Bankoku Sōzu: Foreign Influence within an Isolated Society

Bankoku Sōzu

Click here to view these images in the UBC maps collection.

What is Bankoku Sōzu?

Bankoku Sōzu (complete maps of the people of the world) is the oldest Japanese map of the Tokugawa era collection. One side of this map depicts a colourful world map indicating different countries and continents. The other side of the map displays diverse ethnicities from around the world and labeled with their names and small explanations. The map triggers a viewer’s curiosity since it does not only include the real countries such as Portugal or Netherland but also the imaginary places like Dwarves and Giants. This double-sided map is one of the most significant Japanese historical texts as it exemplifies a cartographic influence of European countries and China and represents how Japanese has interacted with foreign nations around 17th centuries.


Our Question?

Japan was isolative when it comes to the politics and geographical sense around this period. By looking at this map, it is quite interesting to think how the Japanese people could have had known so much about outside of their island and started taking an interest in the other countries. For these reasons, in this post, we will analyze how the foreign nations have influenced the cartography in Japan and contributed to the creation of Bankoku Sōzu.


Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542 – 1616). Statesman and the founder of the Tokugawa dynasty of shoguns. Source:

Historical Background of Tokugawa Era?

Before we jump into the deeper look of the international relations in Japan, I would like to first introduce the characteristics of the Tokugawa era. Tokugawa era is also known as Edo period between 1600s – late 1800s in the history of Japan. Around this period, Japan was under the rule of Tokugawa shogunate and regional daimyos. The society has a very isolative foreign policy which was an inherited perspective from the predecessor, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who was suspicious about foreign cultures (Lu, 191). In particular, when Portuguese introduced the Christianity to the Japanese, the government were not willing to accept this exotic concept. Since the main idea of the Christianity was equality, it might disintegrate the social system and the government. However, based on the historical record, there actually was a rebellion against the oppression by the feudal lords in Shimabara around 1630s (Joseph, 1979). For this reason, as the government wanted to prevent their society from any potential disintegration, Portuguese and other Christian activities have started to be perceived as threats to the establishment of loyalty to Tokugawa clan. These have led to the persecutions against any Portuguese missionaries and the government has further initiated isolative policies against any foreign contacts including heavy taxations on the trading In particular, based on Arano’s research, “[the Dutch] was charged rent for their lodgings in their designated compounds and were required to pay a variety of taxes and other charges on incoming and outgoing cargo” as well (2013).


The Illustration of Dutch Man and Woman in Bankoku Sōzu


Selective Foreign (Dutch) Policies

Within these multiple restrictions, how the Japanese people have gained such extensive knowledge on the outside world? The answer could be found in the Japanese government’s selective interactions. In particular, foreigners were only allowed to stay in Nagasaki area under the inspection of local government. For instance, the government has created an artificial island named Dejima in order to accept the Portuguese missionaries. According to Marius, after the uprising in Shimabara, this artificial island was inherited only by the Dutch (2002).

Dutch personnel and Japanese women watching an incoming towed Dutch sailing ship at Dejima by Kawahara Keiga. Source: MIT Visualizing Cultures.

Although the artists of this map are unknown, considering that it was made in Nagasaki, it is possible to understand that this oldest map of Tokugawa era was created based on the knowledge of Europeans (especially Dutch) who have traveled around the world. Furthermore, Japan has frequently had a contact with them by sending their government officers and started learning about practical knowledge. They have further sent the scholars called “Rangakusha” to them and translated the Dutch scholarly books in the area of medicine, mathematics and physics (Cryns, 2005). Since Dutch has mainly aimed for gaining financial benefit throughout the trade, they were able to attain a differentiated treatment contrary to Portuguese. This has led for Dutch to maintain a continuous and exclusive relationship with this isolated Japanese government. As a result, this outstanding Western knowledge has contributed to the development of Japanese culture and further influenced the views of Japan towards the global nations.


The Illustration of Man and Woman in Ming Dynasty in Bankoku Sōzu

Chinese Influence

With this diverse access to the new geographical sources and subject introduced by these European traders, the Japanese people have tended to address these exotic concepts with a combination of art pieces. China, in this case, has shown the pathways to display these arts with their pictorial ideas. In particular, Matteo Ricci, who was born in Italy and sent to Beijing as Jesuit priest, has contributed the most when it comes to the development of cartography in Japanese history. Based on the historical context, “Matteo Ricci, a Jesuit missionary working in China, may have had an influence in shaping Edo period mapping and an emerging Japanese world view in ways that he and no one else at that time could have imagined” (Loh, 178). One of his most representative maps, “A Map of Myriad Countries of the World” is visually associated with the making of Bankoku Sōzu. For instance, the shapes and the arrangements of some continents depicted in this map resembles Bankoku Sōzu’s.

Matteo Ricci, the first missionary welcomed into Beijing. Source:

Around this period, the Chinese dynasties have been obsessed with the idea of “Sino-centralism” and this has further created their world-view. The Chinese people have considered themselves as the centre of the world and the others as just the countryside of their continent. This perspective has further influenced their art piece including the maps.

Kangnido (Gangnido). Source:Dschingis Khan und seine Erben (exhibition catalogue), München 2005, p. 336/7

From the historical context, Chosun dynasty has maintained a tributary system to Chinese kingdoms and frequently interacted with them when it comes to the cultural norms. Corresponding to this theory, Chosun has created a map called “Gangnido” that the Chinese continent is located at the centre of the map. According to Bae, since Sinocentrism was the primary principle that regulated the daily lives of [Chosun] people, they viewed the world through the prism of Sinocentrism” (73).  However, Matteo Ricci had ambitions that he could use the map to impress the Chinese and convince them of the superiority of Western civilization and their glorious Christian culture (Loh, 2013). His eagerness to change this idea of Sinocentrism could be identified in this map (A Map of Myriad Countries of the World) as he did not care the location of the Chinese continent in the map.

Kunyu Wanguo Quantu, or Map of the Ten Thousand Countries of the Earth. Created by Matteo Ricci in 1602. Source:

Bankoku Sōzu is one of the most significant examples which have been influenced by the Chinese and Matteo Ricci’s cartographic style. In particular, both of Matteo Ricci’s map and Bankoku Sōzu use same characters “萬國” which means ten thousands countries and also stands for all of the countries in the world. Furthermore, the alignment and placement of the lands and oceans are parallel. These similarities represent that the Japanese and Chinese cartographic style have shared same world-view in a making of the map. As a result, we are able to identify that the Western concepts of the geography was influential to the Japanese cartography after the maps created by Matteo Ricci were introduced.


Although the Dutch was the only country allowed to stay in Japan as and do business as a Western civilization, the Japanese has not underestimated the presence of other foreign nations. By including all the nations that they have known and been informed through the knowledge from outside of the island into the art piece, Japan has started notifying the power of Western civilization and planning to learn it as well. As the early part of the post has mentioned that the Japanese government has stood a quite defensive and isolated position towards the other foreign countries during Edo period, they have initiated some restrictions on the interactions such as imposing a heavy tax or creating a high barrier to trade. However, when we carefully look at the maps of Tokugawa collection, we could find out many of their cultural aspects have been influenced by the foreign ideas. In order to not fall behind the other nations when it comes to the knowledge and cultures, they have tried their best to accommodate the others by protecting their sovereignty from any potential threats. Consequently, if we go back to the main question of this post that how come the Japanese people were able to achieve this Western knowledge and create this map called Bankoku Sozu when they were having an isolative stance against the other exotic nations, the answer could be the Dutch and Chinese influence in terms of the foreign knowledge and cartography.



Works Cited

Arano, Yasunori. “Foreign Relations in Early Modern Japan: Exploding the Myth of National Seclusion.” October 28, 2014. Accessed April 23, 2018.

Bae, Sung Woo. “Joseon Maps and East Asia.” Korea Journal 48, no. 1 (April 01, 2008).

Cryns, Frederik. “Translation of Western Embryological Thought in the Edo Period: Tsuboi Shindō and Malpighi’s Observations of Fertilized Eggs.” Japan Review, no. 17 (2005): 55-89.

Jansen, Marius B.. Making of Modern Japan. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002. Accessed April 23, 2018. ProQuest Ebook Central.

SEBES, Joseph. “Christian Influences on the Shimabara Rebellion 1637-1638.” Archivum Historicum Societatis Iesu 48, (1979): 136.

Loh, Joseph F. “When Worlds Collide—Art, Cartography, and Japanese Nanban World Map Screens.” Order No. 3548112, Columbia University, 2013.

Lu, David J. Japan: A Documentary History: V. 1: The Dawn of History to the Late Eighteenth Century. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 1996. 191

[Unknown]. 2018. M. Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era. [Nagasaki? : publisher not identified]. Accessed April 18. doi:




Sekai Bankoku Nihon Yori Kaijō Risū Ōjō Jinbutsuzu: 世界萬國日本ヨリ海上里數王城人物圖



The Tokugawa era is famous throughout the world as being the end of the warring states period and the development of a unified Japan. With the end of constant warfare, art and culture flourished leaving us today with a treasure trove of art and information. With the widespread use of the developing print industry, maps, art, literature, etc. were widely distributed and access to these became more readily available to commoners as well as the wealthier classes. Despite not actually being closed off from the rest of the world due to the Sakoku policies, Japan developed in its own unique way, which we can see by examining both the art and literature created during the time.

The main purpose of this project is to provide descriptions and translations of Tokugawa Era maps in order to make them more accessible to the general public. By making them more accessible we hope to educate people on how people in the past visualized the world around them, specifically from a Japanese point of view. In UBC’s Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era Collection, located both online and in the Rare Books and Special Collections department of the Irving K. Barber library, there is a specific map called Sekai Bankoku Nihon Yori Kaijō Risū Ōjō Jinbutsuzu. This posting will attempt to describe the previously mentioned map in comparison to other maps and how some descriptions bring about conflicts with modern generalizations.


