Pictorial Map of the Tōkaidō Highroad


This pictorial map depicts the Tōkaidō Highroad which ran between the cities of Edo (Tokyo) and Kyoto. The original Tōkaidō Bunken Ezu (Scale map of the Tōkaidō) was drawn by woodblock artist Hishikawa Moronobu (circa 1618–94) in 1690, based on a survey of the road made in 1651. Various iterations of this map have circulated, including black and white prints and large scrolls meant to be spread out on a desk for armchair traveling. This version is painted with ink and watercolor on two smaller scrolls, suggesting it was intended as a practical guide for travelers. Distances are represented on an accurate scale, but directions vary depending on the area and are marked by compass squares. Included in the description are major cities, “stations” where worn-out travelers could rest or rent a horse, and advice on where boats were available. The map also notes places of interest, such as temples and shrines, scenic landscapes, and landmarks associated with historic events and local myths. Maps such as this were both practical tools for travelers and a reflection of commonly held views of geography, history, and mythical knowledge.

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Physical Description

1 map on 2 sheets : manuscript, pen and ink watercolor, mounted on 2 scrolls ; 3,575 x 26 centimeters, sheets 1,722 x 26 centimeters and 1,853 x 26 centimeters.


  • Not drawn to scale.

Last updated: September 22, 2014