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1925 Kaneko 'Polar Race' Sugoroku Map of the North Pole / Arctic

五六年の小學生新年號附録 / 5-6th Grade Elementary School New Years Appendix. - Main View

1925 Kaneko 'Polar Race' Sugoroku Map of the North Pole / Arctic


Race to the North Pole.


五六年の小學生新年號附録 / 5-6th Grade Elementary School New Years Appendix.
  1925 (dated)     21 x 31 in (53.34 x 78.74 cm)


This is a rare 1925 (Taisho 14) / 1926 (Taisho 15) sugoroku game board and map of the Arctic / North Pole, commemorating the struggle to reach it in 1925. The board is oriented such that one player could sit on either side. As we have it oriented, the figure on the right is the Arctic explorer and polymath Fridtjof Nansen (1861 - 1930), who made a failed dash for the North Pole in 1895. The figure on the left is Robert Edwin Peary (1856 - 1920), who after several attempts, successfully reached the North Pole on April 6, 1909.
The Race to the North Pole
Although Peary and Nansen were not in competition, the race to the North Pole was an international obsession, and Peary and Nansen were among the most famous players. In the year this map went to press, yet another attempt at the north pole, this time by air. This was the famous MacMIllan Expedition, led by Richard E. Byrd (1888 - 1857) and Donald Baxter Macmillan (1874 - 1970).
The essence of the game, generally known as simplified sugoroku, is akin to the western board game, snakes and ladders. Historically there are two variants of sugoroku, one similar to backgammon, and the presently offered 'snakes and ladders' variant. This version of the game appeared as early as the 13th century, and was popularized by the rise of printing technology, especially in the Edo and Meiji periods, leading to the production of high-quality visually-arresting gameboards. A standard sugoroku board has a starting point, the furi-dashi, and a winding or spiral path terminating at the agari or finish-line. The gameplay itself, not unlike 'snakes and ladders,' is a race to the finish.
Publication History and Census
This map/game was drawn by Kaneko Shiro (金子士郎). It was intended for use by elementary school students of the 5th or 6th grade. It was printed on December 7, Taisho 14 (1925) and released to celebrate New Year on January 1, Taisho 15 (1926). The map is scarce as we note no other examples.


Kaneko Shiro (金子士郎; fl. c. 1920 - 1950) was a Japanese illustrator, cartoonist, and propaganda artist active from about 1920 to 1950. Before the war he was best known for children's art and sugoroku games. During the war he got involved with propaganda imagery. Learn More...


Very good. A few minor verso reinforcements on old fold lines.