[Japan]: Bunka 4 (1807). Ca. 92x58,5 cm (36 ¼ x 23 ¼ in). Black ink on rice paper, hand coloured in yellow, red, and grey. Extensive captions in Japanese on the body of the map, as well as right and left margins. Brown owner’s stamp on the lower margin reading “Momen Bunko”. Minor tears on extremities neatly repaired, expertly mounted on Japanese paper otherwise a very good map.
Early 19th century “underground” or illegal manuscript copy of a map of Hokkaido, Sakhalin, Manchuria, Russian Tartary and Kamchatka from the prohibited book by a Sendai-based Confucian scholar Hayashi Shihei. Titled “Sangoku tsûran zusetsu”, or "Illustrated Outline of the Three Countries” (Edo, 1785), the book described the three “countries” bordering Tokugawa-era Japan – Joseon Dynasty (Korea), Yezo or Ezo (present day Hokkaido), and Ryükyü (present day Okinawa). The book attempted to present a comprehensive picture of the neighbours of Japan in order to enhance its coastal defense and became "the first attempt to define Japan's position in relation to its neighbors" (Morris-Suzuki, Tessa. Re-Inventing Japan: Time, Space, Nation. M.E. Sharpe, 1998. p. 23). The book was banned shortly after publication, with the woodblocks used for printing the text and maps being broken, and Hayashi Shihei was arrested and died in prison. The Tokugawa government didn’t tolerate the attempts of private individuals to get involved into the matters of national defense or to violate the sakoku policy of isolation from the outside world. Nevertheless, the pressure on Japan in terms of opening its borders slowly increased with the Russian exploration of the North Pacific and Alaska in the late 18th – early 19th century, and the maps from Hayashi’s “Sangoku tsûran zusetsu” started to be copied by hand and studied in secret.
Our copy dated Bunka 4 (1807) was drawn “for protection from the foreign forces” - most likely, after the unsuccessful Russian diplomatic mission of Nikolay Rezanov in 1804-1805 and subsequent raids of Japanese settlements and bread stores on the Sakhalin and the Kuriles by Russian naval sloops under command of N. Khvostov and G. Davydov in 1806-1807. The map is oriented from west to east and shows the northern tip of the Honshu Island, the whole Island of Hokkaido or Ezo (the distances between main settlements show in red lines), Sakhalin Island (southern part is shown as a peninsula named “Karafuto,” connected to the coast of Manchuria, and northern part – as a separate island named “Sagariin”), the Kurile Archipelago (with all islands named and the inhabited ones marked with red dots), a part of Manchuria (with a note about China and the Great Wall), and the coast of Kamchatka (“Kamushikatsutoka”) separated from Manchuria with the wide mouth of the “Big River” (Amur River). The text written on the body of the Kamchatkan peninsula repeats the text from the original map, reading “Since, in recent years, men of Orosha [Russians] have taken possession of the territory east of Tartary, this land is called Orosha, or Kamushikatsutoka... Also since the Russians all wear red coats, the residents of Ezo call it Red Ezo in their dialect." The map still shows the territories of Ezo, Sakhalin and the Kuriles coloured in yellow, and not as a part of Japan, but it was exactly in 1807 when western Ezo and southern Sakhalin were proclaimed the shogunate territory, and shortly before the Mamiya Rinzo’s exploratory expedition to Sakhalin (1808) which discovered that it was an island (European discoverers acting independently proved this point only in 1849). Overall a beautiful early copy of the important Japanese map of the Hokkaido Island and Russian territories in the Far East.
“Local samurai power-holders in Ezo began receiving tribute from (some of) the Ainu of Sakhalin as early as 1475. No Japanese trading post or other formal presence on the island would be established until 1790, however. By 1805, a second trading post had been established. Shortly prior to that, Hayashi Shihei's1785 Sangoku tsûran zusetsu includes a map which is likely the first in Japan to use color to distinguish Tokugawa Japan from other countries. On this map, Sakhalin is represented in yellow, along with the Kurils and most of Ezo, in contrast to Japanese territory in blue, and Russia in red. The arrival of Russian ships at Sakhalin and some of the Kuril Islands in 1806 again inspired the shogunate to take action against Russian encroachment; they declared western Ezo and southern Sakhalin to be shogunal territory (tenryô). Mamiya Rinzô explored and surveyed the island in 1808 to an extent no Japanese had ever done before, and in the process discovered (or confirmed) that it is in fact an island, and not a peninsula of the Asian mainland (Sakhalin/ Samurai Wiki archive online).
Price: $2,750.00 USD