1854 Takashiba Map of Edo (Tokyo) and Surroundings

[Edo - Tokyo]. - Main View

1854 Takashiba Map of Edo (Tokyo) and Surroundings


The thriving capital of Tokugawa Japan.


[Edo - Tokyo].
  1854 (undated)     27.25 x 35.5 in (69.215 x 90.17 cm)     1 : 17000


This is a large, colorful, and highly detailed 1854 Takashiba San'yū map of Edo, now Tokyo, the capital of the Tokugawa Shogunate. It depicts the sprawling urban center of Edo and its environs on the eve of dramatic changes that would unsettle Japanese society and lead to the downfall of the Tokugawa.
A Closer Look
This map is oriented with west at top and north at right, with the Edo Castle (御城) at center. Of the two tables at bottom-left, the top one catalogs festivals and holidays, averaging two or three per week, at Edo's various Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. The lower table notes the distance of different neighborhoods from Nihonbashi (日本橋), in front (east) of Edo Castle, the traditional 'center' of Edo and terminus of the Tōkaidō.

The map is very detailed, labeling and presenting information about different neighborhoods down to individual city blocks. The estates of the Shogun's relatives and other prominent daimyo are shaded green; most such were turned over to public use during Meiji era and eventually made into public parks. Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples, and the homes of daimyo not attached to a larger estate are marked in red, revealing their tremendous density throughout the city.
The Tokugawa Period
In the second half of the 16th century, Japan underwent a process of unification that was strongly influenced by exchanges with the outside world, including by way of Japanese settlers in Southeast Asia. After completing the process of unification in 1600, the Tokugawa Shogunate were concerned about the problems that these exchanges presented (namely Christianity and guns for wayward daimyo) and nominally closed off Japan from the outside world on pain of death (known as the sakoku or 'closed country' policy).

Nonetheless, outside influences continued to come into Japan, primarily through Nagasaki, where Dutch and Chinese traders were allowed to reside on offshore islands. Moreover, foreign vessels landed on Japan's shores (and were usually attacked) with increasing frequency in the 18th and early 19th-century. Several visitors came to Nagasaki from other countries over the years, so that Japanese intellectuals had an awareness of changes taking place in maritime technology, cartography, hydrography, and other fields. Still, this steady drip of outside information was not enough for the Tokugawa to fully realize the rapidly emerging threat of foreign invasion, which only became clear with the arrival of American 'black ships' in 1853.
Edo - The 'Floating World'
The benefits of national unification, the end of incessant warfare, and the adaptation of outside influences to the Japanese context, allowed for a virtuous cycle of prosperity under the Tokugawa. Edo, Osaka, and other cities flourished. The population of Edo likely reached one million in the early 18th century, making it one of the largest cities in the world. The urban economy was buoyed by elaborate, commercialized service industries ranging from restaurants, publishing, and entertainment (sumo, kabuki) to prostitution. The heady atmosphere of major Japanese cities, especially Yoshiwara, Edo's red-light district, became known as the 'floating world,' and woodblock prints depicting this vibrant social sphere (Ukiyo-e) became coveted in their own right.

It is important to note that this world of entertainment and pleasure was only available to the elite of Edo society, composed mainly of daimyo and samurai, and to a lesser extent the new urban middle class. As seen here, the residences of the daimyo, along with temples and shrines, occupied the majority of the urban space of Edo, while the much larger population of commoners (shomin, 庶民) and outcasts (eta 穢多 and hinin 非人, later known as burakumin 部落民) lived in tightly packed gated-off neighborhoods (machi 町) and villages of thatched cottages on the outskirts of the city, respectively.
Publication History and Census
This map was made by Takashiba San'yū (高柴三雄) and published by Yamashiroya Heisuke (山城屋平助) in 1854 (嘉永七年). The same duo produced editions of this map from the late 1840s into the mid-1850s, and Takashiba's map of Edo was published by other publishers simultaneously to and after his partnership with Yamashiroya. Moreover, several other contemporary woodblock artists, such as Suharaya Mohē (須原屋茂兵衞), Okadaya Kashichi (岡田屋嘉七), and Tsutaya Kichizō (蔦屋吉藏), produced multiple editions of very similar maps of Edo, making it difficult to untangle which maps came first, what the relationship was between various artists and publishers, and how they influenced each other. However, the present map differs from most other known examples in its coloration and the information in the tables at bottom-left. We have been unable to locate another example of this edition in institutional collections in Japan or abroad.


Takashiba San'yū (高柴三雄; fl. c. 1848 - 1879) was an Edo (alter Tokyo)-based cartographer who primarily made maps of his hometown but also contributed an updated and more accurate map of Japan in the late 1840s (大日本国郡輿地全図). Learn More...

Yamashiroya Heisuke (山城屋平助; fl. c. 1848 - 1854) was a woodblock printer and publisher based in Edo (Tokyo) in the late Tokugawa period. He is best known for his maps of Edo published with Takashiba San'yū (高柴三雄圖之), but also published illustrations and books, including didactic works geared towards young women. Learn More...


Very good. Wear and occasional soiling along fold lines. Printed as four sheets which were then joined.