(circa1790). Stock ID #161082
Coloured folding Japanese manuscript map copy of 三國通覽輿地路程全圖 [Sangoku tsüran yochi rotei zensu General Route Map of Three Countries] laid down onto Japanese paper. 54.3 x 77cm. Some worming and signs of use particularly in areas around folds and at margins, plain paper card covers show a little loss. 27.5 x 18.3cm The controversial Japanese book and five accompanying maps, 'Sangoku tsüran zusetsu' published in 1785, describes the geography and customs of three countries - Kankoku (Korea) , Yezo or Ezo (present day Hokkaido), and Ryükyü (present day Okinawa). At the time of its publication Ha Yezo was only partially occupied by the Tokugawa government and although from 1609 Ryükyü was in reality under the control of the Shimazu clan in Satsuma (present Kagoshima Prefecture), the Shimazu clan allowed it to be an independent country superficially. Among the five maps published to accompany Sangoku tsüran yochi (General Route Map of Three Countries), is a map of Japan and its neighbouring countries which this is a manuscript copy of. The other four maps are: a map of Ryükyü (琉球島圖), Yezo (蝦夷國全図), the eight provinces of Korea (朝鮮八道圖), and Ogasawara Islands (無人島圖).
This particular map, showing Japan and its neighbours attracts strong feelings even today as it shows the disputed islands, known to the Japanese as Takeshima たけしま/竹島, Dokdo - 독도/獨島 to Koreans and Liancourt Rocks to English speakers, crucially marked as "Korea's possession". This is used by Korea as evidence for the legitimacy of their claim. The book and its accompanying maps, were an attempt to define Japan's borders and were banned on publication because the author, Hayashi Shihei, criticised Japanese maritime defence policy both in this and an earlier work. As frequently is the case, the banning of Sangoku tsüran zusetsu did nothing to deter interest in what Hayashi Shihei had to say and copies of the maps were made and circulated underground. This copy appears to be one of these underground copies.
Kanji numbers are neatly written in the border framing the map showing longitude and latitude. At first glance this suggests accuracy but in fact the map does not accurately reflect scientific knowledge in Japan at that period. Only a few years before in 1779 Nagakubo Sekisui published a much more accurate map of Japan. The map is imprecise, especially as the map maker moved further from the familiar regions of Honshu, Kyushu, and Shikoku. However it is clear that Hayashi Shihei's intention was not to concern himself with cartographical detail but as he says on the map itself "This is a small map to show the geographical relations between Japan and neighbouring countries such as Korea, Ryükyü, Yezo, Sakhalin, Kamchatka, and Sea Otter Island [Urup]." As this text suggests, the purpose was to show the location of Japan amongst her neighbouring countries rather to give a precise description of Japan and these countries. Previously in Japan there had been not much interest in mapping the region outside of Japan however with the increasing visits and incursions into Japanese territory by Russians, Dutch and other outsiders it became important to define and clarify Japan's borders.
The manuscript is not dated but almost certainly this copy was made in the late Edo period, late 18th to early 19th century. (When referring to this item please quote stockid 161082).
Price: $5,500.00 AU