1922 Yoshida Panoramic Bird's Eye View of Japan

日本交通鳥瞰圖 / [Bird's Eye View of Japan's Transportation]. - Main View

1922 Yoshida Panoramic Bird's Eye View of Japan


Panoramic Bird's-Eye View of Japan.


日本交通鳥瞰圖 / [Bird's Eye View of Japan's Transportation].
  1922 (undated)     10 x 65.25 in (25.4 x 165.735 cm)


A stunning, large-format 1922 foldout bird's-eye view of Japan, drawn by Yoshida Hatsusaburo, a master of the genre, for the Japanese Ministry of Railways. It highlights the country's transportation links, particularly railways, which were the primary means of interurban travel, while also celebrating the 1922 Tokyo Peace Exhibition.
A Closer Look
As the introductory text at right point out, this view adopts the unusual orientation towards the southeast rather than towards the west, as was common for bird's-eye views of Japan, allowing for the inclusion of Korea (then a Japanese colony), along with parts of Manchuria and eastern China, in the foreground and the Pacific Ocean in the background. Major rail lines are traced in red, connecting Japanese cities throughout the home islands, as well as Taiwan and Karafuto (the southern half of Sakhalin), also Japanese colonies. Shipping lines are traced in white, connecting Japan to North America, the Panama Canal, the Chinese coast, and Southeast Asia.

The verso contains text that matches the grand scope of the recto. An initial section discusses the popularization of transportation, and takes on specific topics such as the state of Japan's rail network and the fastest possible route between Tokyo and London. A following section covers geographic characteristics of Japan's different regions (including colonies) at length and provides travel times by ship to ports near and far.
The National Imaginary
As with many of Yoshida's views, the present work reflects Japan's expanding territory, growing ambitions, and changing self-conception in the early part of the 20th century, as it became a major world power and drifted towards militarist nationalism. Since passenger rail was the main means of long-distance transportation and an important driver of the economy, the government, particularly the Railway Ministry, had a clear interest in promoting domestic travel and tourism (Yoshida played an important role in these efforts and had originally made his name in the 1910s for his Railway Tourism Guide 鐵道旅行案内 views). Meanwhile, as Japanese politics were becoming increasingly nationalistic in this period, the government was eager to promote a vague yet powerful sense of 'national essence' (國體), in which the landscape of Japan played an important symbolic role.
Expansion and Nationalization of Japan's Railways
Like much of the Western world, Japan saw a boom in railway construction in the late 19th-century, a combination of private ventures, government-operated lines, and lines built through public-private partnerships. Around the turn of the century, the Japanese government aimed for standardization and rationalization of the system and hoped to expand the network to every corner of the Japanese home islands. Troubles encountered during the Russo-Japanese War (1904 - 1905) only strengthened these concerns, and in 1906, major interurban lines were nationalized, a move welcomed by the shareholders of the pre-existing companies, which had become unprofitable. But suburban commuter lines and light rail lines to more remote areas and smaller cities continued to be privately operated, often with considerable government support. In 1920, the Imperial Railway Board (鐵道院) was reorganized as the Ministry of Railways (鐵道省), which produced this view. During World War II (1939 - 1945), remaining private lines were nationalized, and during the U.S. Occupation, the railways were reorganized as a public corporation, Japanese National Railways.
Japan's Great War and the Tokyo Peace Exhibition
An introductory block of text at right explains that this map was produced to coincide with Tokyo's 1922 Peace Exhibition (平和博覽會). Although it was dedicated to world peace and the memory of the World War I (1914 - 1818), the Tokyo Peace Exhibition was similar to earlier international exhibitions in that it was primarily a celebration of technology and empire. The festive mood of the exhibition might have been due to the fact that Japan had suffered very little and profited considerably from the First World War. Like the U.S., Japan benefitted economically by providing the Allies with financing, weapons, and supplies, which helped overcome debts from the Russo-Japanese War (1904 - 1905). Japan also gained control of the German concession at Jiaozhou (Qingdao) in China, expanded its informal empire in China, and occupied several German territories in the Western Pacific.

