Ownership stamps of Daiso
Ownership stamps of Daiso

Daiso-bon is a collection of books formerly owned by Daiso (大惣), a book lender run by Sohachi Onoya (大野屋惣八) and his family in Nagoya from the middle of the Edo period to the middle of the Meiji period.

Book lenders at the time usually kept books in high demand in their stock and sold the ones out of fashion away to buy new ones. Daiso, however, had a policy not to sell away books they had bought and increased their inventory until the end of the Edo period when they became the largest book lender in Japan. The fact that their collection covered not just popular novels but books in every field of knowledge puts Daiso in a unique position amongst book lenders at the time. It can be said that Daiso played a role more significant than that of today’s public libraries in the modern era when common people normally borrowed books from book lenders.

After the arrival of mass production of books in the Meiji period, many book lenders disappeared, Daiso being no exception. Around 1898, Daiso decided to close the business and sold its enormous inventory of 16,734 titles of books, most of which were acquired by the Imperial Library (current National Diet Library), Tokyo Imperial University, Kyoto Imperial University, and the Higher Normal School (current University of Tsukuba).

Daiso Collection owned by Kyoto University amounts to 3,667 titles, or 13,081 volumes. The content covers diverse areas such as Buddhism, Shinto, medicine, and astronomy. In particular, books on literature during the Edo period including ukiyo-zoshi (popular fiction) and scripts of kabuki and joruri are outstanding in quality and quantity. There are many manuscripts regardless of area. Because part of the books acquired by Tokyo Imperial University were lost by fire in the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake, Kyoto University is the library that owns the largest collection of Daiso books today.


* The digitization of this collection is conducted under the “Project to Build an International Collaborative Research Network for Pre-modern Japanese Texts” by the National Institute of Japanese Literature in which Kyoto University Library participates.


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