By: Takashiba Ei'San'Yu
Date: 1849 (dated) Japan | 2nd Year of Kaei
Dimensions: 28.25 x 57.5 inches (71.75 x 146 cm)
This is a spectacular, large format folding map of Japan by Takashiba Ei'San'Yu, dated 1849. The map presents the primary Japanese islands of Kyushu, Honshu, Shikoku and a number of small surrounding islands in a northwestern orientation. It is divided by provinces (kuni or country, here just translated as country) and districts. Main roads, and sea routes with distances are delineated throughout the map.
The purpose of the map seems to draw attention to touristy destinations. The author seems to apologizing for not listing more temples and hot springs etc. and advises the reader on how to find more. The Tokugawa period was a period of unprecedented stability for Japan which allowed for a tourism industry to grow. This map came out not too long after Hiroshige's famous travel art 53 stations of Tokaido.
In his note Takashiba Ei'San'Yu talks about following the Ekiro (lit. post road), these were a network of highways that were established in the Ritsuryo system during the Asuka period (538-710). These were primarily for emergencies and official business and ran in mostly straight lines throughout administrative districts of Japan (the five home districts and seven circuits as they were called) which were also established during this period. The names of these administrative districts and the highways that run through them – such as Tokaido – have stuck around even if the borders have shifted.
The table in the top right provides distances to the country of Musashi and the various countries of Edo. The boxes inside the table list a larger region and then a town within it followed by the distance.
The small box translates as follows,
"In every direction there is an excess of shrines, temples, famous ruins, famous mountains, hot springs, these as well as some islands have been omitted. If one walks down a road beside a stone castle, they ought to see an excess of such sites."
A legend in the lower right corner translates as follows
"I have additionally marked a few mountains, valleys, peaks, oceans and shores, as well as Japanese resort areas, but this should not be taken as exhaustive. Traveling the roads that mark the cardinal directions of Japan, I thought to travel the Ekiro (Roads for officials to travel on during the Ritsuryou Era), and thus arrived in deep mountains and valleys, and came to villages along the border. The number of Ekiro being too much I traveled the highway, asking at ferry docks along the rivers and receiving directions which I have added to this map. In this way I have collected the paths of Japan here however rough though they may be".
Condition: This map is in B+ condition, with separations along fold intersections professionally filled in. The map have been mounted on linen for preservation and presentation purposes.
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