Japanese Maps : Kaisei Nihon yochi rotei zenzu

Japanese Maps

<p style='text-align: justify;'> Map of Japan, in Japanese, by the Confucian scholar Nagakubo Sekisui (1717-1801). This map introduced a number of structural and iconographical novelties in the cartography of Japan, and was extremely influential in subsequent representations of the archipelago, above all in Europe. It reported an unprecedented number and variety of place-names. It included European compass roses and Bourbon fleur-de-lis, and showed longitude and latitude, with Kyoto as datum point (but only reported numerical information about latitude, going from 42 degrees North to 30 degrees North). At the time of its first edition, it was the first printed map of Japan to use a grid of latitude and longitude and a fixed scale. Even if the map was based on previous sources and not on a survey, this emphasis on spatial accuracy was inspired by Western standards, and related with Nagakubo Sekisui’s scholarly background (and, particularly, his involvement in Rangaku, or Dutch Studies). </p><p style='text-align: justify;'> The colophon dates the map to Tenpō 11 (1840), and reports the names of the publishers, with their location and respective red seals: Suhara Mohē (Edo); Asai Kichibē, Yanagihara Kihē, Kichida Zenzo, Akamatsu Kyūbē and Hashimoto Tokubē (Osaka). The colophon mentions that this was the fifth edition (Japanese 123 was an earlier edition of the same map). The name of the engraver, Inoue Jihē, appears to the left of the colophon. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'> The title is reported in a mounted cover label, with the subtitle "Zoshū teihon shinbun gunkai" (Enlarged and showing new boundaries of districts). A preface by Shibano Ritsuzan (1736-1787), dated An’ei 4 (1775), reports the alternative title "Shinkoku Nihon yochi rotei zenzu" (Newly engraved complete route map of Japan). A legend, coupled with explanatory notes, and signed by Cho Harutaka (an alias for Nagakubo Sekisui), illustrates the symbols (and colours) used for provincial names, district names, provincial borders, roads, district borders, castle towns, administrative headquarters, famous places, and other elements featured on the map. Other text by the author includes information about land routes, sea routes and their distances, and the Kuroshio Current. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'> The map is oriented with north to the upper right. It is a wood block print, with relief shown pictorially (even if the pictorial elements are less prominent than in earlier maps), and uses colours to differentiate provinces (white, yellow, blue, red and pink), and to highlight mountains (green). It is a single sheet folded into original titled covers. It covers the area from Matsumae to Tsushima, and Okinoerabujima. Cover description: yellow burnished paper and flexible cover board; In the front, mounted cover title, in Japanese, text black on grey label (one with Library's call no.: Japanese 121. Cho Harutaka); in the back, mounted bookplate of Biblioteca Lindesiana (at the base of the bookplate in pencil is the notation: "17/FD"). </p>

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