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Hakoiri musume menya ningyo begins with a single-page foreword by the publisher–or so the author would have us believe. The story itself doesn’t properly begin until page 2, but the foreword is as much a part of the author’s narrative as the story itself, and it’s entertaining as well.
Since page 1 is not part of the story, today’s illustration (above) is just a mermaid courtesan read Hakoiri musume. It has nothing to do with the story other than being thematically related.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude to my readers for your continued patronage and support.
The author of this work, Kyōden, has written many books for you to read; but it is utter foolishness to squander time and paper on a joke of a book like this. Last spring in particular, he lost all motivation after being slammed by the public¹, and he told us flatly this year that he would never write again. Our sales, which have relied upon Kyōden’s books, were sure to plummet. I asked him if he could write just one book this year as a favor to me. Kyōden could not refuse his long-time friend, and agreed to write one more piece.
This illustrated novelette is the work that he created. I hope that our readers will see our advertisements and order a copy.
Kansei 3, New Year’s Day²
Publisher Tsutaya Jūzaburō³
Kokubyaku mizukagami, a kibyōshi by Ishibe Kinkō, was banned by the government in 1789 because it discussed the 1784 murder of Tanuma Okitomo by Sano Masakoto. Santō Kyōden, who worked on the book as an illustrator, was also fined.
This date uses the old Japanese calendar; the Gregorian calendar date equals the spring of 1791.
The foreword is signed Tsutaya Jūzaburō, who was the publisher of the book. He was a famous publisher and patron of the arts, and was known as “the man with the big belly” for his magnanimity. He was the publisher who introduced the world to Tōshūsai Sharaku, the famous “phantom” ukiyoe artist. He also introduced the world to Kitao Masanobu, a relatively unknown ukiyoe artist at the time (who happened to actually be a pen name for Santō Kyōden). However, this foreword was actually written by Kyōden as part of the work itself. Kyōden is joking that he was trying to practice self-restraint after receiving a fine for his previous work, but the publisher begged him to write this so he had no choice.