1848 Kikusui Large Foldout Ukiyo-e 'Road Map' of Japan

諸國一覽大日本道中細見全圖 / [Overview of the Provinces, Complete and Detailed Road Map of Japan]. - Main View

1848 Kikusui Large Foldout Ukiyo-e 'Road Map' of Japan


The Tokaido Road.


諸國一覽大日本道中細見全圖 / [Overview of the Provinces, Complete and Detailed Road Map of Japan].
  1848 (dated)     14.5 x 47.75 in (36.83 x 121.285 cm)     1 : 1160000


An impressive large-format 1848 Ukiyo-e woodblock bird's-eye view displaying all of Japan and highlighting its road system.
A Closer Look
Covering all of Tokugawa Japan, this remarkable view notes provinces (black boxes with white text), cities, towns, islands, waterways, and other features. Above all, it traces the country's system of major roads in red, including the all-important Tokaido. Major cities (Osaka, Kyoto, and Edo) are marked with prominent red circles, with Edo appearing as the site of multiple crossroads, resembling a great octopus with tentacles stretching in several directions. The view curiously adopts a somewhat shifting perspective, as indicated by the yellow compass roses, in order to squeeze portions of southern Japan in at left.

Several tables provide extensive information on traveling between cities. One at top-left lists cities and towns along the Tokaido with their distances between them. Along the bottom are tables of distances for other major roads in Japan, while maritime routes are traced on the view itself with distances noted. A table on the left notes the location of temples in western Japan.
The Tokaido
The Tokaido, literally meaning 'Eastern Sea Way,' was a Japanese national highway of sorts connecting the Kansai (Osaka and Kyoto) and Kanto (Edo) regions, squeezing between mountains and the coast. It became an important economic engine and cultural symbol in the period of Tokugawa rule, particularly as the Tokugawa Shoguns forced daimyo to travel to Edo regularly (the sankin kotai system). The daimyo, accustomed to luxury and seeking to demonstrate their wealth, patronized an entire service industry that grew up along the sides of the road, including inns, teahouses, and restaurants. In particular, regular stopping points, usually about one day apart, developed and became known as the 'fifty-three stations' of the Tokaido.

Aside from the political impact of the sankin kotai, the Tokaido aided the cultural unification of Japan. Writers, poets, and ukiyo-e artists depicted the road and the sites it passed, especially Mt. Fuji. Even the language became more standardized because people from different regions could travel more easily on the Tokaido and interact with those who spoke other dialects. In the post-World War II period, the Tokaido Shinkansen, the first modern high-speed rail line in Japan (and the world), basically followed the route of the old Tokaido.
Publication History and Census
This map was engraved by Minotasō Keibun (箕田荘恵文) and published by Kikusui Chuzo (菊水屋忠藏) in Edo in 1848 (弘化5年). Little information is available about Minotasō and Kikusui, and this appears to be the only work produced by either. It is one of a series of similarly titled foldout maps of Japan published from about 1847 and continuing into the late 19th century, making this a very early example. The present map is scarce, being cataloged among the holdings of the National Diet Library, Meiji University, and, under a slightly different title, by Waseda University (大日本道中細見繪圖, possibly an alternate printing, though also dated 1848). Tokyo University holds a later (1867) map with the same title, which may or may not be a later edition of the same map (neither Minotasō nor Kikusui are listed as contributors).


Good. Wear along original folds. Some loss at junction of folds. Some light water stains. Text on verso.