The purpose of this study is to identify boatmen's perception of the Abukuma River as a transportation route from old maps in the Edo era. While the old maps were prepared for specific purposes, they also reflect lifeworld of the people of the period. This study distinguishes expressions of the lifeworld from those for public purposes.
Five old maps of the Abukuma River exist, which were drawn in different periods. Maps 1 and 2 cover the upper part, Maps 3 and 4 show the middle part, and Maps 5 presents the lower part of the Abukuma River. Maps 1 and 2 were prepared by merchants for channeling the river for navigation (Table 1). Map 3 was a planning map for river conservation and Map 4 is a copy of Map 3 in the later period. The purpose of Map 5 is unknown. Although the dates and purposes of the maps are various, they are all assumed to have been drawn by painters through the guidance of boatmen.
The Abukuma River Maps are colored paintings on scrolls. The river was drawn in the way that readers could see from the upper to the lower part of the river as they open the scroll. The longest scroll is 13 meters, while the shortest one is 3 meters. Like many other river maps of the Edo era, in Maps 1, 2, and 5, landscape of the left side of the river was drawn upside down, while that of the right side was upside up (Plate 3). Maps 3 and 4, by contrast, were drawn from a bird's-eye view (Plate 6). Although the bird's-eye view map can present a three-dimensional view, drawing of some parts of the landscape behind mountains is difficult (Plate 4). In that case, the painter drew these mountains on a separate piece of paper and drew the landscape behind the mountains on the back of the paper ; he attached the piece of paper on the map so that the reader could see the back of the paper (Plate 5). The maps with this bird's-eye view are relatively few.
Symbols of these maps contain general and thematic landmarks (Fig. 2). The general landmarks are common to all the maps, which include settlements, temples, shrines, tollhouses, trees, ferries, reefs, whirlpools, and shallows. The thematic landmarks are specific to each map, which include navigation routes, breakwaters, domains, and fields. Examinations of these symbols revealed that the thematic landmarks represented specific purposes of the maps. The basic landmarks, on the other hand, reflected perception of the painters and the boatmen.
Expressions of dangerous spots as general landmarks, such as the one seen on Plate 2, reflect experiential perception of the boatmen. The expressions of dangerous spots are strongly related to their perception. The degrees of danger were indicated in letters as well as through distorted drawings.
As the Abukuma River maps were not made through topographic surveys, a deviation of the distance on the maps from the real one gives us a clue to understand perceptual distance of the period. In Figures 3 through 6, the white sections on the side of the figures represent that they are expressed longer than the real distance ; the black sections are expressed shorter. In Maps 2 and 3, sections in the basins were drawn relatively shorter, while those in the V-shaped valleys were indicated longer (Figs. 4 and 5). In Maps I and 5, however, the perceptual distance has no relation with topography (Figs. 3 and 6). In general, the sections with many dangerous spots were drawn longer.