1853 Kaei 6 Japanese Map of the World

Shintei - Chikyu Bankoku Hozu (Square Map of all the Countries on the Globe)

1853 Kaei 6 Japanese Map of the World


Important Tokugawa Era Japanese Map of the World labeling the Sea of Joseon.

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Shintei - Chikyu Bankoku Hozu (Square Map of all the Countries on the Globe)
  1853 (dated Kaei 6)    31 x 51 in (78.74 x 129.54 cm)


A very interesting 1853 (Kaei 6) Japanese world map by Suido Nakajima. Presented on a Mercator projection, this map marks a significant advancement in Japanese globular cartography and a far more sophisticated adaptation of western cartographic standards than is evidenced in most earlier Japanese world maps. No longer reliant on 17th century Dutch maps acquired via the Dutch East India Company's (VOC) trade concession in Nagasaki, the Japanese have here abandoned many of the antiquated cartographic notions, such as an insular California, which were common in Japanese maps of the previous decade. Japanese cartographers may have been motivated to update their traditional world view in the light of the explosion of cartographic ideas associated with the arrival in Edo Harbor of the American Commodore Matthew Perry in the same year this map was published.

As a whole this map offers a sophisticated cartographic presentation of the world embracing the most up to date cartographic knowledge available in the mid-19th century. Though adapted to the Japanese printing style, this map presents a generally accurate world view. British Claims to Washington and British Columbia are noted in North America, Australia and the Pacific are accurately rendered, as are the discoveries of Vitus Bering and James Cook in the Arctic, and Africa is clearly pre-Speke. The disputed East Sea / Sea of Japan / Sea of Korea is here labeled as the Sea of Joseon (Korea), which some scholars suggests indicates Japanese acceptance of the 'Sea of Korea' convention. Four hemispheres appear in the lower left quadrant, from left, the southern, northern, eastern, and western. All are on a stereographic projection. The map is printed on woodblock and hand colored in vivid, blues, greens, oranges, and yellows. A fine example of the redefined Japanese cartography style of the later Tokugawa period.


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.


Good. As with most examples of this map there is significant wormholing throughout with traditional Japanese verso repairs. Boards exhibit some damaged and possible replacement.


University of California, Berkley, East Asian Library, Japanese Historical Maps, A7. University of British Columbia, Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era, G3200.1853 N21.