The above image is a picture of ‘Map of Asia’, which was painted by Gerard Valck in around 1695. The shape of Japan on this map seems to follow that of ealier maps, such as ‘Map of Japan and Ezo’ by Jan Jansson. So Hokkaido and Sakhalin are also connected in this map. The west side of Sakhalin and Hokkaido neither have its coastline nor is connected to the Asian Continet. In those days, neither the Japanese nor the European knew whether Sakhalin is an island or a peninsula. It was about 100 years after that Mamiya Rinzo, a Japanese explorer, discover Tatar Strait ( the strait between Sakhalin and Asian Continent ) to confirm that Sakhalin is an island.


This map was a part of a series includes maps of Europe, Africa, America and entire world. The series of maps was brought to Japan by a Dutch ship and an unknown painter imitated the maps to paint maps of four continents ( Asia, Eourope, Africa and America ) on a pair of screens. And pictures of inhabitants in 48 countries around the world was painted around the maps on the screens. This pair of screens was presented to Tokugawa Yoshimune, the 8th Shogun of Tokugawa Shogunate, in 1718 and it was called ‘Maps of four continents with pictures of 48 countries on Screens’. The images below are pictures of the screen.


Tokugawa Yoshimune was one of the few Shogun who exercise his political power in Edo Period ( the age of Tokugawa Shogunate ). He carried out ‘the Kyoho Reforms’ to promote the re-strengthening of the Shogunate authority and financial reconstruction. He maintained the seclusion policy but dropped a ban on imports of western books, because he was very curious and interested in overseas information. This pair of screen seems to had been the most appropriate gift to him.


Before ending this article, I’d like to introduce the map which was included in ‘The History of Japan’ written by Engelbert Kaempfer. Engelbert Kaempfer ( 1651 - 1716 ) was a German naturalist, physician, and explorer writer. He visited Japan as a physician employed by the trading post of the Dutch East Indies Company in 1690 and stayed two years in Japan. After he return to Europe, he wrote many manuscripts about Japan. But he died before the publication of his manuscripts. After his death, his unpublished manuscripts were purchased by Sir Hans Sloane ( an Anglo-Irish physician, naturalist and collector ) and published under the title of ‘The History of Japan’ in English at London in 1727. After that, the German version and the Frence version of this book were also published. This book includes a map of Japan called ‘Empire of Japan in 68 provinces’. The image below is a picture of the map.


This map showed names of provinces in Japanese as well as ‘Map of Japan Empire’ painted by Adrien Reland, and the shape of Japan is more precise than Reland’s map. So this map may be said to be the integration of European-made maps of Japan in those days.


‘The History of Japan’ by Kaempfer contained the first systematical description of Japan in Europe. So it had been the chief source of European knowledge about Japan throughout the 18th and mid-19th centuries. It whetted Europeans’ appetite for Japan once again and later influenced Western countries’ demand for Japan to open the country.


This time, I watched the exhibition “Namban Art and Old Maps" and realized that Japan and Europe had taken interest in one another and kept cultural exchange wheter diplomatic and trade relation was active or not.


The End