Dai Nihon Saiken Dōchū Zukan: A Long, Complicated Name for a Long, Complicated Map

cdm.tokugawa.1-0216353.0000full               Dai Nihon Saiken Dōchū Zukan was made by Tomonari, Shōkyoku in 1850. It is a large map (34cm by 141.5cm) detailing information about Honshū, Kyūshū, and Shikoku.

In order to organize the massive amount of information that it conveys, icons are used to indicate the following:

Cities – Red circles (the larger the city, the smaller the circle)Kyotoarea

Yellow squares – Castles

Hexagons – Province name

White cartouches – Places where one can stay

Red rectangles – Pilgrimage sites (numbered)

Red lines – Major highways

Dotted lines – Sea routes

Black lines with black triangle – Provincial borders

The key to these icons can be found in the lower right corner of the map.

On the far left of the map there is a detailed table which records distances between sites and various highway tolls. The tolls are separated into either two or three categories. Two of these categories seem to be the toll for someone on foot and the toll for one on horseback. In some places there is a third category listed, but it has thus far proven to be illegible.


An interesting part of this map is that in order to reconcile the actual shape of Japan with the straightened version depicted here (I would theorize that this was done in order to conserve space), the map maker has included three compasses on the map. The first can be found north of the island of Kyūshū. At this point on the map, the orientation is still relatively accurate, and so the compass indicates North to be towards the top of the page. As one moves towards the right along the map, they find another compass on the Pacific side of Honshū. To account for the now skewed orientation in that area, the compass has been rotated to give a more accurate indication of which way is north. The third compass can be found on the other side of Honshū, in the Sea of Japan. The rotation of the compass here is more extreme than in the second compass, as the perspective here is quite inaccurate.


Where the intended use of this map is concerned, I am inclined to state that it was, in fact, made to be used by travelers on the road as opposed to a more decorative purpose. My reasoning is supported by three characteristics of the map. First, the rotation of the three compasses seem to indicate an effort at maintaining topographical accuracy. This would naturally be important to someone attempting to travel using the map’s information. Second, the large amounts of practical information would be unnecessary for a decorative map. This, however, could still be useful if the map was made to be displayed instead of carried. Except that my third reason is the small fact that the title section of the map is only half the length of the whole work. I do not feel that it is too large a jump to say that this would indicate that the map was made to be folded into the size of that small title section, and thus made into something which a traveler could easily carry with them on the road.



“Dai Nihon saiken dōchū zukan.” University of British Columbia – Rare Books and Special Collections: Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era. April 9th, 2017. https://open.library.ubc.ca/collections/tokugawa/items/1.0216353#share


Ryūsenzu: Maps Composed by an Author of Popular Literature


Ryūsenzu 流宣図 is an epoch-making style of map from the Tokugawa period (1603-1868). The name “Ryūsenzu” is derived from Ishikawa Ryūsen (or Tomonobu), an ukiyo-e artist and a literary author. As of April 2017, eight versions of the Ryūsen-style Japanese map can be seen in the “Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era” section of the University of British Columbia Library Open Collections (see Table 1).

Table.1 Japanese Maps by Ishikawa Ryūsen in UBC Collections

Figure. 1 Honchō zukan kōmoku 本朝圖鑑綱目. Edo: Sagamiya Tahē, 1686


Figure. 2 Honchō zukan kōmoku 本朝圖鑑綱目. Kyoto: Hayashi Yoshinaga, 1689


Figure. 3 Nihon kaizan chōrikuzu 日本海山潮陸図. Edo: Sagamiya Tahē, 1691

Figure. 4 Nihon zukan kōmoku 日本圖鑑綱目. Edo: Sagamiya Tahē, 1697


Figure. 5 Nihon sankai zudō taizen 日本山海圖道大全. Edo: Sagamiya Tahē, 1697

Figure. 6 Dai Nihon shōtō zukan 大日本正統圖鑑. Edo: Sagamiya Tahē, 1702


Figure. 7 Nihon sankai zudō taizen 日本山海圖道大全. Edo: Sagamiya Tahē, 1703


Figure. 8 Dai Nihonkoku ōezu 大日本國大繪圖. Edo: Yamaguchiya Gonbē, 1717

The above maps from a collection that effectively illustrates some essential characteristics of Ryūsenzu.

Until the 1980s, studies of old maps were conducted by collectors or map historians. Today’s study of historical maps is a multidisciplinary field in which researchers in art history, literature, philosophy, geography, political science, economy, and cultural studies work on independent or collaborative projects. [1] Regarding the study of Ryūsenzu, the historical geographer Miyoshi Tadayoshi examined Ryūsen-sytle Japanese in political and cultural aspects. However, there was no argument about authorship or content by researchers in the field of literature, although Ryūsen was an energetic author of popular works in the eighteenth-century Edo period.

This short description sheds light on Ryūsenzu as a literary author’s map in the context of publishing and print culture. I hope the description helps you to understand these best-seller maps as cultural commodities and illustrates Ryūsen’s cross-disciplinary activities and imagination.

Who was Ishikawa Ryūsen?

Ishikawa Ryūsen 石川流宣 (born: late seventeenth century?) was a cross-genre creator. As an author, he wrote a variety of popular works such as ukiyo-zōshi 浮世草子 (kana booklets), hanashi-bon 噺本; humorous books), enpon 艶本 (erotica), and guidebooks. His major works are Kōshoku Edo murasaki 好色江戸紫 (Amorous Edo-style Purple), Shojiki banashi ōkagami 正直咄大鑑 (Anthology of Really Funny Stories), and Yamato kōsakushō 大和耕作繪抄 (Illustrated annotation of Japanese Farming). He also co-authored a series of erotica prints with Furuyama Moroshige 古山師重). He was highly regarded as a map composer even though his accomplishments covered broad areas. In other words, his multiple talents included creating a unique style of maps for popular audiences.


What is Ryūsenzu?

“Ryūsenze” mean Ryūsen-style Japanese maps. Although Ryūsen made a variety of maps, including world maps and maps of the city of Edo, both scholars and collectors have tended to focus on Ryūsen’s maps of Japan. Unlike his other maps, his maps of Japan were reprinted, revised, and remodeled over and over for almost a hundred years. For example, Nihon kaizan chōrikuzu 日本海山潮陸図, 1691; see Figure 3) was the most successful Ryūsenzu and was reprinted at least twenty-eight times.[2]

Figure. 9 Wavy Coastline

Two things made Ryūsen’s maps of Japan popular: visual appeal and informative contents. As an ukiyoe painter, Ryūsen stressed aesthetic values rather than the topographic accuracy of his maps of Japan when he created his style. The maps consist mainly of three islands—Honshū, Shikoku, and Kyūshu—shaped by unique wavy coastlines. Ryūsen embedded these islands in a horizontally oblong, rectangular frame and used various techniques for color coding to differentiate domains, sea, mountains, and other symbols in his maps. Interestingly, his early productions were mostly in the form of folded screens byōbu or 屏風) instead of sheets of paper. [3] He produced maps of Japan as artworks rather than as practical publications.

Figure. 10 Byōbu

Ryūsen also developed an infographic design style to provide administrative information on the locations of domains, the names of feudal lords, and their annual incomes, as well as on Japan’s principal cities, roads, stations, shipping routes, etc., with his sophisticated printing skills (Figures 1, 2, 4, and 6). One reason Ryūsenzu maps were often revised was that such administrative information frequently had to be updated.

A comparison of the eight maps from the UBC Library Open Collections suggests that Ryūsen-style Japanese maps transformed gradually from artistic maps into practical travel-guide maps. The amount of travel-guide content increased in later Ryūsenzu maps. Famous temples, shrines, and mountains, etc. were included in the maps, along with tide charts, etc. (Figures 3, 5, 7 and 8).

Figure. 11 Tide Chart

For example, Dai Nihonkoku ōezu 大日本國大繪圖 (Figure 8) has more practical, travel-oriented information than the seven other maps, although this came at the cost of the other maps’ decorative and colorful features. Reducing color coding could have helped to save on production costs. Dai Nihonkoku ōezu was probably sold as a reasonably priced map even though it had more information than the other maps. Ryūsen’s experience as a writer of travel guidebooks allowed him to invent highly informative travel-guide maps. These administrative and travel-guide maps were published in parallel. To understand the transformation of Ryūsenzu’s contents, his maps should be compared to one another. Comparing the eight maps will be a good way for me to start this study.

The following table organizes the bibliographical lineage of the eight maps.[4]

Table 2. The Bibliographical Lineage of the Eight Maps


The End of the Ryūsenzu Boom

Ryūsen played an important role in disseminating a certain image of Japan among commoners until another epoch-making map, Sekizuizu 赤水図, appeared in the late eighteenth century. Sekisuizu was a map style that was developed by the geographer Nagakubo Sekisui 長久保赤水; 1717-1801). Sekisui wanted to accurately represent the topography of the Japanese archipelago in maps. He referenced multiple geographic and historical sources to produce Kaisei Nihon Yochi rotei zenzu 改正日本輿地路程全図, 1779). Although the map was not composed using land survey data, it contains accurate topographic information. As a result, Sekisuizu took from Ryūsenzu the position of the best-selling map among commoner readers and was reprinted over and over by the end of the Tokugawa period.[5]

The end of the Ryūsenzu boom suggests a transformation of consumer behavior. Commoners’ interest was shifting, in the late Tokugawa period, from narrative space to geopolitical and scientific space. Map consumers increasingly sought maps composed by geography experts instead of maps created by cross-genre authors.

