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Mapping Early Modern Japan

Mapping Early Modern Japan: Space, Place, and Culture in the Tokugawa Period, 1603-1868

Marcia Yonemoto
Copyright Date: 2003
Edition: 1
Pages: 249
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  • Book Info
    Mapping Early Modern Japan
    Book Description:

    This elegant history considers a fascinating array of texts, cultural practices, and intellectual processes—including maps and mapmaking, poetry, travel writing, popular fiction, and encyclopedias—to chart the emergence of a new geographical consciousness in early modern Japan. Marcia Yonemoto's wide-ranging history of ideas traces changing conceptions and representations of space by looking at the roles played by writers, artists, commercial publishers, and the Shogunal government in helping to fashion a new awareness of space and place in this period. Her impressively researched study shows how spatial and geographical knowledge confined to elites in early Japan became more generalized, flexible, and widespread in the Tokugawa period. In the broadest sense, her book grasps the elusive processes through which people came to name, to know, and to interpret their worlds in narrative and visual forms.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-92830-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Notes to the Reader
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-7)

    By the middle of the Tokugawa period (1603–1868), literate people had access to a vast and varied selection of maps and geographical writings. As a result, those with the means to borrow or buy printed media could readily conjure up images of and information about an entity called, alternately, “Japan” (Nihon), “Great Japan” (Dai Nihon), “our realm”(honchō),and “the entire country”(zenkoku).¹ They could also find maps, guidebooks, and travel accounts describing Japan’s cities and provinces, and the roads and sea routes that linked them together. They might even come across one of many depictions of the “myriad...

  7. CHAPTER 1 Envisioning the Realm: Administrative and Commercial Maps in the Early Modern Period
    (pp. 8-43)

    The cartographer Phillip C. Muehrcke has observed that even a map of a “real” place can be seen as a “controlled fiction,” an act of creation as well as replication.¹ This is an apt description of the administrative and commercial mapping of Japan in the Tokugawa period. For the shogunate as well as for the many commercial mapmakers and publishers, maps envisioned, created, and ultimately enshrined a new geographical, political, and social order. And insofar as nearly all types of maps were constantly updated and revised throughout the early modern period, they not only chronicled important changes in the spatial...

  8. CHAPTER 2 Annotating Japan: The Reinvention of Travel Writing in the Late Seventeenth Century
    (pp. 44-68)

    If, to paraphrase Foucault, maps create order through “a glance, an examination,” then travel accounts depend on language—specifically, upon narrative—to reveal the supposedly “hidden networks” that structure the natural world. But while maps tend to homogenize different types of information by conveying it in a single graphic dimension, travel accounts amplify spatial and cultural difference by describing it in careful detail. At about the same time that commercial mapmaking was flourishing in the late seventeenth century, travel writers began to advocate the firsthand exploration and observation of the human and natural landscapes. As they did so, they began...

  9. CHAPTER 3 Narrating Japan: Travel and the Writing of Cultural Difference in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries
    (pp. 69-100)

    Writers like Kaibara Ekiken reinvented the genre of travel writing in the early modern period to emphasize the importance of direct observation and clear description. Over the course of the eighteenth century, however, writers began to use the experience of travel to fashion themselves as opinionated authorities on a broad range of subjects, from geography to medicine to “foreign studies.” As they ventured out to Japan’s farthest boundaries and into the hidden rural enclaves of the country’s interior, travel writers increasingly saw it as their task not only to describe but also to categorize the differences they found within their...

  10. CHAPTER 4 Imagining Japan, Inventing the World: Foreign Knowledge and Fictional Journeys in the Eighteenth Century
    (pp. 101-128)

    As the works and lives of Kaibara Ekiken, Furukawa Koshōken, Tachibana Nankei, and others have shown, early modern travelers mapped Japanese culture as well as its topography in their desire to witness, analyze, and catalog difference. Despite their different intellectual inclinations and narrative strategies, they took their study of Japan, its land, and its culture, and most of all their own roles as its interpreters, seriously. But not all early modern accounts of journeys were similarly sober; in fact, many were fundamentally playful. Funny, ribald, and decidedly frivolous, tall tales of journeys both domestic and foreign became frequently used conventions...

  11. CHAPTER 5 Remapping Japan: Satire, Pleasure, and Place in Late Tokugawa Fiction
    (pp. 129-172)

    By disrupting the familiar order of famous and foreign places, fiction writers called into question the seemingly stable and natural connection between place and identity. In doing so, they not only parodied world geography, they also relativized familiar notions of spatial and cultural order. In works of satirical fiction dating from the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, we can see the emergence of new themes that connect geography and satire more explicitly and more self-referentially than did the texts of Hiraga Gennai and his contemporaries. This was most evident in the use of geographic and cartographic conventions to dissect...

  12. Conclusion: Famous Places Are Not National Spaces
    (pp. 173-178)

    I began this book by suggesting that the history of mapping was a history of ideas. The preceding chapters have described a process through which those ideas came to be held, manipulated, and transformed by ever-greater numbers of people, and accrued multiple and multilayered meanings. In closing, I want to suggest how, in the mid-nineteenth century, the increasingly public ideas and images conveyed by mapping ultimately did not lead to political or social change on a grand scale. While early modern mapping inflected Meiji-period cartography and geography in distinctive ways, its amalgamation of famous places did not simply add up...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 179-210)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 211-226)
  15. Index
    (pp. 227-234)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 235-235)