Brief Background Information:

Sekai Bankoku Nihon yori Kaijō Risū ōjō Jinbutsu Zu is a map of all the countries of the world and pictures of the peoples, showing the capitals and their distances from Japan. The map was a woodblock print created by Eijudo, in Nagasaki during the 1850s, late Edo period; which is around the time that Commodore Perry’s ships came to Japan, as the later 1870s adaptation of this map features Perry’s black ships sailing to Japan from North America. The artists and/or cartographers who worked on this map is not known and very little is known about Eijudo. However, according to Professor Kazutaka Unno, the leading authority of Japanese maps in 1985, this map is loosely based on Mateo Ricci’s map of the world.


Map Characteristics:

At first glance the map is filled with distortions when compared to maps like the Bankoku Sōzu or modern ones. One such distortion is that of Japan, which is featured in the center of the map and is seemingly the same size as Europe. This focus on Japan as the center is similar to and could also be a reaction to the Japanese idea that Qing China had become stagnant and no longer the center of the world, while at the same time providing evidence of the emergence of early Japanese nationalistic ideologies. Other than this we see the area labeled as Asia being longer than it is wide and located in a more northeastern direction to Europe, which itself is distorted vertically. Next we can see that Africa, the second largest continent, is shown to be slightly larger in mass than Europe and smaller than North America, which has a similar mass to that of Eurasia.

Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 15.40.40

Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 15.41.01

Australia does not appear as its own isolated landmass within this map; however, the way that Antarctica is distorted to the point where it almost reaches the Equator is possibly due to Australia being depicted as an extension of the Antarctic continent. Although today we view the North Pole as a solid landmass, it is made up of constantly shifting ice, which in this map possibly led it to be depicted as a cluster of smaller islands.

Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 15.43.46

Along with these distortions to the continents, the colours used seem to hold some sort of meaning. One possibility behind their usage in this way is to signify different forms of otherness that the Japanese population had knowledge of during this time; seemingly separating countries by what we would consider “ethnicities”. However, due to the lack of specific knowledge on the artist’s intentions and the variations in colour usage in other prints of the same map, it is difficult to say exactly why the colours were used in this way on this particular map.


On this map we can see that Africa is shaded in a dark teal, while with Europe the colour tan is used, and in Asia pink. Looking at Japan we see that there is a mixture of colours being used: tan with pink borders. This mixture of colours could represent the notion that although the Japanese relate to the countries labeled as “Asia”, they see themselves as a separate entity. Moving east we see that both North and South America are shown in blue. When looking at the depictions of North and South Americans, we can see that they are depicted very similarly, which could represent that, although there is knowledge on the two being separate, their type of otherness is seen as being the same.

Looking at the southern and northern hemispheres we see that the lack of colour being used to fill in the country is used to represent the colder climates. For example Antarctica does have pink and tan coloured borders, but it is still white; and also when looking at the portion of “Asia” that is depicted as being north of the Arctic Circle is white with a pink border, to show that it is still considered part of Asia. The North Pole is shaded in black and is labeled as夜人国, which translates to country of the night people. This is shown throughout various different maps and depicts the fact that the Japanese had knowledge that the Arctic Circle is a place were there are large periods of perpetual darkness.

Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 15.54.57


Writing characteristics:

When it comes to the written elements of this map it is important to keep in mind that the Japanese used in the 19th century was different than that used today. Classical Japanese although similar to modern Japanese, has a different set of character readings, grammatical structures, vocabulary, etc.; therefore we see in this map that the writing is a combination of kanji, Chinese characters, and katakana, phonetic alphabet, in the classical Japanese context. Because of this we see, for example, リウキウ, literally spelled in roman letters as ri-u-ki-u, but pronounced as ryu-kyu.

Something else that stands out about the writing is that no matter the direction it is written in, the writing is read left to right. For example the title of this map,世界萬國日本ヨリ海上里數王城人物圖 , is written as: 圖物人城王數里上 海リヨ本日國萬界世 on the map its self.

Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 13.38.58

Within each of the countries the Screen Shot 2018-04-26 at 00.47.59 symbol is used to denote the names of each country’s major city while boxes are used for the continents. Countries and oceans, however, do not have any specific symbol denoting them.

Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 16.05.29

Distances between countries and japan are noted in several locations. Above the title on the left hand side is a yellow box, which serves as the primary location for distance notation. For North and South America they are written in between the two horizontally. Also next to the depictions of the different nations, both the name of the people and their countries distance from Japan are noted.

Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 16.08.07


Depictions of People: 

Within this world map there is the depiction of 12 nationalities, from which eight are existing countries and four are fictional. These depictions were also made to show the natural and cultural differences based on human characteristics such as skin colour, build, etc., which are based on the Jinbutsuzu, the accompaniment to the Bankoku Sozu, and show the artists’ opinions of that country’s distinguishing characteristics. Such depictions of people on maps are a unique characteristic of Edo Era maps as it is rare to see such depictions on maps from before or after. The existing countries include China, Korea, India, Vietnam, Tatar, South America, North America, and Holland; while the fictional ones are: Land of Giants, Land of Dwarfs, Land of Cyclops, Land of Women.

The nationalities displayed also follow the nation hierarchy established in Nishikawa’s Ka’I tsusho ko: China à Gaikoku à Gai’i à Holland’s trade partners à Others. We see this with the group of nationalities illustrated above the map’s title where India, Korea, Vietnam, and China are depicted. In the Japanese hierarchy of countries first in the list is China, followed by the Gaikoku category, which consists of countries, like Korea and Vietnam that are not part of China but are within its sphere of influence.

Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 23.18.29

After these two categories we have gai’i, which are both outside of the Chinese imperial system and trading partners with china, the main example being countries like Holland followed then by Holland’s trading partners.

Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 23.25.31

At the end of this gai’i category there are another thirty-six countries, which include the fictional countries, such as the Land of Giants. We see this hierarchy shown as the countries that fall under the gai’i category are spread out around the map, unlike China and those in the gaikoku category.

 Screen Shot 2018-04-25 at 23.22.47



The Sekai Bankoku Nihon yori Kaijō Risū ōjō Jinbutsu Zu is a map created in the late Edo period, which depicts the world and people within it in such a way that it expresses the artist’s opinions and knowledge of the larger world. The world map has various distortions, shown through colour and country size, which could be representative of popular beliefs or ideologies within Japan at the time. The writing on this map is in Classical Japanese, written right to left and in a kanji-katakana combination, which is used to provide labels, descriptions, and distance information that the artist is trying to convey. Illustrations found around the map are provided in a hierarchal order to give a face to the “heard but not seen” people in foreign countries. Because of the artistic liberties taken with this map it is very likely that it was treated as something to be put on display or as an occasional reference, rather than for travel purposes.




Eijudō. “Sekai bankoku Nihon yori kaijō risū ōjō jinbutsu zu, 1850” University of British Columbia Library – Rare Books and Special Collections: Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era.

Gonnami, Tsuneharu. “Images of Foreigners in Edo Period Maps and Prints.” Open Collections UBC, Journal of East Asian Libraries, 1998,

Unknown. “Early Japanese Maps of the Word.” MYOLDMAPS,

Unknown. “Bankoku sōzu, 1600” University of British Columbia Library – Rare Books and Special Collections: Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era.

Yonemoto, Marcia. “Mapping Early Modern Japan: Space, Place, and Culture in the Tokugawa Period, 1603-1868.” University of California Press, 2003.


Heitengi (平天儀)

Heitengi is an astronomical volvelle, which is consisted of five parts; four of which are rotatable. By rotating the discs, you are able to figure out things like the paths of the sun, the moon, stars and the ebb and flow of the tide. The right page provides a general explanation of each components of the volvelle in Kanji and Katakana.

It was created in 1801(Kyowa 1st) by a Japanese telescope manufacturer, Iwahashi Zenbē (referred as Iwahashi Yoshitaka in the Tokugawa map collection).

According to Christie’s, one of Heitengi was priced at US$10,625, albeit our version at UBC seems slightly different.

Who was Iwahashi Zenbē(岩橋善兵衛)?

Iwahashi Zenbē(1756-1811) was born in today’s Osaka as a son of a fish dealer family. As mentioned above, he was a very famous telescope manufacturer in the late Edo period. His telescopes were quite well made (considered to be one of the best at that time) and they were used by many astronomers of the time. It even contributed greatly to the surveying project of Inō Tadataka who was working on the first map of Japan by using modern surveying techniques.  It is not certain how he was able to produce such good quality lens, however, reseachers speculate that he self studied through examining the Dutch telescopes. His telescope manufacturing business was succeeded to his family for five generations.

Heitengi Zukai(平天儀図解)

Heitengi Zukai was published the following year in 1802, as a supplementary book to Heitengi. This book gives the instruction of Heitengi in detail. It was also like a beginner’s guide to astronomy. It contained his view of the universe along with many illustrations.

Cover page of Heitengi Zukai
Pg.66-67 from Heitengi Zukai

First layer: 第一紙

Screen Shot 2018-03-28 at 0.32.18It is the smallest component of the volvelle and it shows the northern hemisphere from above(the north pole being the centre).

Japan and Africa are coloured in green. China, North America and Arabian Peninsula are in pink. The rest of the Asia and South America are in red. Korea and Europe are in yellow. However, it is interesting that Netherlands is purposely coloured in red.

Second Layer: 第二紙Screen Shot 2018-03-28 at 1.03.17

It is described as 月ノ天 in the explanation on the right page. In the window, it indicates the phase of the moon. When it is almost completely black as in the picture on the left, it means that that the moon is waning crescent.

The pale blue part shows the ebb and flows of the tide. 満(man) is when the tide is at the highest. 干(kan) is when the tide is at the lowest.

