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Meisho zue and the Mapping of Prosperity in Late Tokugawa Japan

Meisho zue and the Mapping of Prosperity in Late Tokugawa Japan <p>abstract:</p><p>The cartographic history of Japan is remarkable for the sophistication, variety, and ingenuity of its maps. It is also remarkable for its many modes of spatial representation, which might not immediately seem cartographic but could very well be thought of as such. To understand the alterity of these cartographic modes and write Japanese map history for what it is, rather than what it is not, scholars need to be equipped with capacious definitions of maps not limited by modern Eurocentric expectations. This article explores such classificatory flexibility through an analysis of the mapping function of <i>meisho zue</i>, popular multivolume geographic encyclopedias published in Japan during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The article&apos;s central contention is that the illustrations in <i>meisho zue</i> function as pictorial maps, both as individual compositions and in the aggregate. The main example offered is <i>Miyako meisho zue</i> (1780), which is shown to function like a map on account of its instrumental pictorial representation of landscape, virtual wayfinding capacity, spatial layout as a book, and biased selection of sites that contribute to a vision of prosperity. This last claim about site selection exposes the depiction of <i>meisho</i> as a means by which the editors of <i>meisho zue</i> recorded a version of cultural geography that normalized this vision of prosperity.</p> http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture Review University of Hawai'I Press

Meisho zue and the Mapping of Prosperity in Late Tokugawa Japan

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Publisher
University of Hawai'I Press
Copyright
Copyright © Research Institute of Korean Studies, Korea University
ISSN
2158-9666
eISSN
2158-9674

Abstract

<p>abstract:</p><p>The cartographic history of Japan is remarkable for the sophistication, variety, and ingenuity of its maps. It is also remarkable for its many modes of spatial representation, which might not immediately seem cartographic but could very well be thought of as such. To understand the alterity of these cartographic modes and write Japanese map history for what it is, rather than what it is not, scholars need to be equipped with capacious definitions of maps not limited by modern Eurocentric expectations. This article explores such classificatory flexibility through an analysis of the mapping function of <i>meisho zue</i>, popular multivolume geographic encyclopedias published in Japan during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The article&apos;s central contention is that the illustrations in <i>meisho zue</i> function as pictorial maps, both as individual compositions and in the aggregate. The main example offered is <i>Miyako meisho zue</i> (1780), which is shown to function like a map on account of its instrumental pictorial representation of landscape, virtual wayfinding capacity, spatial layout as a book, and biased selection of sites that contribute to a vision of prosperity. This last claim about site selection exposes the depiction of <i>meisho</i> as a means by which the editors of <i>meisho zue</i> recorded a version of cultural geography that normalized this vision of prosperity.</p>

Journal

Cross-Currents: East Asian History and Culture ReviewUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Dec 2, 2017

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