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The Dawn of Wisdom

The Dawn of Wisdom: Selections from the Japanese Collection of the Cotsen Children’s Library. Edited by Don J. Cohn, with text by Ann Herring. (29 x 21 cm.). Illustrations. Paperback, 136 pp., Los Angeles: The Cotsen Occasional Press, 2000.

Front cover of The Dawn of Wisdom

The Cotsen Children’s Library is home to one of the finest and most comprehensive collections of Japanese books and printed matter for children outside of Japan. At present, this remarkable and constantly expanding corpus consists of over 10,000 items, including not only books and magazines, but also printed games, posters and broadsides, single-sheet prints, panel-theater sets, educational materials for home and school use, and playing cards. There are also numerous other genres of publishing and graphic communications, some of the them unique to the island nation.

These documents date from the late 17th century to the present day and, in terms of provenance, format and content, provide researchers with materials for the study of some important but little known facets of Japanese history and culture. The collection also includes a wide array of pictorial and graphic art which offers an exciting and compelling look at diverse aspects of Japanese childhood.

The items introduced and pictured in The Dawn of Wisdom cast light on the times in which they were published, and upon the methods devised by adults for handing their beliefs and ideals on to their children. It is hoped that this catalogue will stimulate further interest in the background, scope, and visual beauty of historic books and illustrations for children from Japan, one of the world’s most active publishing nations.

About the author:
Ann Herring is a historian of children’s book illustration and publishing in Japan and the English- and German-speaking countries. A native of Oregon, she was educated at the University of Washington and at Stanford University before moving to Japan where she has spent most of her adult life. She is a professor at Hosei University in Tokyo, has served as a guest professor at Vienna and Zurich and is a board member of the Tokyo Metropolitan Library. Professor Herring is a member of the Japan Children’s Writers’ Association, Japan Library Association and the European Association for Japanese studies. She also participates in an ongoing survey of Japanese prints, books and textiles at the National Museum for Applied Art (MAK) in Vienna.