Third layer: 第三紙 Screen Shot 2018-03-28 at 1.04.18

It is named as 日ノ天 in the explanation on the right page. The inner circle(white) indicates the date in lunisolar calendar≒月齢(getsurei) + 1

The window of the outer circle(yellow) reveals 二十四節気 or a solar term in English. By rotating this disc, you are able to find the month of lunisolar calendar.

It also tells which constellations(depicted in the fourth layer) the sun is close to.

Fourth layer: 第四紙 Screen Shot 2018-03-28 at 1.41.47

It is named as 二十八宿ノ天 in the explanation on the right page. 二十八宿 or twenty eight mansions in English is a Chinese constellations system. They are depicted in both Kanji and the actual drawing of the constellations.

The inner part of the circle is divided into a little over 360 scales. (I am not sure whether this signifies 360 degrees or 365 days.)

Fifth layer: 第五紙Screen Shot 2018-03-28 at 1.42.33

This is the larget but the only circle that is not rotatable and it shows time and directions using the Chinese zodiac.

The top half of the circle is white, which signifies daytime. The bottom half of the circle is black, which signifies nighttime.

午 on the very top is horse, meaning south and 11:00am to 1:00pm.

子 on the very bottom is rat, meaning north and 11:00pm to 1:00am.


Let’s Use Heitengi!


I have created a video, which explains how to use Heitengi.

Click here to watch the video!



Date, Eitaro, ” lwahasi-Zenbei’s telescopes of 140 years ago 百四十年前岩橋善兵衛氏の作りし望遠鏡 (幕末天文学史特輯)” vol. 13 no. 142 (1933): 53-56. accessed April 22, 2018.

Kobayashi, Eisuke. “岩橋善兵衛” 江戸時代の天文学【10】vol. 21 no. 1 (2009): 20-24. accessed April 22, 2018.

“JAPANESE ASTRONOMY — Heitengi (Astronomical Volvelle). Izumi province?, southern Osaka: Iwahashi Kobodo, Jokyo 1 [1801].” Christie’s. Accessed April 22, 2018.

juntag00. “平天儀 演義.wmv”. Youtube video, 7:18. Posted [July 2010].


Edo no zu

The Edo no zu, also called as the Map of Edo which was created by Kōzaburō Kikuya in 1864 (Kikuya, 1864). In this map, it recorded the directions of the roads, castles, temples, and the shape of the moat or ocean found during the Edo period. On the map, one of the castles set in the center was indicated by two sets of kanji: “Oshiro” (castle 御城) and “nishinomaru”(西御丸). The Edo period, also called as the Tokugawa period and the pre-modern Japan. It had a long history and played an important historical role in Japan. It was created by Tokugawa Ieyasu. He moved in to the Edo castle. Also, he was the founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate of Japan, which effectively ruled Japan from the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 until the Meiji Restoration in 1868. When he unified Japan, he created the government of Bakufu.

Under the rule of the Tokugawa shougunate, Edo grew and expanded into a major city. For this reason, Edo’s development was stable. This leads the society and the population grew rapidly. This also influenced the city planning feature in the Edo period. After the Meiji Restoration in 1868, Edo was chosen to be the new capital of Japan and was renamed as Tokyo. This paper will discuss the unique features which were from the Edo no zu, includes the shape of moat, the housing planning/ city planning and the mons, to name a few, which were showing in the map.

First, the shape of the moat was one of the unique characteristic in the Edo no zu. In this map, it used the light blue color to tell the readers about the location of the ocean and the moat. Also, it spreads all over the city. Upon close inspection of the map, it is clear that the moats extend outward from the center of the map where the Edo castle is located. It spread out in a spiral form and in clockwise. “The daimyo’s castle was the most important feature, and was generally well fortified and surrounded by a moat (Sorensen, 2002, p.22).” During city planning and “urbanization,” the government uses moats and rivers as the markers or landmarks to separate different districts within the castle towns. However, the shape of moat which was in spiral form to extend outward from the center of the Edo castle, it did not influence the city development.

The other unique feature was the city planning, or housing planning. In Edo no zu, the Edo castle which was the most prominent in the map. it was centered in the map, so we can see the Edo castle very easy. In addition, we can see the Edo no zu’s housing density was unevenly distributed. Because of the Edo castle was centered, so the density was the lowest. Then the density was starting to increase from the Edo castle. Therefore, the housing density which was near the Edo castle was the highest. We can see the center of city in Edo which was near the Edo castle or the area of east that was having the high density. That means the population kept increasing, when the Edo’s development was very stable, so we can see those houses were not very big, and they made the spaces very tight. In addition, the right side (northeast & northwest) of the map which was focusing on the agriculture. That can see the government of Bakufu wanted to develop the agriculture.

The final unique feature of the map was about many small symbols which were marked by red dots. These red symbols were mon, or known as the clan symbols. They are also called kamon (family crest 家紋). They had different shapes and designs. Most of the symbols were focus in the center of the city, which shows the distributions of clan in the city.

“Kamon refers to a crest used in Japan to indicate one’s origins; that is, one’s family lineage, blood line, ancestry and status from ancient times (Kamon Symbols of Japan).” Japan has more than 20000 distinct individual Kamon. Kamon is a unique culture and tradition in Japan. A kamon was created to serve as a unique emblem that represented a family’s identity. Everyone should know about the sengoku period. In that period, all shoguns were having their own family crest, because the family crests can represent their family identity, such as Oda nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu. Those three shoguns who unified Japan. However, during the peaceful, tranquil, rather uneventful, Edo period, there were few hard battles fought among samurai so, the former practical role of Kamon, such as; distinguishing friend from foe in battle, had changed to be a kind of symbol of authority (Kamon Symbols of Japan). In Edo period, Kamon was used to show others the social status of the family and determine the social status and descent of others.

However, one of the kamon in the Edo period one must know, that was Tokugawa clan’s family crest, also called Matsudaira clan mon. The crest’s calls ‘mitsubaaoi’. This clan was a Japanese samurai clan. When the main Matsudaira line experienced a meteoric rise to success during the direction of Matsudaira Motoyasu, he changed his name to Tokugawa Ieyasu and became the first Tokugawa shogun. Then he formed the Tokugawa clan. However, the branches retained the Matsudaira’s name. Some of them were in daimyo status.

In addition, we can see many different clan’s crests or daimyo’s crests in the Edo no zu, such as Takeda clan, Imakawa clan, Matsudaira clan, Katakura clan and so on. Also we can see the government of Bakufu which was using the family crests to classify the social level. According to the Edo-Tokyo Transition: in Search of Common Ground (Smith, 2014), it says that the social hierarchy was very important for the citizen who were living in Edo. The daimyos could say that they were in the elite class and they also had a higher social level. In order to classify the daimyo class, the map had already marked the houses which belonged to Daimyos in red dots. From the map, theses dots show that the houses of daimyos are rather big in size. Their housing density were low. Most of the daimyos lived near the castle, because that could be more convenient for their works, and they could go to the Edo castle to meet Shogun easily. In contrast, the other lower classes citizens did not have too much power, so they had to live far away from the Edo castle. Therefore, we can understand the Edo castle, which symbolizes the highest power and highest social hierarchy, was located at the center of the city and holds the most prominent position on the map.

In 1868, the Meiji Restoration took over the Edo, so the Edo Bakufu had finished its 264 years’ domination. ”As a center for concentration of human activities, convenient accessibility to other areas was one of the most significant factors in selecting the site of a city and to allow the possibility of future expansion into a large urban settlement (Ichikawa, 1994, p. 193).” Since then, Edo is renamed as Tokyo, and it keeps developing to be a popular city till today.


Kikuya, Kōzaburō. (1864). Edo no zu. University of British Columbia Library. Retrieved from

Ichikawa, H. (1994). The evolutionary process of urban form in Edo/Tokyo to 1900. The Town Planning Review, 65(2), 179-196.

Sorensen, A. (2002). The Making of Urban Japan: Cities and Planning from Edo to the Twenty-First Century. New York: Routledge. Accessed from

Smith, H. D. (2014). The Edo-Tokyo transition: In search of common ground. In M. B. Jansen & G. Rozman (Eds.), Japan in Transition: From Tokugawa to Meiji (pp. 347-374). Princeton: Princeton University Press. Accessed from

Kamon Symbols of Japan, Brief Overview of Japanese family Crest “Kamon”, Encyclopedia Japan.


The Atlas of Eternal Peace: Bansei Taihei Zusetsu(萬世泰平圖説)

Bansei Taihei Zusetsu (萬世泰平圖説) is a book of maps that shows the changes in political power between 1184 CE to 1615 CE. It was compiled by Shiyama Gishinand in the fourth month of 1815 CE. It focuses on the Warring States Period; over half of the maps contained in the book are used to describe how this period began and led up to the reunification of the country. This post provides some basic knowledge of how the Warring States Period began and of the three individuals who lead during this period as based on the maps contained within Bansei Taihei Zusetsu.

Cover page of Bansei Taihei Zusetsu

Ōnin War (応仁の乱)

During the time of Ashikaga Yoshimasha, the eighth shogun of the Muromachi period, two deputies, Hosokawa Katsumoto (細川 勝元, 1430-1473) and Yamana Sōzen (山名 宗全,1404-1473), fought against one another to become the heir of the shogunate. Hosokawa supported Yoshimasha’s brother, Ashikaga Yoshimi(1439-1491), and Yamana supported the child of Yoshimasha. In 1467 CE, a war began in Kyoto, which led to a split between the powerful daimyōs. It quickly spread beyond the province and became known as the Ōnin War. This marked the beginning of the Warring States Period.

