The only known example of a 1904 (Meiji 37) Japanese serio-comic style map of Asia illustrating foreign perspectives on the Russo-Japanese War (1904 - 1905). Although previously unknown, if the May 3rd 1904 date is to be believed, this is the second Japanese serio-comic map in the Russo-Japanese War series. The map covers all of Asia and although it does not include Europe, illustrates several western European powers, including France, England, and Germany.
The First of a Genre
Although this map is far rarer, this being the only known example, it stylistically resembles the famous Humorous Diplomatic Atlas of Europe and Asia
of Kisaburō Ohara. The map exhibits a similar color palette, printing technique, typography, and art nouveau flourishes. While the art may be from the same hand, the printing on this map is of superior quality. It is also noteworthy for the remarkably fluid English text, no doubt the work of the erudite and well-traveled Yokohama art dealer Nomura Yozo (野村陽三). There is a detailed breakdown of the map in Japanese in the lower left quadrant, but we have not been able to fully translate it at this point - we will update the listing accordingly as more information become available.
The Primary Actors
The map's color coding distinguishes Russia (yellow), China (green), Korea (blue) and Japan (light pink). Russia is represented centrally by Tzar Nicholas II (1868 - 1918), with flanking figures possibly representative of general Aleksey Kuropatkin (1848 -1925) and Admiral Yevgeni Ivanovich Alekseyev (1843 - 1917). We have been unable to identify the lesser figures. Japan is represented by the Emperor Meiji (1852 - 1912) and a smaller Marshal-Admiral the Marquis Tōgō Heihachirō (1848 - 1934). The figure representing China remains a mystery. Far to the west, although Europe is not included on this map, several European powers are, among them are England, represented Edward VII (1941 - 1910) smoking a pipe and wearing military gear; Germany, represented by Kaiser Wilhelm II (1859 - 1951); and French president Émile François Loubet (1838 - 1929). England shares color coding with Japan, France with Russia, and Germany with Korea.
In many ways the Russo-Japanese War marked Japan's coming of age as a modern economic and military superpower - on par with established European and American nations and the first Asian country to attain such a status in modern times. As such, the Japanese populous was fascinated, curious, and even trepidatious regarding how the greater political world viewed Japan and the war in general. This map, as the first in the Russo-Japanese War serio-comic map, breaks down the European response to the war humorously, introducing Japan to a cartographic medium - the serio-comic map - that Europeans had long been intimately familiar with. Included in the upper right is a finely written statement in English, presumably written by the Japanese antique dealer Yozo Nomura,
Practical Sympathy of English Men. Dear Sir: - It gives us the greatest pleasure to write these lines to you and to enclose a check for yen 37.00 to be contributed to the war fund. This amount has been sent to use for this purpose by two English gentlemen, who sympathize with us in the struggle we are now waging against Russia, and show us clearly how our friends in England are willing to help us to fight our powerful enemy. Yen 25.00 of the sum came from Major H. W. Benson, of Fairy Hill, Beynoldston, Glamorgan, and yen 12 are from Mr. H. A McPherson, Limestreet, London. Yours faithfully Yozo Nomura Samurai Shokai Yokohama, May 3, 1904.
The sum, 37 yen, or about 535 USD in modern terms, hardly seems significant when weighed against the economies of war. And yet, the gift was clearly meaningful, even touching. For the Japanese to receive even such token support from one European power as they waged war against another was significant, and global support for Japan against Russia is a general theme in all Russo-Japanese War serio-comic maps. Nor is this account fictionalized, the figures in question, H. W. Benson and H. A. Mcpearson were at the time figures of substance in British foreign service circles. Yozo Nomura, as a well-known English-fluent Yokohama businessman would have also been a natural conduit for such funds.
The Russo-Japanese War, fought from February 8, 1904 - September 5, 1905, pitted Imperial Japan against Tsarist Russia over rival imperial ambitions in Manchuria and Korea. Both Russia and Japan had grand visions for the region. Russia traditionally had only one Pacific port, Vladivostok, which was operational only during the warm summer months. In 1898, Russia coerced China, then weakened after the First Sino-Japanese War (1894 - 1895), to lease Port Arthur, a warm water port on the Liaodang Peninsula. They also negotiated a right-of-way to connect Port Arthur to the China Eastern Railway, which ran from nearby Dalian (Dalny) to Harbin, a stop on the Siberian Railway. Russia, eager to expand southwards from Siberia, considered Port Arthur the cornerstone of a sphere of influence covering China, Manchuria, and Korea. Japan had its own Imperial ambitions and saw itself as the natural overlord in East Asia. Korea and Manchuria in particular were important as steppingstones into China, with its seemly unlimited resources.
