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1878 Yamada / Takahara Map of North America

萬國地誌畧諳射譯圖四 / [Translated Topographical Maps of the World, 4]. - Main View

1878 Yamada / Takahara Map of North America


Global geography for the Japanese public.


萬國地誌畧諳射譯圖四 / [Translated Topographical Maps of the World, 4].
  1878 (dated)     14.25 x 13.5 in (36.195 x 34.29 cm)     1 : 20740000


A colorful 1878 (Meiji 11) Japanese map of North America by Yamada Shintarō and Takahara Tetsuya. It reflects the distribution of geographic knowledge from abroad in the early Meiji period, and more specifically the development of popular geographical knowledge.
A Closer Look
Coverage includes the United States, Mexico, the Canadas and other British territories in North America, Central America, and much of the Caribbean. At the margins, portions of South America, Greenland, and Russia also appear. Territories are colored differently to easily distinguish them. Major cities, mountain ranges, and river systems are labelled. In the United States, both states and territories are indicated, with an undivided Dakota Territory notable.

As the title indicates, this map is a translation of a foreign map, or maps, rather. An explanatory note at left lists two main influences, Samuel Augustus Mitchell's (ミヅチル氏) New School Atlas and (Sarah S.) Cornell's (コルネル氏) Companion Atlas. These atlases, meant for schoolchildren, might appear an odd information base when there were more comprehensive maps available in other atlases, but the present map and others in its series were also intended for schoolchildren. A box at left indicates that the present map was published specifically for the Gifu Normal School (岐阜師範学校).
Bringing the World to the Japanese Masses
Although foreign geographical knowledge was available to intellectuals well before the Meiji Restoration, the dissemination of such knowledge to the masses was one part of comprehensive education reforms in the early Meiji period, which included compulsory primary education. Aside from achieving very high levels of literacy, this agenda also allowed the new government to instill civic virtues, national identity, and veneration, if not outright worship, of the imperial family, in the children of Japan.
Publication History and Census
This map was prepared by Yamada Shintarō (山田申太郎) and Takahara Tetsuya (高原徹也), drawn by Noda Tatsusuke (野田達助), edited by Hihara Shōzō (日原昌造), and published in January 1878 (Meiji 11) by Okayasu Keisuke (岡安慶介) for the Gifu Normal School (岐阜師範学校). It was part of a series of six maps (all titled 萬國地誌畧諳射譯圖 / Translated Topographical Maps of the World followed by a number), forming a comprehensive world geography for schoolchildren. This map is not independently cataloged at any institution, though the OCLC lists an 1880 edition with a different publisher among the holdings of the National Diet Library, while the entire series (1878 edition) is held by the NDL, the Nichibunken (International Research Center for Japanese Studies), and Bukkyo University.


Hihara Shōzō (日原昌造; 1853 - 1904) was a Japanese journalist, translator, and educator of the Meiji period. Born in Chōfu Domain (長府藩, now Shimonoseki), he fought in the Boshin War, then studied English with the American missionary Samuel Robbins Brown at the Niigata English School, and continued to study English with Koizumi Shinkichi (小泉信吉) at the Osaka English School. He then taught at Keio University before serving as the Principal of the Aichi Normal School and the Shizuoka Normal School. Hihara undertook several translations for the Ministry of Education before accompanying his mentor Koizumi to London, where he lived for four years working for the Yokohama Specie Bank and publishing a regular column about the city in the Jiji Shinpō (時事新報). He later spent four years in San Francisco as manager of the bank's branch there. More by this mapmaker...

Samuel Augustus Mitchell (March 20, 1792 - December 20, 1868) began his map publishing career in the early 1830s. Mitchell was born in Bristol, Connecticut. He relocated to Philadelphia in 1821. Having worked as a school teacher and a geographical writer, Mitchell was frustrated with the low quality and inaccuracy of school texts of the period. His first maps were an attempt to rectify this problem. In the next 20 years Mitchell would become the most prominent American map publisher of the mid-19th century. Mitchell worked with prominent engravers J. H. Young, H. S. Tanner, and H. N. Burroughs before attaining the full copyright on his maps in 1847. In 1849 Mitchell either partnered with or sold his plates to Thomas, Cowperthwait and Company who continued to publish the Mitchell's Universal Atlas. By about 1856 most of the Mitchell plates and copyrights were acquired by Charles Desilver who continued to publish the maps, many with modified borders and color schemes, until Mitchell's son, Samuel Augustus Mitchell Junior, entered the picture. In 1859, S.A. Mitchell Jr. purchased most of the plates back from Desilver and introduced his own floral motif border. From 1860 on, he published his own editions of the New General Atlas. The younger Mitchell became as prominent as his father, publishing maps and atlases until 1887, when most of the copyrights were again sold and the Mitchell firm closed its doors for the final time. Learn More...


Very good. Some wear along fold lines and along edge, especially at bottom-left. Offsetting present. Folds into attached cover.


OCLC 675888037 (1880 edition).