TOKYO-EDO (1632)


This old map is titled as “Busyu Toshimagun Edo Syouzu,” which represents the overview of city of Edo (an ancient name of Tokyo) in 1632. There are a lot of copies of the map, and the original one belongs to the collection of the National Diet Library. It is known as the oldest map of this city. The publisher is still unidentified, and we can only see the date it has published in the left side of the picture, as “Kannei 2 nen 12 gatsu” with red letters. “nen” and “gatsu” mean year and month respectively, and “Kannei” is a Japanese calendar in this era. In this image, we can also observe that some remarkable landscapes such as the main tower of the castle and Zoujouji-temple were described in pictorial way, while other constitutions were represented in cartographical way. Because of that, it could had been published in a kind of transitional period just before people started practicing authentic cartography.

Although the construction of the city seems complicated, but we can distinguish two different types of town planning inside and outside of the inner moat. Inside of the inner moat, the planning is irregular that centered with the main tower of Edo castle. This area is the center of the government. There are gates with securities for each bridges on the inner moat to restrict admission to the hub. On the other hand, the town planning in the outside is more or less orthogonal. It is not a perfect form of grid because of the tangled moat. However, we can observe typical orthogonal town around the Nihonbashi bridge. This is a traditional form of town planning in this age which is called “Joukamachi,” and it seems totally different from the construction of European cities. However, concerning some characteristics, there are similarities and we can analyze this style as a partial mixed form of irregular and orthogonal.

Regarding the buildings, there are also two types of them we can see. Buildings that has name in this picture, especially in inside of the moat, are governmental office or houses of officials who works in the castle. Those buildings are a kind of detached house or semi-detached house that is generally larger than houses in the outside area. Other buildings without names are properties of merchants and concentrated around the canal. Those buildings are similar to terraced house in Europe. In the left margin, we can distinguish some temples such as Zoujouji-temple. On the other hand, there is a temple in Momijiyama that situated in the castle. Both of them have close relationship with Tokugawas who established and governed this era. However, they never be a city center such as cathedral in Europe, even though they had a connection with the government.

As a remarkable fact, buildings in this age were made of woods, therefore, Edo suffered devastating damage in the big fire in 1657, and the main tower of castle was burned down. After that, the government prioritized reconstruction of the city than the castle. Then, the tower had never been rebuilt so far, and the castle has been used as the house of the imperial family after the government had demolished.

Wataru Nakajima


KYOTO (1467-1468)

Sin título

The title of this picture is 応仁 以前 京都 図 (Ounin izen Kyoto zu), and it means “The map of Kyoto before Ounim”. Ounim is the name of a Japanese era corresponding to the reign of one dinasty of emperors between 1334 and 1573, although it is more commonly known as Muromachi era. We do not know the author of this map because the status of a painter was not considered important in those times. It was made around 1467-1468 and now is collected in Tokyo National Museum. This type of painting focus its attention on understanding and recording the entirety of the city.

The map shows the location of every building in Kyoto in addition to mountains, lakes, rivers and other landscape features. Also, there is a big river in the East part which is called Kamo river. It is easily appreciated how the streets follow a very orthogonal plan with the emperor’s palace in the city center. The main road start from that central point and is named Suzaku-Ohji. Suzaku is the name of  one god and Ohji means “big road”. This type of urban layout comes from China because it is based on the Confucianism theories. The model for Kyoto was the city of Xi’an, that was the capital of China and one of the most modern settlements in Asia in that time.

There is another explanation for this regularity. According to Japanese divination, four gods live each in four directions (North, West, East, South), dwelling the big mountains, the rivers, the lakes and so on. This is why the symbolic connection between the natural landscape and the urban space is so important. As we can see, there are mountains in the North and West of Kyoto, and the Kamo river flows by the East; there is also a huge lake in the South although it is not possible to distinguish it in the picture. All this turns Kyoto into a very special place to host the capital of the Japanese empire.

A lot of buildings are geometrically represented along the streets; the ones coloured in red are large noble residences (many of them belonging to samurais) while the yellow places indicate Buddhist temples and Japanese shrines. The most significant one, and one of the oldest, was the Nanzen·ji temple, that was built in 1291 and was given special treatment by the Syogun (the top post of samurais). We cannot see in the image but in the Northeast there is is a great Buddhist temple called Hieizan Enryaku·ji that was believed to be the “Gate of the Devils” and needed to defend the city against the evil forces.

Kyoto was the capital of Japan for a long time, from 794 to 1867. It was built up by Emperor Kanmu and reached its top in 1334 when the powerful Syogun Asikaga Takauji established a military centralized government here. During that time, the city increased its population and prospered economically but in 1467 a very big war happened (the Ounim War) and Kyoto was severely destroyed. The map represents the city before that war.

Yoshiaki Okada