Ikokusen toraiki keibi haichi zumaki [Information on the Arrival of Foreign Ships, Illustrated Scroll of Defensive Positions]. COMMODORE PERRY’S FIRST EXPEDITION.
Ikokusen toraiki keibi haichi zumaki [Information on the Arrival of Foreign Ships, Illustrated Scroll of Defensive Positions].

Ikokusen toraiki keibi haichi zumaki [Information on the Arrival of Foreign Ships, Illustrated Scroll of Defensive Positions].

One scroll measuring 277 x 3830 mm. Ink, brush, & wash in red, blue, black, and brown, on paper newly & expertly backed. Japan: after 1853.

A contemporary copy of an official report concerning Commodore Perry’s first expedition, when he attempted to land on Japanese shores in 1853. Much of the scroll is wonderfully illustrated and contains a map tracking the American squadron’s path through Uraga Channel on its way to Edo. The scroll dramatically depicts two American steamships and concludes with the text of four internal government documents concerning the arrival of these foreign ships that contain the contents of high-level discussions on the organization of Japan’s national defense.

The scroll begins with a long map showing the Pacific through Uraga Channel to Edo Bay. Using a red line, the artist has marked the route of Perry’s ships. The Japanese first sighted Perry’s ships as they entered Uraga Channel. According to the map, the Americans dropped anchor in Uraga Bay, then proceeded as far as Haneda (where there is a note in Japanese) to test the Japanese. Red squares located in strategically vital locations — Uraga bugyo, Kawagoe jinya — seem to denote future defensive projects for the Japanese. We see the names of local fiefdom lords, such as Aizu Keio, Hosokawa Ko, Moori Ko, etc., landmarks, and geographic features.

The first American ship shown has smoke billowing from its central chimney, while the crew climb up and down the masts. Three cannons peek out of the portholes. The ship appears to have dropped anchor. The text on the upper right states that the ship arrived in 1853 after a stop at Nanjing and was spotted from Uraga bugyo and Koshiba; then the ship moved to Kamoi. Around the left mast, a note recounts that there were two jokisen (steamships), two daresen (frigates), and four tenmasen (small junks).

The other vessel is illustrated with three side-wheels and smoke shooting out from three very slender chimneys. We see three crew members, one of whom has a telescope. The text to the right here reads: “1853, an illustration of the arrival of an American steamship at Uraga.” There are measurements of the ship, including the height of the sails, and counts of 15 sails and 57 cannons (here written with the Japanese characters for stone, fire, and spear). To the left are notes on the distance from Nagasaki to Oranda, Mongolia, England, and America.

The contents of the four official documents are reproduced in the remainder of the scroll. The first, “List of Fiefdom Lords’ Names Who Participated in the Event of the Foreign Ships’ Arrival,” is a firsthand report written by Matsudaira Ecchu no kami. It lists 19 figures who were present, their titles and fiefdoms, and the contents of their discussions. There are also eyewitness observations on the four American ships that appeared at Uraga.

The next report, “Advice to the Local Commissioners,” was composed by a federal supervisor at the government office and is dated 12 June. It recounts that four foreign ships were spotted from Otsu village, Miura Ward, and Sagami province.

The third report, dated 9 June, written by five fiefdom lords, including the Uraga commissioner, offers a detailed account of their meeting with the Americans.

The final report, “A List of Fiefdom Lords’ Troop Strength,” enumerates 33 lords, with the number of troops at their disposal and their responsibilities in case of an invasion.

In very good condition. An extremely interesting document with valuable details on Japan’s initial reactions to Perry’s first landing. Sporadic and inoffensive worming expertly repaired.

❧ See Renata V. Shaw, “Japanese Picture Scrolls of the First Americans in Japan” in The Quarterly Journal of the Library of Congress, Vol. 25, No. 2 (April 1968), pp. 134-53.

Price: $17,500.00

Item ID: 6641