Ryūsen’s cross-genre accomplishments were not unique during the Tokugawa period. Ihara Saikaku 井原西鶴, 1642-1693), the leading author of ukiyo-zōshi, contributed illustrations to his works. Many haiku poets also contributed their illustrations. As for maps, consumers accepted those that were composed by cross-genre illustrators during Ryūsen’s epoch. Studying Ryūsenzu gives us an opportunity to explore the emergence of professional writers who focused on textual creativity.


[1] Kuroda Hideo 黒田日出男, Mary Elizabeth Berry and Sugimoto Fumiko 杉本史子, “Hajime ni はじめに,” in Chizu to ezu no seiji bunkashi 地図と絵図の政治文化史 (Mapping and Politics in Premodern Japan), Kuroda Hideo, Mary Elizabeth Berry, and Sugimoto Fumiko, eds. (Tokyo: Tōkyō Daigaku Shuppankai, 2001), i.

[2] Miyoshi Tadayoshi 三好唯義 “Ishikawa Ryūsen-saku Nihonzu: Edo jidai ni okeru besuto serā Nihonzu 石川流宣作日本図:江戸時代におけるベストセラー日本図,” in Chizu to bunka 地図と文化, Hisatake Tetsuya 久武哲也, and Hasegawa Kōji長谷川孝治, eds., (Kyoto: Chijin Shobō, 1989), 39.

[3] Kokusai Chizu Gakkai 国際地理学会, Kokusai Chizu Gakkai 国際地理学会, and Kokuritsu Kokkai Toshokan 国立国会図書館, eds., “General Maps of Japan: 6. Nihok kaisan chōrikuzu,” in Nihon no chizuten: kansen chizu no hattatsu 日本の地図展: 官撰地図の発達 (Cartography in Japan: Official Maps Past and Present), exhibition catalogue, 25 August-5 September 1980, Kokuritsu Kokkai Toshokan, Tokyo), 58, 77.

[4] Akioka Takejirō and Miyoshi Tadayoshi categorize Ryūsenzu into three types. Miyoshi Tadayoshi 三好唯義, “Iwayuru Ryūsen Nihonzu ni tsuite いわゆる流宣日本図について,” Chizu地図27:6 (1989): 3, accessed on March 26, 2017, doi: 10.11212/jjca1963.27.3_1

[5] Miyoshi, “Ishikawa Ryūsen-saku Nihonzu: Edo jidai ni okeru besuto serā Nihonzu,” 39.

Works Cited

Ishikawa Ryūsen 石川流宣. [1687?]. Kōshoku Edo murasaki 好色江戸紫. Tokyo: Waseda University Library Kotenseki Sogo Database. http://www.wul.waseda.ac.jp/kotenseki/html/he13/he13_04385/index.html

———. [1688?]. Shojiki banashi ōkagami 正直咄大鑑. Tokyo: Waseda University Library Kotenseki Sogo Database. http://www.wul.waseda.ac.jp/kotenseki/html/he13/he13_04385/index.html

———.  Yamato kōsakushō 大和耕作繪抄. Facsimile. [Not before 1868]. Tokyo: National Institute of Japanese Literature Kindai shoshi kindai gazo dētabēsu 近代書誌・近代画像データベース. http://dbrec.nijl.ac.jp/BADB_KGMS-00120

Kokusai Chizu Gakkai 国際地理学会, Kokusai Chizu Gakkai 国際地理学会, and Kokuritsu Kokkai Toshokan 国立国会図書館, eds. “General Maps of Japan: 6. Nihok kaisan chōrikuzu.” In Nihon no chizuten: kansen chizu no hattatsu 日本の地図展: 官撰地図の発達 (Cartography in Japan: Official Maps Past and Present). Exhibition catalogue, 25 August-5 September 1980. Kokuritsu Kokkai Toshokan, Tokyo. 58, 77.

Kuroda Hideo 黒田日出男, Mary Elizabeth Berry, and Sugimoto Fumiko 杉本史子. “Hajime ni はじめに.” Edited by Kuroda Hideo, Mary Elizabeth Berry and Sugimoto Fumiko. In Chizu to ezu no seiji bunkashi 地図と絵図の政治文化史 (Mapping and Politics in Premodern Japan). Tokyo: Tōkyō Daigaku Shuppankai, 2001. i-v.

Miyoshi Tadayoshi 三好唯義 “Ishikawa Ryūsen-saku Nihonzu: Edo jidai ni okeru besuto serā Nihonzu 石川流宣作日本図:江戸時代におけるベストセラー日本図.” In Chizu to bunka 地図と文化., Hisatake Tetsuya 久武哲也 and Hasegawa Kōji長谷川孝治, eds. Kyoto: Chijin Shobō, 1989. 38-39.

———. “Iwayuru Ryūsen Nihonzu ni tsuite いわゆる流宣日本図について.” Chizu 地図27:6 (1989): 3. Accessed on March 26, 2017. Doi: 10.11212/jjca1963.27.3_1

Shogakukan 小学館. “Byōbu no renketsuhō 屏風の連結法.” In Nihon hyakka zensho 日本大百科全書. Accessed on March 26, 2017. http://japanknowledge.com/lib/display/?lid=1001081306024011181

Maps of Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan. It is an active volcano and its height is an altitude of 3,776 meters. In June of 2013, it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage property, under the name of ‘sacred place and source of artistic inspiration.’ As ‘the great object of universal devotion’ and ‘a source of artistic inspiration,’ Mount Fuji has been effecting to Japanese people’s lives, and their nature and culture. Therefore, it is drawn and created to maps by people. Fujisan no zu (富士山之圖) and Dai Nihon Fujisan Zetcho no zu (大日本富士山絶頂之圖) are the example of them.

fujisan no zu.jpg

Fujisan no zu (富士山之圖) – It means a ‘Map of Mount Fuji.’ This map was created by Sawaguchi Seio in 1848, which was Edo (or Tokugawa) period. It is a flat map and its dimensions are 91.4X96.5cm. However, it is a three-dimensional map at the same time, because the middle part of the map could be folded like a cone shape. It looks like real Mount Fuji when it is folded. Moreover, middle part of the left side of the map could be flipped. When it is flipped, there is another monochrome image. Overall, the map is showing an aerial view of Mount Fuji, and many religious features, such as pilgrims, figures of Buddha and monks, are indicated on the map.

Dainihon Fujisan zetchô no zu .jpg

Dai Nihon Fujisan Zetcho no zu (大日本富士山絶頂之圖) – It means a ‘Map of the summit of Mount Fuji.’ This map was created by Utagawa Sadahide in 1857, which was also Edo (or Tokugawa) period. It is a flat map and its dimensions are 36.0X76.0cm. It becomes a piece of completed map when three different parts are connected. Overall, the map is showing a panoramic view of crater of Mount Fuji. There are many religious features as well, such as torii (とりい), pilgrims and fortress with figures of Buddha.

As it could be seen above, there are many similarities between the two maps. In this writing, religious background of Mount Fuji would be discussed. At the same time, similarities of the two maps, such as spot signals (paths to the summit), pilgrims and no appearance of woman, would be analyzed based on the religious background.

Religious background

Mount Fuji has been considered as a sacred presence to Japanese. As the great object of universal devotion, it influenced Japanese’s outlook on nature. Japanese looked up the mountain and worshiped when it had volcanic activity. When the activity finished, the faith toward mountain and imported foreign Buddhism were combined, and the mountain became a place of asceticism. Especially people aimed to go up to the top and walk through the path with worshipping their gods. After few years, normal people who were called as believers climbed the mountain to follow the ascetics. In the middle of Edo period, after 17th century, Fujiko was appeared and spread. Fujiko was kind a lesson that taught a doctrine of Fuji religion. Many of Fujiko believers worshipped with walking the foot of the mountain and Oshi houses were reorganized to support believers who climbed the mountain. Oshi houses offered a place to sleep and some foods.

A start of Mount Fuji religion – A long time ago, people formed a community or performed religious ceremony at the foot of the mountain. Around 8-9th century, people thought the repeating volcanic activities were anger of a god of fire ‘Asamano Okami(浅間大神).’ To clam her down, people started to worship her from a distance. They looked top of the mountain and prayed, and it became a custom. Because of the custom, a place was created in order to worship from afar, like Yamamiya sengen shrine. After 800 years, Mount Fuji kept repeating great volcanic activities. To calm it down, some shrines were built again to pay people’s respects to the souls of Asamano Okami.

Fuji religion became popular – Around 12th century, Mount Fuji’s volcanic activities were calm down. Men of religion who were called as ascetics climbed the mountain to get some power from gods because they believed Mount Fuji was a land of asceticism. On the top of the mountain, a base of religion was built along the wall of craters. Around the craters, there were eight peaks and people thought they were eight floral leaves of lotus. People went on a pilgrimage to the eight peaks and it was called ‘Ohachimeguri.’ Matsudai Shonin, who was famous for climbing the mountain the most, built a temple, which was named ‘Dainichiji,’ on the top of the mountain. Moreover, he built ‘Murayama sengen’ shrine and it was a base for practice asceticism among men of religion. After 14th century, normal people could be pilgrims and climbed the mountain to follow the ascetics. From the entrance of the mountain, trails were reorganized and communities were formed for the climbers.

