1854 Fujita Map of Hokkaido, Sakhalin, and the Kuril Islands

蝦夷闔境輿地全圖 / [Complete Map of All Lands within the Borders of Ezo]. - Main View

1854 Fujita Map of Hokkaido, Sakhalin, and the Kuril Islands


Defending the borders in the wake of Commodore Perry.


蝦夷闔境輿地全圖 / [Complete Map of All Lands within the Borders of Ezo].
  1854 (dated)     44.5 x 35.75 in (113.03 x 90.805 cm)     1 : 1550000


This is an important 1854 (Kaei 7) Japanese Edo period Fujita Ryou chromoxylographic map illustrating Hokkaido, Sakhalin, and the Kuril Islands. It was issued following the 1853 arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry, anticipating the opening of Hakodate as one of the five Japanese treaty ports.
A Closer Look
The map's coverage extends north from the tip of Honshu to include Sakhalin Island and the Kuril Islands as far as Kamchatka. Sakhalin, or Karafuto, appears here as 'Northern Ezo' (北蝦夷唐太), with the Russian name transliterated as サカレイン (the alternative name of 'Taraikai' タライカイ, for a settlement on the site of today's Poronaysk, is also given), while the Kurils are called Chishima (千島) with individual islands labeled using transliterations of their Russian names, such as クナシリ for Kunashir. Some of the geography of Hokkaido (around what later became Sapporo, for instance) is surprisingly inaccurate, but the understanding of the Kurils and Sakhalin are, just as surprisingly, quite accurate.

This was a practical map, intended for actual Japanese voyages, and thus features copious navigational notes along the coasts. A preface at bottom-right discusses the impetus and methodology of the map's production. An adjoining legend indicates symbols for government offices (勤番所), walled settlements (城下), lodges, temples, trading posts (運上屋), coastal stations (舩掛澗), famous sites, hot springs, roads, and maritime routes. Many of the place names given are based on Japanese transliterations of Ainu terms. A brief glossary of Ainu words transliterated into Japanese (方言譯略) appears next to the legend. Compass roses appear throughout, with one at center employing the traditional East Asian compass, which adds the earthly branches (地支) derived from ancient Chinese divination and astrology.
Historical Context
Despite their reputation for xenophobia and a lack of interest about the outside world, the Tokugawa clan that unified Japan in the early 17th century did make efforts to strengthen control over frontier regions. Typically, this was delegated to daimyo allies and relatives of the ruling family, with the Matsumae clan handling the task in the north (Ezo). Maps from early in the Tokugawa period suggested if not outright claimed Hokkaido and the Kurils as part of the Shogun's domain and sent explorers to Sakhalin, one portion of a larger northern frontier known as Ezo (Yezo or Yeso in European sources). In the late 18th century, after encountering some Russians in the region, the Matsumae attempted to establish more robust trading ties with the Ainu and other indigenous people on the islands (who hitherto had typically paid tribute to the Manchu Qing ruling China). In 1807, the Tokugawa, viewing the Matsumae as self-interested and unreliable, claimed sovereignty over Sakhalin.

This map was issued following Commodore Perry's 1853 arrival that forced the Shogun to open Japan to foreign trade. On his second visit to Japan, Perry undertook a more thorough reconnaissance, visiting Hokkaido and Hakodate. In 1854, under the Convention of Kanagawa, Hakodate's port partially opened to foreign ships for provisioning. Several years later, on June 2, 1859, Hakodate fully opened as one of five Japanese ports designated as free-trade zones by the 1858 Treaty of Amity and Commerce. A foreign zone, the U.S. Hakodate Foreign Settlement, was established and remains one of the legacies of the treaty.
Russian Border Questions
Fearing further loss of sovereignty, the Shogunate reinstituted the Hakodate Bugyō, or governorship, under the old Samurai system. At the same time, the arrival of foreigners led the Shogunate to order a reassessment of known border cartography, resulting in a wealth of new maps covering the extremes of the empire - of which this, embracing the very fringes of Tokugawa Era geographical knowledge, is one of the most important. Americans were not the only foreigners interested in Hokkaido (Ezo, as it was then known). Long neglected by the Shogunate, the indigenous Ainu frequently traveled north to Sakhalin or Kamchatka to pay tribute to Manchu and Russian powers.

