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1926 Yoshida Overhead View of Mt. Hiei, near Kyoto

叡山頂上一目八方鳥瞰圖 / [Multi-Directional Bird's-Eye View from the Peak of Mt. Hiei]. - Main View

1926 Yoshida Overhead View of Mt. Hiei, near Kyoto


Standout work by Japan's paramount view artist.


叡山頂上一目八方鳥瞰圖 / [Multi-Directional Bird's-Eye View from the Peak of Mt. Hiei].
  1926 (undated)     15 x 20.5 in (38.1 x 52.07 cm)


An unusual c. 1926 view depicting a 360-degree perspective from the peak of Mt. Hiei, near Kyoto, Japan. It was produced by Yoshida Hatsusaburō, a master of the bird's-eye view, though it differs significantly from most of Yoshida's other works.
A Closer Look
The view is a bit perplexing at first, but a compass rose at center orients the viewer with the familiar north (北), south (南), east (東), and west (西). Mt. Hiei (Hiei-zan, often shortened to just Eizan), is in fact a ridge with two mountain peaks, Daihei (大比叡) and the more accessible Shimeigatake (四明ヶ嶽), sometimes called the eastern and western peak, respectively. The mountain is the traditional dividing line between Kyoto (京都), at left, and Otsu (大津), at right.

Mt. Fuji (富士山) appears in the distance at right, almost due east. Other distant mountain summits are noted with their elevations, while Osaka and Kobe are indicated to the southwest. The component parts of the Enryaku-ji (延暦寺), the first temple of the Tendai sect of Buddhism, founded in the late 8th - early 9th century, are noted on Mt. Hiei, such as the Great Central Hall (根本中堂). Indeed, the entire area is replete with Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, in large part due to the influence of Kyoto.

At right, a block of fairly poetic text by Yoshida provides a paean to the area's scenery, including the temples of Kyoto, Lake Biwa (琵琶湖, at bottom-right), and the Enryaku-ji. Another section of text below gives a description of the scenery from Shimeigatake. Two 'conventional' inset maps accompany the view at bottom-left, one displaying the location of Shimeigatake in relation to Kyoto, Otsu, and other nearby mountains, and the other focusing in on Mt. Hiei, displaying famous sites with connecting roads and paths. Typical of Yoshida views, train lines are represented with red lines (the dashed red line around Lake Biwa may be a line under construction). The vehicle depicted in the title panel, which also appears in the view above and to the left of the compass rose at center, is the Eizan Cable Car (ケーブル). The cable car terminated near Shimeigatake, after which a path led to the mountain's summit (in recent years, a ropeway has been built for this final portion of the climb).
A Standout among Yoshida's Oeuvre
This work differs substantially from most of Yoshida's other views, which take a mountain, city, or even the entirety of Japan from a more conventional bird's-eye perspective of about 45 degrees off the ground. The present view is instead reminiscent of European summit views of the 19th century (such as Kaiser's view from the summit of the Großer Inselsberg, previously sold by us, PanoramaInselsberges-kaiser-1823), which also appeared in the United States in the early 20th century (for example, the stunning 1902 Walker view of Mt. Washington, MtWashington-walker-1902). Indeed, Yoshida drew at least five other views of Mt. Hiei during his career, but this is the only one to adopt such a perspective, and may be the only view of the hundreds which he produced to employ a 360 degree perspective.
Publication History and Census
This view was drawn by Yoshida Hatsusaburō (吉田初三郎) and published by Kankōsha (觀光社) in or around the year 1926 (Taisho 15 / Showa 1; it is also atypical among Yoshida's work for being undated). The only known example in institutional collections is held by the Nichibunken (International Research Center for Japanese Studies) in Kyoto.


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...

Kankōsha (觀光社; c. 1918 – 1955), initially named Taishō Meisho Zuesha (大正名所圖繪社), was a Japanese publisher specializing in bird's eye views of famous scenic and tourist sites in Japan, especially sketchbook mailer maps (書簡圖繪). They regularly published works by with Yoshida Hatsusaburō (吉田初三郎), a master of the genre. Learn More...


Very good. Wear along original fold lines. Parallel vertical creases at right.


OCLC 1020872326.