1881 Ito Map of Tokyo with Illustrated Vignettes

名勝圖解 東亰御繪圖 / [Illustrated Map of Tokyo, Displaying Points of Interest]. - Main View

1881 Ito Map of Tokyo with Illustrated Vignettes


Between Tradition and Modernity.


名勝圖解 東亰御繪圖 / [Illustrated Map of Tokyo, Displaying Points of Interest].
  1881 (dated)     27 x 37 in (68.58 x 93.98 cm)     1 : 29500


A stunning 1881 large-format map of Tokyo drawn by Itō Seisai and published by Ōhashidō. While the foundation of Tokugawa-era Edo is clearly evident, the map also demonstrates the dramatic changes that took place in the preceding years, as the Meiji government embraced a program of rapid modernization.
A Closer Look
Oriented with west at top, the map presents the municipality of Tokyo and its immediate surroundings. Color is used to indicate holdings of the imperial family (in crimson), government offices and parks (in pink), and religious sites (in yellow). The same crimson color used for the imperial family's lands is also employed for the names and borders of wards (區). At left is a large table of wards and neighborhoods (町) throughout the city, as well as statistics on the number of households and the total population of the city and suburbs (the city proper had just shy of 800,000 people). A legend below the list of neighborhoods includes symbols for geographic features, roads, railways, lighthouses, police stations, telegraph offices, and administrative boundaries. To the right of the map is an abbreviated four-day suggested itinerary for visitors to Tokyo.

In the margins and next to the legend are 45 illustrated vignettes of sites and neighborhoods throughout the imperial capital, each with a brief description. Primacy of place next to the legend is given to Nihonbashi, the traditional center of Tokugawa-era Edo, already somewhat resembling London and other European capitals with brick buildings and horse-drawn carriages. Other illustrations generally highlight recently-constructed buildings, such as government ministries and Tokyo's first railway station (鐵道局) at left, or Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, such as the Sensō-ji (淺草寺) in Asakusa, at top.

One interesting feature is the inclusion of seven islands (一番, 二番, and so on) in Tokyo Bay, as well as the larger island of Ishikawajima (石川島) to the east. These were artificial islands built through land reclamation at the end of the Edo period (Bakumatsu). Following their unpleasant experience with Commodore Perry's 'black ships' in 1853 - 1854, the Tokugawa tried to adapt to the reality of foreign military threats. The seven islands were meant to house gun batteries, though not all were completed, while Ishikawajima became a shipyard. In 1928, the islands were turned into public park land, and in the 1990s were connected to each other with more reclaimed land to form the large island of Odaiba.
Meiji Era Tokyo
With the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the Tokugawa Shogunate was displaced from Edo and the Emperor Meiji moved the imperial capital from Kyoto to Edo (renamed Tokyo, 'eastern capital'). The Meiji Era was a period of tremendous change in Japan, particularly in cities, and in Tokyo more than any other. New ideas, technologies, and fashions from abroad were sought out and adopted with incredible rapidity, and in the process were localized to suit Japanese tastes.

Building on the foundations of Tokugawa Edo, Meiji-era Tokyo intermingled traditional architecture with styles reminiscent of Victorian London. Even the layout of the city was hybrid; here we can see Nihonbashi (日本橋) and Kyobashi (京橋), historically the most densely populated areas of Edo, as well as recent additions like Shimbashi Station, Tokyo's first railway station at left, and the industrialization of Fukagawa (深川) and Honjo (本所) Wards at bottom. Much of Tokyo as it exists here was destroyed in the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake.
A Bustling Imperial Capital
Tokyo and several other Japanese cities went through a dizzying period of administrative reforms during the Meiji era, due to the pace of their growth as well as changing bureaucratic practices and conceptions of governance. Initially, elements of the Tokugawa system of wards were maintained to appease elites who feared more rapid reforms. Then, in 1871 - 1872, Tokyo Prefecture was expanded and a system of 'large and small wards' (大區小區制) was put into place. Further adjustments were made in the following years and a wholesale reorganization was launched in 1888 - 1889, when many of the wards shown here ceased to exist.
The Height of Meiji Cartographic Art
Stylistically, this map represents the height of the Meiji-era (1868 - 1912) cartographic tradition - wherein western style cartographic standards, lithographic printing, and imported inks, were combined with Ukiyo-e color traditions and aesthetic values. This map falls in a cartographic lineage that begins with the Meiji Restoration and continued through about 1895. Here, the boldly bright palette likely associates this map with aka-e (赤絵; 'red pictures'), illustrations in vivid color achieved through imported German-made inks. Such maps began to fall out of fashion near the turn of the century, when they were supplanted by more reserved printed color.
Publication History and Census
This map was drawn by Itō Seisai (伊藤靜齊, the title on the boards also lists him as editor), engraved by Koizumi Kōfū (小泉工風), and published by Kodayama Yashichi (児玉彌七) of Ōhashidō (大橋堂) in April 1881 (Meiji 14). It is quite rare, only being noted among the holdings of the National Diet Library, Nara Prefectural Library, and Waseda University, while a later edition from 1885 is also held by the National Diet Library and the Nichibunken (International Research Center for Japanese Studies). No institution outside Japan appears to hold either edition of the map.


Itō Seisai (伊藤靜齊; fl. c. 1874 - 1891) was a Japanese artist and cartographer based in Tokyo in the early Meiji period. His cartographic work mostly focused on Tokyo itself, with a small number of pieces instead focusing on Mt. Fuji or Japan as a whole. The National Diet Library lists him as dying in 1883, which is possible; maps bearing his name were published after this date but were later editions of earlier works. More by this mapmaker...


Excellent. Slight wear on original folds; printers' crease at right. Attached to original boards.


OCLC 676384835, 905622548.