Edo zukan kōmoku. Kon


The Edo zukan kōmoku. Kon (江戸圖鑑綱目 坤) was created in 1689 by Ishikawa Ryūsen under the patent of the Tokugawa bakufu and based off an earlier official map known as the Kanbun go-mai zu. (Yonemoto 18)It is considered to be one of the earliest yet most detailed maps of Edo; commonly accompanied by the Edo zukan kōmoku. Ken, a guidebook which features additional information not found on the map such as the locations of doctors and schools. However, for this analysis, I will be focusing exclusively on the visual and textual aspects of the map itself.

A picture of the map is shown below. Due to the plethora of information found on the map, it is highly recommended that readers download a version of their own which can be found at the UBC’s open collection: https://open.library.ubc.ca/collections/tokugawa/items/1.0000806


map small

Similar to most maps of this period, the Edo zukan kōmoku. Kon is not geographically accurate. Ishikawa Ryūsen in particular, avoids the issue entirely, as he makes no secret in expressing his disagreement in the approach taken by other official map makers of accurately measuring and drafting everything to scale. (Yonemoto 23) As research has shown, the map was very likely intended for the wealthy and literate middle classes of Japan as a source of general information rather than a map for navigation or travel. (Yonemoto 22-23) The map emphasizes two particular aspects: Religious sites such as Buddhist temples and daimyo residences. As can be seen in the pictures below, all of the temples and shrines are represented with full color illustrations; a feature which is only found otherwise at the center of the map where the bakufu is located.

While religion played an integral part throughout the Edo period, the daimyo represents the basis of Edo’s societal and political structure. Their importance is made evident not only by the mapping of all the daimyo residences but also the complete list of daimyo names featured at the bottom left corner of the map.  For this research, I aim to analyze both the visual and textual representations of daimyo status on the map and discuss how these representations coincides with the order of society and the political system during the Edo period.

Textual Analysis

My textual analysis is based on the list of daimyo found at the bottom left corner of the map. The list is complete with the formal titles of all 240 daimyo in Edo at the time along with the value of their respective han. and location of residence. (Yonemoto 19-20) At first glance, this appears to be a simple list. However, closer analysis shows various aspects which reflects the bakufu’s political agenda as well as the order of society during this time.

I begin by presenting my edited version of the list, a higher resolution version can be accessed at: http://tinyurl.com/hdnhyxm

final map

Due to the large number of daimyo listed, I will only be discussing the top half of the list as I feel it accurately represents the information I wish to convey.

The first aspect I will be discussing is the ordering of daimyo on this list. It is important to remember that in the Edo period, especially during early Edo, political ranking did not necessarily reflect actual power. In fact, most of the time, it was opposite; military and political status were kept separate, with the former carrying significantly more weight. (Roberts, 23)  During early Edo, almost all important government positions were held by shinpan (親藩) daimyo who were the relatives of the shogun by blood and fudai (譜代) daimyo who were loyalists to the Tokugawa prior to the establishment of Edo. However, while there were a few Shinpan daimyo who controlled large fiefs known as han (藩), the majority of high-value han were in the control of tozama (外様) daimyo who were either neutral or in opposition to the Tokugawa prior to Edo. The reason this disparity existed is because while the Battle of Sekihagara marked the end of Sengoku and the beginning of Edo, Japan was not a unified state. The bakufu first attempted to eliminate its opposition by abolishing 87 daimyo houses and reducing three while distributing their lands to shinpan and fudai daimyo. However, in order to avoid further conflicts with the most powerful clans, the bakufu negotiated terms with these tozama daimyo which allowed them to retain control of their ancestral territories in exchange for a pledge of loyalty. (Jansen 33-35) Therefore, while they did not hold important positions within the bakufu, many tozama daimyo were regarded as the most powerful and well-respected in Japan.

As can be seen in my outlining each clan, the listing of daimyo is by the accumulative strength of each clan. Outlined in yellow are all the Shinpan daimyo from Tokugawa and Matsudaira clans. Followed by the Maeda of Kaga (1,020,270 koku), Shimazu of Satsuma (729,000 koku) and Date of Mutsu (620,000 koku); all of which were tozama daimyo. The list of tozama clans continues up until the red line where we finally see the first fudai daimyo, Ii (井伊).

