1940 Maeda Bird's Eye View of Fukuoka, Japan

福岡市觀光圖 / [Sightseeing Map of Fukuoka]. - Main View

1940 Maeda Bird's Eye View of Fukuoka, Japan


Japan's Bulwark against Foreign Invasion.


福岡市觀光圖 / [Sightseeing Map of Fukuoka].
  1940 (dated)     7 x 24 in (17.78 x 60.96 cm)


A scarce 1940 bird's eye view of Fukuoka, Japan drawn by Maeda Kōei, a disciple of Yoshida Hatsusaburō, a master of the genre. Though intended for tourists, it was produced in the context of total war and militarist nationalism, and draws on the city's history as a bulwark against foreign invasion, the site of the original kamikaze (divine wind) that saved Japan from the Mongols.
A Closer Look
Oriented towards the northwest, this view takes in modern Fukuoka, consisting of the historic port of Hakata at right and the relatively more recent (Edo period) town of Fukuoka at left, and its surroundings. Similar to his teacher Yoshida, Maeda emphasizes steam and electric railway lines, traced in red, with the Umi no Nakamichi (海ノ中道) across a narrow isthmus at top being especially notable. He similarly follows Yoshida's style in using vertical boxes to label important sites, including Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples, mountains, parks, schools, government offices, train stations, neighborhoods, villages, and more. As a city with a long history as an important center for military power and trade, Fukuoka contains several important historical sites, especially shrines and temples. The large Hakozaki Shrine (筥崎宮) is especially prominent at top-center towards right. Calligraphy at top-left refers to the kamikaze (神風) that saved Fukuoka during two Mongol invasions in the 13th century, while a sunken Mongol ship can be seen in the harbor towards bottom-left.

The verso contains text briefly introducing famous sites in the city, including parks, shrines, temples, schools (Kyushu Imperial University), and more. Information is also provided on festivals at shrines and temples at different times of the year and special attention is given to Hakata-ku (博多區), a historically important commercial district. Given Fukuoka's proximity to the sea and to Korea and China beyond, the port was home to early foreign traders, including what is considered to be Japan's first Chinatown. Finally, the verso text provides a list of tourist sites in and around Fukuoka with brief directions on how to get there, along with a description of distinctive local products.
Wartime Intrusions
This peaceful scene belies the context in which the map was produced, at the height of Japanese militarism and hypernationalism. By this time, Japan was already engaged in a full-scale war in China that was devolving into stalemate and was hurtling towards confrontation with Western powers, including the United States. Fukuoka holds a special place in the collective memory of Japan, especially as relates to foreign invasion. It was the site where two successive Mongol fleets in 1274 and 1281 were destroyed by storms in Hakata Bay. The second invasion fleet consisted of thousands of ships and hundreds of thousands of troops, constituting perhaps the largest amphibious landing force in history prior to the D-Day landings in 1944. It is no wonder that Japanese viewed the storms that saved them from this imposing force as a divine wind.

Although at this point the term kamikaze had not come to refer to pilots who deliberately crashed their planes into American ships, the cult of emperor worship, self-sacrifice, and a highly idealized notion of samurai virtue had already become standard fare in Japanese public life. These values were tested in the latter stages of the war, as Fukuoka was firebombed by American planes in June 1945, resulting in more than 20% of the city being destroyed.
Publication History and Census
This view was published in April 1940 (Showa 15). It was drawn (筆) by Maeda Kōei (前田虹映), edited by Kitazaki Yoshimi (北崎義實), and printed by Tamura Ichitarō (田村市太郎) of Keishō Publishers (景勝出版社). It was copyrighted to Kobayashi Yoshikazu (小林義和) and distributed by the city government of Fukuoka (福岡市役所). Aside from Maeda, not much information is available about these other contributors to the view, though they all appear to have been in the orbit of Yoshida Hatsusaburō and likely worked at his studio (大正名所圖繪社).

Yoshida had himself produced a larger bird's eye view of Fukuoka (福岡市鳥瞰圖) in 1936 (Showa 11), which certainly influenced Maeda, though there are also notable differences between the two works. Not only is the perspective slightly different and many minor details vary, but Maeda's work is somewhat more ethereal, particularly in his depiction of mountains, more closely resembling traditional landscape painting. Similarly, the addition of calligraphy and use of ink and watercolor in addition to chromolithographic printing are unusual for the time and genre and suggest a limited run of the view. These elements were no doubt the result of Maeda's early training in the Nihonga (日本画) School of Japanese art, which sought to revive traditional themes and methods. The present work is quite scarce, and is only known to be held by the Fukuoka City Museum (福岡市博物館).


Maeda Kōei (前田虹映; June 19, 1897 – June 8 , 1945), born Maeda Kazuo (穣) was a Japanese artist specializing in bird's eye views of Japanese cities. He was the oldest and one of the closest disciples of Yoshida Hatsusaburō (吉田初三郎). The two were also related by marriage; Maeda's wife's older sister was married to Yoshida. Born in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Maeda moved to Tokyo at age 21 to study art with Tanaka Raisho (田中頼璋), a landscape painter and member of the Nihonga (日本画) School, which sought to revive traditional styles in the face of increasing Western influence. Soon afterwards, Maeda became interested in bird's eye views and became a student of Yoshida. He went on to become one of the primary artists at Yoshida's workshop (大正名所図絵社) and helped to produce dozens of works. More by this mapmaker...


Very good. Light wear on original folds. Text on verso.