Joseph Heco
The Narrative of a Japanese
Volume I & II, ca 1950 Reprint




Original Edition

Heco, Joseph (Narrative Writer)
Murdoch, James (Editor):
The Narrative of a Japanese: What he has seen and the people he has met in the course of the last forty years., Yokohama, printed by the Japan Gazette Newspaper Company, Yokohama and sold by Maruzen Ltd., Tokyo, 1895, 8vo, 2 volumes, 14 plates, 1 map, 17 text illustrations, 346 pp and 254 pp. This is narrative of Joseph Heco (1837-1897), a fisherman from the province of Sanyodo (Japan), who went to sea in 1850. He was shipwrecked and rescued by an American ship which took him to California. He did not return to Japan until 1859. Heco became the first Japanese national to be naturalized as an American citizen. This narrative offers a very unique perspective on the opening of Japan and the Western push to open the country. Though the eyes of a native Japanese familiar with both cultures, one views the opening of Japan from Perry's ground breaking expedition to the establishment of diplomatic and trade relations through the domestic and international turmoil that ensued as Japan passed into the Meiji era. The narrative alternates between a summary of events and a day by day journal. Key events are recorded in Heco's own words and through published accounts.
Volume I, 8vo, brown cloth, blindstamped rules and decoration, gilt lettering on front cover and spine, preface (i-iii), chapters numbered from I-XXIV, 2 plates, 1 map, 10 text illustrations, errata (2 pp), no colophon, 346 pp. Volume I of the narrative traces Heco's life from his birth in 1837 in the village of Komiya, Japan, to his shipwreck in 1850, rescue and journey to the United States. This is followed by accounts of his education and travels within the United States, his return to Japan in 1859 and work as interpreter for the U.S. consulate and his second trip to the United States (1861-1862).
Volume II, 8vo, pale brown cloth, blindstamped rules, gilt lettering on front cover and spine, chapters numbered from I-XVIII, 7 numbered plates, 5 unnumbered plates, 7 text illustrations, appendix (i-v), tipped in errata sheet, colophon, 254 pp. Plates I-II and IV-VII (6 plates) are collotype printed in the original edition. The colophon in this volume serves as the colophon for the set. Volume II of the narrative contains Heco's reminiscences of his adventures, picking up the story shortly after his return to Japan (in 1862) following his second journey to the United States. His later experiences in Japan include an eyewitness account of key events in the Revolution of 1868. This volume covers from August 4, 1862 through October 28, 1891.

The following are the major distinctions between the 1895 original printing and the ca 1950 facsimile edition.

Original: Volume I & II. 8vo (6 1/4 x 8 3/4 in - 16 x 22.2 cm)
Facsimile Edition: Volume I & II. 8vo (6 1/4 x 8 3/8 in - 15.8 x 21.5 cm)
The original printing is noticeably longer (.7 cm) along the vertical axis.

Cover Colors - both cloth with gilt lettering.
Original: Volume I. Brown (Blue also confirmed). Volume II. Pale Brown.
Facsimile Edition: Volume I. Brown. Volume II. Olive Green

Blindstamped Ruled Borders on Covers.
Original: Plain blindstamped ruled borders have one recessed area which is ca 1 cm wide (Vol I) and 1/2 cm wide (Vol II).
Original: Volume I (only) has blindstamped decoration on front and back boards. Click here for close-up pic.
Facsimile Edition: Elaborate blindstamped ruled borders have an outer recessed area, a raised area and a much smaller inner recessed area.

Gilt Bands on Head and Foot of Spine.
Original: Two equal thickness (1.5 mm) gilt bands at head and foot of spine.
Facsimile Edition: Outside gilt band at head and foot of spine is thicker (1.5 mm) than the inside band (.5 mm or smaller).

Original: The colophon (Japanese language) for the set is found at the rear of Volume II. Volume I has no colophon. The set is dated by the colophon found in Volume II.
Facsimile Edition: The original colophon is not reproduced. The reprint colophons are found at the rear of both Volumes I and II. In Volume I, the reprint colophon is printed on the last printed page just below the "Errata." In Volume II the reprint colophon is printed on the back of the last printed page which is also an "Errata" page.

Facsimile Edition, Two Volumes Bound into One.
A one volume consolidated version of the two volume facsimile set was issued. It has blue covers and is otherwise the same, in the aspects mentioned above, as the two volume facsimile edition. I am not aware of any such consolidated publication of the original set.