應仁元年東西干戈圖 (Map of battles between eastern and western powers in 1467 CE)

The map, Ōnin Gannen Tōzai Kankazu (Map of battles between eastern and western powers in 1467 CE), highlights the number of daimyōs from different local regions that joined this war.

Most of Hosokawa’s supporters came from Shikoku and the eastern side, shown in purple on the map. Yamana’s supporters came from the west and are shown in yellow on the map. This led to their respective armies being called the Eastern Army and the Western Army.

This war lasted for eleven years with neither side winning definitively to place their chosen heir to the shogunate. At its end in 1477 CE, regional rulers from the Western Army retreated and the Yamana forces were dismantled. The Ōnin War came to an end when the sons of Katsumoto and Sōzen reconciled. But this civil war marked the beginning of the end for the Muromachi shogunate as other dissenting forces emerged. It led to gekokujō, which means “overthrowing or surpassing one’s superiors” (Varley 196) and this occurred across several different regions. Many aggressive groups decided to fight for regional control rather than serve the existing lord. Therefore, Japan had entered the Sengoku Period, or the Warring States Period.

From a Japanese perspective, this period is recognized for the rise of local military warlords who began to carve up the land for their rule. They also had ambitions of ruling over all of Japan and establishing a true Japanese hegemony. Some view the period between 1560 CE and 1603 CE as an age of unification because warlords attempted to unify the country. In particular, the three main warlords of this period were Oda Nobunaga(1534-1582), Toyotomi Hideyoshi(1537-1598), and Tokugawa Ieyasu(1543-1616).

Oda Nobunaga (織田 信長)

The Warring States Period lasted for approximately 100 years and many people lost their lives. But nothing truly changed until Nobunaga took power. He quickly began “the process of breaking down the culture of lawlessness and medieval regionalism to unify the realm under a single, though never completely hegemonic, shogunal authority” (Walker 102).

弘治二年列國割據圖 (Map of rivalries between powerful barons in 1556 CE)

In 1551 CE, Nobunaga became the leader of the Oda clan and the Owari Province after the death of his father. But some members of the clan thought he was unfit to rule. In 1556 CE, Nobunaga faced hardship from both inside and outside the province.

Other powerful barons outside of the province, such as Takeda and Imagawa, had powerful forces that could threaten Nobunaga’s rule. These warlords wanted to invade because “most of the great barons had visions of national hegemony” (Sansom 273). In addition, Nobunaga had problems within his domain. His brother, Nobuyuki, rebelled against him. However, after many years, Nobunaga “eliminated all opposition within the clan and Owari Province” (Sansom 276). By 1560 CE, he defeated Imagawa Yoshimoto after the warlord had marched his army into Owari. This began Nobunaga’s “improbable climb to supremacy” (Walker 102).

天正十年平氏全盛圖 (Map of the heights of prosperity of the Heishi family in 1582 CE)

In 1582 CE, Nobunaga finally defeated the Takeda clan, which had caused him so many problems. After this, he controlled most of the central area of Honshū, shown in purple on the map, and had the most powerful daimyō in Japan.

He was very close to unifying Japan. He created many corps to eliminate his enemies and “rewarded his generals by gifts of territory” (Sansom 290), such as sending Hideyoshi and his corps to attack the Chūgoku region, shown in yellow on the above map. However, Nobunaga was unable to reach his goal as he died the same year. He had gone to help Hideyoshi after receiving a call for help. One of his men, Akechi Mitsuhide(1528-1582), betrayed and attacked him while he slept in Honnō temple. Nobunaga ended up committing suicide along with his son once he realized that he would be unable to escape. His desire for the “unification of Japan … [was] half accomplished” (McClain 45).

Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣 秀吉)

One of Nobunaga’s generals, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, inherited his rule. When Nobunaga committed suicide, Hideyoshi was in the Chūgoku region warring against Mōri, as shown in the above map. On hearing of Nobunaga’s death, Hideyoshi quickly ended his fighting, making peace with Mōri, and brought his army to attack Akechi. With the aid of other Oda allies, Hideyoshi defeated Akechi’s army and killed him. In avenging Nobunaga’s death, Hideyoshi was the favourite to take over. By the next year, he defeated Shibata Katsuie, another contender for rule, at the Battle of Shinzugatake in Omi. Through this, “his position as Nobunaga’s successor [was] established” (McClain 46).

天正十四年豊臣征遠圖 (Map of the Toyotomi expedition in 1586 CE)

The map, Tenshō Jūyonen Toyotomi Seienzu (Map of the Toyotomi expedition in 1586 CE), reveals Hideyoshi’s control of Nobunaga’s previous territory throughout central Honshū. In addition, many other daimyōs had already surrendered to Hideyoshi, such as Mōri Terumoto(1553-1625) and Tokugawa Ieyasu, but were allowed to keep their land. After the defeat of Shibata Katsuie(1522-1583), Hideyoshi shifted his attention to the regions outside of his territory. In 1585 CE, he attacked Chōsokabe Motochika on Shikoku, which submitted to Hideyoshi. Through this, he controlled most of Honshū and Shikoku and “was steadily pursuing his military policy, which was of course designed to bring the whole Japan under his control” (Sansom 319).

He received a request for help from Ōtomo Sōrin(1530-1587) in his fight against Shimazu Yoshihisa(1533-1611), shown in green in the map. Hideyoshi believed this to be an opportunity to subdue the entire Kyūshū region. It took only a single battle for the Shimazu clan to surrender. After this battle, Hideyoshi controlled Japan and “put an end to the prevailing anarchy” (Sansom 329).

Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川 家康)

When Hideyoshi died in 1598 CE, Tokugawa Ieyasu became ruler of the most powerful daimyō. The Five Elders and Five Magistrates that Hideyoshi had created quickly broke into two parts, Tokugawa Ieyasu and Ishida Mitsunari(1560-1600). Ieyasu saw that “he must at all costs maintain the unity which Hideyoshi had achieved” (Sansom 387). After the Battle of Sekigahara against Mitsunari, the emperor of Japan awarded Ieyasu the title of shogun in 1603 CE. He established the Tokugawa Bakufu to begin the Edo Period.

元和元年四海一統萬代肇基圖 (Map of the unity of the whole country in 1615 CE)

Once Ieyasu became shogun, there were still threats to his power. Hideyori, Hideyoshi’s son, had submitted to Ieyasu, but still had control of an army and generals at Osaka. Ieyasu wanted to establish a stable regime, which meant he had to get rid of Hideyori. He declared war on Hideyori in 1614 CE and defeated him in in the following year. Hideyori was killed at Osaka Castle and his army decimated. Ieyasu continued to eliminate his enemies and cement his power, gaining total control of the entire country as shown in the previous map.



This post provides basic knowledge of the Warring States Period in order to provide meaning and context to the maps. Based on the maps, we can see the entire Ōnin War played out. They also show how this led to the three warlords who attempted to end the fighting and unify Japan. It took approximately 60 years to assert control and about 150 years for the Warring States Period to truly end.





Sansom, George. A History of Japan, 1334-1615. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1961. Print.


Varley, H. Paul. The origins of Japan’s medieval world: courtiers, clerics, warriors, and peasants in the fourteenth century. Edited by Jeffrey P. Mass. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997.


Walker, Brett L. A Concise History of Japan. Cambridge University Press, 2015.


McClain, James L. The Cambridge History of Japan. Edited by John Whitney Hall, vol. 4, Cambridge University Press, 1991.


Middleton, John. “Oda Nobunaga(1534-1582C.E).” World Monarchies and Dynasties, (New York: Routledge, 2004), 692-94.


Wikipedia. “Sengoku Period.” Last modified March 29, 2018,


Wikipedia. “Kyūshū Campaign.” Last modified February 11, 2018,


Wikipedia. “Tokugawa Ieyasu.” Last modified March 11, 2018,


Wikipedia. “元和偃武.” Last modified March 21, 2018. %A6


Bankoku Sōkaizu: Situating Japan in a Global Setting

The Bankoku Sōkaizu is an early map of the world, created by Ishikawa Ryūsen at the beginning of the 18th century. Georgia Horstmen has done a wonderful write up explaining the details, influences, and historical background surrounding the creation of the map (2016). I would like to take this opportunity to expand a bit further on some of the topics she has covered, as well as look at a couple of closer details the map has to offer to its viewers.



My Map_Ships
A Qing China ship on the left, and a Japanese ship on the right.

Why do we need this? This is an important question to understand before looking into any type of material culture, in this case it would be maps. In modern day, they may help us locate business or a landmark, or they can help us find our way home. Maps situate ourselves into a greater scope than that of what we can see. In Tokugawa Japan, the Bankoku Sōkaizu did just that, at the global level. However, when it was produced in 1708, Japan was in the middle of tight restrictions and extremely limited contact with the outer world. In this context, why would Japan care about the outside world at all? It is exactly these policies, and worries about the foreigners ruining the unity of Japan, that a world map would need to be created for potentially defensive measures in the case of retaliation for kicking out previous travelers. Placing Japan in a global context develops strategic understanding of where vulnerabilities may be, and allows the governing Tokugawa Shogunate to shore up their defenses in those places.

Politics plays a crucial role in the creation of maps. On a local level, how territory and land was divided, and whose name it was attributed to was everything. These maps would visually represent power and control of the lords, daimyo, of the land. Such that those with the knowledge of land, had supreme knowledge over all. The Tokugawa Shogun knew this and called upon his subordinates to provide detailed maps of their provinces to him (Wigen, 6), consolidating his power and ushering in the age of “mapped society” in Japan.



