Message from a Director of
Producing Illustrated Handscrolls

Students majoring in art history now commonly study images by viewing them on the computer. However, this seems more like a temporary or one-time experience and is not enough if you really want to learn the contents of the work. This type of study may be nothing but mere efforts of acquiring superficial knowledge.

My conviction is that there would be no art research without really appreciating a work of art, and no appreciation of a work of art without making research. Above all, an illustrated handscroll, which is characteristic of Japanese art comprising pictures with narratives, is a pictorial tale by those artists who have freely passed the wall of time and space to create the diverse and fantastic expressions in their own ways. So appreciation of work cannot be monolithic.

Touch the handscroll, view illustrations, read texts and feel a sense of togetherness, all these movements would bring a feeling of manifold excitements that could be the essence of appreciating illustrated handscrolls and become a solid personal experience. This may be a way to help draw any viewers nearer to the core of masterpieces both visually and emotionally by eyes and hands. This is also Japan’s traditional method of learning where a new scope or perspective on further study was born to be the source of energies in order to expand the Academic plain with no limit.

Some often say that they have seen Hell or a Hungry Ghost. However, it is nothing but a metaphor. As a matter of fact, nobody has ever seen them nor proved them, but it may be a realm in which everyone could imagine. Supposing someone has viewed any of them, it is a product of imaginative power, a hypothesis or an illusion. At the bottom of consciousness or memories, Hells and Hungry Ghosts surely existed or still exist, which may be an idea but have been visually shaped out already in the late 12th century. And they still hold the truthfulness in common with the present day.

To face the cruelty and face it without averting your eyes from what you don’t want to see, which would be the first step forward towards approaching the truth. Any knowledge simply accumulated is empty and tasteless like a pie in the cloud. So, a physical experience acquired by intensely using your eyes and hands may help you discover the reality hidden in every artwork, which should be tangible so truly tasted.

The project of reproducing “Hell Scroll” and “Hungry Ghost Scroll,” both designated National Treasure, as a set of two handscrolls has been conducted under the supervision of Kobayashi Tadashi and my consulting work. We sincerely hope you will find this facsimile product useful both individually and socially in a daily study life.

Takeo Hayano

Representative Director de-Art Co., Ltd.
Distributor for Japan and overseas
January 30, 2021

A Series of full-scale reproductions of
Famous Japanese Illustrated Handscrolls by Toppan Forms

Since 2001, Toppan Forms have produced a series of full-scale reproductions of famous Japanese illustrated handscrolls designated as National Treasure and Important Cultural Property. The series was conducted under the guidance and supervision of Akiyama Terukazu (1918~2009) and Kobayashi Tadashi. It is still going on and my consulting on this project continues.

  • Backlist of titles

    1. The Heiji Monogatari-e Scrolls
    (Set of three scrolls)

    Scroll One: The Night Attacks on the Sanjo Palace. The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Commentaries by Anne Nishimura Morse.
    Scroll Two: The Shinzei Scroll. Important Cultural Property. The Seikado Bunko Art Museum. Commentaries by Kobayashi Yuko.
    Scroll Three: The Flight to Rokuhara Scroll. National Treasure. Tokyo National Museum. Commentaries by Ikeda Shinobu.

    2. The Shigisan Engi-e Scrolls
    (Set of three scrolls)

    National Treasure. Chogo Sonshi-ji Temple. Commentaries by Akio Donohashi.
    Scroll One: The Wealthy Man of Yamazaki.
    Scroll Two: Myoren Miraculously Cures the Emperor.
    Scroll Three: The Nun’s Story.

    3. Ban Dainagon Emaki
    (Set of three scrolls)

    National Treasure. Idemitsu Art Museum. Commentaries by Taizo Kuroda.
    Scroll One: Idemitsu Art Museum.
    Scroll Two: Idemitsu Art Museum.
    Scroll Three: Idemitsu Art Museum.

    4. The Tale of Genji Illustrated Handscrolls
    (Set of four scrolls)

    National Treasure. Commentaries by Tokugawa Yoshinobu.
    Scroll One: The Tokugawa Art Museum.
    Scroll Two: The Gotoh Museum.
    Scroll Three: The Tokugawa Art Museum.
    Scroll Four: The Tokugawa Art Museum.

    5. The Frolicking Animals and Human Scroll
    (Set of two scrolls)

    National Treasure. Kozan-ji Temple. Commentaries by Ueno Kenji.
    Scroll One: Committed to the Tokyo National Museum.
    Scroll Two: Committed to the Kyoto National Museum.

    6. The Diary of Murasaki Shikibu
      Illustrated Handscroll

    (Set of four scrolls)

    Commentaries of Sano Midori.
    Scroll One: Hachisukake-bon. Important Cultural Property. Private collection.
    Scroll Two: Fujitake-bon. National Treasure. The Fujita Museum.
    Scroll Three: Goto-bon. National Treasure. The Gotoh Museum, private collections.
    Scroll Four: Hinoharake-bon. Important Cultural Property. Private collection.

    7. Hell Scroll and Hungry Ghost Scroll
    (Set of two scrolls)

    National Treasure. Commentaries by Ueno Tomoe.
    Scroll One: Tokyo National Museum, Nara National Museum.
    Scroll Two: Tokyo National Museum, Kyoto National Museum.

    Extra version: Special project

    The Night Attacks on The Sanjo Palace
    The Museum of Fine Arts. Boston. Commentaries by Anne Nishimura Morse.
    Hiroshige’s Hoeido Series of the Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido Road Handscrolls (Set of two scrolls)
    The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Commentaries by Sarah E. Thompson.

    About the Handscroll

    A fusion of advanced digital printing technologies with traditional skills of craftsmanship has been required to revive this masterpiece in the format of a handscroll for perfect reproduction. The long standing printing expertise combined with the history of rich creativity at Toppan Forms made this timeless project possible in the 21st century. It is the fruit of many years of experience and a deep commitment to quality.


    1. Commentaries are attached on each title, written respectively by prominent scholars in two languages: Japanese and English, and function as an academic study guide and reference for both domestic and international readers.

    2. The original textures and colors of the work are vividly revived in reproduction by using light-resistant toners on acid-free paper (Bagasse) or Japanese paper (Torinoko). This would never have been possible using conventional printing methods.

    3. The scrolls are digitally printed by the most up-to-date printing technology for high definition images in Toppan Forms’ on-demand system, so it is always possible to provide the newest products to match customers’ needs.

    4. Toppan Forms’ innovative technology of “Long Sheet Printing” is used to create the more than 10-meter-long handscroll on one seamless sheet of paper.