萬世御江戸繪圖 / [Mansei Edo Ryosuke].
31 x 33 in (78.74 x 83.82 cm)
This is a scarce 1850 (Kaei 3) late Tokugawa Era xylographic map of Edo / Tokyo, Japan. This very attractive map is loosely oriented to the east, although like most Edo Era maps, the cartography is not directionally specific and so text is oriented in every direction - Japanese maps were meant to be laid on the floor and studied from all angles while walking around them. The map is centered on the Imperial Palace - the red dot. Being pre-Perry (1852), this map is very much in the traditional Edo style, giving little evidence of foreign influence. Note, for example, the Japanese convention of naming blocks, not streets. A flap extends coverage south of the Sumida River.
BurakuminIn recent decades, Edo Era maps of Tokyo, like this one, received an unexpected backlash from the Japanese government and equal rights groups. When Google added a collection of rare 18th and 19th century Japanese maps of Tokyo from the Berkley East Asian Collection to its Google Earth Geo-Browser, it revealed the modern locations of forgotten Burakumin communities. The Burakumin are a social minority group labeled as 'outcasts' under the old Japanese caste system. This system, which dates to the early days of the Tokugawa Era (1603 - 1867), identified the Burakumin as 'untouchable' due to their employment in death-related professions such as gravediggers, undertakers, embalmers, and leather workers. Burakumin were considered 'tainted by death' and thus unlucky - as was the land they occupied. Although the caste system was abolished in 1871, some feared the satellite overlays might enflame a new wave discrimination against the Buraku.
Publication History and CensusThis map was first published in 1847 (Kaei 1). The present example dates to 1850 (Kaei 3). This is the third 'new year' revised edition. We note an edition of this map at the National Diet Library (000007284291) dating to 1862 (Bunkyu 2). This map is represented in several institutional collections, in other editions, but this is the only example of the 3rd edition we have noted.
Good condition. Folds into original covers. Minor wormholes here and there – see image. Some old style backing and restoration on verso.