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Iwase Bunko Library was established as a private library in Nishio city.
Yasuke Iwase, a wealthy merchant, used his own funds and opened IBL in 1908.
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寛政11 (1799)年刊





Sleight of Hand Tricks for Parties
11th year of Kansei (1799)
Author: Rifu

People of the Edo period, especially adults, were particularly interested in play and amusements. In this spirit, elaborate and exciting entertainments, like parlor tricks, were offered at both elaborate soirees and at small friends’ gatherings. A perfect audience member who laughs and says “awesome!” was called “cool,” while unresponsive audience members were called dull and made fun of. So, many how-to books explaining entertainments were published, and many people tried to be the performer at their own parties. This book is one of those how-to books, published in the 11th year of Kansei (1799) by a person known as Rifu. This book explains how to do magic tricks in front of a party audience. In other words it is a sleight of hand handbook. This book is divided into three volumes, first, middle, and last. The first volume introduces the tricks with pictures and the middle and last volumes explain the secret behind each trick. Most of the tricks included are sleight of hand, but there are a few interesting chemical reactions that performers can use as well.

Let’s look at some of the tricks that you could do yourself! First, the “Pour water in a kettle and create steam without any fire” trick. Beforehand, blow some tobacco smoke into a small pitcher. Block the opening with a small piece of paper using your mouth and hide the pitcher in your sleeve. Show your audience the empty kettle. Then, while pouring water into the kettle, place the pitcher inside the kettle and unstop the pitcher. The water pressure from the water that you poured into the kettle will force the tobacco smoke out of the kettle and appear like steam.

A big trick was called the, “Floating on air from behind a folding screen” trick. As you can see in the picture, the performer has two hooks and a rope hidden in his clothes. Behind the screen he stands on the rope held between the two hooks and appears to be floating on thin air. Of course, knowing the secret, you must be thinking, “how silly!”

Other tricks that you can perform at parties explained in these books include getting out of a wicker clothes hamper tied with a rope, gathering up a row of 14 or 15 cups in one motion, and the trick of getting a koi fish out of an apparently empty bowl of water, etc. Iwase Bunko Library invites anyone looking for a hidden talent to come see this book for themselves!