Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Vintage Maps of Japan


The Japanese Historical Maps Collection of the East Asian Library has worked with the David Rumsey Map collection to digitize around 2,300 early Japanese maps. The Japanese Historical Maps collection allows you to explore all of these digitized historical maps from Japan as zoomable images.

If you want you can explore some of these vintage maps in more detail on Google Maps. The Japan Historical GIS page has eight maps from the collection, dating back to 1694, which you view on top of Google Maps.

The University of British Columbia has a huge collection of maps and guidebooks from the Japanese Tokugawa period (1600-1867). Their Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era includes digitized versions of the maps which can be explored online.

The National Archives of Japan also own a large number of rare vintage maps of Japan. In particular they have digitized the Genroku Kuni Ezu (national land maps). Around the turn of the Eighteenth Century the Tokugawa Shogunate ordered maps to be made of the whole of the Japan. You can explore these maps on the National Archives Classic Maps website.


Gunma GIS Geek has used the Leaflet mapping platform to create interactive maps from a couple of famous Japanese pilgrimage mandalas. Pilgrimage mandalas are paintings which provide a panoramic view of temple and shrine sites.

The first map on Temple Pilgrimage Mandala is of the Nachi Pilgrimage Mandala. This 16th–17th century hanging scroll depicts the Nachi Shrine on the Kii Peninsula in Japan. The painting presents the journey of two pilgrims (the couple clothed in white) as they enter the scene (bottom right) and take a circuitous route through the temple complex to the Nachi shrine.


You can learn more about some of the over 50 buildings depicted in the painting at the Embodying Compassion website. Embodying Compassion includes an interactive version of the Nachi Pilgrimage Mandala. This interactive version of the mandala features a number of markers which allow you to learn more about the buildings, temples and statues depicted in the mandala.


If you want to explore vintage maps of Tokyo then a good place to start is with the Past and Present Map, which uses some beautiful vintage maps to illustrate how Tokyo has developed since the Nineteenth Century.

The application lets you explore ten historical maps ranging in date from 1896 to 2005. The dual map control places the historical map side-by-side with a Google Map. Pan and zoom the historical map and the Google Map will also move to ensure that both maps are always showing the same view.
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