Japanese Historical Maps

I have been going through the H-Japan messages from the last few months, trying to get caught up with my mailing list subscriptions. One wonderful website mentioned, was the the June, 2004 launch of a UC Berkeley/David Rumsey site listing a large number of Japanese historical maps (the maps themselves are not limited to maps of Japan). Here is an excerpt of the message which is more of a general announcement of their whole collection (the above link is specifically to their Japanese maps):

David Rumsey and Cartography Associates announced the launch today of Visual Collections www.davidrumsey.com/collections/, a new digital image collection portal that includes more than 300,000 works from museums, universities and private collections throughout the world. Combined, the collected works create an unparalleled online resource in the arts and humanities that is available for free, public access.

Fine art, photography, maps, architecture and other collections of culture are represented within Visual Collections, which is made possible through the contributions of dozens of institutions. At its launch, more than 30 collections are represented in Visual Collections, ranging from the fine art of Museums & the Online Archive of California (MOAC) to early maps of Scotland from the University of Edinburgh’s Charting the Nation collection.

Their Japan collection is wonderful, do give it a whirl. For Mac users accessing the site: I didn’t have much success with the Safari browser, but it works fine in Firefox.

Speaking of maps and information, Jonathan Dresner has an update over at Cliopatria from AHA.

Here is an excerpt with the Japan related info (he may have his own posting here at Frog in a Well at some point in the future):

The Conference on Asian History luncheon speaker was Mary Elizabeth Berry, who gave us a preview of her soon-to-be published book on 17th century Japanese knowledge: production, organization and consumption of public information and public sphere, and the implications of this Early Modernity for thinking about Modernity. She started out with maps, and went on, appprently, to encyclopedia, gazetteers, travel guides and what she refered to as public, verifiable, useful information. There was a baseline of knowledge — political, economic, geographic, cultural — which was expected of moderately educated people and which these books organized in interesting and creative ways. This shared cultural heritage (I’m blanking on the term she used, but it was more concise and effective) was formed mostly in the mid/late-1600s, starting with the rise of commercial printing in the 1640s, and by the turn of the century was pretty well fixed. It’s the best description of the stagnation of 18th century Japan I’ve ever heard, in a sense, or of stagnation anywhere: a culture is stagnant if it is not producing new landmarks, new forms of organizing information and activity. Not that nothing was happening — there’s some really great literature from the period, and some interesting intellectual history — but the basic shape of this culture was rather static. This book is going to reorganize our thinking on 17c Japan, for sure.

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