Japan also tried to position itself as an arbiter of postwar peace, and, as the only major non-Western power, acted as the voice of non-white peoples. However, Japan's effort to have a racial equality clause inserted into the Treaty of Versailles was rebuffed, and Japanese naval ambitions were constrained by the other major victors of World War I at the Washington Naval Conference, hinting at future tensions with the U.S. in particular. Japan also benefitted from the collapse of its old rival, Tsarist Russia, though it did intervene with other Allied powers against the Soviets in the Russian Civil War. Although the Soviets eventually won the civil war, Japan gained important intelligence and experience from its Siberian intervention.
Publication History and Census
This view was drawn by Yoshida Hatsusaburo and was printed by Toppan Printing in 1922 for the Transportation Bureau of the Japanese Ministry of Railways (鐵道省運輸局). It is quite scarce, only being noted among the holdings of the National Diet Library, Waseda University, and the Nichibunken (International Research Center for Japanese Studies).


Yoshida Hatsusaburō (吉田初三郎, March 4, 1884 - August 16, 1955) was a Japanese illustrator and painter of birds-eye views active during the Taisho and Showa periods. Yoshida was born in Kyoto and apprenticed under Takeshiro Kanokgoi (1874 - 1941). Yoshida is significant for pioneering the use parallel perspective birds-eye views to illustrate Japanese bus and railroad transit networks. His first birds-eye view, completed in 1914, illustrated the Keihan railway and was highly praised by no less than Hirohito, then a prince but soon to be the Shōwa Emperor. With the Emperor's approval, Yoshida's views became widely popular and were adopted by the Ministry of Railways for the illustration all of its major public transportation networks. His style was so fashionable and distinctive that an entire genre was named after him (初三郎式絵図), and his works helped to spur a domestic tourism boom in the 1920s – 1930s. Most of his work consisted of city and regional views, though larger views encompassing the entirety of Japan do exist. Yoshida's most significant piece is most likely his rendering of the Hiroshima bombing, which was published in an English language magazine in 1949. He took on Tsunemitsu Kaneko as an assistant and apprentice in the early 1930s. Eventually Kaneko started making parallel perspective views of his own and became Yoshida's primary rival. Although he made over 3,000 maps in his lifetime, Yoshida was known to dedicate months to research and preparation for particular maps. For his 1949 Hiroshima map and his striking depiction of the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, he adopted a journalistic approach and spoke to many survivors of the disasters. More by this mapmaker...

Toppan Printing Company (凸版印刷株式會社, 1900 - present) was a printer and lithographic press founded in Meiji Japan in 1900 as Toppan Printing Limited Partnership. The founding of Toppen closely correlates to Meiji efforts to modernize Japan in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The firm was formally reorganized with an influx of new investment in 1908, taking the name Toppan Printing Co., LTD (凸版印刷株式會社), which literally translates as 'Letterpress Printing Company,' reflecting the company's embrace of the then cutting edge Erhört letterpress method. By 1910, Japan had modernized to such an extent there was a growing need for brightly colored advertising, propaganda, touristic, and commercial printing. Toppen employee Gennojo Inoue split off from the firm to import color offset printing technologies from the United States and Europe, founding the Offset Printing Company in 1913. After four years of successful operation and growing market share, Toppen acquired the technologically superior company and reabsorbed Gennojo Inoue as an executive. Despite the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, Japanese efforts at modernization advanced rapidly. Between 1920 and 1929 the company's production and revenue grew dramatically. In 1920 or 1920 photomechanical printing was introduced to Japan, again by the efforts of visionary company president Gennojo Inoue. From the 1930s on, Toppen under Gennojo Inoue's guidance continued to grow, becoming one of the largest printing concerns in Japan. They established offices in other cities, including Osaka. In 1938, they built a large press factory, the Itabashi Plant, in Tokyo. During World War II the Toppen firm was utilized for the war effort, producing new currencies, bonds, government securities, and propaganda material. Following the war, Toppan was reorganized and continued to grow. It is today a major Japanese firm, diversified in multiple industries and traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Learn More...


Good. Light wear along original folds. Light foxing. Slight loss on cover page. Several small tears on cover professionally repaired. Text on verso.


OCLC 673214842, 54584380, 1020915088 (Nichibunken, using alternative, descriptive title).