1730 – RARE Early Woodcut Map of Kyoto – “Shinsen Zoho Kyo O-ezu” – Hayashi

Kyoto
“Shinsen zoho kyo o-ezu”
Very Rare Early Woodcut Map
By Yoshinaga Hayashi
circa 1730

新撰増補京大絵図
Shinsen zoho kyo o-ezu. [New and increased large-scale plan of Kyoto].

Exceedingly scarce hand coloured woodcut map of Kyoto and surroundings, made by Yoshinaga Hayashi, circa 1728-34. Place names and legends in Chinese and Japanese characters, with a few manuscript additions and corrections in ink. Woodcuts printed onto several leafs assembled to create a large format plan, folded to a tidy size for protection and safe storage inside covers. Map measures approximately 121 x 159 cm, folded with two opposite end pieces mounted onto blue cardstock boards measuring 23,5 x 16 cm. Contained in a modern linen slipcase. Minor age wear including occasional signs of burrowing, slight loss of image at some folds, partly repaired. Boards lightly age-toned, title label rubbed off. Otherwise in very good condition, an exceptionally scarce and historically significant woodcut map of Kyoto, hand coloured by the artist and beautifully preserved in its original boards.

This very early map of Kyoto was made by Yoshinaga Hayashi, circa 1728-34. A very detailed city plan with early street names, it also features lovely illustrations of temples and monuments in the lush hill regions surrounding the city.

The publisher, Yoshinaga Hayashi, moved from Osaka to Tokyo. He was well-known and respected in his day, having produced maps of various parts of Japan since the late 17th century. With numerous legends in Sino-Japanese characters, this plan carries the publisher’s name and address, though not acknowledging any artist. As usual, date is not printed, but according to the references, this is one of the earliest plans which were published in the Edo period from 1686 onwards, and is dated by the historians between 1716 and 1734.

[See Yamashita page 132 with illustration; Namba Old maps of Japan 68 u. Fig. page 121 (U.S. 188); Tooley Mapmakers II for a mention on page 295; Kazutaka Unno, History of Cartography Book 2, Volume 2, page 346; UC Berkeley, Japanese Historical Maps. The present map with minor deviations from the picture in Yamashita, ours without some border lines on some of the cartouches.]

This map survives as a scarce primary source document of the former Imperial capital of Kyoto, in its strict symmetrical order. It includes, as stated in Yamashita “many entries on the origins and history of temple and shrines, the amount of vassal’s stipends, and scenic and historic places.” The temples and shrines, mainly situated in the surrounding mountains and landscapes, are finely depicted and described, among those such historical monuments (belonging now to the UNESCO World Heritage sites) like the Enryaku-ji and the Kiyomizu-dera or the Golden Pavillion. Apart from all these historical and extensive presentations, the map is furthermore of particular interest, as it shows the city at the height of its splendour and before the great fire in 1788, when 90% of the city were destroyed. Another unique feature is a table giving the distances from “Sanjo Ohashi”, the bridge on the Kamo-river, which is given as the starting or zero point, from which the distances to other cities were measured. The fine hand colouring, which was only used in the early time of printing (just in the 1760s colour printing became possible) is handsomely finished in the classical colours of green, yellow, red and orange, the city wall here emphasized through a strong black line.

 

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