Santo Chinsetsushu: Anthology of Extraordinary Accounts From the Three Cities
According to scholar Peter Kornicki, “This is an illustrated account of various gruesome punishments inflicted in the 1860s.”
Scholar Avery Morrow commented, “I see only two possibilities for this book:
1) It is a transcription of the 1864 text 三京珍説集, also called 三都珍説集, by the author 中村昭房, which only exists as a single manuscript held in the 狩野文庫 of Tohoku University. This text has been reprinted and analyzed in 史料京都見聞記, volume 5. In this case, your manuscript is one of only two existing copies in the world.
2) It is a completely unique manuscript in the world. This includes the possibility that it is an alternate version of 三都珍説集, since there is only a single copy of that one.
The title page has the title 三都珍説集, but the first page has the very curious alternate title 皇浪珍説論. This tells us that it is a record of pro-emperor insurrections in 1860s Kyoto (and possibly other cities), not Christianity.
The seal is very important on this one. Your manuscript seems to have belonged to a corporate library in the 1920s, now dissolved. Someone needs to comment here and read this seal for us because it will give us a valuable clue about the provenance of this manuscript.
I found the seal here. It belongs to a private museum that sold off some of their holdings; the example shown in the link is at Kokubunken. They were foolish to sell such a unique item, but looking at their website I am not surprised.”
Scholar Romulus Hillsborough commented, “I just glanced through this and it is very interesting. Without a more thorough reading I don’t want to say very much but it is about some of the more infamous assassinations committed in Kyoto by anti-shogunate Imperial Loyalists during the Bakumatsu era (starting around 1862). Two of the illustrations in this manuscript are depictions of Shimada Sakon and Méakashi Bunkichi, both of whose assassinations I included in my Samurai Assassins. Congratulations on your discovery, James Melikian.”