Prosperity of Fuji religion – In 17th century, Fujiko was created that came from ‘Hasegawa Gaku’ religion. Fujiko was a group of people who were full with faiths. They worshipped Mount Fuji as making a pilgrimage to scared places in a foot of the mountain such as Saiko, Shojiko and Oshino Hatkai. There were known as Gaku religion’s asceticism places. In 18th century, Fujiko gained explosive popularity among normal people. Therefore, the number of climbers increased and Oshi houses were developed. As living at the Oshi houses, monks led and took care the believers. In the middle of 19th century, path of pilgrimage in Mount Fuji was not the only one. It should not have to walk through by turns. It was made with many routes, which could be walk with various purposes of pilgrimage.

Similarities between the two maps

There are many religious features on the two maps. For example, on Fujisan no zu, there are many pilgrims, two monks and figures of Buddha. There are rooms and features of Buddha are located in the rooms. People go into the room and pray. Also, there are many writings on the map and one of them, the Waka poem that is in the middle of the map includes religious meaning. It says, “If you climb Mount Fuji, there is a scared meaning.” In addition, on Dai Nihon Fujisan Zetcho no zu, there are pilgrims who make a pilgrimage around the crater. Moreover,similar to Fujisan no zu, there are rooms and features of Buddha. People are praying to features of Buddha in fortresses. Furthermore, there are many toriis which look like a gate. They are usually located in front of shrine as a symbol of fortune. People believe that abusive things are changed to sacred through out the gate. They could be located in front of nature, then it means they worship the nature itself.

Screen Shot 2017-04-10 at 11.46.09 AM.png
Spot signals on Dai Nihon Fujisan Zetcho no zu
Screen Shot 2017-04-10 at 11.54.49 AM.png
Spot signals on Fujisan no zu

Spot signals (paths to the summit) – On the both maps, there are yellow or red spot signals and path to the summit. The spot signals indicate spots’ name or sacred places. Moreover, there are many paths to the summit at Mount Fuji, however, there are only important or popular paths are indicated on the maps.

Konohana no Sakuya Hime

Konohana no Sakuya hime and No admittance to woman – Mountain Fuji’s also had a mountain spirit and it was a woman. Her name was ‘Konohana no Sakuya hime (コノハナノサクヤビメ)’ and she was a god of blooming flowers. As a god of mountain Fuji, she was enshrined at Shingen shrine. However, one ironic thing is, women could not climb the mountain and they were banned even though the mountain spirit was woman. On the two maps, woman could not be found and all people on the maps are men.


Works cited

Hashimoto, Sadahide, 1807-1873, and Seiō Sawaguchi. Fujisan no Zu, Vancouver (B.C.) : University of British Columbia. Library, 1848.

Utagawa, Sadahide, 1807-1873. Dai Nihon Fujisan Zetchō no Zu, Vancouver (B.C.) : University of British Columbia. Library, 1857.

Bernstein, Andrew. “Whose Fuji? Religion, Region, and State in the Fight for a National Symbol.” Monumenta Nipponica, vol. 63, no. 1, 2008, pp. 51-99.

Irons, Edward A. “Fuji, Mt. (Fuji san).” Encyclopedia of Buddhism, edited by J. Gordon Melton, Facts on File, 2008, pp. 208-209. Facts on File Library of Religion and Mythology: Encyclopedia of World Religions. Gale Virtual Reference Library, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=ubcolumbia&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CCX4057500252&it=r&asid=4a4f3ebd714ee64b2600f5a915434628. Accessed 9 Apr. 2017.

Shikoku Pilgrimage


屏幕快照 2017-04-10 上午1.35.26.png

屏幕快照 2017-04-10 上午1.05.46.png 屏幕快照 2017-04-10 上午1.05.56.png

屏幕快照 2017-04-10 上午1.07.05.png

屏幕快照 2017-04-10 上午1.07.14.png

屏幕快照 2017-04-10 上午1.09.23.png

屏幕快照 2017-04-10 上午1.10.50.png

屏幕快照 2017-04-10 上午1.11.54.png

屏幕快照 2017-04-10 上午1.12.52.png

屏幕快照 2017-04-10 上午1.13.59.png


[1] 四国遍路情報サイト. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://pilgrim-shikoku.net/

[2] 四国八十八ヶ所霊場会:四国八十八ヶ所霊場会公式ホームページ. (n.d.). Retrieved  April 10, 2017, from http://www.88shikokuhenro.jp/index.html

[3] Hur, N (2017). Lecture on The Shikoku Pilgrimage: Its History, Culture and Traditions, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

[4] Nosco, P (2016). Lecture on Shingon Buddhism, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada

[5] Shikoku Temple Pilgrimage. (n.d.). Retrieved April 10, 2017, from http://www.walkjapan.com/tour/shikoku-88-temple-pilgrimage/

Saikoku’s 33 Temple Pilgrimage

“Saikoku sanjūsankasho hōgaku ezu” [西国三十三箇所方角繪圖] 1800 – By  Ōsakaya, Chōzaburō

The Historics

Pilgrimages have existed in Japan for more than a thousand years, many dating to the days of the Heian period [794-1185]. The most famous of Buddhist pilgrimages would be the Shikoku 88 Kannon Temple Pilgrimage which encircles the entire island of Shikoku, and is said to be the path that the great Kōbō-Daishi or Kūkai, the creator of Shingon Buddhism, once walked. Lesser known but just as important as the Shikoku 88, is the Saikoku 33 Kannon Temple Pilgrimage, the oldest Kannon pilgrimage in Japan and said to have been devised in 718 by the head priest known as Tokudo Shonin, who was a head priest at Hase-dera Temple in the Nara prefecture. In the Japanese Buddhist pilgrimages, the primary deity that is worshiped is Bodhisattva Kannon or Guanyin, “The Goddess of Mercy.” She is often depicted as a divine savior for those who are ready to pass onto the next life, by guiding them with one of her thousand arms.

This map, the “Saikoku sanjūsankasho hōgaku ezu” [西国三十三箇所方角繪圖] was created by Ōsakaya, Chōzaburō in 1800 and sold at Kokawa-dera Temple [粉河寺],  Kii Province [Wakayama Prefecture].

_DSC4940 - Copy

The map is a square [57.3 x 64.5 cm] mono colour woodblock print with some red colouration to help depict the main pilgrimage route which zig zag through 13 different provinces listed on the map. The map itself is generally an accurate depiction of the region, but it’s slightly distorted with some creative liberties taken to fit in all the information Chōzaburō wanted. The major cities are marked as a wide rectangle with the name within, most -prominently identifiable are Kyo [Kyoto], Osaka, Sakai, Nara, Ise, and Wakayama. On the roads between each toll station is a distance indicator called Ri [リ] , each Ri is 3.9 kilometers. The island of Shikoku where the Shikoku 88 Pilgrimage takes place is indicated on the map with nautical distance and estimated time of travel by boat. The temples themselves are identified by the long narrow black rectangles which shows the temple number and name.


[京] for Kyoto「京都」written in the middle. Written above Kyoto is Yamashiro「山城」, One of the historical provinces of Japan before the prefecture system. 

This particular map was created at Kokawa-dera, the third temple on the Saikoku pilgrimage. The first temple on the pilgrimage is not actually Hase-dera Temple, where Tokudo Shonin was head priest at, but at Seiganto-ji [青岸渡寺] at the bottom of the Kii Peninsula. Aside from the most holy of places like Ise Jingu, Izumo Taisha, Kasuga Taisha, Mt. Hiei, Mt. Koya, Mt. Fuji, and etc., Seiganto-ji holds a special place within Japanese religion as one of the few places in Japan where Buddhism and Shinto amalgamate. Seiganto-ji was purposefully built near Nachi Falls, one of the most well-known waterfalls in Japan, and falls within the Kumano Sanzan complex where the famous Kumano Kodo pilgrimage takes place. As such, Seiganto-ji is listed on both the Saikoku 33 Pilgrimage, and the Kumano Kodo. Today, it is one of the few remaining Jingu-ji [Shrine Temple] still in existence after the forcible separation of Shinto and Buddhism operated by the Japanese government during the Meiji restoration.


#3 Kokawa-dera 「粉河寺」


#1 Seiganto-ji 「青岸渡寺」, written as Nachi Yama「なち山」, refers to the famous Nachi Falls which is within the Kumano Sanzan complex, the heart of the Kumano Kodo Pilgrimage.

The Questions

One of the few questions we should ask about maps are, “Is this map accurate?” and, “Are there any major information omitted?” As aforementioned, the map itself is quite accurate for the average pilgrim looking forward to doing the pilgrimage route. As for informational accuracy, nothing as far as temples and shrines are concerned. Informed by Professor Mari Fujita, from the School of Architecture and Landscape at UBC, some mapmakers deliberately omit information to pursue their own or political agenda. Therefore, maps are generally incomplete and highly selective of the content the mapmaker wants to disseminate. Although the Tendai [Mt. Hiei] and Shingon [Mt. Koya] schools of Buddhism share a rivalry, the temples of the Saikoku pilgrimage are of mixed affiliation, there would be no benefit for spreading misinformation among religious pilgrims, as such deeds would bring about bad karma in the eyes of Kannon. Observant viewers able to read and make out the map may notice that Mt. Koya is prominently visible on the map, but Mt. Hiei is buried away under small print, shouldn’t this suggest an agenda? I was assured by UBC sessional lecturer, Dr. Eiji Okawa Ph.D that this was not the case. He suggested that because this was a pilgrimage map, the finer details were not as important; pilgrims looking forward to visiting certain areas or Mt. Hiei should have no problem with more detailed maps of the Kyoto area. Okawa also praised the Saikoku map, calling it a “pragmatic map” for its audience and quality.

