1927 Nihon Meisho Zuesha Map of the Five Lakes of Mt. Fuji

富士登山と五湖めぐり圖繪 / [Map for Climbing Mt. Fuji and Visiting the Five Lakes]. - Main View

1927 Nihon Meisho Zuesha Map of the Five Lakes of Mt. Fuji


Mt. Fuji for nature lovers.


富士登山と五湖めぐり圖繪 / [Map for Climbing Mt. Fuji and Visiting the Five Lakes].
  1927 (dated)     7.5 x 39.25 in (19.05 x 99.695 cm)


This is a beautiful and very rare 1937 Nihon Meisho Zuesha bird's-eye view map of the Five Lakes of Mt. Fuji. It is oriented towards the southwest, looking at the northern face of Mt. Fuji. Whereas other maps of Mt. Fuji are geared towards religious pilgrims or urbanites seeking to relax at local hot springs, this map is aimed at avid hikers and nature lovers.
The Five Lakes and the Surrounding Area
This map shows the most popular northern entrance of Mt. Fuji, starting at the town of Yoshida (吉田), going through the Asama Sengen Shrine (淺間神社, also known as Kitaguchi Hongū Fuji Sengen Jinja), then to the trail leading to the summit. Yoshida was connected by an electric tram (Fuji Electric Railway, 富士山麓電気鉄道) with the main rail line (the Chūō Main Line) leading to Tokyo by way of Ōtsuki (大月). The attached photographs at right are of the five lakes and the mountain itself. This map was likely sold in Yoshida, Ōtsuki, or Tokyo; while not as useful as some other maps of Mt. Fuji in terms of information for travelers, it does give a sense of the relation of different sites to each other and provides (on the verso) essential details, such as how to reach Yoshida from Ōtsuki and then how to reach the summit and the Five Lakes from Yoshida, as well as return trails. It doubles as a souvenir; aside from the photographs, there is a wealth of information on the verso about the lakes, as well as nearby ponds, waterfalls, forests, scenic outlooks, and fauna.
Mt. Fuji in Japanese Culture
Mt. Fuji has for centuries been a significant cultural and religious site due to its height, beauty, and the presence of important kami, or Shinto spirits. Poets, pilgrims, mystics, ascetics, samurai, and others have long sought meaning and wisdom at Mt. Fuji, and the mountain has become synonymous with Japan. The cultural importance of the mountain was heightened during the Edo period because of its proximity to the capital and the Tokaido, the frequently traveled main road connecting Edo with the rest of Japan. After Tokyo was made the imperial capital in the Meiji Restoration and the city grew tremendously, nearby Mt. Fuji became even more important to Japanese identity. The Meiji Restoration had also brought the initiation of State Shinto, with intense emperor worship and bureaucratic control replacing the variegated, localized landscape of Japanese folk religion that had combined elements of Buddhism and Shinto, and the Asama Sengen Shrine was incorporated into this centralized system.
Sketchbook Mailer Maps
Sketchbook Mailers (書簡圖繪) were a style of bird's-eye view map that became very popular in Japan in the 1920s-1940s, often depicting cityscapes from across Japan's growing empire. Each map was designed to be folded and packaged for safe and easy mailing, and came with information about and photographs of the city on the verso, as is the case here. Although these maps are fascinating, beautiful, and educational, they also served a political function, informing Japanese audiences about the empire and providing a visual aid to understand places they would have read about frequently in the news.
Publication History and Census
This map was printed in July 1937 (no exact date given) by Nihon Meisho Zuesha (日本名所圖繪社), and distributed by Yamanashi Prefecture (山梨縣; presumably meaning the local government). There are no known examples in institutional holdings, and it is very scarce on the market. A similarly titled map (富士登山と五湖めぐり) by Kaneko Tsunemitsu (金子常光) and Koyama Kichizō (小山吉三) is held by the International Research Center for Japanese Studies (Nichibunken). It is undated but, given the time period in which the creators were most active, it is likely from the 1920s - 1940s. It is also a bird'- eye view (more specifically, a sketchbook mailer 書簡圖繪), from a similar though not identical angle, also distributed by Yamanashi Prefecture and printed by Nihon Meisho Zuesha, and the information on the verso is similar but not identical. The Kaneko and Koyama map is marked as 'Third Edition,' so it is possible that it is a later edition of this map.


Nihon Meisho Zuesha (日本名所圖繪; fl. c. 1925 - 1942) was a Japanese publisher of maps, often dealing with cities or travel throughout Japan's growing empire in the 1920s - 1940s, founded by artist and cartographer Koyama Kichizō (小山吉三). They became especially known for bird's-eye views of cities, collaborating with leading artist-cartographers in that genre, such as Yoshida Hatsusaburō (吉田初三郎) and Kaneko Tsunemitsu (金子常光), and developing popular folding sketchbook maps (書簡圖繪) that could be easily mailed and transported. More by this mapmaker...


Very good. Slight wear along fold lines. Pamphlet appears to have some slight staining.