神國泰平 武守固鑑 / Shinkoku Taihei Take Mori Mata Akira
1854 (dated) 16 x 24 in (40.64 x 60.96 cm)
A rare c. 1854 Japanese news broadside describing the arrival American Commodore Mathew Perry in Edo Bay. The image depicts Edo or Tokyo Bay with southeast at the top of the map. Perry's ships, of which three including the Mississippi, his paddlewheel flagship, are shown entering Edo Bay from the southwest. The clans, each identified by the warlord in charge and his armorial crest, are arrayed defensively around the bay in an attempt to intimidate the invaders. A comic illustration in the upper right depicts a stylized American soldier.
Commodore Mathew Perry arrived in Japan on July 8, 1853 (Kaei 6). He had a commission from American President Millard Fillmore to force the opening of isolationist Tokugawa Japan's seaports to American trade and diplomacy. To the Japanese, Perry's arrival in his 'Black Ships' was equivalent to space aliens arriving in Washington D.C. and demanding to trade. The Japanese populace was understandably concerned about the strange ships, generically referred to as 'black ships' due to the pitch used to seal the hulls, on their horizon.
The Tokugawa Shogunate had long been suppressing public news outlets. The Japanese general populace, curious about major events, turned to the illicit kawaraban (読売) for information. Kawaraban, as above, are broadside publications quickly printed in response to major new events and distributed for a small fee. The momentous arrival of Perry's 'Back Ships' gave rise to a whole genre of kawaraban known as the kurofune kawaraban. The presently offered map is one of the largest and liveliest examples of such we have seen.
Plates and printing blocks were often reused by the kawaraban publishers. Another version of this kawaraban, without the 'Black Ships' or the 'American Soldier' is known to exist. Some of these images were also later reused to illustrated Perry's second visit in January of 1854. Although printed in massive quantities, kawaraban were printed cheaply and not intended to survive past their initial publication. Today most kawaraban are quite rare.
Good. Some edge wear. Original folds. Else clean.