The Pilgrims

Another question we should ask is, “Who are Buddhist pilgrims, and what were their motivations to participate in pilgrimages?” A true Buddhist pilgrim is one who has casted his worldly desires aside and only lives within his means, wearing nothing but a white monk’s robe, a walking stick, a hat, prayer beads, and his belongings in a bundle from temple to temple on foot. Buddhist monks and priests generally live a simple lifestyle that did not involve much currency transaction, therefore much of their food and expenses were either earned with labour or alms. One of the many reasons why Buddhist pilgrims undertake a pilgrimage is to follow in the footsteps of their elders, famous priests, or personal salvation. Not all pilgrims who undertake the Saikoku pilgrimage are devout Buddhist, in many cases, many ordinary people undertake the pilgrimage to sight-see or to ask for healing of sickness, byouki-oroshi.


Modern day pilgrims at Mt. Koya, Source: www.wildernesstravel.com/trip/japan/basho-beyond-cultural-adventure

A pilgrimage route is also a place of friendship, many pilgrims enter travel relationships or camaraderie with others who are performing the same practice, this is called dōgyōsan. This aspect is particularly significant on a spiritual level on the Shikoku 88, where the pilgrims can identify with the great Kōbō-Daishi, and follow along in his footsteps, but this can easily be relatable to any famous figure who has walked the Saikoku 33. Examples of pilgrimage taking can be found in many Japanese literature classics and popular culture, one famous example is Matsuo Basho’s secular pilgrimage to the north with his companion Sora, in his book,  Oku no Hosomichi [奥の細道] or The Narrow Road to the Interior. Popular culture examples include Jippensha Ikku’s Tōkaidōchū Hizakurige [東海道中膝栗毛] or Shank’s Mare, depicting slackers Kita and Yaji leaving their shabby Edo home on a pilgrimage to Ise. Famous poet Ihara Saikaku also dabbled in stories about pilgrimages in his short stories, Kōshoku Gonin Onna [好色五人女] or Five Women Who Loved Love.


Statues of Yaji and Kita, Sanjo Ohashi, Kyoto. Source: http://muza-chan.net

To embark on a pilgrimage is a scared charge for religious pilgrims but, for the secular folks, David C. Moreton and Katharine Merrill translating Alfred Bohner eloquently puts it as:

“Sometimes there comes moments in our lives when simply everything fails; when every undertaking, every plan, no matter how well thoughtout, miscarries; when what we had counted on as most secure is overturned; a farmer’s harvest fails; his ox is carried off by disease; thieves have broken in and stolen the best of what little is left; and in addition to all this misfortune the young married daughter is sent home by the family of the bridegroom for what seems no reason at all, making them the laughing-stock of the neighbours and acquaintences, and brining discord into the house, where everyone wants to charge someone else with the guilt of the unsuccessful union. In such cases many japanese reach for the poison, throw themselves onto the railroad track in front of a train, or cast themselves into the sea. Others however tie up their bundles, equip themselves as well or as poorly as their means allow, and set off on a pilgrimage.”

What these stories and the passage above have in common is a trend in Edo period pilgrimage taking called Nuke Mairi, which is a pilgrimage in defiance of edicts, employers, family, or authority; in short, its a decision thats made on a whim to just drop everything and leave. The former is called Okage Mairi, which are sporadic communally sponsored pilgrimages taken by members of family, groups, villages, and even towns, to [most often] the Grand Ise Shrine.


The township of Ise「いせ」is marked on the map in a bubble, with the Grand Shrines Naikū [内宮] and Gekū [外宮] slightly below.


A wooden Torii guards the Uji Bridge that spans the Isuzu River to enter Naikū [内宮], The bridge is torn down every 20 years, as are the Shrine buildings to keep Amaterasu-ōmikami’s lodgings pristine and new, never to show age.

Townsfolk and merchants along the way tended to welcome travelers and pilgrims so long as their numbers were not excessive- offering free food, lodging, sandals, or medicine. Custom held that Gods, Buddhas, and holy men occasionally traveled incognito; Kindness to a disguised holy man or deity as innumerable legends attest, brings good fortune. Such kindness found along the way made pilgrimages much easier in the Edo period, as monks and priests were given alms regularly and treated fairly well. Such entrepreneurial activities were favoured and encouraged by the temples, which helped designate touring routes through towns and cities that would lead the pilgrim to various places of worship other than the main temple. As a result of nuke and okage mairi, these local excursions were group social outings that combined pious acts with sightseeing, which provided pilgrims with a disruption from the tedium and restraint of quotidian life.

“Pragmatic Map”

After reviewing all the information written here thus far, it makes sense that Dr. Okawa would suggest that this is a “pragmatic map,” because it is.


Legend from left to right: Cities & towns, X , Ferries, Checkpoints/Lodging, Rural Roads, Main Roads, Pilgrimage Route, Castle Towns?, Province, and Shinto Shrines.


The main pilgrimage route that connects #1 Seiganto-ji 「青岸渡寺」to Ise Jingu. Displayed are the Ri distance markers, checkpoints/lodging, and physical descriptions of the route such as rivers and hills.

At first glance, judging by the title of the map and its purpose, it appears to be a simple map of the 33 temples, but it actually displays much more. Although Seiganto-ji is the 1st temple on the route, the route actually begins at Ise if one were to look closely at the route and its colouration. This means Ōsakaya Chōzaburō made this map not only for Buddhist pilgrims but secular pilgrims aswell. Pilgrims looking forward to undertake the Shikoku 88 pilgrimage or just visit Shikoku island are also provided with details as to where and how to catch a boat there.


The Island of Shikoku, showing a Shinto Shrine landmark, two castles, the 4 regions of the isle, and the boat route from Osaka.

The map does display interesting tidbits in finer detail, some that is useful and some that is not for the average pilgrim. In locating Himeji just above Shikoku, I noticed some fine print showing a Tenjin (天神) shrine, the Shinto kami of scholarship, the deification of a scholar, poet, and politician named Sugawara no Michizane, and information on how much the domain is worth in Koku [石, bushels of rice].


In fine print, we can make out the town of Himeji written as ひめぢ, strangely without an indicator that it’s a castle town. The domain is also rated at 150,000 Koku [十五万石]which is accurate according to historical data.


As Japan moved forward in the 18th and 19th century, so too did people’s aspirations and beliefs. As a by-product of these aspirations and beliefs, economies, civic infrastructure, religion, and private entrepreneurship flourished like never before, giving rise to one of the most sophisticated societies of its time. This map reflects that, as it guides secular and non-secular pilgrims around the region with reasonable accuracy and detail, remarkable for private maps produced at this scale and quality. Big enough to display the relevant information pertaining to the pilgrimage route, near-by towns, and landmarks, yet portable and cheap enough to be bought by passing or starting pilgrims at Kokawa-dera. It’s fascinating that researching this map some 200 years later would reveal so much details about the pilgrims, the pilgrimage route, the creator, and the state of Edo travel.

I would like to give thanks and acknowledgement to UBC – Rare books and Special Collections for obtaining and housing the Tokugawa maps; Professor Christina Laffin for hosting ASIA 453, the opportunity to conduct this research, and guidance in researching the maps; Dr. Eiji Okawa for helping me read and understand the map; and Professor Mari Fujita for her informative lecture on cartography.



Asahi.Net. “Kinki Region, Himeji”


Bohner, Alfred. Two on a Pilgrimage: The 88 Holy Places of Shikoku. Trans., Katherine Merrill. Ed. Moreton, David C., Outlook, Germany. 2011

Davis, Winston. Japanese Religion and Society: Paradigms of Structure and Change.
State University of New York, NY, 1992
Fujita Mari. “Cartography.” Lecture, University of British Columbia, 1 March, 2017
Hall, John Whitney., The Cambridge History of Japan: Volume 4, Early Modern Japan.
Cambridge University Press, NY, 1991.
Kasahara, Kazuo. Ed. A History of Japanese Religion. Trans., Paul McCarthy & Gaynor Sekimori
Kosei Publishing, Tokyo, 2001.
Okawa, Eiji. “Saikoku Pilgrimage.” Interview, University of British Columbia, Vancouver. 15 March, 2017
Reader, Ian. Making Pilgrimages: Meaning and Practice in Shikoku

University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu, 2005.

Totman, Conrad. Early Modern Japan
University of California Press, 1993

Morooshi Kinmo zui No.6

Morokoshi Kinmo zui is an encyclopedia of China. The whole collection contains five books and 14 different categories, astronomy, geography, architecture, people, Martial arts, instruments, machines, agriculture, costumes, vegetation, wild animals, insects, world map and Chinese landscapes. Part number 6 to 8 of this encyclopedia describes Chinese people performing different types of martial arts and entertaining activities such as acrobatics. The book contains four sections. First one is from page 1 to page 4, presenting horsemanship and archery. The second part is from page 5 to page 13, displaying half naked men performing hand-form martial arts. The third part is from page 14 to page 31, showing people practicing weapons such as swords, shields, cudgels, and spears. Last part is from page 32 to page 40, almost each page contains a background with different hobbies of ordinary people, and some pictures contain performers who are performing acrobatics to attract and impress audiences.