Part of this map's purpose was to facilitate the formalization of borders with the Russians. Soon after Perry's first visit to Japan in 1853, a Russian delegation landed at Nagasaki with similar demands in mind. The Russians took a more diplomatic approach than Perry and might have been the first to 'open' Japan, but the Shogun, who lay sick and dying, was unable to make such a momentous decision. Nonetheless, Russia and Japan did quickly try to settle their undefined border with the Treaty of Shimoda in 1855 (which also granted Russians access to Hakodate), but the terms concerning Sakhalin were vague. The two countries effectively divided the island, but this proved impractical and potentially volatile, so negotiations continued until the 1875 Treaty of St. Petersburg granted all of Sakhalin to Russia in exchange for Russia's portion of the Kuril Islands.
Publication History and Census
This map was compiled by Fujita Ryou (藤田良) and drawn by the Japanese mapmaker and Ukiyo-e printer Sadahide in 1854 (嘉永七年). Fujita, the compiler, is elusive and even within Japan, nothing is known of his biographical details or possible other work. It was distributed (發兌) by Katsugoro Harimaya (播磨屋勝五郎), based in Nihonbashi, Edo (Tokyo). This is the second edition of the map, with the first (OCLC 21838706) being published the preceding year. In either edition, the map is present in several institutional collections in Japan, and outside of Japan at the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Leiden University, the University of California Berkeley, Harvard University, the University of British Columbia, American University, and the Library of Congress.


Fujita Ryou (藤田良; fl. 1850 - 1959), also known as 'Kousai' was a Japanese cartographer of the late Edo Period. He produced a large map of Hokkaido in 1854. He is otherwise elusive. More by this mapmaker...

Sadahide Hashimoto (橋本貞秀; ハシモト, サダヒデ; 1807 - 1878), also known as Gountei Sadahide (五雲亭貞秀) and Hashimoto Gyokuran (橋本玉蘭), was a Japanese artist active in Yokohama in the second half of the 19th century. He was born in Chiba Prefecture. Hashimoto is best known for his renderings of foreigners, in particular Western peoples and customs, as observed while living in the open port of Yokohama. He is considered to be a disciple of Takako Kunisada, another artist of the Toyokuni Utagawa school, earning him the name Utagawa Sadahide (歌川貞秀). Hashimoto met Kunisada in 1826, when he was 14 years old and most of his early work reflects the work of Kunisada. Even before the Bankumatsu period, Sadahide took an interest in distant and foreign lands, publishing an important and controversial account of the First Opium War between Britain and Qing China (Kaigai Shinwa, 海外新話) with the scholar Mineta Fūkō (嶺田楓江). Following the 'opening of Japan' in 1853, he produced a series of prints of Ainu people in Kita Ezo zusetsu (北蝦夷図説) as well as a world map that was likely based on a Dutch original (https://www.geographicus.com/P/AntiqueMap/world-mineta-1853), also with Mineta. He developed an interest in geography and began issuing maps and bird's-eye views, some quite large over multiple panels, of Japanese cities. At the very end of the Tokugawa period, he moved to Nagasaki and was selected as part of a Japanese delegation to the International Exposition of 1867. Sadahide died about a decade later, living long enough to see the rapid transofrmation of Japan following the Meiji Restoration. He was a mentor to Hideki Utagawa. Learn More...

Katsugoro Harimaya (播磨屋勝五郎; fl. c. 1850 - 1865) was a Japanese publisher and bookseller at the Edo Nihonbashi Dori Juken store. Harimaya is known for publishing many books related to Ezo at the end of the Tokugawa shogunate. Learn More...


Average. Wear along original folds, with some loss at intersections. Some damp staining. Backed on Japanese tissue.


Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin, 3343782181. OCLC 21838706, 1146712142.