japan, extending to textiles, ceramics, paintings, lacquer ware, toys, and even household items. This book will be an inspiration for designers, collectors, and anyone interested in Japanese art.

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About the author (2004)

KAZUYA TAKAOKA was born in Kyoto in 1945. As a graphic designer, he has received many outstanding awards, including the Gold Medal at the Japan Graphic Design Exhibition and the Kodansha Publication Culture Award. Among his works are Sennen (A Thousand Years; published by Mainichi Shinbunsha), Yasai kara mita miku (Meat Seen by Vegetables; published by Parco Shuppan), and Katachi: Classic Japanese Design; published by PIE Books; English edition published by Chronicle Books).

SACHIKO KURU is a commercial photographer; she has been considered a pioneer in the world of Japanese advertising and fashion since the 1980s.

KANOKO OKAMOTO (1889-1939) began her literary career as a poet, but in 1936 she wrote a work that established her as a novelist. Titled Tsuru wa yamiki (The Dying Crane) , it was inspired by the life of the writer Ryunosuke Akutagawa, whom she knew before his death a decade earlier. She is known both for her passionate temperament and the richness of her language. Kingyo ryoran (A Riot of Goldfish) was published in 1937.

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