Knipping, a German national, completed "Stanford's Large Scale Map of Japan" around 1875, while he was teaching at Daigaku Nankou, one of the predecessors of the University of Tokyo.
He was prompted by his own experience to create a useful map for traveling around the country. The map was even introduced in Nature (1879) as the best map of Japan at the time. It was a well-drawn map that could be regarded as a precursor to modern maps of Japan. The author, however, had doubts about how Knipping, a foreign national, was able to create such a map at a time when there was no decent map of Japan available, and on the basis of papers he contributed, has sought to find the origin of the map among provincial maps of Japan as well as maps created by expatriates residing in Japan, and analyzed their compilation techniques.
As a result, it has been found that the method for drawing the map was adopted from “China, Korea und Japan” in the Steiler’s “Hand Atlas”, and the framework from “Kanpan Jissoku Nihon-chizu”, and inland parts from more than fifty provincial maps depicted with a large number of mountain peaks used as reference points. It has also been found that these were complemented with maps created by himself and his colleagues by conducting summary surveys.
The innovative multi-color lithographic map has not received much attention by Japanese and remained in obscurity, perhaps partially because it was written in English.
The author has found it regrettable that the achievements of Knipping, who left a major mark on the history of Japanese maps at the beginning of the cultural enlightenment, have not been given enough attention they deserve, and been prompted to introduce them in this study.