Illustrated Ise Monogatari
February 27, 2007 7:59 AM   Subscribe

An illustrated edition of the Ise Monogatari (Wikipedia, review of translation). Yeah, yeah, it's in Japanese, but just keep hitting the forward button (the leftmost of the two on the right, red/brown rather than blue/green) and you'll find lots of pretty pictures. I can't improve on the descriptions by Matt of No-sword, where I found it, so I'll just quote him: "Behold our hero maxin' and relaxin' at his writing-desk, looking like he just got hired as a middle manager at his dad's lighter-flint concern! Thrill to the famous scene where he is visited by the Pineapple of Golden Week Past! Laugh as he is mistaken for a member of Aerosmith! Wonder why everyone is just sitting around smiling contentedly when the building is obviously on fire!"
posted by languagehat (23 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Why won't these drapes hang right? Sob!
posted by Koko at 8:08 AM on February 27, 2007

Nero fiddled, this guy played the flute.

Apparently feudal Japan was a very flammable place.
posted by GuyZero at 8:22 AM on February 27, 2007

I know it's fun to caption old illustrations and the like and that it probably doesn't matter too much with respect to simple a simple woodcut series, but this book just reminds me that something like half or more of the available online Japanese book heritage has been digitized poorly.

Whether because of using photocopy quality files or bad digitization practises and file conversions back in the '97-'00 flurry to get everything up online, there is a lot of bad quality database images right across the library and university community of digital Japan; much moreso than any in any other developed country anyway.

But in this case - the Nara Women's University Library - they do in fact have some very pretty pictures (in english). I seem to recall there is quite a bit more somewhere around in their web archives.
posted by peacay at 9:37 AM on February 27, 2007

So a book in a foreign language is being captioned (and mocked it seems) is best of the web? gosh.

Lemme ask, is this somehow related to an interest in the Ise Monogatari or just joining in with No-Sword? Or are you being glib?

"Ooh, look at those crazy old japanese drawings! aren't they silly?!" *shakes head in sadness*
posted by Dantien at 9:41 AM on February 27, 2007

Yes, I'm mocking this crazy old Japanese book. Jesus Christ, give me a fucking break. I suppose you'd prefer a post like this:
The Ise Monogatari, an anonymous medieval narrative, is the oldest work in the uta monogatari genre that it established. This edition has some admirable illustrations.
That probably would have gotten two comments and been seen by maybe six people, but you, Dantien, would have liked it better, so obviously that's what I should have gone with. I thought Matt's "captions" were hilarious and would get some eyeballs on this beautiful work, and it seems I was right, but being right is wrong when it means distressing Dantien.

On the other hand, maybe you could somehow acquire a sense of humor and a little perspective.
posted by languagehat at 9:48 AM on February 27, 2007 [3 favorites]

Yeah, dude, lighten up.

I thought it was more like medieval Japanese madlibs. Is it less offensive to do it with something else that's more western? Or should we just stick to straight veneration of all ancient art?

Besides, we're not even making fun of it - no one has stated or implied that it's in any way bad art - and, wait for it - because it's not. LH chose to frame the material using a silly game, which I thought was kind of fun.

Actually, many of those medieval images would be fun to madlib but their site doesn't allow direct linking to pages with the images. Too bad.
posted by GuyZero at 9:58 AM on February 27, 2007


"Dude, I think you dropped this."
posted by GuyZero at 10:00 AM on February 27, 2007

World's Tiniest Castle
posted by GuyZero at 10:05 AM on February 27, 2007

Ouch. Thanks for the rebuttal. I get your point, that this is having fun at the unusual styles of art prevalent in historical documents. I guess I didn't understand why the Ise Monogatari was chosen. There are numerous interesting historical art to have chosen, but this post seemed to echo No-Sword mainly. I guess, considering my focus day in and day out, I would have liked some more substance about the Ise Monogatari along with the Madlibs.

But maybe I'm in the minority. There were many better examples of images to play this game with, the Heike Monogatari (not to be confused with the Heikei Monogatari, which would be a really weird story) is rife with such examples, as is the Shobogenzo and Taiheiki. Maybe it's just my opinion. Carry on.
posted by Dantien at 10:55 AM on February 27, 2007

I get your point, that this is having fun at the unusual styles of art prevalent in historical documents.

Er, no, that's not really my point. My point is that this is a fun way to respond to beautiful (not "unusual") art; it is possible to derive both esthetic pleasure and amusement from the very same work of art, using different parts of our brains, and this is what Koko, GuyZero, and I have been doing. Nobody is making fun of these works, treating them as exotica, or otherwise distancing themselves from them; that is your own imposition on this thread. Mind you, I can understand having a little paranoia about that, since that sort of thing does go on frequently, but it is not what's going on here. At any rate, thanks for taking it so well; sorry I came down on you a tad harshly, but I don't react well to being called a glib cultural imperialist when all I'm trying to do is share art with people.

I guess I didn't understand why the Ise Monogatari was chosen.

Look, I wasn't trying to play a kooky game and looking for weird images to use, OK? I found a great link to an online edition and enjoyed the way Matt presented it so much I thought I'd reproduce it. You've got the wrong end of the stick.

I guess, considering my focus day in and day out, I would have liked some more substance about the Ise Monogatari

Then add it to the thread! This is Web 2.0: The Interactive Version!
posted by languagehat at 11:04 AM on February 27, 2007

Are they mountains or waves? What happens if I try to swim and I guessed wrong?

This is like some kind of medieval version of Woody Allen. Whatte's Uppe, Tyger Lillye?
posted by RogerB at 11:30 AM on February 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

Web 2.0? Noooooooooooooooooo.

This Ise Monogatari remix is reminding of that thing from years ago, where people made their own Bayeaux Tapestry comics.

Remember that, fellow Web geezers? I guess it still tickles my historical funnybone.
posted by ntartifex at 1:13 PM on February 27, 2007

That probably would have gotten two comments and been seen by maybe six people

who gives a shit how many people comment on it, much less see it? if it's good, it's good. if not, leave them more time to peruse YouTube, God knows they need it. I'm now quite sure that the best posts get the less comments.
posted by matteo at 2:09 PM on February 27, 2007

As the "favourites" function is clearly inadequate without appropriate explanatory tags (eg "bookmarked for later", "this is good" or "sarcasm"), I would like to declare that I have favourited this because of an earnest interest in Japanese literature & art, because I do not have time to view every page right now, as I am at work, and also because I think it would be better appreciated in greater depth at home with an accompaniment of pizza and cones.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:22 PM on February 27, 2007

ntartifex: You mean this old Comedy Goldmine thread?
posted by Smilla's Sense of Snark at 3:33 PM on February 27, 2007

ntartifex: There's a Hokusai Manga flash toy similar to the Bayeux tapestry generator, suitable for arranging denziens of the floating world into comedic situations.
posted by zamboni at 5:27 PM on February 27, 2007

Smilla --

That was the exact thing I was recalling.

(thanks for the additional link, zamboni)
posted by ntartifex at 7:16 PM on February 27, 2007

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