Okinawa, Her Beauties
and Traditions, No 1

painted by Shinzan Yamada


Yamada, Shinzan:
Okinawa, Her Beauties and Traditions, No 1, by Shinzan Yamada, Shuri, Okinawa, University of the Ryukyus Foundation, 1952, large 4to (10 1/4 x 13 3/4 in - 26 x 35 cm), 40 pages (80 if you count front and back). Green cloth with a gold embossed front cover. This book is bound Japanese style with stiff cloth covered boards and ribbon ties. Except for a 2 inch cloth covering at the head and food, the spine is uncovered. The book was issued without a dust jacket. In this book Shinzan Yamada, the artist, recreates people, places, crafts and folklore of pre-World War II Okinawa.

Mr. Yamada noted in the preface to the book:

It was fortunate for me that I had once been requested by Japanese Government to paint the fresco of 'Ryukyu Han Setchi' for the Meiji Shrine before the war, and that I had an opportunity to investigate historical materials of Okinawa on that occasion. And these pictures in this collection are all the productions of this memory of mine. Should these pictures be able to take a part to introduce the Ryukyus, it will be a greatest glory for me." 10, Nov., 1952 - Shinzan Yamada

This edition has a total of 40 (13 color & 27 black and white - duo tone) illustrations which are halftone reproductions of paintings by Mr. Yamada. Each picture is on a page and has descriptive text in English below the picture. On the back of the page the descriptive text for the picture is in Japanese. In this book the illustrations are printed directly on the page. In the second book in this set, the images were tipped to page.

This is the first of two books by Mr. Yamada. The second was titled The Commodore Perry Centennial Issue, Okinawa, Volume II. For information on Volume II, click here.

Here is a listing of the pictures:

  1. Gate of Courtesy - color
  2. The Famous Pond - color
  3. Sei-mei-sai - color
  4. A Famous Garden - color
  5. Sales Girls - color
  6. Madambashi Bridge - color
  7. An Okinawan Miss - color
  8. Bezaiten-do - color
  9. Sogenji Temple - black/white
  10. The Silk Maker - color
  11. The Introduction of the Sweet-Potato - black/white
  12. Gosamaru - black/white
  13. Urashima Taro - Okinawan Rip Van Winkle - color
  14. Futenma Shrine - black/white
  15. The Funeral Procession - black/white
  16. Horse Riding - black/white
  17. Women's Day - black/white
  18. Naha Harbor - black/white
  19. A Shin-ko-sen - black/white
  20. The Water-point - black/white
  21. Pottery Baker - color
  22. A Pottery Plant - black/white
  23. The Palanquin (two views) - black/white
  24. Shishi-mai - black/white
  25. Boar Hunting - black/white
  26. Bull-fighting - black/white
  27. A Cow Boy - black/white
  28. Okinawan Mothers - black/white
  29. On Okinawa the Tanme - color
  30. Izumi-zaki Bridge - black/white
  31. A Fishing Boat - black/white
  32. T(F)emale Dancers - black/white
  33. A Horse Wagon - black/white
  34. The farmer's lunch - black/white
  35. Amamiko and Shineriko - black/white
  36. A Kara-shi-shi - black/white
  37. Masks - black/white
  38. Hachimaki - black/white
  39. Female Fish-vendors of Itoman - black/white
  40. Demon Clouds - color


Printed: 1952.11.10
Distributed: 1952.12.1

A Note Regarding "Typical" Condition. The covers of these books (Volume 1 and 2) are generally found faded and with water stains and similar damage. They are your typical "coffee table" book and more often than not show evidence of that type use. Also, it is normal for the front and back end papers to be heavily toned/foxed. In technical terms, I would say the average cover would grade "Good" and the contents "Very Good - Fine." In my opinion, a book that grades Fine (covers and content) would command a significant premium in pricing.


Shinzan Yamada


Mr. Yamada as Pictured in the Book (Vol. 1)
with Signatures in Japanese & English.


Mr. Yamada Signature (English) in Red Over His
Personal Han (Seal). The Han is Seldom Seen.

Mr. Shinzan Yamada was one of Okinawa's foremost artists. Mr. Yamada is probably best known for his 18 year labor to create a "Tsuikin" lacquer statue (12 meters high by 8 meters wide) as a peace memorial and tribute/honor toward those that died in World War II on Okinawa. Mr. Yamada began the project at the age of 72 and completed it when he was 90+ years old. The statue, known as "The Prayer for Peace Statue," is located in the Heiwa Memorial Hall on Mabuni Hill in southern Okinawa.

Scott 27-8 - Perry Centenary
Ryukyu Islands Scott 27-8
Designed by Shinzan Yamada

Shinzan Yamada contributed many stamp designs for Ryukyu Islands stamps and postal cards. He is designed the following stamps/post cards:

  • Scott C4-8, 1951-4, Heavenly Maiden, 2nd airmail series
  • Scott 27-8, 1953, Perry Centenary commemorative set
  • Scott C9-13, 1957, Heavenly Maiden Playing a Flute, 3rd airmail series
  • Scott 55, 1958, Lion Dance, New Year stamp for 1959
  • Scott C24-8, 1961, Wind God, 6th airmail series
  • Scott 92, 1961, Sun & Eagles, New Year stamp for 1962
  • Scott UX18, 1961, Coral, Summer Greetings Card for 1961
  • Scott UX21, 1962, Ie Shima, Summer Greetings Card for 1962
  • Scott UX26, 1964, Bitter Melon, Summer Greetings Card for 1964

Minoura Sera in his Ryukyus Handbook, Philatelic and History, 1962, noted that Shinzan Yamada opened a studio in Ginowan after WWII. I believe the photograph below by Blackie the Photographer shows that studio. Sera noted that Shinzan Yamada is considered the "elder statesman of Ryukyuan Art."

A photograph of Shinzan Yamada at work taken by Blackie the Photographer which was published in his (Blackie's) book This is Okinawa, ca 1954.

An photograph of Shinzan Yamada and his studio by Blackie the Photographer which was published in his (Blackie's) book Pictures of Okinawa, ca 1953.


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