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10 From Esoteric Tools to Handbooks “for Beginners”: Printed Divination Books from the Seventeenth Century to the Beginning of the Eighteenth Century

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Chapter Summary

The rise of commercial publishing in early seventeenth century Tokugawa Japan is arguably one of the most striking developments in Japanese history. A study of how divinatory knowledge came to be diffused through manuals can prove helpful in understanding the place and role of guidebooks in the intellectual landscape of Edo commoners. This chapter focuses on how early divination manuals appeared at the beginning of the seventeenth century as a replacement of and upgrades to already existing manuscripts. It attempts to shed light on the development of secondary guidebooks, that is to say commentaries, designed to be used jointly with the former category of publications. The chapter shows what kind of changes the manuals underwent near the end of the seventeenth century, and how these changes were made possible by the progressive emergence of self-asserting compilers and authors with a strong pedagogical intent.

Keywords: divination books; Edo period; Tokugawa Japan



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