Two double-page manuscript maps. 57 folding leaves. 8vo (247 x 175 mm.), orig. wrappers, orig. sewing. [Japan]: Editor’s Preface dated “1840.”
The hostilities between Japan and Korea resulting from Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s invasions in the late 16th century ended at the beginning of the Edo period. Diplomatic relationships were re-established, followed by a series of 12 major Korean diplomatic missions during the Tokugawa years, several of which were held in the Tsushima island fiefdom instead of Edo. Because of its close proximity to the Korean peninsula, the Tsushima fiefdom was in charge of practical affairs with Korea throughout the Edo period and greatly profited from the resulting trade. Within the Tsushima domain, there emerged a group of Japanese interpreters whose mastery of Korean enabled them to communicate directly with Korean diplomats, officials, merchants, and commoners. These interpreters often served in diplomatic roles as well.
Matsubara (fl. early 18th cent.), was an interpreter for the Tsushima fiefdom and travelled to Korea several times. This manuscript is a memoir of his time as an interpreter and his years spent in Korea. The accounts of his life in Korea are highly detailed, with descriptions of the structures of the wakan, the special quarter in Pusan where the Japanese were kept (and comparable to the conditions experienced by the Dutch and Chinese in Nagasaki). The Japanese were closely monitored and denied permission to leave the wakan, and they could never venture to Seoul.
We find full descriptions of the Tsushima fiefdom lord’s missions to Korea, of King Sukjong of Joseon (1661-1720), and of duties, banquets, landmarks, historical sites and tombs, daily life, missions from Ryukyu and other nations, Korean medicine, agricultural matters, gold and silver mines, geographical information, the trade in ginseng, the Korean language, etc. Many Korean words are written in katakana. We learn that Korean parents, when their children misbehaved, threatened them with the phrase, “If you don’t behave, the Japanese will come.”
In a most interesting passage, we also learn that Japanese green tea was treated as a medicine to assist in the digestion of meat, which was widely eaten in Korea.
The first of the two double-page maps depicts the Tsushima islands and their proximity to Pusan. The second shows Tsushima, Hokkaido, the mainlands of Korean and Japan, and Takashima,
Fine copy, preserved in a chitsu. There is some worming throughout, touching some characters, but we do not find it offensive.
Item ID: 8350