My Map Qing China
Japan (日本) above “Great Qing” China (大清)

The most standout feature of the Bankoku Sōkaizu is the orientation of the map. Instead of the modern representation of North – East – South – West compass, Ishikawa Ryūsen opted to use a East – South – West – North version. While the map could be laid out on a table, and walked around, the original intended portrayal of the map is extremely long, and narrow. The map bears strong resemblance to the 1602 Matteo Ricci world map Kunyu Wanguo Quantu (坤輿萬國全圖) [A Complete Map of the Ten Thousand Countries of the World], with references to the “Land of the Giants” (長人嶋) in the south-east, and the “Land of the Dwarves” (小人嶋) in the north-west. While there is no clear answer as to why the orientation is the way it is, I believe that there could be political motivation for it. The first clue comes in the position of Japan, while it is not perfectly centered in the map, it is the most detailed central object. Japan has its own colouring and divided territories. Visually Japan is seen “above” Qing dynasty China, which challenged the Chinese notion of Japan as a lesser cultured entity; especially during the previous Ming dynasty when Japan was a tributary state to China (Kang, 59). This could encourage a more Japan-centric thought, and superiority in the east, which would not have occured on this map with any other type of orientation. The second clue comes in the art along the borders of the world, near the title of the map. With the two types of ships at the same level. The right ship is labeled a “Great Qing Ship” (大清船), while the left is unfortunately unreadable. However the representation of the ship looks similar to the Gozabune (御座船) issued by the third shogun of the Tokugawa government, Tokugawa Iemitsu. My interpretation of these two ships would be the equivalent level of seafaring technologies, advancements, and explorations of both China and Japan. Ishikawa Ryūsen further challenging the Chinese-centric focus of East Asia at that time.

A Gozabune travelling from Choshu, Ryūkyū, to Edo.



The Bankoku Sōkaizu offers an interpretation of the world and all of its countries, but during the period of closed country, sakoku, how would Ishikawa Ryūsen be able to map anything past Japan? Given the limited technology of the Tokugawa period, world travel also would have been exceptionally dangerous, therefore it was imperative that cartographers draw upon others’ works or personal accounts, likes travel diaries. Which leads to a limited interpretation of the world. We can see that Matteo Ricci’s map had a direct influence on Ishikawa Ryūsen’s Bankoku Sōkaizu, not only with the two islands of giants and dwarves, but also with the large landmass in the southern hemisphere. Ishikawa Ryūsen himself was a trained ukiyo-e painter, and usually produced maps as means of art and pleasure. While they gained popularity in the political sphere, pinpoint geographical accuracy was not his main objective with his maps. For an expansive look at both the types of maps and the style of maps Ryūsen was known for has been compiled by Saeko (2017).


With the advent of satellite technology, there is now an accurate idea of what Japan look like today. Comparing this modern representation to Ryūsen’s Japan, a few glaring differences become clear. Specifically with the island of Shikoku being almost entirely encompassed by other landmasses, as well as the size and overly east location of Hokkaido, or Ezo (蝦夷島) in 1708. By comparing Japan, we can see how liberal Ryūsen was with his boundaries, as it would be his most clear and researched entity of the entire map. We can conclude that his Bankoku Sōkaizu is not the most trustworthy representation of the world. However, we must remember the context in which he created his map and that for his time, this would be an extremely sophisticated and up to date version of the world, and where Japan sat within it. The inclusion of folktale islands like the giants and dwarves would only be from foreign documents. From the few Dutch traders who were trusted by the Tokugawa government. Of course these would be included, and they would definitely be thought of as real places as well, due to more and more maps propagating the ideas of them. Nobody could prove them false, as no one had ever been there except the Dutch, who said it is real.

My map_Night country
The “Night Countries” (夜国) on the northern boarder of the map


While this map may push a political agenda, that Japan is equal to, or greater than, China, one fascinating feature is the lack of iconic Japanese symbols. The most popular and recognizable at the time would be Mount Fuji, as it was could be seen clearly from both the traditional capital of Kyoto, and the political capital of Edo. It was also seen as a symbol of benevolence and beauty (Earhart, 2015). Ryūsen decided not to include the mountain in Japan, but at the same time added the great wall of China in the Qing territory. As well as the Qinshan mountain (秦山) in the Zhejiang province of China. The Night countries (夜国) in the north are an oddity as well. Due to their black colouring, they are completely featureless, one could assume that no one knows who or what the night countries look like, but that they exist further north than modern day Russia. Their label is separate from most others, because of the use of the simplified country (国) instead of the traditional (國). Perhaps those countries do not deserve the respect that comes along with the Chinese character writing system, or it might be another attempt to undermine pro Chinese tradition. Regardless of the reason, 国 was not included in the Qing Chinese dictionary at all, therefore it would be complete “gibberish” to any Chinese viewer. Which points to the maps target audience of traditionally educated, elite Japan lords, or even the Shogun himself.



Works Cited


Bragg, Melvyn, perf. Japan’s Sakoku Period. In Our Time. Rec. 4 Apr. 2013. BBC Radio 4, n.d. Web.


Earhart, H. Byron. “The Power of the Volcano: From Volcano to Sacred Mountain” In Mount Fuji: Icon of Japan. Univ of South Carolina Press, 2015.


Horstman, Georgia. “Bankoku sōkaizu.” University of British Columbia ASIA453 WordPress Tokugawa Maps. 2016. Web.


Ishikawa, Ryūsen. “Bankoku Sōkaizu.” University of British Columbia Tokugawa Maps Collection. Edo: Suhara Mohē, 1708. N. pag. Web.


Kang, David Chan-oong. East Asia before the West: Five centuries of trade and tribute. Columbia University Press, 2010. 59.


“Matteo Ricci, Li Zhizao, and Zhang Wentao: World Map of 1602.” University of Minnesota Libraries. University of Minnesota, n.d. Web.


Saeko. “Ryūsenzu: Maps Composed by an Author of Popular Literature.” University of British Columbia ASIA453 WordPress Tokugawa Maps. 2016. Web.


Wigen, Kären, Sugimoto Fumiko, and Cary Karacas, eds. Cartographic Japan: A History in Maps. University of Chicago Press, 2016. 6.

Anonymous Painter. ”Chūzan ō raichō zu.” National Archives of Japan. Edo: 1710.

Fujisan no zu



Mount Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan, which is height 3,776 meters and it is a cone shape active volcano, which located at Honshu Island. Mount Fuji is an active volcano. Its volcanic activity contributes it to become a focus of religious devotion, as well as poetic inspiration. In 2013, Mount Fuji was designated by UNESCO when Mount Fuji was made a World Heritage Site for being a sacred place and the object of artistic inspiration.

Fujisan no zu was created by Sawaguchi Seiō in 1848, during Tokugawa period. Fujisan no zu was made using the woodcutting technique. When the map is flat, the size is 91.4 x 96.5 cm. However, a unique feature of this map is that it can be folded into a three-dimensional map, which reflects the cone shape of the mountain itself. The focus of this map is the sacredness of the mountain and the sacred places on Mount Fuji. The map includes pilgrimage routes, temples, statues, meditation caves, shrines, and other important sacred points of interest. Therefore, the target audiences for this map are worshippers, ascetic practitioners and pilgrims who intend to travel to the mountain by following the different signals on the map. These signals show the ways to climb the mountain, and also show different sacred places. The following analysis will focus on the sacredness of the mountain with a specific focus on Shugendō, Fuji-kō, and the fujiko cult.


The Sacred Mountain

Fujisan no zu is a map which focuses on the sacredness of Mount Fuji. Mount Fuji has a long history, and people considered the Mount Fuji as a god. The volcanic activity during 8th and 9th centuries led locals performing pacification rites and reading Buddhist sutras in order to pay respects to the mountain. At that time, Mount Fuji was given the status of god, which led to the construction of Sengen shrines, and the beginning of worshipping Mount Fuji. Some of these Shinto shrines are marked on Fujisan no zu, such as the Fujiyoshida Sengen Shrine. The following analysis will focus on how Fujisan no zu evolved into a place for ascetic practice, Shugendō, and pilgrimage, Fuji-kō, which led to the emergence of the Mount Fuji or fujiko cult.

Shugendō is the practice of mountain ascetics in Japan. This practice can be seen as a mix of Buddhist, Daoist, and Shinto practices. Fuji-kō were Shinto sects from the Edo period which were dedicated to the worship of Fujisan, and who were responsible for elite Mount Fuji pilgrimages. The fujiko cult was established by Kakugyō Tōbutsu. He unifed the various sacred and religious Mount Fuji practices, and made popular pilgrimage possible.

Fujiyoshida Sengen Shrine

This evolution began with the mountain’s early status as a god, called kami. There are many stories from the 8th and 9th centuries that establish the mountain as a sacred place for elite practitioners. One of these stories involves En no Ozunu, a Buddhist ascetic, who is the founder of Shugendo. These stories relate how he would fly to the top of Mount Fuji every night to practice ascetics and Buddhist austerities. These stories said that he is the first person to climb summit of Mount Fuji, but it is not known if he actually climbed the mountain. The practices of En no Ozunu inspired other Buddhist ascetic mountain practitioners.

Hitoana & Tainai Cave

Fujisan no zu has many posts which indicate where meditation caves are. One of the most famous of these caves is the Hitoana cave. According to the beliefs, this cave is where the mountain goddess of Fuji, Sengen Daibosatsu lives. According to the legend, the founder of Fuji-kō, Hasegawa Kakugyo, entered this cave to practice ascetics and meditation, and then disappeared because he transcended to Nirvana. There were 230 monuments near the cave. These monuments were built to pray and pay homage to Kakugyo. These monuments were built by different sects of Fuji-ko, and they are also marked on the map. The practice of Shugendo on Mount Fuji continued to grow during the Heian period (795-1186). Another one of the caves on the map is Tainai, which means “womb”, and is believed to be the birthplace of Sengen, the god of Mount Fuji.