There was initially some attempt at negotiation between the imperialist powers, but Tsar Nicholas II arrogantly believed it impossible that Japan could challenge a major European power. Japan proved him wrong, launching a surprise attack on the Russian Eastern Fleet stationed at Port Arthur. Throughout the course of the war, the Russians were defeated again and again, humiliating the Tsar and forcing U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt to arbitrate a peace, confirmed by the Treaty of Portsmouth. The treaty recognized Japan's claims on Korea and called for the evacuation of Russian forces from Manchuria, including from Port Arthur.
The overwhelming victory of Imperial Japan came as a surprise to international observers, being the first major military victory in the modern era of an Asian over European power. The consequences transformed the balance of power, confirmed Japan as the pre-eminent power in East Asia.
Chromolithography is a color lithographic technique developed in the mid-19th century. The process involved using multiple lithographic stones, one for each color, to yield a rich composite effect. Oftentimes, the process would start with a black basecoat upon which subsequent colors were layered. Some chromolithographs used 30 or more separate lithographic stones to achieve the desired effect. Chromolithograph color could also be effectively blended for even more dramatic results. The process became extremely popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when it emerged as the dominate method of color printing. The vivid color chromolithography produced made it exceptionally effective for advertising and propaganda imagery.
Japanese Serio Comic Maps of the Russo-Japanese War
Although Serio-Comic maps were common in Europe from at least the 1860s, they were first discovered by Japanese artists and printers during the Russo-Japanese War, when they became popular tools for both internal propaganda and communicating Japanese solidarity with European powers, specifically England. Five Japanese Serio-Comic maps were issued to illustrate the Russo-Japanese War at different points. They are issued by different artists and publishers, but appear sequentially, by month, suggesting central planning - possibly the Tomizu Group or Anti-Russian Society (対露同志会). All are rare, but the first map in the series, by Kisaburō Ohara and Shingo Nakamura, is the most common. The others are exceedingly scarce. We offer a breakdown of known maps from this series,
- April 1904 - Kisaburō Ohara / 小原喜三郎 - A Humorous Diplomatic Atlas of Europe and Asia / 滑稽欧亜外交地圖.
- May 3, 1904 - Nakayama Kyūshirō / 中山久四郎 - New Commemorative Print of Various Countries Sympathies in the Russo Japanese War. / 崭新纪念画 日露戰爭列國义同情.
- May 1904 - Unknown - Humor Reproach Candition Map of Europe and Asia. / 滑稽諷刺歐亞形勢圖
- June 1904 - Kamijo Yomotaro - New Comical Atlas / 滑稽万国形勢新地圖.
- July 1904 - Haru EiDō / 春榮堂- New Funny Map of Europe and Asia / 亞細亞歐羅巴嶄新滑稽地圖.
We are not aware of any others from this series, although Japanese serio-comic maps do appear again in the 1910s.
Full Translation of Text
What follows is a full translation of the lengthy Japanese text on the map.
The Imperial Japanese Empire, unable to overlook the unlawful and violent deeds of Russia, made a huge blow to him (Russia) in order to secure world peace and benefit civilization, an attack unheard of in the history of all nations, one great battle was started, and the hero of this battle was the Navy with grand and magnificent results, traveling to Lüshun (Port Arthur), to Vladivostok and then on to Manchuria, forcing them (Russia) to run away like chickens, and making their (Russia) complexion pale. Soon Karafuto (currently Sakhalin) will be returning to us. Given these reasons, what foreign country would not sympathize? Everyone, please read the left few terms.
Russia, the enemy. Shortly after the outbreak of war their appearance of upset was extraordinary with morale declining rapidly while internally the country experienced antiwar demonstrations with signs that a revolution could occur. On the one hand, they demonstrate a will to fight while on the other they are fearful of a revolutionary crisis occurring, are suffering the illness of defeat, while quietly trying to gain approval from England yet seeking mediation via France and Germany. How worrisome and dangerous! When the telegram arrived in Germany of the start of the war it was not England or France but Germany who was surprised. Especially the arrogant Emperor of Germany could not contain his normal composure and was so panicked he did not know what to do. Perhaps Germany over estimated Russia’s strength, even with fear, while looking down on Japan and having very little interest in our country. To think that a praying mantis with only its horn could fight against powerful tanks. In addition, what happened at the beginning of the war, was totally the opposite of what they believed. It can be said that since then they (Germany) has lost direction while watching the war from afar. On the surface Germany is taking a neutral stance between Russia and Japan however implicitly they are complaining to France, England and the United States. Although many newspapers and political journals in Paris France are siding with Russia and writing negative things about Japan, there are articles with the opposite view. In summary, the views in France are 70/30 balanced between Russia and Japan. Most probably the 70% bias towards Russia is derived from political interests while the 30% bias towards Japan is based on moral views of what is right. In other words, the sympathy towards Russia is from the government while the sympathy towards Japan is from the people. Therefore, the French government is calculating to take the same stance as the German government.
