Japanese Maps : Fujisan shinkei zenzu

Japanese Maps

<p style='text-align: justify;'> Map of Mount Fuji, in Japanese. The title is reported under a flap in the upper left section of the map (if the two figures in the crater are used as reference for orientation), together with the name of the author: Gyokuransai Sadahide, an alias for Hashimoto Sadahide (1807-1873). The original envelope in which the map is preserved reports the alternative title "Fujisan shinkei no zu" (Map of the true shape of Mount Fuji). The preface reports the date Kaei 1 (1848), but the map otherwise lacks a colophon. By the end of the Tokugawa period (1603-1868), Mount Fuji, a long-revered religious site, had evolved into a cultural icon, at the centre of a thriving travel industry. Fuji confraternities (fujikō), based in Edo, organized frequent pilgrimages to the mountain, and its Sengen Shrine was home to an annual fire festival (hi matsuri) that attracted many visitors. The mountain was therefore a common object of representation, both in art and cartography. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'> This specific map was commissioned and distributed, since 1848, by the ritual performers of Fujiyoshida Sengen Shrine, on the Northern side of Fuji. It uncharacteristically represents Mount Fuji as seen from above, showing the different routes leading to the summit, with place-names in rectangular tags. Fujiyoshida Sengen Shrine, on the Northern side of the mountain, is in the top left section. The map is heavily pictorial. Pilgrims are shown on their way to the summit, near a big torch (torches were lit in the occasion of hi matsuri). Pilgrims’ lodgings, shrines, and several locations sacred in the Fuji cult also appear on the map. The lower left section shows, for example, Shiraito waterfalls (which were also a renown place of scenic beauty). The flap under which the artist signed the work allows a glimpse inside the mountain, showing an intricate system of caves, which was part of the religious practices on Mount Fuji. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'> The map stresses the religious nature of Mount Fuji also by placing Kakugyō Tōbutsu and Jikigyō Miroku, two religious figures associated with the fujikō, within the crater. The triangular section representing the crater could be folded, and the map assembled into a portable three-dimensional reproduction of the Mountain. Envelope description: on the front, two figures frame the title text; on the back, Spencer family bookplate. </p>

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