For information on the 1950 facsimile edition, click here

Volume I
ca 1950 Facsimile Edition

Plates (2)* - Map (1)** and Text Illustrations (10)***:

Frontispiece* - My Birth Place
Text Illustration. Japanese boat (on page 7)
Text Illustration. Rider on horseback (on page 11)
Text Illustration. Snow covered village scene (on page 14)
Text Illustration. Multi-arch bridge (on page 17)
Text Illustration. Funeral Procession (on page 24)
Text Illustration. Temple of Asakusa (on page 29)
Text Illustration. Japanese boat in rough seas (on page 39)
Text Illustration. Japanese boat and sails ship (on page 58)
Text Illustration. Original Plan of Yokohama (on page 204).
Text Illustration. Audience chamber (on page 224)
Matsuri Procession* (after page 250)
Straits of Shimonoseki** (after page 346)


Volume II
ca 1950 Facsimile Edition

Plates* (7 Numbered, 5 Unnumbered) and Text Illustrations (7)****:

Plate I.* Bird's-Eye View of the City of Yedo, As it appeared in 1863 (before the first numbered page of text)
Plate II.* Prince Nagato's Residence in Yedo, 1864 (before page 63)
Plate III. Plan of Battle at Choshiu (actually a text illustration, page 66)
Plate IV.* Battle Scene at Tsukuba-Zan, Nov 7, 1864
Unnumbered Plate.** Handwritten letter of Sept 25, 1865 from US Secretary of State, Seward to Heco (2 pages long, after page 78)
Text Illustration. Picture of Mr. Kido (on page 95)
Unnumbered Plate.** Letter from Mr. Ito (after page 98)
Text Illustration. Picture of Mr. Ito (on page 99, full page)
Text Illustration. Sketch of "house-boat" (on page 119)
Text Illustration. Plan of Hizen yashiki, Kioto (on page 124)
Text Illustration. Picture of Governor Ito (on page 129)
Text Illustration. Sketch of Kome-Ya, Yashushiro Higo (on page 136)
Plate V.* A Large Gold Coin, "Oban" (before page 149)
Text Illustration. Sketch of tomb-stone (grave) (on page 157)
Plate VI.* The Emperor's Visit to Nagasaki, June, 1872 (before page 169)
Plate VII.* Destruction of Prince Nagato's Yashiki, by Order of Shogun's Government in 1864 (after page 172)
Appendix A.** (unnumbered plate). Full page plate with handwritten Japanese text
Appendix B.** (unnumbered plate). Full page plate with handwritten Japanese text
Appendix C.** (unnumbered plate). Full page plate with handwritten Japanese text

* Printed on one side of the page only. In the first (original) edition these
numbered plates are black and white lithographs (Volume I) or collotypes (Volume II).

** Printed on one side of page only. Sometimes described and counted as plates. *** Text Illustrations in Volume I (original printing) are predominately lithograph printed with some woodcuts. **** Text Illustrations in Volume II (original printing) are predominately halftone printed with some woodcuts. All illustrations in the 1950 reprints of Volume I and II are black and white halftone printed.

Often you see Volume II of the first edition described as having "12 leaves" of plates. This probably is the result of counting the seven numbered plates, the three leaves with text ilustrations (** above) and the three plates in the appendix. In otherwords, every illustration page printed on one side only is counted. All 12 of these items are printed on thicker paper than the text is printed on.


Collation (c1950 Facsimile Edition).

Full Title: The Narrative of a Japanese; What he has seen and the people he has met in the course of the last forty years. Both volumes published by the American-Japanese Publishing Association, San Francisco, CA and printed by the Kudo Printing Co., Ltd, Tokyo.

Volume I, 8vo (6 1/4 x 8 3/8 in - 15.8 x 21.5 cm), red cloth, gilt lettering on front cover and spine, title page from original printing, introduction by James Murdoch (3 pages), text pages numbered from 1-346 (Chapters numbered from I-XXIV), 2 plates (unnumbered), 1 map and 10 text illustrations, errata (2 pages) and reprint notice/information.

Volume II, 8vo (6 1/4 x 8 3/8 in - 15.8 x 21.5 cm), green cloth, gilt lettering on front cover and spine, title page from original printing, introduction by James Murdoch (3 pages), text pages numbered from 1-254 (Chapters numbered from I-XVII), 7 numbered plates, 5 unnumbered plates and 7 text illustrations, Appendicis A, B & C (6 pages printed on one side only) followed by 5 text pages (i-v), final page the errata and reprint notice/information. The original colophon is not reprinted in the facsimile edition.

Volume I & II (consolidated into one book), 8vo (6 x 8 1/2 in - 15.5 x 21.4 cm), blue cloth, gilt lettering on front cover and spine, title page from original printing, otherwise as above.

To see the Title Page and Reprint Notice, click here.

Quite often the front or back cover of these books has a long crease line. I have been advised that the books were tightly bound in stacks with thick string and this would cause the crease in the front and back covers of the book on the top and the one on the bottom. Also it would cause indentations on the edges.

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