Japanese Artisan Beautifully Restores 100-Year-Old Japanese-English Dictionary

Japan is a country roughly the size of California, and is home to a staggering 127 million inhabitants. It is a country that prides itself on its workable juxtaposition of the traditional and the modern, and simply refuses to lose its cultural identity among the din of smartphones and bullet trains.


The literacy rate in Japan is one of the highest in the world, at almost 100%. It has its rigorous education system to thank for that. There are actually four different writing systems found in this country—Romanji (a Romanized spelling used to translate Japanese), Katakana (foreign words and names, loanwords, and scientific names), Hitagana (used with Kanji for native Japanese words and grammar), and Kanji, which are adopted Chinese characters.



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The following images show how Japanese artist Nobuo Okano masterfully restores a tattered 1,000 page dictionary to near-mint condition. Okano is an artisan who specializes in old books and featured on an episode of Shuri, Bakaseru, which translates in English to The Fascinating Craftsman. Okano mends an English-Japanese dictionary and brings it back to life page-by-page with great expertise and care. With a history of its own, this dictionary served its owner since his junior high days through his adult life. Now that his daughter is about to go to college, it’s time for the book to be passed down to the next generation.






Book mending


Book mending


book mending

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Here’s how the restoration works:


Old glue is cleaned from the book’s spine and images of maps are repaired inside. The most tedious step is when Okano unfolds hundreds of bent page corners with a tweezer and individually irons each page until flat.


The tips of the pages that were stained with purple ink are trimmed with a guillotine paper cutter.


The final step involves constructing a new cover by salvaging the original title and embellishing it on new leather. 


The artisan book mender himself

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This is some fascinating craftsmanship for sure, and the end of the episode saw the father and daughter happy in their exchange. Hope she dosn’t lose this one!


The finished product

The final product. | Image Via Pinterest


Feature Image Via My Modern Met