Japanese Maps : Honchō zukan kōmoku

Japanese Maps

<p style='text-align: justify;'> Map of Japan, in Japanese, by Ishikawa Tomonobu (active ca. 1680-1720). It represents Japan’s mainland (Honshū, Shikoku and Kyūshū, and Matsumae in the North) and smaller islands, surrounded by real and mythical foreign lands. Commercial maps of Japan first appeared in the mid-seventeenth century, and were usually based on recent non-commercial models (the Tokugawa family, who controlled the Japanese government from 1603 until 1868, ordered surveys of the Japanese territory, and, since the 1630s, had several administrative maps of Japan drawn on their basis) and/or on older manuscript maps of the country. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'> The artist of this commercial map, Ishikawa Tomonobu, was a writer and illustrator from the chōnin class (urban dwellers), and his work was mainly addressed to a public of literate commoners. He based this map on a collation of information derived from previously published maps, which mostly ignored the results of the more recent geographical surveys. It includes, on the other hand, up-to-date information about the political geography of Japan (including names of local lords and an estimation of their land possessions), and roads and sea routes. In the upper section of the map, two plates list distances along the major highways of the country. In the lower left section, another plate lists distances from Japan to a number of foreign lands. In the lower right side, a short legend is followed by a list of the provinces of Japan, each associated with an estimation of their current productivity in rice. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'> This map became one of the most prominent representations of Japan of its time, appearing in numerous editions throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and influencing other mapmakers. The title is reported both on the map and in the title page of the folded map, with the subtitle "Shinpan" (Newly published). The mounted cover label reports the alternative title "(Shinpan) Nihonkoku ōezu" (Newly published large-size map of Japan). The colophon reports the name of the publisher, Hayashi Yoshinaga (based in Kyoto), but no publication date. Based on the information recorded on the map, it was probably printed from revised blocks in the Kyōhō era (1716-1736), sometime between 1717 and 1724. The map was first published by Sagamiya Tahē in Edo (Tokyo) in 1687. 1688 marked the appearance of a first Kyoto edition by Hayashi Yoshinaga. Cover description: blue soft paper and flexible cover board; in the front, mounted cover title, in Japanese, text black on white labels (one with Library's call no.: Japanese 165); in the back, mounted bookplate of Biblioteca Lindesiana (at the base of the bookplate in pencil is the notation: "15/G"). </p>

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