Japanese Maps : Nihonbashi minami no ezu

Japanese Maps

<p style='text-align: justify;'> Wood-block printed, commercial map of Nihonbashi minami, one of the districts of the city of Edo, in Japanese, one sheet, folded, oriented with west to the top. The title is reported in the left section of the map, with the subtitle "Bunkyū saisen - Tsukiji Hacchōbori (文久再鐫・築地八町堀 Re-engraved in the Bunkyū era - Tsukiji Hacchōbori). On the surviving envelope, the title "Nihonbashi minami ezu" (日本橋南絵図 Map of Nihonbashi minami) appears, with the subtitle "Bunkyū shinkoku" (文久新刻 Newly engraved in the Bunkyū era). The envelope also reports that the map was published in Tōto ("Eastern capital", i.e. Edo). A colophon in the lower left section reports the date of publication Bunkyū 3 (1863) and the name of the publisher, Owariya Seishichi. The map was part of the series "Ōedo kiriezu" (大江戸切絵図, Sectional pictorial map of Great Edo). A legend over the colophon illustrates the icons (symbols and distinct colours) used on the map for different types of warrior mansions, roads and bridges, tradesmen's houses and shops, temples, shrines and other topographical features.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>The map is printed in five colours, used to differentiate elements in the city, and, as was common, uses pictorial representation to highlight elements of the cityscape, such as temples and shrines. By the late Edo or Tokugawa period (1603-1868), maps of Edo had become commonplace, and new, sectional (and therefore very detailed) maps of the city became popular. They reflected the growth of the Edo metropolis and how commoners such as wealthy merchants, with their culture and lifestyle, had gained relevance within it. In these sets, the city loses its centre (usually identified with Edo-castle and the warrior district in one-sheet maps) and every part of the city is represented with equal importance. </p><p style='text-align: justify;'> The shogunal vassal Sena Sadao (1716-1796) first drew a set of 8 small-sheet maps, on a scale of 1 : 5000, but they still only covered the central part of Edo. The maps were published from 1755 to 1775 by Kichimonjiya Jirobē. Later, in 1848-1855, another Edo publisher, Omiya Gohē, revised the series and enlarged it to 35 sheets, based on the map-making work of Takashiba San’yū and Murakami Goyū. In 1850, the publisher Owariya Seishichi started releasing his own set, consisting of 31 maps published in the 1850s and 1860s (all present in the Japanese 200 series, with the exception of a map of Hatchōbori), and the series became the most popular one. </p>

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