1879 Kitō / Ozawa Map of the Western Hemisphere

萬國譯圖西半球 / [Translated Map of the World, Western Hemisphere]. - Main View

1879 Kitō / Ozawa Map of the Western Hemisphere


Revere the Emperor, Learn Geography.


萬國譯圖西半球 / [Translated Map of the World, Western Hemisphere].
  1879 (dated)     19.75 x 22.25 in (50.165 x 56.515 cm)


This is a rare 1879 or Meiji 12 Japanese map of the Western Hemisphere. It reflects the growing familiarity of Japanese cartographers with the geography of distant lands and the influence of foreign cartography in Japan in the early Meiji period.
A Detailed Look at the Map
The map's title indicates that it was based on a foreign-language map (or maps) of the Americas, most likely in German or English given the countries with the strongest influence in Japan at the time. It depicts both North and South America on a hemispherical projection and includes parts of Antarctica, New Zealand, Greenland, and Siberia. Most of the individual U.S. states and territories are labeled and color coded based upon a configuration prevalent in the early 1860s - giving us some clues as to the source map. The large Nebraska Territory extends north as far as Canada and dominates the central plains. The unincorporated Dacotah territory also appears west of Minnesota. Colorado is present and Oregon and Washington extend eastward as far as the Rocky Mountains. However, the creators must have had access to more recent maps, because most of the subsequent territories are named within the boundaries of the territories as shaded here (such as Montana 蒙客那, Wyoming 維阿明, and Nevada 尼哇達, though not Idaho).

The Rocky Mountains, the Andes, and other mountain ranges are shaded green. An inset of the New England states appears in the upper-left. Some anachronisms are included, such as the Yucatan Republic and the naming of the Hawaiian Islands as Sandwich Islands. On the other hand, the mapping of Antarctica is quite up to date.
Historical Context - An Explanation of Rarity
Commodore Matthew C. Perry arrived in Edo Harbor on July 8, 1853, intimidating the struggling Tokugawa Shogunate to open Japan to foreign trade after 214 years of self-imposed isolation. Fifteen years later, the Tokugawa were toppled by revolutionary forces loyal to the Emperor in Kyoto. Though initially promising to expel foreigners and foreign influences, the revolutionaries understood that Japan's best hope was to learn from and imitate foreign powers, and vastly expanded modernization projects undertaken in the last years of the Tokugawa. One priority was the importation of foreign knowledge, including cartographic practices and geographic knowledge. This piece represents Japan's growing interest in foreign geography and the availability of foreign knowledge in translation in the early Meiji period.
Publication History and Census
This map was drawn in Aichi Prefecture by Kitō Dōkyō (鬼頭道恭) and published on June 15, 1879 (Meiji 12) by Ozawa Kichisaburo (小澤吉三郎). The original foreign map it is based on was translated by Asano Meidō (淺野明道) and the final product was reviewed (校正) by Yoshikawa Takaharu (吉川隆春). Interestingly, the map's creators are divided into gentlemen (士族) and commoners (平民); although the formal social classes of the Tokugawa era had been abolished, this distinction revels the remnants of social hierarchy and uncertainty around the new social landscape of the Meiji era.

We are aware of a partner map, illustrating the Eastern Hemisphere, held at the East Asian Library, University of California. Of this Western Hemisphere map, only three other examples are known in institutional collections: one at the National Diet Library, one at the Huntington Library, and a third at the East Asian Library, U.C. Berkeley. Rare.


Kitō Dōkyō (鬼頭道恭; 1840 - 1904) was a Japanese painter of the late Tokugawa and Meiji periods. He was born in Nagoya and became a disciple of Moritaka Koga (森高雅). He then travelled to Kyoto to study Buddhist art and the techniques of the Tosa School with Okada Tamechika (岡田為恭). Afterwards, he returned to Nagoya where he became known as an expert in producing Buddhist-themed artistic works. More by this mapmaker...


Good. Folds into original yellow paper boards. Some wear on old fold lines.


OCLC 1280533894, UC-Berkeley Japanese Historical Maps Collection from the C. V. Starr East Asian Library Record No. 56105.