As for England, when the news of Japan’s victory reached London, the British people were happy beyond our expectations, rejoicing day and night, and their sympathy towards Japan reached the top. Actually, more than expressing sympathy, it was as though England herself had won the war. Of course, given the current relationship between Japan and England, and the relationship between England and Russia, it is to be expected that England would have less sympathy towards Russia and more sympathy towards Japan, however, the high level of enthusiasm expressed by England has raised surprise and questions by Japan. Given this, it is quite expected that Russia and the other countries (Germany and France) lamentations would be of no effect.
The Qing dynasty (China), having had its territory overrun and occupied by Russia, was liberated by the strong Japanese military power, was awakened and has built up their own defenses to defend themselves against Russia.
Korea, the closest neighbor to Japan, although not in a position to comment on our activities, misplaced their trust by making unfounded accusations, causing other countries to ignore them, but in the end, they realized that our intentions were pure and clean and now have the highest respect for us.
The strongest country in East Asia Imperial Japan Banzai!
The latest map of Japan, Russia, China and Korea in humorous format.
Devised by Takeshi Nakajima, professor of literature.
Meiji 37 (1904) Printed and distributed. Printer: Shojiro Yamako, 3 chome 10 ban Bakuro-cho, Nihonbashi Tokyo. Copyright Takataro Inoue.
Translation by Geographicus staff.
Publication History and Census
This map was prepared by Nakayama Kyūshirō (中山久四郎) and Nomura Yozo (野村陽三). It was printed by Kimori Sōjirō (小森宗次郎). The map was published in late May or early June, 1904, during the opening days of the Russo-Japanese War. This item is exceedingly rare. There are no other known examples.
Nomura Yozo (野村陽三; January 20, 1870 - March 24, 1965), the text in the upper right is attributed to Yozo Nomura, a Japanese businessman, art dealer, and antiquarian based in Yokohama. Nomura is famous as the owner of Samurai Shokai (サムライ商会), a luxury art and furniture store at the corner of Itchome and Honcho, Yokohama. He also later owned the Yokohama New Grand Hotel. Nomura was born in Gifu, Japan. He abandoned his studies to travel internationally, visiting England and the United States, where he mastered English. He lived for a time in New York, where he apprenticed as antique and art dealer at the Asian art gallery of A. A. Valentine. Back in Japan, he founded Samurai Shokai (Samurai Trading Company) in 1894 (Meiji 27). The firm, which sold Japanese, Korean, and Chinese luxury goods to European expats and visitors, became extremely successful. Nomura traveled frequently to Hawaii and San Francisco, where he was influential in introducing Japanese art and culture to a global audience. In 1914 he introduced a mail order service, a revolutionary novelty for Japan. Samurai Shokai was destroyed during the 1923 Kanto Earthquake, but Nomura rebuilt. Around the same time, he purchased and rebuilt the New Grand Hotel Yokohama. In August of 1945, in a now famous cross-cultural interaction, he greeted General MacArthur on the steps of the hotel. MacArthur assumed he was the manager, an error that was quickly corrected, and the two became fast friends. Namura continued to operate Samurai Shokai until his death in 1965, when the business closed.
Nakayama Kyūshirō (中山久四郎; February 10, 1874 - September 7, 1961), also known as Tozangakujin, was a Japanese historian. Nakamura was born in Nagano, Japan. He studied at the in the Chinese history department Tokyo University, Graduating in 1899. He became a professor at Tokyo University, teaching Science and Literature as well as compiling historical materials. He was also head instructor at the Military Academy of Manchoukao and taught at Meiji University. He was later a professor Emeritus at Professor Emeritus at Tokyo Bunri University. He is associated with but one map, a serio-comic style map issued in 1904, when he was about 30. Although the art is attributed to him, we see no evidence that he was an artist, so more likely he simply penned the text and laid out the vision.
Good. Some edge wear and old fold lines. Japanese tissue reinforcement along edges. Small older tissue repair on verso, left side.