The Nihon sankai zudō taizen (lit. The Complete Map of the Mountain and Seas of Japan) was published in 1697 in the Tokugawa period. It was produced by famous Japanese cartographer, Ishikawa Ryūsen, and co-produced by Sagamiya Tahē.

complete map
Click here to view this item in the UBC maps collection.

This revision was re-reprinted based on one of his most famous works Nihon sankai chōri ku zu, (Map of the Seas, Mountains, and Land of Japan) in 1689.

00014082

The map producer, Ishikawa Ryūsen was known as a woodblock master, a commercial mapmaker who was very active in Edo period from 1686 to 1717. However, just like most map producers of this period, Ishikawa Ryūsen might not have been a traveller himself. According to the findings of Marcia Yonemoto,[1] she suggests that Ishikawa Ryūsen used some information from several maps including Shinsen dai Nihon Zukan (lit. New Outline of Great Japan), and the adjustment of the original map, Shinsen dai Nihon koku ōezu (lit. New Large Format Map of Great Japan), and Shinpan dai koku ōezu (lit. Newly Published Large Format Map of Great Japan) to make the Nihon Sankai zudō taizen. Pieces of evidence show the Nihon Sankai zudō taizen might have been copied from other maps.

shisen dai nihon zukan

shisen nihonkoku oezu

shipan nihonkoku oezu

For example, the rectangular shape of Ishikawa’s map is identical to Shinsen dai Nihon Zukan and Shinpan dai koku ōezu. Likewise, the informative charts of the distance between major roads and countries are identical. Although the Nihon sankai zudō taizen is a compound of various maps, the map was repeatedly reprinted. As stated in Takahiro Sasaki’s lecture,[2] Nihon sankai zudō taizen is a woodblock printed map, but was hand-painted. He further explained that any pastel-colored map made in the Edo period would be drawn by hand. The size of the map is 81.2 x 170.1 cm. All the texts are oriented with North facing up. The map provides lots of information, and it is particularly striking in that it is one of the only maps that show the different types of watercrafts used in the Edo period. My focus is to analyze these vessel models that are shown on the map.

Boat Type

On close analysis of the map, one can see there are various boat types. I found four different styles of watercrafts on the “Nihon sankai zudō taizen”. Most of these boats are domestic merchant boats and fishing boats, except for a few foreign trading boats appointed by daimyos. According to professor Nam-lin Hur,[3] diplomatic relationship between Japan and other countries were strictly prohibited. The Tokugawa shogun and bakufu bureaucracies established a sakoku (close country) system aimed at stabilizing the society. No private interactions between countries were allowed other than those approved by daimyos. Therefore, when Ishikawa Ryūsen produced the map, he ensured no illegal foreign watercrafts were shown on the map.

59B886E3-19FA-4FBE-BD1F-FEA96233E2AA

bateau015

merchant ship .jpg

The most important and influential merchant boat on the map is bezaisen. Under the Sakoku policy, no private international trading was permitted. As a result, the domestic trades to be more active than ever. With no aircrafts or cars in the Tokugawa period, ocean shipping became one of the most economic methods to transport large amount of goods from region to region. “It is generally recognized that technology improvements made bezaisen more economical and easier to steer than conventional ships thus made them the main commercial option during the Edo period.”[4] Bezaisen are large cargo boats with an oval shaped bottom and one huge piece of sail on one mast. There were three major types of bezaisen in the Edo period: higaki kaisen, tarukaisen and kitamaebune.

higaki kaisen

higaki detail
Higakikaisen transported people’s basic goods from daily condiments such as oil, soy sauce to materials like wood and cotton from Osaka to Edo.

kitame bune.jpg

kitamae detail
Kitamaebune was a northern regional alteration of bezaisen. Not only was kitamaebune responsible for transporting northern material goods, but it also spread the northern tradition and dialect to central Japan.
taru kaisen
Tarukaisen was another variation of bezaisen. It is specially designed to hold sake barrels. The boat transported sake from Osaka to Edo.

