1848 (Kaei 1) Shincho and Heibe Map of the World


1848 (Kaei 1) Shincho and Heibe Map of the World


Very rare example of European style cartography penetrating Japan before the arrival of Perry in 1853.


嘉永校訂東西地球萬國全圖 / Shinsei yochi zenzu. / Kaei kōtei Tōzai Chikyū Bankoku Zenzu / Map of all the Countries on the Eastern and Western Hemispheres.
  1848 (dated)     25 x 25 in (63.5 x 63.5 cm)     1: 73000000


A rare and important Japanese woodblock map of the world dating to 1848 or Kaei 1, drawn by Shincho Kurihara and published by Heibe Chojiya. This is one of the few 'modern' western style world maps in double hemisphere form issued in Japan before the Opening of Japan and the arrival of Commodore Perry in 1853. As such, this map, whose title literally translates as 'Map of all the countries on the Eastern and Western Hemispheres' represents an important advancement in Japanese cartography.

As a result of the Sakoku or 'Chained Country' policy enforced in Japan between 1633 and 1853, Japanese cartographers had only the vaguest ideas of what lay beyond their own well mapped borders. What little knowledge available was usually transmitted through reluctant Dutch traders in Nagasaki and Chinese merchants who traded with the semi-independent Ryukyu Kingdom to the south. Consequently, cartographic conventions common in Europe were slow to penetrate Japan. Until about 1840, most Japanese world maps followed Matteo Ricci, derived from 17th century European maps which tended to show California as an Island and the fictional southern continent of Terre Australis, among other anomalies. This map on the other hand, offers a more contemporary perspective generally in line with the more advanced European cartographic knowledge of the period. Here the world is presented in a double hemisphere projection - a style that first appeared in Japan around 1810 - and cartographically is quite accurate. California is reattached to the mainland, Australia is properly mapped including a separate Tasmania, New Zealand is correctly represented as two Islands, and Terre Australia has disappeared.

Also of note is the abandonment of the Edo era convention of using cartouches and Chinese characters to identify geographic elements. Here most place names are rendered using the phonetic Katakana text - a uniquely Japanese adaptation to foreign linguistic borrowings. Some traditional Japanese techniques for rendering topography have also been abandoned in favor of a European style political map. Nonetheless, there are several interesting examples of stippling used to render both deserts and offshore shoals - as in the Grand Banks and the Sahara. Also of note is a stylized rendering of the Great Wall of China.

The whole is surrounded by a traditional Japanese border with a figural draconic motif. Some claim that this map may be from as early as 1835, but we have seen no evidence to substantiate this. Nonetheless, there are several editions of this map which most believe first appeared in 1848. The first edition, as here, had blue text above the map. There are at least two states from this issue, one with a colophon in the lower left corner and another, as here, without. Another edition, issued in 1850, features the text along the left side. This map is na important acquisition for any serious collection of Japanese cartography.


Very good. Some wear on original fold lines. Japanese repair, upper right.


OCLC 606374672. University of California Library, Berkeley, East Asian Library, jhm000819a. University of British Columbia, Japanese Map of the Tokugawa Era, G3200.1848 K8.