One map of Hokkaido, five double-page paintings, & five single-page paintings (all but two in fine color). 44 leaves. Oblong 8vo (132 x 192 mm.), orig. semi-stiff wrappers covered with silk (the silk has largely worn away), silk thread embroidery on upper cover, new stitching. [Japan]: at end of Preface (in trans.): “1839 copied.”
A well-illustrated and densely informative manuscript on the trade and shipping routes between the main island of Japan and Hokkaido. This trade started in the mid-15th century and continued through the Edo period. The merchant ships that sailed between Hokkaido and the cities on the main island were known as kitamaebune. From ports on Hokkaido, they followed a route along the Sea of Japan coast, around the southern tip of the main island (Honshu), stopping to trade at ports along the way, until they arrived at their final destination, Osaka. Among the most profitable goods from Hokkaido were herring, used for oil and fertilizer, and kombu kelp, used for dashi cooking stock. In turn, the ships coming from the south to Hokkaido transported ironware, sake, rice, tobacco, clothing, and weapons to trade with the Ainu natives.
For most of the time, the Matsumae fiefdom administered trade with Hokkaido, and the contract-fishery system developed, which was under the control of a handful of merchants, shipping agents, and fertilizer brokers, along with sub-contractors known as basho ukeoinin, traders who worked in designated areas on commission for the Matsumae fiefdom. Their trading activities were largely responsible for the considerable wealth of the Matsumae domain.
Our manuscript contains much unique information on the trade within Hokkaido. It begins with a fine color map of the island of Hokkaido with the main cities named. Small portions of Honshu and Sakhalin islands are also shown. The following Preface, dated 1839, describes the ships, filled with herring, leaving the port city of Ishikari in July, after the herring runs in the spring. The main part of the text describes all the elements of the trade and voyage to the ports of Honshu. There are fine views of Matsumae Castle and surrounding houses and the thriving town of Ishikari,
Much of the text describes the trading activities and financial results of one basho ukeoinin known as Murayama Denbei (who used the icon of the number 15 within a circle). We learn which goods were purchased at individual trading posts by Murayama and other major traders with records of sums paid to the Matsumae fiefdom as commissions. We believe this kind of information to be rare and important. Copies of many governmental letters and edicts are also included here.
Our manuscript also depicts an Ainu man and woman (she is carrying a baby), their ceremonial costumes, their belongings, jewelry, clothing, etc.
At the end are two double-page finely rendered drawings of sites near Osaka, Hashu Kamo no ura, and Kamo Akashi no ura.
In fine condition.
Item ID: 8346