The cover page is the index three books, from book six to book eight. From left to right, the Chinese characters saying: “卷之六 人事之部,” combining with the content, means book six is about people’s performance. Followed by “士農工賈__伎百戰類,” the fifth word is blurred due to the paper being exposed in the air for hundreds of years. However, this sentence means it is the category of free-hand combat skills; now we call it martial arts, which suits for people of each social class in Chinese society. Next category is “卷之七 器用之部,” means that book seven is displaying the purpose of tools and equipment. After that, the sentence “祭器樂器圭璋半斛類” explains that those tools and instruments are used for sacrificial ceremony, “圭璋” is one of them, as Figure 1 shows. They look like daggers made of white jade, people in ancient China believed those items could be used as a medium to communicate with their ancestors. Book eight has the same title as book seven, which is also “卷之八 器用之部分,” however, they are no longer sacrificial instruments. Book eight contains “舟車兵刃䋄罟筆研類,” which are tools such as cars, boats, weapons, finishing nets, writing brushes, ink stones.

I choose book six because I am interested in martial arts and the first page of the book states the prime principle of archery, the person is standing on the ground with his arms raising up gives audiences a basic knowledge of stance of Chinese archery. The Chinese characters and hiragana above the man show the instructions and matters need attention positioning the stance. Page 3 and 4 indicate the way of how Manchuria people use a bow while riding a horse, which is called “馬箭圖,” means pictures of horseback archery. Only page 2 are the details of how to use a bow when standing on the ground, which is called “射法圖,” means pictures of the way of shooting. Page 5 to 13 present many free-hand combat styles, which is called “拳法,” which says the way of fists, meaning fighting skills without weapons. Each picture contains at least at least two people, half-naked, looks like fighting with each other using different movement. People in various pictures are different, for example, on page 5, both two individuals have no beard. However, one man below has a beard. On page 8, two people below seems thinner and younger than people on page 9.

figure 1

Furthermore, page 15 has four small pictures, each one contains a person, carrying a spear, demonstrating the martial art movement. Every movement has a unique name, written on the top of each picture. For example, at the top left, there is a movement called “十面埋伏勢”(Figure 2), means the stance of the ambush on all sides. Most of the action name is combined with four Chinese characters, and the four characters are usually idioms, in Chinese called “成語,” followed by a word “勢,” which only means stance. Here I will briefly explain one example on page 15, “青龍獻爪勢,” the idiom is the four words “青龍獻爪,” the words could be divided into two parts for better understanding, “青龍” refers to the mighty Eastern dragon, use to be worshiped by people who practice Daoism. “獻爪” means showing claws. The four words “青龍獻爪” means the powerful dragon is about to attack its enemy. Therefore, in the picture, a man is performing a strike with using a spear. Some of the stance names contain only two characters followed by “勢,” on page 17, the picture at top right indicates the stance name is called “朝天勢,” two characters “朝天” means pointing the sky. In the picture, a man is pointing his spear upwards. Indeed, most martial art stances with weapons can be easily understood by combining pictures and Chinese characters. However on page 15, the bottom right picture with a man holding a spear is named “指南針勢”(Figure 3), it looks like the previous picture “十面埋伏勢,” the word “指南針” means “compass.” It is a metaphor, indicates that the spear is the point of the compass, while this man is pressing the spear close to his chest, he can charge forward by only moving the body. The shape of this stance looks like a compass. Both compass stance and Spear movement demonstration stop at page 20.

Figure 2
Figure 3

Moreover, “習藤牌圖,” and “習狼筅圖”, from page 21 to 27, both are using the same format as spear practicing  “習“ means to learn, “藤牌” means shield made of rattans, and “圖” means pictures. The word “狼筅” means a spear type of weapon with tree branches as decoration to block enemies’ vision. After that, there is “棍法圖,” which means pictures indicates different cudgel techniques. In each picture, two people demonstrate the cudgel techniques, and the person on the right side is the one who is the demonstrator, the one in left is the enemy of the demonstrator. For example, on page 28, the bottom picture is called “齊眉殺圖,” means to raise cudgel parallel to the eyebrow and hit the enemy with one end of the cudgel. Therefore, the man on the right side is raising his cudgel to parallel to the eyebrow. At the same time on page 29, the picture at the top is called “走馬回頭圖,” which means a galloping horse turns its head.  In Chinese martial arts, it represents one is tending to turn around and flee, however waiting for the opponent to chase, then suddenly turn back to give the opponent a fatal hit. Therefore, the guy on the right side is turning his body to hit the guy on the left. The last example is “下穿勢,” which means penetrate from the bottom. Also, the person on the right side is trying to attack his opponent from the bottom using cudgel.

The final part of this book is ordinary people’s daily life and some acrobatics. The first page contains two recreation sports, the first one seems like people throwing objects to beat each other for fun, and the second one is a person hitting a drum hanging on a tree branch. The instruction and explanation are written on the left side of the picture. Pictures of the last part of the book all have decent background and content. For example, on page 35, the picture “高絙圖,” literally means a picture of wire-walking. The picture is showing many people are watching a person performing wire-walking. Some of the audiences are cheering and pointing. The next one is “傀儡圖,” means the picture of a puppet show. The background has many details such as the puppet master is hiding under the eaves and controlling the puppet, audiences are gathering around and watching the show. Pictures such as “鬥雞圖,” watching gaming fowl, and “彈圖,” shooting birds with small rocks represents the hobbies of ordinary people. In the end, there are “吞劍圖,” picture of swallow a sword, and “走火圖,” a picture of walking on fire, both figures represent people earn money by performing acrobatics.

In conclusion, book six of Morokoshi Kinmo zui is presenting an excellent overview of Chinese martial art and people’s daily life and performance. The book focuses on explaining each movement of Chinese martial art with proper names, gives us the knowledge of how they call the stances, and the pictures are beautiful and detailed.

Comparison of the Nagasaki port: Hishū Nagasaki zu and Shinsen Hizen Nagasaki zu

Nagasaki, in the modern period, is well-known for its history of foreign influences. This essay will aim explore the influence of foreign trading at the Nagasaki port in the Tokugawa period. In this essay, I will compare two woodcut prints of the Nagasaki port, produced 40 years apart, examine some differences in depiction and attempt to provide some historical context to these changes.

General map description:

The first map, Hishū Nagasaki zu, is a 61.3 x 86.7 cm woodcut print. It was published in 1821 by Bunkindō, one of the four largest publishing houses for Nagasaki-e in the Tokugawa period[1].

See Map at UBC Open Collections

The second map of the Nagasaki port, Shinsen Hizen Nagasaki zu, a 43.2 x 63.7 cm woodcut print, was published by Kojudō in late 1860. It is noted that the map may have been published in commemoration of the opening of the Nagasaki port to American traders in 1857[2].

See map at UBC Library Open Collections

Both maps are oriented diagonally, with straight North pointing to the upper right corner of the map. This allows an aesthetically pleasing depiction of the ships horizontally entering and exiting the port. This orientation places Dejima in the centre of the maps as their subjects. Both maps include a chart at the bottom left hand corner describing the distances from Nagasaki to various city centres. These calculations include the distances travelled by land and by sea. For instance, the Hishū Nagasaki zu states that the distance from Nagasaki to Osaka is 197 ri by land, and 235 ri by sea.

The Dutch at Dejima:

Dejima is an artificially constructed island in the port of Nagasaki, initially built to inhibit the propagation of Christianity by Portuguese residents in Nagasaki. It was completed in 1636, and funded by Nagasaki’s Japanese merchants. In 1637, the Shimabara Rebellion occurred; initially an uprising against unfair treatment by officials in Shimabara, it became associated with the Christian religion[4]. This resulted in the complete expulsion of Portuguese residents from Japan. Dejima thus becomes the factory ground for the Dutch East India Company in 1641. Dejima became Japan’s sole contact with Europe until the late 1850’s[5].

dejima 18241825.jpg
Dejima Island 1780

The island is not illustrated in great detail on the Hishū Nagasaki zu, but one can identify a fence surrounding the perimeters of the island, and the single bridge that connects the trading post to the mainland. At this point (1820’s), the island was made up of warehouses, and some residential housing, as illustrated by the shaded blocks and roofed houses. Life on Dejima was monotonous. The Dutch residence had to abide by strict rules, and special permission was required to leave the island[6].


By the time the Shinsen Hizen Nagasaki zu was produced in 1860, Japan’s foreign relations had undergone significant change. With the arrival of the American fleet, the Shogunate government was forced to sign a U.S.-Japan treaty, opening up the country to trade with the Western world[7]. The Dutch government signed a similar treaty with Japan soon after; trade became exchanges with individual merchants rather than the Dutch factory. In early 1860, Dejima as a Dutch factory ceased to exist, becoming the new Dutch Consulate[8].

