Geographical Review of Japan
Online ISSN : 2185-1719
Print ISSN : 0016-7444
CHOROGRAPHICAL STUDIES IN JAPAN: TRADITION AND ITS BACKGROUND OF THOUGHTS
Ryuziro ISIDA
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1966 Volume 39 Issue 6 Pages 348-356

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Abstract

The author discusses four essential and representative chorographical works in Japan, from the remote ancient to the beginning of the modern geography of Japan, i.e., before the foundation of our Association after World War I, from the viewpoints of their editors' consciousness according to the status of compilation.
I. Fudoki Japanese geography originates from Fudoki written in the eighth century. These oldest books edited by the governmental orders are regional description of each province of that age and only five of them have been brought down to the present. Kojiki and Taiho-ritsuryo, the oldest history and code of Japan respectively, were compiled at the same period when Japan was emerging from a diversified to a unified entity, meaning the transformation from the ancient tribal states to the systematized unity under the Imperial (Tenno) Household of the date.
Those Japanese geographies and histories were written or compiled by the political or administrative purposes, to raise or to be awakened national consciousness.
II, ashi More than a dozen books of travel or travel sketches of certain parts of the country have existed from the tenth century to the sixteenth. However, there were not any books that could be called regional geography in the present sense. While under the Tokugawa Shogunate regime, numerous regional geography by province of the feudal lords were compiled and published. Not less than fifty territorial geography books were compiled until the end of the Shogunate régime.
The purpose of the compilation was the same as that of Fudoki, that is to say, those feudal lords aimed to show their territorial consciousness to the people and to boast their cultural level to the surrounding A territories.
III. Kkoku-Chishi Immediately after the Meiji Restoration, Meiki Tsukamoto (1833-1885) presented his view to the government to compile ‘Regional Geography of the Empire’ (Kokoku-Chishi) on the occasion of the establishment of the new Central Government, and the petition was accepted, issueing proclamations to urge the prefectures to search for books and maps relating the description of their districts.
It was soon followed by the Government proclamation (No. 97 of 1875) setting forth the details regarding the proposed geography of Japan. It showed the way in which book was to be written for example, 47 items for the description of villages and 37 items for that of districts. These directions being given, compilers were appointed from among the scholars in each prefecture, whereupon these officials submitted their prospectuses of compilation.
Items to be described were shown in detail Those for villages were as follows:
Date of village foundation, History of rulers or jurisdiction, Territorial area, Landforms, Nature of soils, Taxed land area (cultivated land area), Taxes and other public charges, Numbers of houses and inhabitants, Cattles, Vehicles, Mountains, Rivers, Roads, Ports, Temples and Shrines, Schools, Hospitals, Post offices, Silk reeling mills, Factories, Agricultural production, Occupation of both sexes.
These very descriptive and detailed data were requested to investigated, and describe for villages and districts of the prefectures, numbering nearly one hundred thousand in all.
Works of compilation were coming in from each prefecture, but very slowly and many of them were not completed until as late as 1883. After a fractional number of villages and districts completed their description by the prefectural officials, the Bureau of Geography, Ministry of Home Affairs, decided to discharge of their compiling tasks of prefecture in 1885.
The Bureau set its own staff to work with the materials collected and manuscripted by the local scholars. Firstly, the Geography of Awa Province (now, the southern part of Chiba Prefecture) was edited in 3 volumes (554 pages) by the Bureau staff in 1886.

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