1958 Hokkaido Bijutsu Panoramic View of Asahikawa, Hokkaido

旭川市産業観光大案内図 / [Asahikawa Business and Sightseeing Guide Map]. - Main View

1958 Hokkaido Bijutsu Panoramic View of Asahikawa, Hokkaido


Home of the famous Winter Festival.


旭川市産業観光大案内図 / [Asahikawa Business and Sightseeing Guide Map].
  1958 (dated)     20.5 x 57 in (52.07 x 144.78 cm)


An impressive large-scale 1958 panoramic bird's-eye view of Asahikawa, Hokkaido published by the Hokkaido Bijutsu Shuppansha. Intended for both business travelers and tourists, it highlights the city's industry, culture, and attractions, many of which reflect an embrace of the area's harsh, cold climate.
A Closer Look
Less well known that Sapporo to its south, Asahikawa is Hokkaido's second largest city and along with Kitami could claim to be the northernmost large city in Japan. This view is oriented towards the east, so that Daisetsuzan National Park (大雪山國立公園), literally meaning 'great snow mountain' (one of the area's major attractions) sits in the background at right. The Ishikari River runs down towards bottom-left, while the Ushishubetsu River, its tributary, flows down from Daisetsuzan at top-right. The map includes an English title 'Bird-View of Asahikawa City,' but the Japanese title (旭川市街案内図) could more literally be translated as 'Asahikawa City Street Guide Map.'

The map provides a block-by-block overview of the city, labeling schools, hospitals, parks, government offices, police stations, factories, and other public institutions. Pictures of the same surround the map at top, left, and right. At left towards the top, across the Ishikari River from the main part of the city, is a large military base of the Japan Self-Defense Forces (自衛隊). It is accompanied by a Gokoku Shinto shrine (護国神社) to honor war dead. Another Shinto shrine is more conventionally located on a hilltop at right in the foreground, near a sports stadium and a baseball field.

Tokiwa Park (常磐公園), sitting at center towards left, is often considered the heart of the city. It hosts Asahikawa's famous winter festival, which coincides with a traditional Ainu Bear Festival (Iomante), but in the postwar period has become a major tourist attraction that celebrates the city's icy climate and local products. The verso includes information on the area's natural environment, culture, and history at left, while the right half is dedicated to Daisetsuzan National Park.

For much of Japan's history, Hokkaido was exclusively inhabited by indigenous Ainu people. Japanese feudal lords attempted to establish control over Hokkaido beginning in the 15th century, but these efforts were tenuous and localized. In the last decades of the Tokugawa Shogunate, the government in Edo became increasingly concerned about Russian incursions into Hokkaido and encouraged settlement there. But large-scale migration really began in the Meiji era (1868 - 1912), when Asahikawa and its surroundings were designated as a tondenhei (屯田兵), a frontier settler colony. The settlers, many of whom were ex-samurai, were given land and a home, and were organized into militia units. As in settler colonial contexts elsewhere, such as the American West, settlers by turns resented and venerated the indigenous inhabitants, and incorporated a simplified version of their culture into their own frontier identity. This attitude is reflected in the discussion and photographs of Ainu handicraft production on the verso.
Publication History and Census
This map was published by the Hokkaido Bijutsu Shuppansha (北海道美術出版社, Hokkaido Fine Arts Publishing House) in 1958 (unusually, a Japanese imperial reign date is not given), with support from the municipality, Chamber of Commerce, and Tourism Association. On the recto, a signature appears at bottom-left that looks to be the surname Hatakeyama. We are unable to locate any other examples of this view in institutional collections or on the market.


Very good. Some wear along fold lines. Chips along the edge, especially at bottom.