The British Library’s Amakusa edition of ‘Feiqe no monogatari’ [Heike monogatari], ‘Esopo no fabulas’ [Isoho monogatari] and ‘Qincuxu’ [Kinkushū] (shelfmark: Or.59.aa.1) is a reader compiled to help Christian missionaries, who came to Japan in the 16th century, learn Japanese. Printed using movable type in 1592-1593 it is one of the so-called Kirishitanban (Christian editions). This small volume, measuring 17 cm by 11 cm, is very rare since, apart from the British Library’s copy, no others are known and this may be the world’s only extant example.

The Amakusa edition of Heike monogatari, Isoho monogatari and Kinkushū are important resources for the study of medieval Japanese. Written in a Portuguese version of romanization, they give a clue to how Japanese was pronounced at that time. Moreover, as they are composed in the colloquial Japanese of the day, they show how the language was actually spoken. They contain a great deal of information and form a first class resource for the study of the history of Japanese.

In collaboration with the British Library, this website makes available in the public domain colour JPEG images of Heike monogatari, Isoho monogatari and Kinkushū and the accompanying glossary and vocabulary. The images are arranged in order from cover to cover page by page, so allowing the reader to experience the format of the British Library’s copy where the three works are bound in one volume.

Use of images provided by the British Library

All images of the prints used on this website are provided by the British Library and are in the public domain

Higher resolution images are also available for a fee from the following website.



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