A Map of the World


While under nearly two centuries of restricted foreign contact during the Edo period (1600-1868), the Japanese people still maintained a curiosity in foreign cultures. World maps in particular are indications of how the Japanese perceived their country and its position in the international community. Many were published in the port city of Yokohama and popularized for both informational and entertainment purposes. This map, a woodcut dating from the second half of the 19th century, depicts an enormous archipelago representing Japan at the center of the world. Images of a Russian soldier and an American soldier and the brief history of each country are placed in insets. Different kinds of ships dot the seas. The map is also accompanied by a table showing the distance from Nagasaki to various foreign countries, such as China, India, and the Netherlands. On the bottom right are the names of feudal lords who were assigned the duties of guarding the coast.

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1 print on hōsho paper : woodcut, black and white ; 21 x 28 centimeter (block), 23.8 x 32 centimeters (sheet)

Last updated: March 2, 2012