Illustrated manuscript on paper, containing an internal review of Japanese national defense in the aftermath of Perry’s first expedition to Japan. With a series of hand-drawn maps of Japan & the rest of the world.

Many black & gray ink drawings and maps (mostly double-page). 16 leaves. 8vo (250 x 170 mm.), orig. wrappers (slightly soiled), later stitching. Japan: from the text: “1853.”

An extensively illustrated contemporary manuscript recording Japan’s immediate responses to the recent foreign incursions, following Perry’s first mission to Japan. This document contains plans for Japan’s defense, presented with elaborate maps of Uraga Channel and the area around the capital, Edo. It also includes sections where the anonymous author has compiled information on potential invaders: China, Korea, Russia, and the United States. A map displays the limited scope of Japanese understanding of the outside world in 1853. There are also several passages of satirical and fatalistic observations in the form of waka poetry on the potential impact of foreign culture.

The first page of this manuscript is entitled Bankoku sankai tsuuran bunzu [Focused Global Survey with Supplemental Information] and refers to the world map shown on the following opening. Listed on this preliminary page are Nanjing, Beijing, Korea, Ryukyu Kingdom, Vietnam, India, Holland, Russia, and America, with their distances measured in ri (leagues) from Nagasaki. The names of fiefdom lords responsible for defense as well as government officials residing in Nagasaki are also mentioned on this page. It features a very approximated view of the world highlighting Japan at the center, surrounded by North and South America, Russia, Korea, Mongolia; however, the locations are very inaccurate. This map is accompanied by illustrations of two foreign warships, one American (“seen in Uraga on 3 June 1853, left 12 June”), the other Russian (“seen from Nagasaki in July 1853“). Next to the ships are detailed Japanese observations on the ships and their crews.

The subsequent page depicts two figures, an American and a Russian, with weapons and in military uniform. Above them are descriptions of the two nations, with notes on their capitals, founding dates, etc. These feature the accounts of Hamada (or Joseph Heco), Daikokuya Kodayu, and Isokichi, all of whom were rescued after shipwrecks by foreigners and experienced life in the United States or in Russia. These three figures later had important roles in negotiations between Japan and the two foreign powers. Facing this page is the text of an official letter sent by a member of the shogun’s council to the fiefdom lords involved in national defense with instructions on how to respond to a foreign invasion.

Next, with small vessels depicted at the bottom of the opening, there is a record of the members of the shogun’s council at that time. Written below are the number of ships requested to be built by the council.

Over the following three pages is one continuous map of the coast of Edo Bay. The top of the page lists officials who are concerned with defending this area. This map details coastal defenses, natural landmarks, and villages.

On the next page, we find a glossary for Japanese words translated into a foreign language, which we are unable to determine. At the bottom of the page, the artist has drawn several food items.

The image of a large foreign steam-ship dominates the following opening. Armed with cannons, it is rendered large-scale. The text describes the number of troops available for defense in this area near Yokohama. It also mentions the principal Japanese negotiators, Ido Hiromichi and Toda Ujiyoshi, who received President Fillmore’s letter from Perry. This map continues through the next two consecutive openings (six pages in total), concluding with a view of Edo. A black steam-ship is shown heading towards Edo. The map also notes the names of towns and islands, a fiefdom’s annual income (koku), and troop numbers. Here we also see the coast of Chiba prefecture.

The subsequent four pages contain 31 witty predictions in the form of short fortunes (tsujiura) on the effects of Americans arriving in Japan. This is followed by 17 waka poems expressing Japanese anxieties about foreign influence.

At the end of the present manuscript is a hand-drawn map of Edo Bay. It shows three odaiba (fortified artificial islands), which were constructed to defend the bay from another foreign incursion. The width of the channel is measured in several locations, and the artist has marked how close Perry and his ships came to Edo. Distances between villages are also noted. Explanatory text details a revised defense strategy.

In fine condition, this is a fascinating contemporaneous record of Japanese national defense in the year before Commodore Perry opened the country to foreign trade. A few leaves with careful restorations to margins, just touching text in two instances. Inoffensive dampstaining to the first three leaves, and elsewhere limited to the gutter.

Price: $9,500.00

Item ID: 6622