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Beautifully illustrated & vividly colored scroll entitled "Kano Bicchumori kaei gonen kacchu chakuyo choren ezu" ["Military Exercises at the Estate of Kano, Lord of Bicchu, in the Fifth Year of Kaei"]. One picture scroll, 263 x 10,170 mm., with numerous illus. and black & red manuscript explanatory text
[From the preface]: "April 1852."In the early 1850s, Japan still maintained sakoku, a policy of isolationism established in 1635 and intended to minimize foreign influence. The governments of Britain, the United States, and Russia, were each determined to be the first to benefit from trade with Japan. Within Japan, there was a growing and passionate debate about how to respond to foreign incursions. Two major camps formed: one claimed it was necessary to use foreign technology in order to repel invasions; the other argued that only traditional Japanese methods should be employed. Our scroll depicts the integration of Western weapons into this faction's strategy.This is a finely illustrated scroll with bird's-eye views of Lord Hisaakira Kano's well-equipped private army at a shimoyashiki (a secondary estate) outside of central Edo. It depicts military exercises which took place a year before Commodore Matthew Perry's first arrival. The scroll vividly illustrates formations, uniforms, and the coordinated use of rifles and cannons. In one of the scenes depicted in our scroll, Kano (1813-64), second lord of Ichinomiya-han in Kazusa province, is shown leading the exhibition of his troops' capabilities. A top minister of security, Kano advised the shogun closely on matters of national defense. An authority on such matters, he prioritized the coastal defenses of his province, which occupied a key strategic location close to Edo. Kano's army, composed of farmers, fishermen, and merchants, was superbly organized and well-equipped with the latest military technology supplied by the Dutch.The preface by Ishishi Keikyo (probably a pen-name) announces the depicted exercises as a momentous occasion celebrating Kano's military expertise. The scroll opens with a close-up at the entrance of the estate, which has been heavily decorated with the battle banners of the Kano family, as a dignitary arrives with his attendants. Guards stand ready to inspect them. The next panel offers a more expansive view, from a greater distance, of the parade grounds and the preparations for the exercises. On the right are the headquarters where the leaders (some named in red) have placed their ceremonial armor and weapons. In the background, troops in makeshift structures prepare for the display by putting on their armor.The following panels show Kano troops in formation as the exercises begin. They divide themselves into smaller squads, each behind their own colored flag, then form a procession in the shape of a square. The text in black provides the name of the formation (i.e. kagyu no jin "snail formation"; koya maedatami "defensive lines"; gyogun "marching formation"; yonchojo "four line formation"; juni inyo "twelve lines"; zenjin tezume daishohorenpatsu "cannon and rifle formation"; senjin kojin sogakari daishojurenpatsu "frontline and backline charge together with small guns"; sogun tsuiho "all-out assault"; and ryogun gattai "final assembly"). The red text meticulously describes the composition and purposes of each formation, as well as naming many of the generals involved.Subsequent sections depict the live-fire portion of the exercise. The riflemen form long lines adjacent to several cannons. Behind long sheets held up by two men, they fire into empty space. The brushwork masterfully renders the billowing gunpowder smoke. Soldiers armed with spears and swords charge at the imaginary enemy, while the riflemen and cannoneers smile, their part of the job complete. At this point, the amount of red text increases greatly, likely because of the explanation of weapons and tactics unfamiliar to many in Japan. In the penultimate panel, the riflemen and cannons create a longer line, fire, then charge with their comrades to land the finishing blow. In the final section, the troops join in formation around their leader Lord Kano. Different squads are distinguished by colored banners and armor.In fine and fresh condition with bright coloring. Sporadic wormholes, carefully mended.
      [Bookseller: Jonathan A. Hill, Bookseller, Inc. ]
Last Found On: 2017-07-18           Check availability:      ABAA    

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