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Grand Valley State University Collections

The Japanese Historical Maps Collection of the East Asian Library contains about 2,300 early maps of Japan and the World. Represented in this online collection are a selection of maps and books from the collection. The maps were selected by Yuki Ishimatsu, Head of Japanese Collections at the East Asian Library, and scanned and put online by David Rumsey and Cartography Associates. The project was initiated by Peter Zhou, Director of the East Asian Library. Funding and project management was provided by the East Asian Library and David Rumsey. When the University of California at Berkeley purchased the Mitsui Library from the Mitsui family in 1949, included among the 100,000 items was a collection of 2,298 maps which had been assembled by Mitsui Takakata (penname: Soken) (1882-1950), the 9th head of the Shinmachi branch of the family. The most unusual part of the collection is the 697 woodblock-print maps (and a few dozen manuscript maps) dating from the Tokugawa period (1600-1867). Especially rare is a selection of 252 maps of the city of Edo (modern Tokyo), 79 of Kyoto, and 40 of Osaka, and 30 of other cities such as Kanazawa, Nagoya, Nagasaki, and Yokohama. Among the earliest maps are Osaka (1656), Kyoto (1654-68), and Edo of 1676. In collecting Meiji period (1868-1912) maps as well, Mitsui Soken displayed his antiquarian interest by concentrating on the earlier decades: most of the maps date from the period before 1890 and many are printed on handmade paper, a considerable number from woodblocks. Among the Meiji maps are 240 of Tokyo, 112 of Kyoto, 89 of Osaka, and 312 of other cities.