1920 Bird's-Eye View, Railroad Map of Japan

新日本鳥瞰圖 / [Bird's eye view of the New Japan]. - Main View

1920 Bird's-Eye View, Railroad Map of Japan


Karafuto to Korea.


新日本鳥瞰圖 / [Bird's eye view of the New Japan].
  1920 (dated)     28.5 x 40 in (72.39 x 101.6 cm)     1 : 1325000


A stunning, large-format Taisho 9 (1920) map of the Japanese Empire, including Taiwan and Korea, issued by the daily Tokyo Asahi Shimbun. It highlights growing rail and maritime networks linking the empire together.
A Closer Look
Oriented towards the northwest, the map uses a bird's-eye view model to illustrate the Japanese home islands as well as imperial claims in Korea, Taiwan, the Ryukyu's, Karafuto (Sakhalin), and Japan's growing sphere of influence in Manchuria. A globe appears at top-center, situating Japan in a global context. Red lines illustrate the empire-wide railroad network, with stops and connections identified throughout. In addition, Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples, fortifications, famous attractions, ancient cultural and religious sites, hot springs, roads, shipping lines, and more are indicated. Compasses with degrees noted in both Arabic and East Asian numerals are included at various points.
Railways, Identity, and Imperialism
This view reflects the maturation of several processes which had begun in the early days following the Meiji Restoration (1868): the formation of national identity built around the imperial family, the modernization of the economy, the emergence of rail as the primary means of medium and long-distance transportation, and Japan's increasingly ambitious claims on neighboring territories. The Taisho period is, in retrospect, somewhat ambiguous in that internationalism, democracy, and pacifism were ascendant in the wake of World War I, but undercurrents of hypernationalism, illiberalism, and emperor worship lie just below the surface, presaging more disturbing developments in the 1930s and 1940s. Even in the era of 'Taisho Democracy,' the government was eager to promote a vague yet powerful sense of 'national essence' (國體), in which the landscape of Japan played an important symbolic role. It is no coincidence, then, that this view spans the entire empire, emphasizing its cohesion and interconnectedness.
Publication History and Census
This map was published by the Tokyo Asahi Shimbun as a supplement to the November 3, 1920 issue. It is based on a military map which was edited by Kenji Ogura (小倉儉司), a military engineer, and reviewed by Naomitsu Ibe (直光伊部), retired general and head of the Army Land Survey Department (陸地測量部). The map is held by the National Diet Library, National Central Library (Taiwan), National Museum of Taiwan History, Harvard University, and Waseda University.


The Asahi Shimbun (朝日新聞; January 25, 1879 – Present), translated Morning Sun Newspaper, is one of Japan's oldest and most venerable daily newspapers. The Asahi Shimbun began publication in Osaka on January 25, 1879 as a small-print, four-page illustrated paper. The paper was founded by Kimura Noboru (company president), Murayama Ryōhei (owner), and Tsuda Tei (managing editor). In 1888 the newspaper expanded with a branch in Tokyo and began issuing the Tokyo Asahi Shimbun. The the Osaka and Tokyo papers formally merged under a single imprint in 1940. Almost from its inception the newspaper was known for its liberal views. The Asahi Shimbun continues to publish from Osaka today. More by this mapmaker...

Naomitsu Ibe (伊部直光, April 2, 1867 - July 5, 1932) was a Japanese army officer and head of the Japanese Land Survey Department in the early 20th century. Naomitsu was born in Musashi, today part of Tokyo. He studied at the Military Academy, graduating in July of 1887 with a specialization in military engineering. He rose through the ranks becoming a Major General in August of 1913. After retiring from the military in 1914, he became the state director of Land Surveying and as such his name is attached to many maps. Learn More...


Good. Wear and soiling along fold lines. Light foxing throughout.


Rumsey 11356.000. OCLC 675411933, 861495290, 775781523, 33796224. National Museum of Taiwan History Registration Number 2012.045.0379.