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A Malleable Map

A Malleable Map: Geographies of Restoration in Central Japan, 1600-1912

Kären Wigen
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Pages: 340
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  • Book Info
    A Malleable Map
    Book Description:

    Kären Wigen probes regional cartography, choerography, and statecraft to redefine restoration (ishin) in modern Japanese history. As developed here, that term designates not the quick coup d'état of 1868 but a three-centuries-long project of rehabilitating an ancient map for modern purposes. Drawing on a wide range of geographical documents from Shinano (present-day Nagano Prefecture), Wigen argues that both the founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate (1600-1868) and the reformers of the Meiji era (1868-1912) recruited the classical map to serve the cause of administrative reform. Nor were they alone; provincial men of letters played an equally critical role in bringing imperial geography back to life in the countryside. To substantiate these claims, Wigen traces the continuing career of the classical court's most important unit of governance-the province-in central Honshu.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94580-7
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-22)

    THE MAP OF JAPAN AS IT APPEARS TODAY—a collection of forty-three prefectures, forming a smooth arc from Hokkaidō in the north to Okinawa in the south—is so familiar as to seem timeless. Yet that apparently stable configuration is the product of a contentious history, one whose contours, especially in the premodern era, are only now becoming clear. Its best-known episodes took place along the state’s borders. Through a millennium of warfare and diplomacy, conquest and compromise, the Yamato chiefdom fitfully expanded from its original home in western Honshū until its descendants had claimed most of the archipelago. The story...


    • [PART ONE Introduction]
      (pp. 25-30)

      CARTOGRAPHY IS AMONG THE OLDEST forms of place writing known in East Asia. In tandem with gazetteers, local maps were commissioned in Japan at the turn of the eighth century—as soon as the provinces themselves were summoned into being by the imperial court. From the start, the gazetteer and map were mutually constitutive: text and image were designed to be cross-referenced to provide a full understanding of a given province. But over time these genres would follow divergent trajectories. Generally speaking, the gazetteer atrophied with the decline of imperial power. Cartography, by contrast, proliferated, diversifying into a colorful array...

    • ONE Shinano in the Nation
      (pp. 31-55)

      THE CORPUS OF NATIONAL MAPS (identified in Japanese asNihon sōzuorNihon zenzu) published before the Meiji era is large and varied. Within that corpus, it is possible to discern three fundamentally different paradigms: a view from the west, a view from the east, and a view from the road. The oldest cartographic model was centered on Yamashiro Province, the region of the imperial capital.¹ To a court residing near the shores of the Inland Sea, Shinshū was a strategic gateway to the eastern marches, a military frontier that was not fully subdued until the eleventh century.² This chapter...

    • TWO Shinano Up Close
      (pp. 56-88)

      THE RISE OF WARRIOR POWER in the Kantō effected an upheaval in Japan’s geography. As shown in the previous chapter, maps of the nation after 1600 registered that upheaval by giving Shinano a new address, one that moved it into the country’s midsection, while locating it along a new north-south spur as well. But the cartographic vision emanating from Edo differed from that of eighth-century Kyoto in more than a spatial sense. For when the Tokugawa set out to plot the provinces, they did so from a novel political position as well.

      In some ways, that position was characterized by constraints....

    • PLATES
      (pp. None)
    • THREE Shinano in the World
      (pp. 89-126)

      AS COMMERCE ENVELOPED EARLY MODERN JAPAN, Shinano was altered in fundamental ways. During the seventeenth century, the hallmark of the agrarian economy had been quantitative expansion; in the eighteenth century, it was qualitative change. Specialty crops and commercial fertilizers transformed farming, making it more intensive and more diverse. Meanwhile, brewing, weaving, sericulture, and paper craft made possible a dense web of protoindustrial enterprise.¹ But innovation was not confined to the productive sphere. Shinano also participated in the eighteenth century’s exuberant experimentation in the arts and letters. After 1720, when the sixth shogun, Tokugawa Yoshimune (1684–1751), relaxed the ban on foreign...


    • [PART TWO Introduction]
      (pp. 129-138)

      THE POLITICAL PROGRAM THAT RESHAPED Japan after 1868 had a paradox at its core. Was Meiji fundamentally an imperial restoration that happened to require revolutionary measures? Or was it a modern revolution that happened to avail itself of the language of restoration? Textbook accounts typically take the latter view. Rather than a storehouse of meaningful precedents, ancient statecraft is dismissed as temporary window dressing for what was essentially a “Western-style” state.¹ The oligarchs’ use of terms from the Heian period to label the highest offices of the land is described as a cynical ploy to “bolster their claim as restorationists;”²...

    • FOUR The Poetry of Statistics
      (pp. 139-166)

      STATISTICAL YEARBOOKS WERE ARGUABLY the most important medium of geographical description for the Meiji prefectures. From the first slim handbooks of the 1870s to the bulky abstracts of later decades, they cumulatively ran to hundreds of thousands of pages, bristling with quantitative information arrayed in tabular form.¹ Conventionally, these sources are read for their numbers, the data that help historians trace the ins and outs of Japan’s industrial transformation. Just as thekuniezucan be picked apart to reveal the spatial disposition of resources under the Tokugawa shogunate, so prefectural yearbooks can be mined for a narrative about how those resources...

    • FIVE Pedagogies of Place
      (pp. 167-192)

      THE GENRES SURVEYED IN THE PREVIOUS two chapters contributed in crucial ways to restoring Shinano Province to a visible place—and a meaningful role—in Meiji Japan. Modern maps gave the region its signature shape; by plotting the prefecture onto precise coordinates and establishing its relationship to the new national center, they brought Shinano into view. Meanwhile, statistics translated a complex local landscape into the universal language of numbers. Quantitative techniques domesticated the local, turning the colorful into the comparable; through the orderly rows of the standardized table, the idiosyncratic became part of a national mosaic. But in order to...

    • SIX A Pan-Provincial Press
      (pp. 193-220)

      THE MOST MODERN MEDIUM of Nagano chorography, and the last to be considered here, was theshinbun,or newspaper. Thanks to the shogunate’s strict ban on publishing about current events, the newspaper—unlike the map or the gazetteer—lacked close Tokugawa analogues. To be sure, anonymous bills calledkawarabanthat spread news about sensational events served as a forerunner of sorts.¹ But these broadsheets were both irregular in publication and limited in scope. Although a few circulated in the interior after natural disasters (reporting on damage due to floods, fires, or earthquakes),kawarabanwere otherwise rarely seen in the country’s...

  9. Conclusion
    (pp. 221-238)

    AT THE END OF THE MEIJI ERA a prominent Nagano publishing house reprinted a crude eighteenth-century map. Originally drawn by a cargo wholesaler named Yoshizawa Takaaki (1710–77) to accompany his study of provincial place-names, this “Map of the Ten Districts of Shinano”(Shinano no kuni jūgun no zu)was in most ways unremarkable (Map 20). Yoshizawa flattened the region’s outline to fit the page, simplified its roads into straight lines, and sketched its landforms in the most impressionistic way. The result was neither decorative nor utilitarian. It could not be consulted for organizing the national defense, assessing taxes, or...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 239-280)
    (pp. 281-308)
    (pp. 309-319)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 320-320)