english, please...
August 1, 2012 5:56 AM   Subscribe

Could you read some Japanese (or possibly Chinese?) characters for me?

All I know about these books is in the picture linked below. I think they have something to do with art or architecture. I think the characters are Japanese. I obviously don't read Japanese or Chinese. Can you tell me what the characters on the spines say? Thanks!

posted by crazylegs to Writing & Language (18 answers total)
My chinese is a little rusty, but from left to right:

- Gold work (metal work, jewellery?)
- Painting
- Pottery
- Dyeing cloth/fabric
- Modern Arts
- Sculpture, sculpting
- Architecture, building
posted by lucia_engel at 6:18 AM on August 1, 2012

Thanks! So it is Chinese, not Japanese!
posted by crazylegs at 6:20 AM on August 1, 2012

I recognize most as traditional Chinese characters except for the bottom character for "Painting" and "Pottery", 芸. From the dictionary it means "talent, ability; craft". It is the simplified form of 蕓.
posted by lucia_engel at 6:34 AM on August 1, 2012

No, they are not Chinese. The book titles are in Japanese. The most obvious clue lies in the second character of books #2 and #3. 芸 is the simplified Japanese form of traditional Chinese 藝 yih/yì (notice how the top and bottom are retained, but 埶 is cut out). In Mainland China, 藝 is simplified as 艺. In Chinese, 芸 yun/yún is a less common non-simplified character sometimes used in women's names.
posted by juifenasie at 6:43 AM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

These are Japanese. From left to right, with their readings:

* metalwork - 金工 (きんこう)
* lacquering - 漆芸 (しつげい)
* pottery - 陶芸 (とうげい)
* dyeing/weaving cloth - 染織 (せんしょく)
* fifth is too faint for me to read
* sculpting/carving/engraving - 彫刻 (ちょうこく)
* planning - 建策 (けんさく)
posted by Tanizaki at 6:49 AM on August 1, 2012

Agree its Japanese - as juifenasie says, that simplification is not standard in Chinese. The fifth book reads 现代美术 modern art (but in full-form characters), I believe.
posted by Abiezer at 6:58 AM on August 1, 2012

Thanks for all the help, everyone.
I've posted another picture that shows the characters at the bottoms of the spines. I assume it's the name of the publisher, which would be very helpful to me. The characters look very difficult to read to me, but then I can't read Japanese. Maybe one of you can make them out?

More characters
posted by crazylegs at 7:06 AM on August 1, 2012

That link you just posted may be set to "private."
posted by Jeanne at 7:10 AM on August 1, 2012

Assuming the fifth book is "modern art", it should be 現代美術.

I am not able to view the next picture because it is private.
posted by Tanizaki at 7:11 AM on August 1, 2012

Sorry, no idea what made it set to private.

try again
posted by crazylegs at 7:15 AM on August 1, 2012

Tanizaki's "modern" is in this case read as "contemporary." (Gendai vs. Kindai).

So it's contemporary art.

Modern means something slightly different.
posted by vincele at 7:32 AM on August 1, 2012

In your 10:15 link, each book is a volume in the "Series on Japanese Fine Arts."
posted by vincele at 7:36 AM on August 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

lucia_engel and Tanizaki are both correct because the titles of those books could be Chinese or Japanese (written in kanji). But I'm going to go with Chinese because the words in your last picture (posted at 7.15am) indicate that the books were published in China and constitutes a collection on Chinese folk art. It contains information about:

1. Name of the works/collection
户县(Hu County) 农民(Folk) 画(Art)
Translated: Folk Art of Hu County

2. The publisher
天津(Tianjin) 人民(People) 美術 (Fine Arts) 出版社(Publishing Company) 出版(Published)
Translated: Published by Tianjin People's Fine Arts Publishing Company

3. The distributor
天津市(Tianjin city) 新华(Xinhua) 书店(Bookstore) 发行 (Issued)
Translated: Issued by Xinhua Bookstore Tianjin City

4. The printer
天津市(Tianjin City) 人民 (People's) 印刷厂 (Printing Company) 印刷 (Printed)
Translated: Printed by Tianjin City People's Printing Company

5. Dates
1975年 5月 第1版 - May 1975 First Edition
1975年 5月 第1次印刷 - May 1975 First Printing

Hope this helps!
posted by peripathetic at 11:20 AM on August 1, 2012

This appears to be a series of books published between 1959 and 1961 by Kodansha in Tokyo:
posted by derforsher at 11:47 AM on August 1, 2012

I'm getting pretty confused. Are there any pictures of what's inside those books? That's the only way to settle it for sure. What juifenasie and Tanizaki said makes sense, but it doesn't seem to match the publisher's information at all, especially if what derforsher says is true.
posted by peripathetic at 2:52 PM on August 1, 2012

I only have two pictures of the insides of the books, they can be seen here.

This architecture looks Japanese to me, not Chinese. Opinions?
posted by crazylegs at 3:50 PM on August 1, 2012

Perhaps it's a series of books about Japanese art, published in China?
posted by crazylegs at 3:51 PM on August 1, 2012

Oh, man, I just figured out what happened. Peripathetic translated the last picture in that blogspot page, but that's not from these books. I posted that there in a previous query about another book. Sorry, I didn't realize how confusing that would look! So I think at this point that these are pretty definitively Japanese.

Thanks for all the help!
posted by crazylegs at 4:05 PM on August 1, 2012

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