Home » Books in General, Non-US, Video » Japanese craftsmen strike again: Make an old, beaten-up book look as good as new

Japanese craftsmen strike again: Make an old, beaten-up book look as good as new

2 March 2016

From RocketNews24:

Maybe it’s just me, but there’s something special about the smell of an old book, and the older and mustier it is, the better. The thing about books though, they’re made of paper, so over the years, the more you use them, the more they tear and get worn down. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could reverse this deterioration?

Actually, you can! Just take your books to this Tokyo-based book repairman who can make even the most decrepit book look like you just pulled it off the shelf at the bookstore.

. . . .

In one episode of the video series entitled, Shuri, Bakaseru (The Fascinating Repairmen), which focuses on people who specialize in repairing old treasures, we’re introduced to a man who has been mending old books for over 30 years.

. . . .

The episode follows one book in particular, an English-Japanese dictionary that a customer received in junior high school and used for the rest of his education and adult life. Now with a daughter of his own entering university, he wants to give her his cherished book, but it’s kind of beat-up, to say the least. In hope of bringing his book a second life, he took it to Okano’s shop in the Suidobashi area of Tokyo.

. . . .

Since we don’t have time machines to go back in time to remind our past selves to take better care of our books, or to not write our high school sweetheart’s name in ink on them, it’s good to know our world has someone like Okano, who can use his specialized skills to revive books from their near-death states.

Okano not only saved this book and gave it a second chance, but he is also allowing his customer to save his memories and pass them on to his daughter. It’s kind of touching, just like the ending to a storybook.

Link to the rest at RocketNews24 and thanks to Meryl for the tip.


Books in General, Non-US, Video

8 Comments to “Japanese craftsmen strike again: Make an old, beaten-up book look as good as new”

  1. Love physical books, and I admire the craftsmanship of this man, but the specific story raises a philosophical question for me.

    Mr Takahashi wants to give his daughter his old English-Japanese dictionary for her to use in University. She demurs because it is embarrassingly tattered. So he takes it to the book doctor. Okay so far.

    Physical bilingual dictionaries have been superseded by apps which are quicker to access, have more entries, and more usage examples for each entry. Some of them even speak the words. He is not giving her an essential study tool, but a memento of his school days to carry during her school days.

    The YN written on the edge of the pages are the initials of a high school girlfriend. When they are trimmed off the narrator says 青春の思い出も、さよなら。”The memory of youth, too… goodbye.” What happens to the talisman value of the book when evidence of previous use is cleaned up, when the physical evidence of schoolboy life is sliced off?

    A philosophical question.

  2. The video is pretty self explanatory (and very cool) but if you turn on the auto-translate closed captioning you can easily get yourself confused. 🙂

  3. “Maybe it’s just me, but there’s something special about the smell of an old book, and the older and mustier it is, the better.”

    It’s just you … 😛

    Give me the smell of a new motherboard fresh from the box before I add the CPU and other toys and fire it up for the first time … 😉

    • Yeah, the smell of books (eg: paperdust) makes my elderly mother cough. She has a kobo.
      I caught myself swiping the page of a paper book last week and wondering what was wrong with it.

      • I read a physical book, walk out of a lighted room, and wonder why I can’t see the text anymore.

        How easily we become accustomed to things… 🙂

  4. Oh amazing work!

  5. And nobody mentioned the COST of a craftsman ironing every page, cleaning up all the problems, doing the repairs – for a dictionary!

    Maybe a book with historical importance, accidentally a victim of mildew (many old English mansions had libraries with volumes subjected to cold and damp, or summer heat and humidity).

    And possibly the daughter was trying to say, “No, thanks, Dad,” instead of, “It’s falling apart, Dad. And I have this app on my phone…”

    Many things are possible; a good portion of those, too expensive to be worth it.

  6. Beautiful, absolutely beautiful. My father married a bookbinder. He’s an author so it’s a perfect match. The paper book is a work of art, or should be.

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