Dejima depicted in the Shinsen Hizen Nagasaku zu appears to have sparse roofed structures. The blocks of structures seen in the previous map seems to have disappeared, showing a change in the function of the island. There is also a second bridge connecting the island to the mainland, likely built after the establishment of the Dutch-Japan Treaty of Peace and Amity, permitting free entry and exit onto the island.


Foreign settlements (Gaigokujin yashiki) at Oura:

One of the most prominent changes between the two maps is the addition of the foreign residence to the area of Oura. The government, under the foreign treaties signed in the late 1850s, had to clear an area for incoming Western residents. Therefore, the area of Oura along the bay was designated to be filled and residences built for foreign merchants, sailors, and travellers[9]. The settlement officially opened July 1st, 1895[10], with most of its settlers originating from Britain.

Screenshot_20170328-124940 Screenshot_20170328-124856

Along with the influx of foreign traders, came the Western Christian missionaries. At this point, Christian practices was only allowed inside the foreign settlement. This did not stop Western missionaries’ attempted propagation of faith under the guise of teaching English to Japanese interpreters[11]

On the Shinsen Hizen Nagasaku zu, the foreign settlement on Oura is depicted as a large mass of land across from Dejima. It is hard to distinguish the building structures that are portrayed. However, records show that there are a variety of establishments at the settlement other than residential housing, including hotels, taverns, tea-firing establishments, and warehouses[12]. Amongst the undistinguishable buildings portrayed, it is easy to spot the churches marked by large crosses on the roofs. The map’s comparatively clear depiction of the churches reflect the prevalence of religion in Western culture, something that had been observed by the Japanese map-makers.



[1] Nagasaki-e, prints depicting particular characteristics of Nagasaki, are woodblock prints that became popular in the Edo period. They often depict foreigners or foreign objects, such as ships. These prints satiate the curiosity the Japanese held towards foreigners on their land, and are often bought by Japanese travellers during their stay to Nagasaki.

Japanese Architecture and Art Net Users System. (2002). Nagasaki Hanga. Retrieved from http://www.aisf.or.jp/~jaanus/deta/n/nagasakihanga.htm

[2] Univeristy of British Columbia Library. (2016). Shinzen Hizen Nagasaki zu. Retrieved from https://open.library.ubc.ca/collections/tokugawa/items/1.0223033#p0z-5r0f

[4] Marius B Jansen, Making of Modern Japan (Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2002), p 77-78.

[5] Nagasaki City. (2002). Dejima Comes Back to Life: History of Dejima. Retrieved from http://www.city.nagasaki.lg.jp/dejima/en/main.html

[6] Marius B Jansen, Making of Modern Japan (Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2002), p 81.

[7] Marius B Jansen, Making of Modern Japan (Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2002), p 283.

[8] National Diet Library. (2009). Opening of Japan and Japan-Netherlands Relations. Retrieved from http://www.ndl.go.jp/nichiran/e/s1/s1_4.html

[9] Earns, Lane. “The Foreign Settlement in Nagasaki, 1859–1869.” The Historian 56, no. 3 (1994): 484.

[10] Earns, Lane. “The Foreign Settlement in Nagasaki, 1859–1869.” The Historian 56, no. 3 (1994): 483.

[11] Earns, Lane. “The Foreign Settlement in Nagasaki, 1859–1869.” The Historian 56, no. 3 (1994): 488.

[12] Earns, Lane. “The Foreign Settlement in Nagasaki, 1859–1869.” The Historian 56, no. 3 (1994): 485.

Tōkaidō Road

A Brief History

The Tōkaidō Road was an essential part of the Tokugawa period. It connected the imperial capital of Edo to the political capital of Kyoto. With 53 stops, this was thought to be the fastest route between the capitals. These 53 stops were used by the government monitor trade and collect taxes. Throughout the route were also checkpoints that travellers needed to show their travel permits for in order to continue their journey. A good way to think of what the 53 stops along the route are, locations in which travellers could rest and restock their supplies. They had stables for horses, lodging, food and other things for visitors to do. Most of the people who travelled along the route, travelled by foot and only those of the high class travelled by palanquin. Men were most common along the route, as women were not permitted to travel alone and the Tokugawa government restricted them. Traganou notes that there had been various incidents that ordinary women had been caught with shaved heads just so they would be given the chance to travel freely. Furthermore, “obligatory traveling was mainly for administrative and sankin kotai purposes” (Traganou, 66).

Sankin Kotai, or alternate attendance, was created in 1635 by Tokugawa Iemitsu. Simply put, sankin kotai was a way for the shogun to ensure that the daimyo would not have enough money to rebel against him. The daimyo would travel to Edo alternating years (or even months) from all areas of the country. The shogun further ensured that the daimyo didn’t rebel, essentially, by holding the daimyo’s wife and children as ‘hostages’. Furthermore, daimyo were, also, expected to stay in “luxurious honjin” (Blacker, 593). Through, traveling expenses, paying their samurai and servants, and maintaining both their home in their domain and their home in Edo, the shogun was able to ensure that daimyo would not have enough to rebel. Additionally, because of sankin kotai, daimyo used the Tōkaidō Road frequently.

Another group that used Tōkaidō Road were those who went on pilgrimages. However, pilgrimages were “met with disapproval […] on economic grounds,” because deciding to take off weeks meant that “farmers neglected their proper duty and caused a fall in production” (Blacker, 604). Some han ended up placing restrictions. For example, they limited the number of people allowed to go and the duration of their travel time. During this time, a pilgrimage was seen as “an unnecessary luxury” (Blacker, 604).

Ukiyo-e’s literal translation is ‘floating world picture,’ and it used to represent life or courtesans and actors during Edo; however, currently, Ukiyo-e refers to woodblock prints. As Traganou notes, “road-maps of the popular culture were often made by ukiyo-e artists and had varying degrees of pictorial elaboration” (35). A significant figure during this time showing this was Utagawa Hiroshige.

Utagawa Hiroshige, also known as Ando Hiroshige, adopted his name from the Utagawa School, where he studied under Toyohiro. Hiroshige created a series of Ukiyo-e woodcut prints, called “Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō” or Tōkaidō gojūsantsugi, after his first time travelling along the Tōkaidō Road in 1832. The “Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido” are a series of 55 woodblock prints which included every stop along the Tōkaidō, including the first stop in Edo and the last stop in Kyoto. After this, and over the next twenty years, Hiroshige created 16 to 19 different series of the Tokaido road. One thing he was known for was having rain and snow in his scenes (Chiappa, Hiroshige). This led him to become known as the “artist of rain, snow and mist” (Chiappa, Hiroshige). Traganou notes that Hiroshige’s artwork typically showed a “harmonious combination of landscape and figures” (163). Both of these facts are evident on the map I have chosen by him.


The Maps

There were two maps that I chose to look at. First was Tōkaidō gojūsantsugi ichiran created by Andō, Hiroshige, or Utagawa Hiroshige. Second was Tōkaidō meisho ichiran created by Katsushika, Hokusai.

Tōkaidō gojūsantsugi ichiran Andō, Hiroshige, 1797-1858 Oct 4, 1839
Tōkaidō meisho ichiran Katsushika, Hokusai, 1760-1849

There are various types of printing type for woodblock. Starting from sumizuri-e, or ink printed pictures, which used only black ink. To aizuri-e, which are blue printed pictures and used the imported bero-ai, Prussian blue pigment. This was also a pigment that Hiroshige used in other works for the Tokaido road, as well at the map I have selected. The type of pigments mostly used “for these prints were water based, vegetable dyes, which produced a soft and subtle range of colors” and by the time that Hiroshige and Hokusai arrived the “ukiyo-e prints were produced with up to twenty different colors, virtually each requiring its own carved blocked,” (Khan). One thing that is evident and could be argued between the two maps I’ve selected is that “artists were constantly trying to outdo one another in their prints, not only with beautiful colors but also clever compositions” (Khan). We can see examples of both, the use of colors and the compositions in both maps.

In Hiroshige’s we see his use of bold colours. His blues and green are very strong and emphatic. This helps the viewer to distinguish between the red signs and the rest of the background. Furthermore, his use of the mist helps to create an air of mystery and calm. On Hiroshige’s map, there are various towns, as well, one can see a daimyo’s procession travelling through along the road. This is a ten panel map, with the two ends panels represent an unrolled makimono, which is a Japanese scroll, typically read from right to left. As mention in a previous paragraph, Hiroshige, was known as the “artist of rain, snow and mist.” What was see in this map are patches of mist. I interpret his use of mist as a way to fill in gaps in his work. As mentioned before, Hiroshige travelled the road and created the “Fifty-Three Stations of the Tokaido,” so it would make sense for him to have more detail in those individual woodblocks than this map as one could argue that this is more of a summary of the route.

In Hokusai’s map, he uses shades of green and beige to show his map. I think that this print type might be either, benizuri-e, which used red, or sometimes green, ink details or highlights added after the printing process or tan-e, which used orange highlights with a red pigment. Hokusai’s distorted map, according to the metadata, shows “roads, towns and castles.” Both Kyoto and Edo are on the right side of the map, with Mount. Fuji appearing on the left. Additionally, this is noted to be a mandala style of map. Mandala in Sanskrit means circle. Through this meaning, I interpret his map to show the more important city (Edo) in the center, while all others are around it. The reason why I think this is because during this time Edo was the new capital where everyone now gravitated towards.