Hitoana cave

Kakugyō Tōbutsu & Jikigyō Miroku 食行身禄

One of the noticeable features on Fujisan no zu is two pictures of famous mountain ascetics. These two men are Kakugyō Tōbutsu (1541-1646), and his successor Jikigyō Miroku. Kakugyō is recognized as the founder of the Mount Fuji Cult, who combined the various beliefs related to the mountain.These two men were the successors of other important Mount Fuji practitioners of Shugendo. Moreover, these two men are included on the map because of their importance for the practice of popular pilgrimage.

2 men
Right: Kakugyō   Left: Jikigyō

About Kakugyō Tōbutsu & Jikigyō Miroku 食行身禄

One of the most important predecessors to Kakugyō is En no Ozunu, whose practices and beliefs were formed the foundations of Shugendo. En no Ozunu have him fly to the top of Mount Fuji, and the stories associated with Matsudai, who have him climbing the mountain many times. While En no Ozunu is considered to be the first yamabushi, which means one who prostates on the mountain, Matsudai is seen as the founder of the Fuji-ko movement and the father of Murayama Shugendo. He actually walked to the top of Mount Fuji many times. According to Earhart, “Matsudai established the vertical structure of Murayama Shugendo, and Raison elaborated its horizontal structure. In the early fourteenth century Raison was responsible for organizing the pattern for climbing Fuji, practicing asceticism and devotions at various shrines and temples.” The important fact is that civilians can now climb the mountain, which leads the development of pilgrimages. However, the pilgrimage routes were still under control of Murayama Shugendo, and the group maintained a strict hierarchy over all the proceedings on the mountain. However, the elitist connections of the Murayama Shugendo left people to find someone different, which opened the door for Kakugyō.

The two men on the map emerged from this tradition, but not as ascetics from the Murayama Shugendo school. Kakugyō emerged as an important leader at this time because he was not from the Murayama Shugendo tradition. Kakugyo brought various practices together which were connected to Mount Fuji and unified them under the Fuji-kō cult. His unifying ideas and practices brought the different ascetic and pilgrimage practices together and united them became the basis for popular pilgrimages. Even though his belief utilized a great deal of Murayama Shugendo thought, he traced his lineage to En no Ozunu, whom he encountered in a revelation. En no Ozunu told Murayama that it was his duty to bring peace and success to war-torn Japan, which he could do this by practicing ascetics in the Hitoana cave. Through ascetic practices, it was revealed to Kakugyo that through asceticism and pilgrimage, the order of the universe could be restored.

The second ascetic on the map is Jikigyō Miroku, who was Murayama’s successor, and who continued the tradition of the fujiko cult. He dedicated himself to give relief to people, and he fasted himself to death at the Eboshi-iwa rock. These two men helped popularize the Mount Fuji pilgrimage, and expand the pilgrimage routes up to the mountain.



Earhart, Byron. “Mount Fuji and Shugendo.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies (1989): 205-226.

“Fujisan, sacred place and source of artistic inspiration,” UNESCO, list/1418/

Fumiko, Sugimoto. Cartographic Japan. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2016.

Gill, Andrea K. “Shugendō: Pilgrimage and Ri tual in a Japanese Folk Religion,” Pursuit -eJournal of Undergraduate Research at the University of Tennessee 3, no. 2, (2012): 49-65.

“Hitoana Fuji-ko Iseki,” Official Travel Guide: Yamanashi,



The Atlas of Eternal Peace, 萬世泰平圖説

The Bansei taihei zusetsu, 萬世泰平圖説 (Atlas of Eternal Peace) is a series of eleven maps by Hiyama Gishin. It was created in 1815, but covers the period from 1184 to 1615. Although the exact uses of the book is not known, from the title, we can propose possible uses of this map. Such as, a history book, recording the time leading up to the unification of Japan, reminding the readers of the struggle and hence to not repeat it again. Or, having experienced 200 years of peace since 1615, and following the adage that history is written by the victors, The Atlas of Eternal Peace, shows that the Tokugawa period is the period of eternal peace, bringing an end to years of warfare.

Cover page of the Bansei taihei zusetsu, by Hiyama Gishin.

The maps are printed by woodblock, and are bound in an accordion book form, which supports its proposed use, as it reads like a book, telling the history of Japan.  Each map has a title, place names (in squares), and names of the rulers in power, written on the image or in the surrounding areas. Each map is also preceded by a page of explanation, which could be useful if one is able to read Japanese.

Page preceding the Historical map of court nobles and samurai in 1184, 元暦元年公武沿革圖

As the maps detail the medieval period of Japan, each map is different from one another in terms of colour – which represents the power in that region, though there seems to be no direct link between a certain colour and a specific family or clan.

This blog entry aims to give some background context to a selection of maps within the series.

The first map is Genryaku gannen kōbu enkakuzu, 元暦元年公武沿革圖 (Historical map of court nobles and samurai in 1184).



 During this period of 1180 to 1185, was the Gempei war, in which the main powers were Minamoto Yoritomo and Taira Kiyomori. This war can be divided into three phases, during the first phase, Kiyomori defeated Prince Mochihito and his Minamoto supporter. However, Yoritomo, whom Taira had spared earlier on, began a campaign that would consolidate his power. The second phase is after the death of Kiyomori, when the war reached a standstill due to a severe famine affecting central and western Japan (Farris 2009, 108). During this point, there were three main powers, the Taira, 平 家 in red on the map, Minamoto Yoritomo 源 頼朝 (yellow), and a kinsmen of Minamoto, Minamoto Yoshinaka/ Kiso no Yoshinaka 源 義仲 (pink).  

In the middle of the map, there is a word 在京, which means within the capital, of which 源 行家(Minamoto Yukiie) and 源 義仲 (Minamoto Yoshinaka) are named. They were in control of the capital region, while the Taira were in the West and Yoritomo  in the Kanto region. There is also a little pink region within the red, they belong to two brothers of a branch of the  Ōga family, 緒方惟義 (Ogata Koreyoshi) and 臼杵惟隆 (Usuki koretaka), who were generals that aided the Taira during the Gempei war.

Finally, the third phase is when Minamoto Yoshinaka defeated Taira and Yoritsune under the orders of his brother, Yoritomo attacked and destroyed Yoshinaka, and Yoritomo became the Shogun. (Farris 2009, 108-9)

This is significant because Minamoto Yoritomo would establish the first Bakufu, the Kamakura Bakufu, which would lead to dual political system in Japan, throughout the medieval period.

The next map is Engen ninen ryōchō heiritsuzu, 延元二年兩朝並立圖 (Map of coexistence of the two courts in 1337)

The 1330s was a period of civil war, when Emperor Go-Daigo destroyed the Kamakura Bakufu, and Ashikaga Takauji established the Muromachi Bakufu.

Since the death of emperor Go-Saga in 1272, there was a long succession dispute that resulted in a pattern of alternating succession between the senior and junior lines. However, this ended with the Succession of Emperor Go-Daigo in 1318. He resented the Bakufu and  was determined not to abdicate early in favour of another emperor. With the approval of his father Go-Uda, one of the first steps he took was to abolish the practice of cloister government (Sansom 1965, 5). Though Go-Daigo would be in exile until 1333, his loyalist army under prince Morinaga and Kusunoki Masashige would expand their power base during this time. Nonetheless, it was Ashikaga Takauji, a general of the Bakufu, who turned against the Kamakura Bakufu, that allowed Go-Daigo to return to the capital without fear of capture (Sansom 1965, 16) and destroy the Kamakura Bakufu in 1333. Although Go-Daigo had returned to power, his government was so inept that Ashikaga took over the capital. Go-Daigo fled South and established the Southern Court, the remaining members of the imperial family in the capital, namely, those from the senior line, appointed Takauji as shogun (Mason 1997, 139).

War broke out between the Northern and Southern Dynasties from 1336 to 1394 (Farris 2009, 138) and this map indicates the division of power between the two courts during the war. The legend on the right in the map indicates that the areas in yellow belong to the Northern court while the ones in purple belong to the Southern court. The next map is a continuation of this map, and it shows that that by the end of the war, the Southern court would be defeated.


Jumping ahead to the tenth map is Tenshō jūyonen Toyotomi seienzu, 天正十四年豊臣征遠圖 (Map of Toyotomi expedition in 1586)

Oda Nobunaga was killed by his general Akechi Mitsuhide in 1582, and Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣 秀吉), another general of Oda Nobunaga would complete the unification of Japan in 1590 (Mason 1997, 175-8). Toyotomi Hideyoshi is a very important figure in Japanese history as he unified Japan, which was a momentous task. After avenging Nobunaga’s death, he was in a very favourable position since no other general were in the same spot and there was no declared heir. Nobunaga’s land was divided among his generals, however, Hideyoshi retained Harima 播磨 and kept Yamashiro 山城, Kawachi 河内 and Tamba 丹波.

He would go on to take Kaga 加賀, Noto 能登, Etchu 越中, and Azuchi 安土 – in Ōmi Province (Sansom 1965, 313).

As the map is about his expedition in 1586, not all is under Hideyoshi’s control, However, most of the dark and light purple, belonged to Hideyoshi or his allies. In 1590, he would fight his last battle on Japanese soil, against the Hōjō at Odawara in Sagami 相模 (Mason 1997, 177) which is in the central green area of the map.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi is significant as he not only unified most of Japan, but also conducted a very thorough land survey (Sansom 1965, 318).

Finally, the last map is Genna gannen shikai ittō bandai chōkizu, 元和元年四海一統萬代肇基圖 (Map of the unity of the whole country in 1615)

After laying siege on Toyotomi Hideyori’s castle in 1615, and thus ending the house of Toyotomi (Sansom 1965, 398), the Tokugawa period began. However, Tokugawa Ieyasu had already became the shogun from 1603 to 1605.

