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Cartographic representations of Edo period Japan created with a combination of traditional and digital techniques.
Cartographic representations of Edo period Japan created with a combination of traditional and digital techniques.
331 backers pledged $28,357 to help bring this project to life.

Book details + art samples + other fun info

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Hi everyone! Time for a fun update. First of all, I want to show you some artwork.

This is the tentative A Land of Narrow Paths book cover, sans calligraphy and a few scuff marks. We're going to add some scanned handmade paper textures and tears to give it a little more character.

A little bit about the snowy theme: Japanese author of weird fiction Hirai Teiichi once wrote of how areas that experience frequent snowfall and winter weather are spiritually separate from areas that do not. In one story, he describes a train moving through a mountain tunnel in the middle of summer, and when it emerges on the other side, the landscape appears different and magical, the people hardened, the area isolated -- even oppressive.

One line from an English translation: "...in spite of the abundance of life all around me, there seemed to also be a ribbon of frozen air seeping forth from some hidden depth." Indeed, there is something quiet and eerie about a snowy landscape such as the one featured here. Aside from the somewhat obscure reference to Hirai Teiichi, a winter landscape also evokes a bunch of vagabond-wanderer kigo (seasonal words used in poetry and other forms of creative writing). For example: a sense of seclusion, silence, contemplation, importance of warmth, fallen leaves, and so on -- and an incessant need to wander despite harsh conditions.

A special thank you to French artist Natalia "Mitsukai-inki" Renault, who made this beautiful illustration for us. She's all over the place, doing work for Ubisoft and Paramount Pictures, but she fell in love with our project and lent us her talent.

Regional Maps

I mentioned regional maps a while back. Here is a sample Josephe threw together recently. This is just a sample, but it gives you an idea of how we are dedicating a spread in the book to each region. The regional map will be on one page of the spread, and info about each location on the other. Several more placements to add here, but you get the idea:

The book will be 11" x 8.5" in landscape orientation. So, the spreads will be nice and wide, able to fit a map on one page and plenty of info on the other.

People of Edo

Because we reached that $7k stretch goal a while back, we'll also have detailed accounts of people. Their mannerisms, fashions, etc. For reference, we are using a lot of Edo era woodblock prints (ukiyo-e). With these references, we are tracing and outlining outfits, remastering original textures, and then cleaning everything up digitally. Oh, and the background textures found throughout the book are all scanned pieces of handmade washi. Here are a few examples (not in their finalized layout -- just grouped together to show you a few at once):

We're going to label clothing and items, too! That way, you'll know the name, function, and purpose of each character's garb and tools of the trade.

Other Fun Info

"Other fun info" -- I am confident we'll get to that $12,000 stretch goal (the Tokaido karuta mentioned here!). You should totally back at the Karuta Pack level if you are at a lower pledge level, because we are now including the Kitsch Pack with the Karuta Pack! So $35 gets you: 8 bookmarks dedicated to each region, 2 postcards with the map of Japan, the entire PDF Pack, and the double-sided Karuta Pack (obake karuta and Tokaido karuta).

I'll announce further stretch goals after we hit that $12k mark.

And finally, another piece of fun info: we are planning to record a series of videos about the washi-making process in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota, where we're setting up a small temporary studio. We'll be showing those off during the last 5 or so days of this campaign. Nothing close to the perfect movements and awe-inspiring knowledge of the masters, but hopefully still a way to help you appreciate traditional Japanese arts and crafts.

Thank you all again for your support! None of this would be possible without you.

Matthew Caulder, Alvin Wong, and 5 more people like this update.

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