The placement of both Kyoto and Edo in each map is also unique. What one can see in Hokusai’s map is that each city is in a strange location in comparison to not only each other but also Mount Fuji. Though, the placement of Kyoto and Edo in both maps are slightly accurate.  In Hiroshige’s map, both cities are on the correct side; however, Mount. Fuji is in the background when it should be in the foreground. In Hokusai’s map, both cities are on the right side of the map. When looking at a modern day map of Japan, one can see how Kyoto is lower than both Tokyo (Edo) and Mount. Fuji.

Both maps show the use of finer details. With the bold colours, Hiroshige’s subtly adds in his details, through people traveling along the route and rooftops to signify cities or castle towns. With Hokusai, though his map is more condensed and the lack of striking colours, he still added details. For example, he added in the detailed lining of roofs and walls.

Overall, the Tokaido Road was not only useful for travel and trade, it was also useful in the arts. Since it’s birth, there has been many maps and woodblocks prints created helping to inspire artists in many ways.



Chiappa, J. Noel. 2017. “Glossary Of Woodblock Print Terms”. Mercury.Lcs.Mit.Edu. http://mercury.lcs.mit.edu/~jnc/prints/glossary.html.

Chiappa, J. Noel. 2017. “Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858)”. Mercury.Lcs.Mit.Edu. http://mercury.lcs.mit.edu/~jnc/prints/hiroshige.html.

Damian, M. M. (2010). Archaeology through art: Japanese vernacular craft in late edo-period woodblock prints (Order No. 1476575). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (375357773). Retrieved from http://ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.library.ubc.ca/docview/375357773?accountid=14656

“Khan Academy”. 2017. Khan Academy. https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-asia/art-japan/edo-period/a/the-evolution-of-ukiyo-e-and-woodblock-prints.

“Sankin Kotai | Japanese History”. 2017. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/sankin-kotai.

“Tokaido Road”. 2017. Hiroshige.Org.Uk. http://www.hiroshige.org.uk/hiroshige/tokaido/tokaido_road.htm.

Traganou, Jilly. The Tokaido Road: Traveling and Representation in EDO and Meiji Japan. Taylor & Francis Group, 2004. Web. 28 Mar. 2017.


Picture Sources




Sekai bankoku Nihon yori kaijō risū ōjō jinbutsu zu

Sekai bankoku Nihon yori kaijō risū ōjō jinbutsu zu ❀ 世界萬國日本ヨリ海上里數王城人物圖

Map of all the countries of the world and pictures of the peoples, showing the capitals and the distances from Japan

As one of Japan’s most significant periods, the Tokugawa era has left various cultural values in the global community through its distinct lifestyle and development in Japanese history. Drawing attention specifically on the partial reality portrayed in the visual materials created and preserved from the remarkable era, it is clear that the economical, political, and social dimensions of the Japanese people living during the period was unique from foreign countries.

The Japanese map of the Tokugawa Era, “Sekai bankoku nihon yori kaijo risu ojo jinbutsu zu” was created by Eijudō in 1850 (late Edo period). It can be accessed in UBC’s Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era Collection within the Rare Books and Special Collections in Irving K. Barber library.

This map project will examine this map with the aim to educate the public about this particular world map’s approach in visualizing the Japanese people’s conception of the world. Moreover, the aspects: conflict, characterization will be analyzed to demonstrate how the world map portrays the racist and patriotic viewpoint that the Japanese people held during late Edo period as a result of the isolation policy. (The aspect of ‘color’ will be analyzed in the longer, formal paper!)

CONFLICT #1 Japan vs. Foreign countries

Firstly, the conflict between Japan and foreign countries is apparent on this world map, signifying the patriotic and racist aspect of the Japanese people living during the Edo period. In regards to the portrayal of the world and people in this map, Japanese people considered their nation as superior in comparison to foreign nations as a result of the isolation policy. This is evident in the position of Japan on the map, as it is centered, highlighting its supremacy. Moreover, the size of the Japanese land is enormous, stressing their power and control in the world. It also indicates that the creator of this map, as well as many other Japanese people during the Edo period were unaware about their country’s geographical features relative to foreign nations.


↑”A 17th century European engraving depicting a Dutch tributary embassy to the Tokugawa’s residence.” – Wikipedia

CONFLICT #2 Known vs. Unknown

Furthermore, the Sakoku years, or period of national isolation of Japan under the Tokugawa shogunate’s rule resulted in the Japanese people’s unfamiliarity of the foreign countries. The conflict between the known and unknown world is demonstrated in this map, proving the lack of knowledge that Japanese people had regarding foreign land and cultures. This map shows the clear distinction between the existing nations and fantastical nations through the portrayal of people belonging to 12 different regions. The Dutch, Tatars, North Americans, South Americans, Chinese, Vietnamese, Koreans, and Indians are existing inhabitants living in existing countries. In contrast, the lands of women, dwarfs, cyclops, and giants are fantastical nations which do not exist in reality. They are fictional realms inspired by foreign folktales, illustrated to portray the imagined countries in the unknown regions of the world.

Considering the features of the fantastical nations and creatures, it is clear that Japanese people, including the creator of this map, had some kind of a opportunity to read foreign tales. For instance, this world map in particular portrays nations and creatures from the fictional stories in: Saiyuki, Greek mythologies, Gulliver’s Travels, and Flowers in the Mirror. Thus, despite the strict regulation limiting access to foreign material during the isolation period, this map shows that some people had access to foreign material in the Edo society, which had an impact on the people’s perception of the world outside Japan.

In addition, the conflict between the known and unknown worlds is reflected through the absence of the portrayals of the people belonging to regions such as Melanesia, North Pole and South Pole. In regards to Melanesia, which includes countries like Fiji and Papua New Guinea, is assumed to have been unknown to the Japanese because they are located in the southern half area of the equator, opposite from Japan. Moreover, it is presumed that Melanesia was of little significance during the Tokugawa era because Japan was mainly limited to trading with the Dutch.

Overall, the two conflicts both demonstrate the influence that the isolation policy had on Japanese people. It widened the relations between Japan and foreign countries, resulting in the Japanese people’s unawareness of foreign lands and cultures. Additionally, it highlights Japan in a superior manner, and compares other nation’s people and culture in relation to Japanese people and cultures. As an outcome, the patriotic and judgemental attitude in Edo societies influenced people including this artist to create an inaccurate depiction of the world.

CHARACTERIZATION – The 12 Nationalities

Existing: China, Korea, India, Vietnam, Tatar, South America, North America, Dutch

Fictional: Land of Giants, Land of Dwarfs, Land of Cyclops, Land of Women

cdm-tokugawa-1-0213137-0000full2←Bankoku sōzu

Secondly, the characterization of the people representing 12 nationalities portrayed on this world map indicates the Japanese people’s narrow minded, conservative view of the foreign world. In general, it is possible to distinguish each ethnic group according to their body size, gender depiction, clothes, headdresses, bows, swords, shields, and spears. For instance, the man representing people of the Qing Dynasty is characterized as having an elegant and calm traits based on his facial expression, posture, and upper-class outfit. Similarly, the Korean man appears well-off and cheerful, however also has a characteristic of being dependable according to the portrayal of the small female-like figure leaning against him.

qingkoreavietnamindia←From left side: Indian, Korean, Vietnamese, Chinese

Contrasting to the characteristics of the Chinese and Korean men, the Indian man depicted on the map is characterized as a stranger, regardless of his wealthy-looking visuals, due to his unique headdress and clothing which is unfamiliar to the East asian culture. Furthermore, the Vietnamese man is all the more unusual looking, indicated through his grim facial expression and wild outfit that is not similar to the East Asian robe-style outfits. Moreover, the Tatars, the Turkic-speaking tribes in west-central Russia, are also have a barbaric, country-side appearance. Thus, the characteristics of the non-East asian men are not positive compared to the East asian men, which shows their lack of intimacy with Japanese people.

southamerican←South American           North American→northamerican

Transitioning to the South American man illustrated on the bottom right, it is noteworthy that they appear asian. Also, the description next to the illustration indicates that South American men are handsome. Although it is arguable whether the Japanese were familiar with these nationalities, especially according to the inaccurate depiction of the common South American people, it is evident that Japanese people had a rather positive impression towards South American people and culture. Similarly, the North American man illustrated on the top right area looks very Asian. Additionally, he is holding several weapons on his back, which emphasizes his military power. Hence, it denotes that, despite their limited knowledge and understanding of the Americans, Japanese people imagined people of American regions to be either feared or respected because of their attractive physical traits and military power.


Additionally, the similar clothing and headdresses worn by the North American man and Dutch man reflects that Japanese people understood North America as a westernized nation. The Dutch man illustrated on the top left area of the map is holding an item in his hand. This is assumed to be either money or an item for trade, representing Dutch as the important trading partner for Japan during the Edo period. In fact, it is stated in the description that people from Holland visit Nagasaki every year, and visit Edo as well every five years during the sakoku era.

womencyclopsgiantdwarf←From left side: Women, Cyclops, Giant, Dwarfs

Regarding the portrayal of fictional entities belonging to the fictional lands, it demonstrates the creator of this map characterizing them in specific ways according to their portrayal in the original foreign folktales. The giants are very tall and asian-looking, based on their robe clothing, dark hair color, and bun hair style. They measure one jō and 2 shaku (3 m 60 cm) in height. They are not wild looking in this map, which makes adds verisimilitude, causing viewers of this map to believe in the existence of such abnormal beings. In contrast, the dwarfs only measure one shaku and two sun (36cm) in height, and are characterized as weak through a humorous tone because they are chased by a crane. In fact, the bankoku sozu states that they walk together in groups to avoid the cranes from attacking them.