When the demand of shipping increased, the bezaisen was enlarged into the wasen senkoku bune. Wasen refers to a Japanese boat. Sengokubune were designed to carry cargo up to 1000 koku, (98 tons). “Bezaisen are a fitting symbol of the withdrawn and xenophobic Edo era, existing in a period of feudal reclusiveness.” (Bennett, Jenny: P149)[5] It played an important role in Japanese domestic marine trading in the Tokugawa period. There are two reasons that I conclude these boats are bezaisen. Firstly, the shape of these boats matches the descriptions of bezaisen. Secondly, under the closed country system, the major merchant boats were bezaisen.

bazeisen.jpg

As an island country, aquaculture is inseparable from Japan. The map below shows a type of fishing boat called tosa wasen (土佐和船). Tosa wasen were the most common fishing boats used by Japanese fishermen in the Edo period. They were about 20 inches long and usually operated by 1 or 2 fishermen. “From these boats, fishermen would use bamboo fishing rods to catch Sea Bream in coastal and harbour waters.”[6]

fisherman boat

Gozabune is a houseboat used on both rivers and oceans. It was designed as a government purposed junk, type of sailing boat for transporting government officials and merchants on mission. The appearance of the gozabune was usually colorful and fancy. The most significant feature of this type of boat is the house/ roof. It was designed for long distance travel; therefore, the house on the boat ensured the safety and comfort of the travelers. “During Tokugawa period, Korea was the only state which had equal diplomatic relations with Japan.”[7] This explains the reason that this type of boat was shown in the Korean and Japanese territorial waters on the map. “For 160 years from the beginning of the fifteenth century the Ashikaga bakufu sent a mission to Korea sixty times and the Sō daimyo of Tsushima and other powerful western clans themselves dispatched missions to Korea.”[8]

goza bunegoza bune close map

undefined
Due to limited access to Japanese boat resources, I cannot conclude the identity of this last type of boat. I found three possible name of the boat. It could be tokaibune, domburibune or shiobune.

 

636A3B55-6EB0-4D88-9A81-B26C9065FEB4
Tokaibune were passenger boats used to transport travelers from place to place.
0DE7970F-568B-4B85-8723-EBFA767B342E
Domburi were used in central Japan to deliver merchandise.
C862C375-991C-4677-BAE9-05891724FE92
Shiobune were used for shipping salt.

 

The comprehensive details of Nihon sankai zudō taizan are esthetic and informative. Even the small vessels are carefully elaborated in details. The types of watercrafts in each region demonstrate the Japanese domestic trading commerce and reproduced the marine shipping industry of the Tokugawa period. The map reveals the bezaisen as the most commonly used merchant shipping boats. Most of these boats are shown on the map below in the area around Edo Harbor, today’s Tokyo Bay. It provides important messages to the readers that Edo Harbor was the busiest domestic trading center in Japan during the closed country era. Different types of bezaisen carried various goods, and each bezaisen had its own specific purpose. It also showed that particular goods were demanded and shipped to places.

 

Notes

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

[2] Takahiro Sasaki,  “ Japanese Rare books workshop” Lecture UBC Vancouver, February 3, 2016.

[3] Nam-lin Hur, Map consulation UBC Vancouver, February 26, 2016

[4] Kenji Ishii; illustration: Kenzo Tanii; collaboration: Museum of Maritime Science

[5] Bennett, Jenny. Sailing into the Past: Learning from Replica Ships. P149

[6] http://www.marinemodelartist.com/Tosa_Wasen/Tosa_Wasen.html

[7] Kang, Etsuko Hae-jin. Diplomacy and Ideology in Japanese-Korean Relations: From the Fifteenth to the Eighteenth Century. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Macmillan Press, 1997.

[8] Kang, Etsuko Hae-jin. Diplomacy and Ideology in Japanese-Korean Relations: From the Fifteenth to the Eighteenth Century. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Macmillan Press, 1997.

 

Works Cited

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

Takahiro Sasaki,  “ Japanese Rare books workshop” Lecture UBC Vancouver, February 3, 2016.

Nam-lin Hur, Map consulation UBC Vancouver, February 26, 2016

Kenji Ishii; illustration: Kenzo Tanii; collaboration: Museum of Maritime Science

Bennett, Jenny. Sailing into the Past: Learning from Replica Ships. Seaforth Publishing, Jun 18, 2009 

Kang, Etsuko Hae-jin. Diplomacy and Ideology in Japanese-Korean Relations: From the Fifteenth to the Eighteenth Century. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Macmillan Press, 1997.

 

Contributor: Cherry Yan

(Edited by Elle Marsh)