The second aspect which stands out from the list is there is no daimyo named Tokugawa (徳川) and many daimyo named Matsudaira (松平). The reason for this is because this list of daimyo is derived from publicly available official registries of all the daimyo families such as the Bukan (武鑑). (Yonemoto 20) At the beginning of Edo, the Tokugawa controlled four han: Kōfu (甲府), Owari (尾張), Kii (紀伊) and Mito (水戸). Because daimyo of these han bore the family name of the Shogun, their titles in the official registry are usually recorded without attaching their family name. The Matsudaira name is slightly more complicated. The Matsudaira clan is the parent clan of the Tokugawa. During the rise of the clan’s main branch during the Sengoku period, Tokugawa Ieyasu (formally Matsudaira Motoyasu) changed his family name to Tokugawa. However at the beginning of Edo, in order to promote a sense of unity, Matsudaira also became a honorary title bestowed upon the most powerful tozama daimyo. Referring to the picture, we can see plenty of examples such as the head of the Maeda clan being referred to using his honorary title “Matsudaira Kaga no Kami” (松平加賀守)and the head of the Shimazu clan being referred to as “Matsudaira Satsuma no Kami” (松平薩摩守).

Visual Analysis

While it is known that the size and luxuriousness of a daimyo’s residence in Edo is often determined by the value of his han (Jansen 39), as aforementioned, maps during this period are geographically inaccurate. Thus we cannot draw any information regarding the size of each residence from the map. However, what can be analyzed is the inclusion kamon (家紋), a family crest at numerous daimyo residences. The kamon is a symbol of the clan’s honor and to have it on display is considered a sign of respect. Unsurprisingly, the kamon is featured at all of the shinpan daimyo’s residences. Some of which are shown below:

The powerful tozama clans we discussed in the previous section also received the same treatment:

Surprisingly, most of the fudai daimyo were left out. Keep in mind that as loyalists, fudai daimyo were considered a rank above tozama daimyo within the daimyo hiearchy. However, even very powerful fudai daimyo such as the Hoshina (保科) did not have their kamon illustrated on the map. The few that did were descendants from the families of the Tokugawa Shitennō (徳川四天王): Honda (本多), Sakai (酒井), Ii (井伊) and Sakakibara (榊原). These four families were critical to Tokugawa Ieyasu’s success in the Sengoku period and members of these families continued to serve as advisers to the Shogun throughout the Edo period.

The Tokugawa Shitennō’s kamon as shown on the map:

Another interesting aspect is the strategic placement of daimyo residences. The Tokugawa bakufu monitored movement and information in han ruled by tozama clans by strategically placing fudai daimyo in han neighboring tozama domains as well as han controlling the routes to Edo. (Jansen 42) By observing the map, we can find very similar arrangements. The most tozama daimyo are always neighbored by powerful fudai and shinpai daimyo or their associates. As can be seen from the picture below, the most powerful tozama clan, the Maeda, is all grouped together and surrounded by a daimyo from the Sakakibara clan as well the prime ministers (宰相) of both Mito and Kōfu.

Maeda surround


The textual and visual analyses of the Edo zukan kōmoku. Kon, showcases the following characteristics of Edo society and political structure. First off, Edo society was largely military focused. Monetary and military power was often valued and respected above political rankings as can be seen through the order which the daimyo are listed on the map. The map also showcases the political approach the Tokugawa bakufu took towards the tozama daimyo. Although many of them were former enemies, the bakufu acknowledged the societal status of the tozama daimyo by granting them the honorary official title of Matsudaira and allowing their kamon to be displayed alongside the shinpan daimyo on the map. Most of fudai daimyo did not receive the same treatment even though they were considered loyalists and held all the important political posts. At the same time, the bakufu feared the tozama daimyo and monitored their actions in Edo closely through the strategic placement of fudai and shinpan daimyo residences. It is interesting that by analyzing a map of Edo we are able to observe so many aspects that reflect the social hierarchy of Edo and political functions of the bakufu. Some of which are even more clearly demonstrated than information found in books or official documents. It opens the exciting possibility to reach a greater understanding of not just the daimyo, but also the standards and conditions of everyday life in Edo.

Written by: Henry Hsu



Ishikawa, Ryūsen.  Edo zukan kōmoku. Kon. Map. Edo : Sagamiya Tahē, 1689. Lib of University of British Columbia – Rare Books and Special Collections. Web. 05 April 2016. <https://open.library.ubc.ca/collections/tokugawa/items/1.0000806&gt;

Jansen, Marius B. The Making of Modern Japan. Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2002. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 05 April 2016.

Roberts, Luke S. Performing the Great Peace: Political Space and Open Secrets in Tokugawa Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2012. Project MUSE. Web. 05 April 2016

Yonemoto, Marcia. Mapping Early Modern Japan. Berkeley, US: University of California Press, 2003. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 05 April 2016