1858 Antique Japanese Wood-Block Map of Fukagawa, Tokyo, Japan

Cartographer :Tomatsu Masakuni

  • Title: Honjo Fukagawa Ezu (Map of Honjo Fukagawa)
  • Date: 1858
  • Condition : (A+) Fine Condition
  • Ref: 91309
  • Size: 29in x 21in (740mm x 535mm)

This is a wonderful and unique opportunity to acquire a rare piece of antique Japanese cartography. This large beautiful wood-block hand coloured & original map of the old Fukagawa district of the Koto-Ku Ward of Tokyo Bay was published in the Ansei 5th Year (1858) by Owariya Seihichi and illustrated by Tomatsu Masakuni.
Although the 1850's in cartographical terms is not considered old 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 of Fukagawa available on the market. There is a level of patience, workmanship & detail about this map that epitomises many parts of the Japanese culture.

Fukagawa is located 2km east of Nihombashi, on the Eastern side of the Sumida river, across Eitai bridge and is re-known for its beautiful temple, shrines & museums. Fukagawa's greatest shinto shrine is Tomioka Hachimangu. It was established in 1627 and is Tokyo's largest Hachiman Shrine. During the Edo period, sumo wrestlers tournaments were held here, and the "Yokozuna Stone" still shows the name of the champions. The Tomioka Hachiman Shrine is compares in size to the Yasukuni or Meiji Shrine. One of the prides of the shrine is its "ichi-no-miya" mikoshi, the biggest "mikoshi" in the Kanto region, weighing 4 tonnes. This mikoshi is actually too heavy to be carried during the festival. Another reason is its value. It is decorated with diamonds, rubies and sapphires, and cost a startling one billion yen.
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: - Heavy & stable
Paper color: - White
Age of map color: - Original
Colors used: - Blue, yellow, red, green
General color appearance: - Authentic
Paper size: - 29in x 21in (740mm x 535mm)
Margins: - Min 1/4in (5mm)

Margins: - None
Plate area: - Light wear along folds as issued
Verso: - Uniform age toning