Also, another entity contrasting from the giant is the cyclops. Regardless of their similar large body size, they appear less human-like and are given barbaric and frightening traits in comparison to the giants. Lastly, the two women belonging to the land of women are topless, and appear asian according to their dark hair color. As it was not perceived as sexual to be topless in many non-western cultures in ancient asian cultures, it is evident that these women are inspired from asian texts. As a matter of fact, they appear to be conversing without disruption, and have no necessity to carry weapons because of the peaceful lifestyle. Overall, the fictional entities all carry mysterious characteristics and display a certain culture which are not realistic in the geographical location they are positioned on the world map.

Taking into account the ways in which the people from the 12 entities are characterized as, it is understandable that the Japanese creator of this world map characterized races and ethnicities in a patriotic manner. Most are asian, if not Japanese looking, and ones which are not similar to Japanese people are portrayed as barbaric, dangerous, weak, or uncanny. It stereotypes foreigners based on imaginations and assumptions because most Japanese people were unable to socialize with foreigners, had limited access to foreign material, and illiterate in foreign languages during the Edo period. Thus, this world map is reflecting that Japanese people were unaware of foreign land, people, and cultures to a large extent due to the isolation policy.


In conclusion, the research and analysis regarding the Japanese map of the Tokugawa Era, “Sekai bankoku nihon yori kaijo risu ojo jinbutsu zu”, indicates that Japanese people living under the sakoku system, including the creator of this map, had an obscure perception of the world. The isolation policy implemented by the Tokugawa Shogunate resulted in the Japanese to become attached to their undisturbed culture, and ignorant about foreign nations. In addition, there is a higher possibility that this world map was used as a display or reference, rather than as a tool for navigation and higher education, considering the vague and inaccurate representation of the world and the 12 nationalities.


Eijudō. “Sekai bankoku Nihon yori kaijō risū ōjō jinbutsu zu, 1850; Map of all the countries of the world and pictures of the peoples, showing the capitals and the distances from Japan. 世界萬國日本ヨリ海上里數王城人物圖.” University of British Columbia Library – Rare Books and Special Collections: Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era.


Unknown. “Bankoku sōzu, 1600; Map of all nations. 萬國総圖; 万国総図.” University of British Columbia Library – Rare Books and Special Collections: Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era.  https://open.library.ubc.ca/collections/tokugawa/items/1.0213137#share

Kusano, Takumi. “西梁女人国. 中国神話伝説ミニ事典/地名編. ” フランボワイヤン・ワールド. Unknown.


Unknown. “Early Japanese Maps of the World.”




Mountain Fuji and its Climbing Culture

As the most representative image of Japan, Mountain Fuji refers to “symbol of the Japanese soul” As the highest mountain in Japan with its elegant conical form, has become famous throughout the world and is considered the sacred symbol of Japan. Originally, the mountain’s name is uncertain and it first appears as Fuji no Yama in Hitachi no kunifudoki. According to record, the image of Fuji Mountain has been reproduced countless time in Japanese art, the painting, calligraphy or decorative visual arts produced in Japan over the centuries. Mountain Fuji played significant roles in the development of Japan through presenting national culture and religion. Every summer, there are thousands of Japanese climb to the shrine on its peak since they regard “climbing Fuji as a religious practice”(p.53.)



大日本富士山絶頂之図 Tokukawa period 1857

“Dai Nihon Fujisan zetchō no zu” was published in 1857 (Tokukawa period). This was the full version of the Fuji Mountain view and in the middle area is the crater of the Mountain Fuji, on the side of the mountain there are many climbing paths were distributed, the climbing path of the mountain was constructed in order to help climber to walk easier. Every mountain hill has its own name which was labeled through the red color. There are also torii gates located on the top of the mountain, which is for people to do worship. Thus, the trend of climbing Fuji Mountain are more popularize in the commoner group in Edo period, since before that time, only nobility were permitted to visit the peak of Mountain and to celebrate ritual ceremony. In the middle of Edo period, the majority of farmers and businessmen would dedicate themselves to religious activities in order to achieve their dreams. They usually dress up with all white shirts, wear a bamboo hat and shaking bells with their hands and they also need to perform songs or scriptures while they are climbing up the mountain. The purpose of performing songs or scriptures is due to pray for supplication. One interesting thing is before people to climb up the mountain, they need to shower for a week in order to maintain their body and spirit in a pure mood. People were required to obtain a devout heart so that they could overcome all difficulties on the way they apparently can climb up the mountain.


Two significant factors about the development of the Fuji Mountain are; the reverence feeling of the Fuji Mountain, the reverence feeling of the natural landscape. Fuji Mountain had been always played significant roles over the decades of Japanese history. Based on the records of Shoku Nihonggi『続日本記』which is an imperially commissioned Japanese history text that has mentioned that “駿河国言、富士山下雨灰、灰之所及、木彫萎” by translation it is saying that as long as rain dust drops from the Fuji Mountain, all the plants would perish because of the rain dust from the Fuji Mountain. Wherever the dust drop on and it would destroy the greenery. Based on the map of Fuji Mountain, there are many rest stations distributed on the map. For example, almost every stage has a rest station which not only for people to take a break but it also implies them to walk slowly and think about their life carefully. There are many food vendors are located on the mountain as well in order to provide food and energy backup for all the climbers. The routes of the Fuji Mountain were divided into different stages and label them by numbers such as “the fist stage”. Meanwhile, the reinforce concrete wall is on the side of the mountain which is to prevent the landslide.


edo period

『富士山諸人参詣之図』二代・歌川国輝 画(1865年)

Reasons that why people in Edo Period are in possession of climbing Fuji Mountain is due to Asama Shrine, which is a shrine of faith mainly to Mountain Fuji. The purpose is to praise the God of the Asama Shrine. In the early time of Japan, Buddhism was drawn into the Japanese history, though some Chinese sources place the first spreading of the religion earlier during the Confucian period and Buddhism has played a significance role influence on the development of Japanese society and maintains its influential culture until today. However, Japanese still maintain their identity beliefs such as Shintoism. People who live nearby the mountain used to always worry about the volcanic eruption and they cannot live a peaceful life. So that they begin to stage some ritual activities in order to pray for protection from the god. One of the most important factors for the faith of the Mountain Fuji was due to people always obtained a great reverence for the natural world.



聖徳太子絵伝 延久本 平安時代 1069

There are also some artworks that involved Mountain Fuji such as Pictorial Biography of Prince Shōtoku. The Prince Shōtoku who was the first person compose Japan’s first constitution and obtain high reputation and admiration in the historical of Japan. In the Pre-Edo Period, there is a tale about Prince Shōtoku jumping up to the Fuji Mountain by riding a mythical horse, and this biographical picture reveals partially deed that Prince Shōtoku’s contribution during his entire life, the biography was mainly recorded all his contribution. Also, this picture is the first picture in the historical point of view to mention about Mountain Fuji.Based on the Pre-Edo period works, as we can see the culture phenomenon of Fuji Mountain has not been formed yet, at that time Mountain Fuji is just for people to worship and praise. We can find a lot of artworks about Fuji Mountain.



『富嶽三十六景』 葛飾北斎 1830

For example, Group of Mountain Climbers; the first fujizuka was established by members of a group known as a Fuji kō, which is an association dedicated to the ascent of Mount Fuji as the religious practice. Each Fuji kō raise funds to donation annual pilgrimages in which one-fifth to one-third of the members would participate, thus by the end of three to five years all of the members would have completed the climb at least once. Since these short trips were religious in nature, members would first visit Sengen Shrine at the foot of the mountain and perform ablutions. Then they climb the mountain in the white clothes of religious ascetics and pay respect at the shrine at the top of the mountain. After that, the group would descend along a different route to one of the towns at the foot of the mountain, where they would enjoy food, drink, and entertainment. With a group of 20 or 30 pilgrims, a professional guide, and a set itinerary that included lodgings, these trips might be regarded as the Edo-period equivalent of today’s package tours.

In conclusion, Mountain Fuji played a significant role in the history of Japan since it has always been dedicating into the artworks and literature filed. As one of the most representative landscapes of Japan, Mount Fuji also obtains higher reputation around the world. Not only because it has splendid view of the landscape but it also becomes to cultural heritage.





















Bernstein, Andrew. 2008. Whose fuji? religion, region, and state in the fight for a national symbol. Monumenta Nipponica 63 (1): 51-99.


第三版日本大百科全書(ニッポニカ)世界大百科事典内言及, %. %. (n.d.). 富士講(ふじこう)とは. Retrieved April 10, 2017, from https://kotobank.jp/word/%E5%AF%8C%E5%A3%AB%E8%AC%9B-124413


富士山の歴史と文化. Retrieved April 10, 2017, from     http://3776.jp/rekishi/index.html


富士山噴火史. (n.d.). Retrieved April 10, 2017, from http://www.fujigoko.tv/mtfuji/vol1/


Takashina Shūji (2012, Jan. 2 ) Mount Fuji in Edo Arts and Minds. Retrieved April 10, 2017, from http://www.nippon.com/en/currents/d00021/