1840 Tokokawa Period Antique Japanese Map Tochigi or Shimotsuke Prefecture Japan

Cartographer :Tokokawa Period

This is a unique opportunity to acquire an original & rare piece of antique Japanese cartography. This beautiful wood-block hand coloured map of the old Shimotsuke province today the Tochigi Prefecture was published in the late Tokokawa Period ca 1840 by Akiyama Einen.
Although the early 19th century is not considered that old in cartographical terms but it is the high level of artistry & detail that makes these wood-block cut maps unique. I doubt that there is another map from this publisher or illustrator available on the market. There is a level of patience, workmanship & detail about this map that epitomises many parts of the Japanese culture.

Tochigi Prefecture - Prior to the establishment of the present-day system of prefectures, Tochigi was known as the Shimotsuke Province. The establishment of the Nikko Toshogu in 1617 brought Nikko to national attention. The Tokugawa Shogunate developed the Nikko kaido (part of the major road connecting Nikko with Edo) and required lavish processions to worship Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa line of shoguns.
In the late 7th century, Tochigi formed Shimotsuke Province. 
During that time was built the Shimotsuke-Yakushi temple, making it the Buddhist capital of the Kanto Region. In the early 15th century, Ashikaga University, Japan's oldest school of higher education, was re-established, holding over 3000 students by the 16th century. Saint Francis Xavier introduced Ashikaga to the world as the best university in Japan. 
In the early 17th century, Japan was unified by the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. After his death, Toshogu was built in Nikko on what the shoguns thought of as holy ground to protect and worship Ieyasu. The establishment of the Nikkō Toshogu in 1617 brought Nikkō to national attention. The Tokugawa Shogunate developed the Nikkō Kaidō (part of the major road connecting Nikkō with Edo) and required lavish processions to worship Ieyasu, the founder of the Tokugawa line of shoguns.
In the late 19th century the Tokugawa Shogunate fell and the new government established the prefectures. The prefectural capital was established in the city of Tochigi after the unification of Utsunomiya Prefecture and Tochigi Prefecture in 1873.By 1884, however, the capital was transferred to Utsunomiya.

Japanese maps are well known for their exceptional beauty and high quality of workmanship. Early Japanese cartography has its own very distinctive projection and layout system. Japanese maps made prior to the appearance of Commodore Perry and the opening of Japan in the mid to late 1750s often have no firm directional orientation, incorporate views into the map proper, and tend to be hand coloured woodblock prints. 
Later Japanese maps, produced in the late Edo and throughout the Meiji period (early to mid 19th century) draw heavily upon western maps as models for their own work. While many of these later maps maintain elements of traditional Japanese cartography such as the use of rice paper, woodblock printing, and delicate hand color, they also incorporate western directional orientation, projection systems, and structural norms.

As early as the 7th century AD the Japanese acquired knowledge of surveying and map engraving through their cultural links with Korea and China: their earliest surviving map dates from the 14th century. The first uncertain attempts to show Japan on European maps were not made until the mid 15th century (Fra Mauro, 1459) and even in 1540 Munsters map of the New World still show "zipangu". Jesuit influence in the early days were responsible for any data collected about Japan at this time. From 1640 Japan closed its frontiers (except for the Port of Nagasaki) to the "barbarians" from the West and consequently there was little opportunity for compiling data for accurate mapping. It was not until the 18th century that maps by Valck, de Vaugondy and others started to show a better outline of the country, even incorporating Japanese characters into the images. (Ref: M&B; Tooley)

General Description:
Paper thickness and quality: - Very light & stable
Paper color: - Off white
Age of map color: - Original  
Colors used: - Blue, yellow, red, green
General color appearance: - Authentic   
Paper size: - 21in x 14 1/2in (535mm x 370mm)
Margins: - Min 1/4in (5mm)

Margins: - Light wear
Plate area: - Folds as issued, light wear along folds, several small worm tracks in 10 places on image
Verso: - Light age toning