This was because, when Hideyoshi died in 1598, his son and heir, Hideyori, was only five years old. Hence, before he died, he organised a council to support his heir until he came of age, which Ieyasu was a part of. However, Ieyasu broke his oath to Hideyoshi, and the battle of Sekigahara in 1600 was Ieyasu’s claim to power. After Sekigahara, Ieyasu started to develop a system of government that would command obedience throughout the country and establish his authority (Sansom 1965, 396). As a result, by 1603, Ieyasu’s influence was on the rise while Hideyori position weakened. Under pressure by Ieyasu, who by 1614, decided to end the line of Toyotomi, Hideyori started accepting offers of military aid by masterless samurais – rōnin. This became the immediate reason of the attack on Hideyori by Ieyasu. At the end of 1614, he led a force of 70,000 men to surround the castle, and laid siege in 1615. Hence fully controlling the entirety of Japan (Sansom 1965, 398).

Above the map of Japan is list the names of all the daimyos during this period, however, while Tokugawa Ieyasu’s name is not there, it is interesting to note that his original family name Matsudaira 松平, is listed. The Tokugawa period was a definitive time of Japan, and Tokugawa Ieyasu himself can be regarded as a self-made man, distinguishing himself in warfare and statecraft, known for his self-control and patience, and taking extreme care of his health thus allowing him to outlive his contemporaries to establish the Tokugawa group’s power (Mason 1997, 194).

In conclusion, the medieval period was characterised by power struggles, in which this book would be a helpful aid. Hiyama Gishin has also authored other atlases such as, the Honchō kokugun kenchi zusetsu,本朝國郡建置圖説 (Historical atlas of provinces and districts of our country) and Honchō kokugun kenchi Sankan enkaku zusetsu,本朝國郡建置三韓沿革圖説 (Historical atlas of provinces and districts of our country and Korea), both of which are in the UBC Tokugawa Maps Collection. These maps are also very interesting and worth checking out.



Farris, William Wayne. Japan to 1600: A Social and Economic History. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2009.

Hiyama, Gishin. 4AD. Maps. Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era. Edo : Kitajima Chōshirō. doi:

Mass, Jeffrey P. “The Missing Minamoto in the Twelfth-Century Kanto.” Journal of Japanese Studies 19, no. 1 (1993): 121-45. doi:10.2307/132867.

Mason, R.H. P., and J. G. Caiger. A History of Japan. North Clarendon, VT: Charles E. Tuttle, 1997.

Sansom, George Bailey. A History of Japan 1334-1615. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1965.

“Chapter Eight Influential Retainers in the Ōtomo Household.” Pre-modern Japanese Resource Page. Accessed April 16, 2018. Sorin/Chapter Eight.html.                                                                                                         (for information on Ogata Koreyoshi and Usuki koretaka)


Tōkaidō meisho ichiran

The Tōkaidō meisho ichiran (1818) or “Famous Places on the Tōkaidō Road in One View” by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) is a woodblock print of the famous places along the Tokaido Road. This seems to be more like a landscape painting or picture. The Tōkaidō meisho ichiran is also highly distorted. These distortions and the map’s picturesque form prompted me to ask questions. What are the reasons for these distortions? Is this map a picture or is it functional? What is the significance of a map of this style? In this blog post, I will answer these questions by looking into the background of the Tōkaidō Road, the author of the map, and the particular style of the map.

Introduction to the Tokaido Highway

The Tōkaidō Road or Highway was one of the five main roads/highways in Japan during the Tokugawa period. It was a route with 53 stations connecting Kyoto to Edo. During the Tokugawa period, the Tōkaidō was the “most important route of the country” during the Tokugawa period (Tragnanou 2004: 1). It was known to be a “space of play and release” and “the locus of famous places (meisho)” (Ibid.). Eventually, a railway was established in 1889 that ran parallel to the road and “almost eradicating the use of the highway” (Ibid.). Despite the railway, the road has been revered and its legacy can be seen in the many visual and literal representations.

During the Tokugawa period and the Meiji period, “the Tōkaidō was a popular subject of representation and was depicted in a variety of visual and literary media” (Ibid.). Some visual representations include Utagawa Hiroshige’s “The Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō” and Katsushika Hokusai’s “53 Stations of the Tōkaidō”. Literal representations include the famous novel, Tōkaidōchū Hizakurige or Shank’s Mare. In this blog post, I will be focusing on one particular map representation of the road, the Tōkaidō meisho ichrian, by Katsushika Hokusai.

About the Author, Hokusai

Self Portrait in the Age of an Old Man Hokusai

Katsushika Hokusai, or more widely known as “Hokusai”, was an artist who lived during the Tokugawa period and is “among the best-known names in Japanese art” (Screech 2012: 103). Hokusai is very well known and very well loved by many all over the world. Hokusai specialized in the okiyo-e genre and is most famous for his “Great Wave off Kanagawa” which has become very famous as an iconic symbol of Japan in the Western world (Screech 2012). He is also known for his “36 Views of Mount Fuji”, “100 Views of Mount Fuji”, erotic prints or shunga, and his “manga”.

During Hokusai’s career, which “spanned 7 decades”, Hokusai took on “more than 30 different names” that usually changed according to the change in his “artistic style and technique” (Breedlove 2016: 1143). For example, at one point he called himself, “the Art-Crazy Old Man”. While taking on different names was common for Japanese artists, Hokusai changed his name “more often than any other major Japanese artist” (Ibid).

Hokusai has created other maps like the Sobo kairiku shokei kiran, the Oshu Shiogama Matsushima no ryakazu, and his bird’s eye map of China. Although his work is very famous, his maps are not that well known and have not been studied in great lengths. However, it is important to consider that Hokusai excelled in painting landscapes and people. He was not a cartographer.
Background of the Map & Distortions

Hokusai’s Tōkaidō meisho ichiran or “Famous Places on the Tokaido Road in One View” was created in 1818 and is a woodblock print of the famous Tokaido road. According to the metadata, this map depicts towns and castles. It also depicts notable landmarks such as Nihonbashi in Edo, Kyoto, and Mount Fuji.

This map is highly distorted as seen in the positioning of these landmarks. For example, Edo and Kyoto are both depicted on the west or right side of the map with Edo on the bottom right corner and Kyoto on the top right corner. Mount Fuji is depicted in the top left on the east side of the map. In comparison to a modern map of the Tokaido, Kyoto, on the east, is opposite of Edo, which is on the west and Mount Fuji is closer west near Edo. It is almost as if Hokusai curled up the road in a circular/mandala shape. One can definitely see how Hokusai took many liberties in how he depicted the road.

Understanding the style of this map is important in order to understand the distortions, what this map, and others like it, might have been used for, and the significance of maps of this style.


Panoramic style

The map depicted below is another picturesque map of the Tōkaidō. It is called Shinkoku kaisei Tōkaidō saiken ōezu (1800) Shōtei Kinsui.

Screen Shot 2018-03-27 at 1.17.55 PM.png

These kinds of maps use the style that scholar Jilly Traganou terms as the panoramic style. These kinds of panoramic picture maps were to be approached first as “primarily visual” focused on the macro scale and then as “texts” focusing on their micro scale. The panoramic style or approach came about through the influence of artists interest in a combination of two kinds of views: the realistic view and the illusionist view. The realistic representation is a view that is based on the “capacities of the human eye” of being able to view landscapes from a “macroscopic perspective” (Traganou 2013: 185). In the Tōkaidō meisho ichiran this view can be seen in how “a hypothetical vista of the whole route at a glance” is created (Ibid.: 187). The illusionist view is “expand[ing] the eye’s capabilities” through devices like a microscope or telescope, “to penetrate into the microcosm of life within its separate parts” (Ibid.: 185). This view can be seen through the tiny details of the road, the buildings depicted on the side of it, and ports and boats in the water.

Screen Shot 2018-03-06 at 7.13.59 PM

Reasons for distortions

With knowledge of the panoramic style that the Tōkaidō meisho ichiran takes on, one can discover some reasons for the distortions. A reason for the distortions could simply be because, as a painter of landscapes and not a cartographer, Hokusai may not have been thinking of being precise. One could argue that this map is just another one of his views of Mount Fuji as it is a focal point on the map. Since this style of map was to be approached first visually, the reasons for the distortions could be just “decorative rather than technical” (Ibid.: 187). However, even though there are many distortions, Traganou writes that “both the sequence of place-names and the intersection of the road with major points such as bridges and lacks correspond to reality” (Ibid.). Therefore, as a tourist or itinerary map, this would be perfectly functional. In fact, with Tōkaidō being very popular for travel, there was a lot of traffic so there may have been no need for a map. In Shank’s Mare, a comedic novel of Yaji and Kita, two men traveling to Ise Shrine, there is no mention of the two referring to maps. Instead, they follow or ask innkeepers and fellow travelers for directions. Traganou also writes that in contrast to horizontal scroll maps, these panorama style maps “convey the sense of a labyrinthine journey” (Ibid.). For travel writers whose writings were characterized as an “‘encounter with difference and otherness’ or a ‘confrontation with…alterity’”, the map’s distortions could have been beneficial (Laffin 2018: 2).


