Nobuo Okano is a Tokyo based artisan who repairs old books, restoring them to as close to their original glory as possible. Below he is restoring a dictionary that has seen some hard times, and initially, one might think there is little as could be done to improve its state much. Nobuo actually makes mincemeat of such an idea and tidies it up superbly.

It’s a time-consuming intricate process, and I admire his skill. However, I prefer the original, because it displays time. That’s what he’s taking away, all signs of aging. It’s had plastic surgery and botox to boot. I understand entirely why the client wishes his book to be restored, it will last longer and can be passed down through the family. But it leaves me cold afterwards. Things like the client’s high school sweetheart’s initials are removed. He’s removing the passage of his life that veered through this book. I don’t think he’s wrong to do so at all. This is just my thoughts on the matter. I have many, many, very old, and mostly tatty books on my shelves here on the Cloud, and I love their age – that I can see time in their pages; the makings, the dedications, the rips and foxing…I’m particularly keen on deckle edges to the pages, so that would rule out the below process somewhat straight away.

See what you think.

I found the original piece here – De Milked.

This is how the old book appears at the beginning.

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The first step is cleaning up the spine and removing any old glue and gubbins.


The book contains a pair of maps which he affixes to new backing paper.


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He then straightens the bent corners one by one, with pliers, water and an iron.

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Next to begone – the purple edging and sweetheart’s initials.

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And finally the cover. A new one had to be made, but he did include the circular title from the elderly original. The book has a thousand pages. It took him only four hours to completely restore it to the client’s satisfaction. Good as new. Indeed.


The clever artisan himself at work.

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