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1886 Nakamura Pocket Map of Tokyo (printed in English)

New Map of Tokio Divided into Ninth Ri Sections for Measuring Distances. - Main View

1886 Nakamura Pocket Map of Tokyo (printed in English)


Scarce highly detailed English language Japanese map of Tokyo published for travelers to the Tsukiji Foreign Settlement.


New Map of Tokio Divided into Ninth Ri Sections for Measuring Distances.
  1886 (dated)     25 x 33 in (63.5 x 83.82 cm)     1 : 22600


A scarce 1886 Meiji 19 English language map of Tokyo, Japan, issued by M. Nishinomiya and G. Nakamura. Prepared and published for foreign travelers, missionaries, diplomats, and businessmen living in the Tsukiji Foreign Settlement, this remarkable map follows established Japanese cartography for the city with the remarkable difference that it is printed in English. Like most Meiji Era (and earlier) maps of Tokyo, the present example is oriented to the northwest. Centered on the Chiyoda District, this map covers central Tokyo from modern day Meguro to Kita and from Shinjuku and Shibuya to Koto. It is bounded in the lower left quadrant by the docks and piers giving access to Edo or Tokyo Bay. Like most Japanese maps of this period, but to our knowledge no English language or European maps, it covers the city in extraordinary detail, naming each street, block, park, canal, pond, and government building throughout. To our knowledge, this is the only 19th century Japanese published map of Tokyo to appear in English. As such it is an invaluable tool for non-Japanese speaking scholars researching Meiji Era Tokyo.

A large inset in the lower left quadrant focuses on the Tsukiji Foreign Settlement. From 1852, when Commodore Perry arrived in his 'Black Ships' forcing the Tokugawa Shogun to sign the 1854 Kanagawa Treaty (also known as the 'Unequal Treaty'), various concessions and foreign settlements began to appear throughout Japan. Most specifically these appeared in the cities of Nagasaki, Kobe, Yokohama, and of course Edo or Tokyo. The Tokyo foreign concession was called Tsukiji, a stretch of reclaimed land build upon a network of canals and bridges near the harbor. Foreign missionaries, scholars, politicians, and businessmen were required to live within the concessions and confine themselves to restricted routes when traveling within Tokyo proper. Though initially unpopular, the concessions appealed the Japanese fascination with all things foreign and had a significant influence on the national modernization projections associated with the Meiji Restoration. The Kanagawa Treaty was repealed in 1899, allowing foreigners to roam freely throughout Tokyo and the foreign concessions gradually diminished. In 1923, following the Great Kanto Earthquake, Tsukiji became the site of the Tokyo Fish Market, today the world's largest (and probably cleanest) piscine marketplace.

The red lines throughout and a wonderful manuscript annotation in the lower let quadrant of this map beautifully illustrate the relative isolation facing foreigners visiting Tokyo in the late 19th century. The annotation and the red lines record the travels of the Minnesota missionary Franklin H. Bassett through Tokyo. In Mr. Bassett's own words:
Jan-Feb 1888 -
F. H Bassett U. of Minn. with J.T. Swift, Yale, and Rev C. T. Wyckoff, Knox Coll. And Chicago Sem. Were the first group of so-called Y.M.C.A. teachers to be sent out by a New York Com. To serve for 3 years as self-supporting men in such Japanese schools as might desire their services in English Language and Literature.
F.H.B. supplied in the classes of Prof. J. O. Spencer at Goucher Hall, Aoyama, Tokio (D-9 on Map) Mch to June 1888. Later he was at Hikone and Osaka (Jinjo Chu Gakkos) and at private Boys Schools in Osaka and Kumamoto.
The Red Lines indicate trips of F. H. B. about Tokio. Some were made several or many times.
Himself - New York City,
43 years later, vis 23 Oct
1931 at 3330 Delavall Ave, Bronx.
Just so - 18 Oct 1933
45 years is a long-front view - but very short tail view.
Bassett was part of the American Board Mission in Japan the remarkable story of which is available in Gordon Lafayette's 1901 book, Thirty Eventful Years. The American Board Mission, which started in 1873, was the first major Christian missionary effort in Japan and had a lasting impact on Christianity throughout the country.

This map was published by M. Nishinomiya and engraved by G. Nakamura. This map most have been fairly popular amongst English speaking missionaries, merchants, and diplomats living in the Tsukiji Foreign Settlement, for whom it was issued as it went through several editions, most with different publishers. The earliest example we are aware of was issued by M. Yamatoya in 1882. Other editions include a 1884 Nishinomiya example, the present 1886 example, and one published by H.M.Co. held at Harvard's Pusey Library and dated 1893.


Japanese cartography appears as early as the 1600s. Japanese maps are known for their exceptional beauty and high quality of workmanship. Early Japanese cartography has its own very distinctive projection and layout system. Japanese maps made prior to the appearance of Commodore Perry and the opening of Japan in the mid to late 1850s often have no firm directional orientation, incorporate views into the map proper, and tend to be hand colored woodblock prints. This era, from the 1600s to the c. 1855, which roughly coincides with the Tokugawa or Edo Period (1603-1886), some consider the Golden Age of Japanese Cartography. Most maps from this period, which followed isolationist ideology, predictably focus on Japan. The greatest cartographer of the period, whose work redefined all subsequent cartography, was Ino Tadataka (1745 -1818). Ino's maps of Japan were so detailed that, when the European cartographers arrived they had no need, even with their far more sophisticated survey equipment, to remap the region. Later Japanese maps, produced in the late Edo and throughout the Meiji period, draw heavily upon western maps as models in both their content and overall cartographic style. While many of these later maps maintain elements of traditional Japanese cartography such as the use of rice paper, woodblock printing, and delicate hand color, they also incorporate western directional orientation, projection systems, and structural norms. Even so, Japan's isolationist policy kept most western maps from reaching Japan so even 19th century maps appear extremely out of date. The early Japanese maps copy the great 1602 Chinese world map of the friar Matto Ricci. After Shiba Kokan's 1792 map, most Japanese cartographers used Covens and Mortier's 1730 copy of Jaillot's 1689 double hemisphere work as their base world-view. In 1862 Seiyo Sato based a new world map on Dutch sources dating to 1857, thus introducing the Mercator projection to Japan. By the late Meiji Era, western maps became far more common in Asia and Japanese maps began to follow modern conventions. More by this mapmaker...


Very good. Manuscript annotation. Dissected and mounted on linen in 24 panels. Attached to original red linen boards which bear Mr. Bassett's personal bookplate. Some minor margin stains upper left quadrant do not affect printed area.