The significance of a map of this style

As mentioned, the significance of a map of this style could be just for decorative purposes. Perhaps, it also presents itself as an effective tourist map as the places are in the correct sequence and the distortions convey a wandering labyrinthine journey that tourists and travel writers may have liked. However, Traganou writes of the significance of the panoramic style in creating maps that are symbolic of Japan as a nation. She writes that the landscape of the road is being “superimpose[d] […] upon the land(-scape) of the nation” (Traganou 2013: 187). If we look at the Tōkaidō meisho ichiran, the road covers most of the land; it fills the land mass. Therefore, the road makes up the land; the road is the land. In contrast, the modern map depicts the Tōkaidō road taking up only a portion of the land of Japan and not the entire land mass. This idea of the Tōkaidō meisho ichiran and other panoramic maps as being symbolic of Japan through superimposition is very interesting especially when one takes a closer look at a modern Japanese map. If one imagines the modern map of Japan and curls it in a circular/mandala shape, one can see how it could look very similar to the landmass of the Tōkaidō meisho ichiran. In this way Traganou argues that this depiction of the Tōkaidō, though geographically distorted, is symbolic of the nation. Traganou furthers this argument by pointing out the presence of Mount Fuji on the map. Mount Fuji in “its eminent, central position connotes symbolically the whole nation” (Ibid.).
The Tōkaidō meisho ichiran by Katsushika Hokusai is a panoramic map of many distortions. Though it is distorted, the map would have functioned as an excellent tourist map for anyone traveling along the Tōkaidō Road. The map also exemplifies the importance of the Tōkaidō Road to the Tokugawa shogunate as it is presented as symbolic of the nation of Japan.



Breedlove, Byron and Jared Friedberg. “Perspective and Surprise in the Floating World.” Emerging Infectious Diseases 22, no. 6 (2016): 1143-1144.

Laffin, Christina. “Premodern Japanese Travel Diaries.” In The Ashgate Research Companion in Travel Writing, edited by Alasdair Pettinger and Tim Youngs. London: Ashgate Publishing, 2018.

Screech, Timon. “Hokusai’s Lines of Sight.” Mechademia 7, (2012): 103-109.

Traganou, Jilly. “Representing Mobility in Tokugawa and Meiji Japan.” In Japanese Capitals in Historical Perspective: Place, Power and Memory in Kyoto, Edo and Tokyo, edited by Nicolas Fieve and Paul Waley, 6. New York: RoutledgeCurzon Taylor & Francis Group, 2013.

Traganou, Jilly. The Tokaido Road: Travelling and Representation in Edo and Meiji Japan. New York: RoutledgeCurzon Taylor & Francis Group, 2004.

Tokaido bungen no zu

     Tokaido bungen no zu is a map created in 1690, early Edo period. The map consists entire Tokaido road which starts from Edo to Kyoto, and illustrates road in scale of 1 to 12000, however, since the map is very long, it is divided into five accordion-folded books. Each includes: Edo to Odawara (Book 1), Odawara to Fuchu (Book 2), Fuchu to Yoshida (Book 3), Yoshida to Kameyama (Book 4), and Kameyama to Kyoto (Book 5). A map is drawn in only black and white, and only Tokaido road is drawn exclusively. This type of map is called a route map, “Douchuzu (道中図)”, and used by travelers who travel from Edo to Kyoto. The creator of this map are two person, Ochikochi Doin (遠近道印) as a surveyor of geography and Hishikawa Moronobu (菱川師宣) as a painter of the whole map. In this essay, I will introduce about this map and significant features as a Douchuzu.


About Tokaido

Tokaido is a road which established in Edo period by Tokugawa bakufu, however the road itself is used from very early period as a connection between eastern Japan and western Japan. When it is established, it is classified as one of Gokaido (five roads established in Edo period), and given name of Tokaido. After establishment, it is used by people as a measure of transportation, religious travel, and political transportation.


Ocikochi Doin is a Japanese surveyor in early Edo period. He works under Houjou Ujinaga, inspector-general of Tokugawa bakufu, and Tokaido bungen no zu is also created by order of Takugawa bakufu. He is known as specialist of surveying, and therefore, he completed multiple maps other than Tokaido such as Shipan Edo Soto Ezu (1671), which is map of northern and eastern suburb of Edo. Because of accuracy of surveying, he is titled of Zuou (図翁), the sage of map. For Tokaido bungen no zu, he works as surveyor, so he surveyed all geography of Tokaido and put all information on manuscript for painter, Hishikawa Moronobu.

Shinpan Edo soto ezu
Looking Back Beauty

Hishikawa Moronobu (1618-1694) is a “Ukiyoe” artist who did actual paintings of Tokaido bungen no zu based on Doin’s manuscript. He is first person who brought up the picture into the one single art from just an illustration of literature, therefore, he is known as an establisher of Ukiyoe art, but he also stepped into the other genre and types of arts such as Makurae, Joururie, and Yamatoe. One of his famous work is Mikaeri Bijin (Looking Back Beauty). As seen in Mikaeri bijin, he is superior on drawing people and their customs which is named Fuzokuga (Paintings depicts customs), and such his style is shown on the map.



Important features of this map

In this map, there are three features which is significant to be used as Douchuzu. Each are very distinct from common map and reflects creators’ personality.

First, basically, map exclusively illustrates Tokaido road. In the map, we can see Tokaido road, travelers walking, and buildings along it, however most scenery object outside of Tokaido road is omitted. Although some important nature object and scenery (like Mount. Fuji) depicted, others unnecessary common object (trees, side streets, and unknown mountains) are not drawn or simplified. This is because the map has more focused expected user. As mentioned earlier, Douchuzu is a map specifically used by those who uses Tokaido, and people who uses Tokaido do not need much information outside of the road, since it is one single road from Edo to Kyoto, therefore a map itself also a one long picture (divided into five) and does not need complex geographical information and illustrations to be written. However, even road is one straight line, travelers’ purpose may vary, so Hishikawa illustrates what users may need on map. For example, for those who love sightseeing, he draws significant building or natural objects to ensure where they are and what can be enjoyable to see along the road, and for those who walks shrine to shrine for religious purpose, he draws Shinto shrine and Buddhist temple among omit drawing other buildings.

Castle as a land mark, volume 4


Buddhist Temple drawn in map, volume 1







He also puts instructions to help travelers how to walk the Tokaido. In this time period, even though the Tokaido is established by bakufu, there are not particular transportation system established to cross the river, so Hishikawa writes instructions of how to cross the river, also at the entrance of every city or town, he put distance to the hotel and the name of hotel to stay.


Information of hotel and distance to next city, volume 3
People crossing river and its description as a instruction, volume 3

Those information, may not need for common map, however, Hishikawa tends to draw this information to entertain and help travelers over role of simply telling geography as a map. This is because Hishikawa is an artist and has more interest in people than geography. As introduced earlier, he is an Ukiyoe artist who tends to draw people and their custom, therefore, he may be looking at travelers more importantly than geography by analyzing what traveler needs and provide information to satisfy their purpose. As a result, this type of Douchuzu, in later period, given a further name of Douchu annai zu (route guidance map), and widely used by various types of travelers.






Second, this map is uniquely straightened to adjust the shape of book. As explained at introduction, this map is in five accordion folded books because of its length, however, actual shape of Tokaido does not fit to straight paper since the actual road curves in shaped along the south eastern coast of Japan. Such change of shape in map effects on drawings of map. Compass is necessary item for map to find out direction. In this map, compass can be found at most of city, and at some city, two compasses are drawn in same page, more uniquely, some of such two compasses point to different direction. For example,  in the below picture, we can see two rectangles are drawn as a compass, and in each rectangles, four Japanese character are drawn which each represents east (東), south (南), west (西) and north (北), however, as we see, two norths are point towards different direction. Also, Mountain Fuji, which should be only one in Japan, has been drawn in same book, but in different size.

Two compasses shown up in same page, volume 2
Picture of Mount Fuji in page 9 of volume 2
Picture of Mount Fuji in page 12 of volume 2

These facts tell that in order to fit in the shape of book, map pf Tokaido is straightened. Since the map straightened and sense of direction twisted, there has to be multiple number of compasses drawn to tell that the direction changes at some points, and so Mount Fuji shows up on different location since we see it from different direction but facing Fuji as background. Such technique can only be used in Douchuzu. Since there is only one, traveler does not have to rely on direction, and so the map does not have to keep the direction in one way like a common map and can change the shape anyway.




Third, even Douchuzu does not have strict sense of direction, as a map, it has strict sense of measurement and distance. Since the road is straight, travelers do not need to worry about direction, however still they need to know where they are on the road. In the title of this map, Tokaido bungen no zu, the word bungen (分間) can be translated as surveying in English, and Ochikochi Doin, who worked for surveying geography of Tokaido gives much information on the map which is enough to prove that this map has sense of distance.


Distance to Mishima, volume 2
Distance to Hakone, volume 2

For example, in the first page of second book, distance to next city is mentioned as; 箱根へ四里 (four ri to Hakone), and in the city of Hakone, distance to the next city Mishima is mentioned as; 三嶋へ三里充八町(three ri and eighteen cho to Mishima).







Also, along the very long street in the city of Edo, number of districts are written at bottom of each house such as 一丁,二丁,三丁, and tells reader their location on the street. Also, according to the introduction of this map. The map is drawn in the scale of 1 to 12,000, which means, about 109 m of Tokaido road reduced to just 9 mm. Even though the map is drawn very artistically by Hishikawa, Ochikochi’s accurate surveying identify this map as accurate measured route map.

Street and houses in the city of Edo, volume 1








     Tokaido bugen no zu is an ideal route map which introduces how Douchuzu is distinct from other common maps. Between two different professionals, Hishikawa and Ochikochi, the map became both artistic and accurate map which attract and help people travel according to their purpose.


Works Cited:

Gunsaulus, Helen C. “A Painted Scroll of the Early Ukiyo-É School.” Bulletin of the Art Institute of Chicago (1907-1951) 24, no. 4 (1930): 44-46.

Traganou, Jilly. The Tōkaidō Road: Traveling and Representation in Edo and Meiji Japan. New York: Routledge, 2004.

Yonemoto, Marcia. “The “Spatial Vernacular” in Tokugawa Maps.” The Journal of Asian Studies 59, no. 3 (2000): 650-53.

“東海道分間絵図について.” 神奈川県立歴史博物館. Accessed April 19, 2018.

“東海道Q&A.” 東海道への誘い. Accessed April 19, 2018.