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A fine and handsomely illustrated cartographic manuscript ("Kaiji zu" or "Kairo zu" [trans.: "Nautical Charts"]) on rice paper, prepared by Tsugihei (or Wahei or Jirobei) Miyachi. 2 pp. of preliminary text, 27 finely colored double-page maps (strip maps bound up in consecutive order), 11 pp. of text. Large 8vo (312 x 225 mm.), self-wrappers (first four leaves with paper repair in lower outer corner, with some minor loss of text & image), old stitching
"Hishu" [today Saga Prefecture]: 1841-45. A very rare Japanese manuscript sea chart of the sea routes from Saga Prefecture, a major trading area in the west, to Osaka through the Inland Sea, which is more than 400 km. long and includes in excess of 3000 islands. The Inland Sea, one of the main trade routes for the Japanese in the Edo period, has numerous areas of turbulence and navigating through the numerous islands and rocky outcroppings presented enormous problems in the era before modern navigation systems. In the early 1840s, the central government in Edo ordered each fiefdom to prepare maps of coastal routes to facilitate trade and shipping. Our manuscript was prepared by Tsugihei Miyachi, a high level sea pilot ("mite kako") in the Saga Prefecture shipping office as an employee of the Nabeshima Clan. The map, were it to be unbound, is about 11,340 mm. long (about 37 feet), depicting Saga in the west to Osaka in the east. It is finely drawn in black ink, heightened with wash in green, purple, blue, grey, and red. Five of the openings have folding extension sections pasted onto the lower margins of the leaves. Blue lines depict safe sailing routes for smaller ships. The map depicts in very great detail areas of turbulence (there are famous whirlpools in the Inland Sea), numerous islands, rock formations and landscapes for orientation, anchorages, harbors, and fishing areas. Each section of the map has been annotated by the compiler with notes on distances, characteristics of rivers, landmarks for navigation, tidal activities, the route to Nagasaki, etc. The first map opening depicts Saga and the final opening Osaka. The sea chart is prepared with considerable local knowledge of castles and temples. A series of notable castles (each is labeled with name of the lord, assets, etc.) are depicted along the shores and Miyachi describes harbors for anchoring and to get fresh water. The routes are drawn from a "bird's-eye view" perspective, with lovely vistas of mountains and islands and villages and towns. The two leaves of manuscript text at the beginning, in the style of a dedicatory letter to the fiefdom lord, describes the compiler's efforts over a five-year period to prepare the map. He writes that it is based on his own personal experiences as a sea pilot. He states that purple denotes routes he has taken, red denotes shallows, blue lines denote the routes for large ships, grey for land, and green for mountains and forests. The eleven pages of text at the end provide details on prevailing weather patterns and how to prepare for inclement weather, how to navigate by landmarks and the stars, wind and tidal patterns, and the history of the preparation of this map ("it took me five years of daily observation to prepare this work"). He provides a list of his voyages to different cities on this route. On the final page, the author states that three copies were made: the first for the fiefdom lord, the second for a cabinet member, and the third for Miyachi's divisional chief. A modern scholar has laid-in a note describing this sea chart as one of those three. Japanese sea charts are rare survivals and we know of no other similar example outside of Japan. ❧ The sea pilot Miyachi's log books are preserved in the Nabeshima clan's archives (see the Saga kenritsu toshokan database).
      [Bookseller: Jonathan A. Hill, Bookseller, Inc.]
Last Found On: 2017-06-09           Check availability:      Biblio    

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