Maps are not just for marking land. Through maps, you can travel back in time to understand how society was structured, how a region was recognized, the power structures of that time, and other cultural and societal aspects of the place being represented.

The Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era Collection is a treasure trove for such information. The maps colorfully display information about social hierarchies, the production of villages, land claims and important figures, among other things.

The Tokugawa Era is such an important time for maps because, up until the 17th century, maps were meant for the use of the privileged ruling elite only, and mapmaking was rare. When Tokugawa reunified the archipelago in 1600, Japanese cartography began to develop at a much faster rate as people had increased access to information and could more easily move around the archipelago and the world. The result was a wide range of map options for consumers who were interested in getting to know about their neighborhood, city, country and the world at large.

Principally, three types of maps were produced during the Tokugawa Era:

  • Pocket-version: small maps that could be held in both hands, folded and slipped into the kimono sleeve. Perfect for travel.
  • Medium size: these maps with up to one meter on a side, designed to be viewed on a tatami floor.
  • Large size: maps that often exceeded three meters in length. Scholars surmise that users would stand on top of these maps to view them in large ceremonial rooms.

If you want to explore the maps more deeply, with all the background information about Japanese society and history, we encourage you to check out the book Cartographic Japan: A History in Maps. The book analyzes several Japanese maps, including some that are in our collection. If you have your UBC Library card, go check it out. If not, you can check out part of the content in Google Books.

 

Some maps from our collection

This map is a Mount Fuji 3-D bird’s eye view, published around 1848. Mount Fuji attracted many pilgrims during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, who visited the temples along the way. This map might have been created for the people who were not able to go on such pilgrimages. The map then functioned as a way for people to imagine the sacred places that they would never see in reality.

Find out more about this item by checking the article “A 19th-century 3-D bird’s eye map of Mt. Fuji, with all the bells and whistles”.

[Fujisan no zu], 1848

Different types of ships are represented in this map, probably meaning that Yokohama port was a place for trade with people from different parts of the world.

Yokohama onkaichi meisai no zu, 1859

 

The following image is only an excerpt of the complete scroll map. It was created by Yoshitora Utagawa, an ukiyo-e (woodblock prints) designer and illustrator of books and newspapers. Can you see the amazing details of this map that represents a procession?

Tokaido meisho zue, 1864

 

The collection

The Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era Collection has over 500 items, making it one of the world’s largest collection of maps and guidebooks of the Tokugawa period (1600-1867).

There are many rare and unique items, varying from pocket-sized maps to large scroll format maps. The collection is focused on privately published and travel-related maps and guides published in Japan during the Tokugawa period. There is world coverage, although the majority of maps are of the whole or parts of Japan.

Kaisei chiri shoho ansha no zu, 1876

 

Check out some of our previous posts about this collection:

Access and explore the Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era Collection. You might be fascinated with the details of the maps and find out something new about Japan or maps in general.

 

Sources:

ASIA 453 001 (UBC)

ASIA 453: Japanese travel literature – maps projects (UBC)

Cartographic Japan: a history in maps

Review by Morgan Pitelka: Cartographic Japan: a history in maps (Project Muse)

The FIFA World Cup is always an exciting event! This year, Russia will be hosting the games from June 14 to July 15, and 32 national teams will be participating. To get you into the sportive spirit, we selected some photos from our collection.

 

After years of preparation and practices…

Soccer team practice, 1940

 

Soccer team practice, 1940

 

The time to play has arrived!

Arts ’23 soccer team, 1921

 

People from all over the world will go to Russia to watch their players in action…

Soccer game in stadium, 1957

 

But most of us will watch TV to see the games and cheer for our preferred team.

Norman MacKenzie playing soccer

 

Exhibition soccer game, 1949

 

But only one will take the trophy at the end of the event!

Unidentified sports trophy

 

Take this month to enjoy watching some of the matches, because this tournament only happens once every four years.

The UBC Digitization Centre is responsible for the creation of more than 50 collections, all available through the Open Collections website. Our collections are diverse in formats, information and languages.

Having non-English materials, or materials that are not written using the Latin-based alphabet, may be a barrier to access and retrieving information. But technology can be used to help us minimize these barriers.

Laura Ferris and Rebecca Dickson, from the Digitization Centre, have discovered a process to generate searchable transcripts for non-Latin text. The idea originated from an article about a workshop on Optical Character Recognition for Bangla. The result of the workshop was the realization that Google Drive was the most accurate tool for generating transcripts for non-Latin text.

With that information in hand, Ferris and Dickson started to explore Google Drive to create an automated workflow for transcribing batches of items.

Are you interested in trying the workflow out for yourself? If so, check the instructions that Rebecca prepared and give it a try!

  1. Access Google Drive, create a “New folder” and rename it
  2. Create a Google Sheet inside the folder
  3. Open the Sheet, click on “Share”, “Receive shared link” and look for the sheet identifier (the numbers and letters between /d/ and /edit?)
  4. In the Sheet, under “Tools” menu, click “Script editor”
  5. Paste the content from “gs” into the script editor
  6. Update the “folderName” with the name of your folder (defined in step 1)
  7. Update the “sheetId” with the identifier that you found in step 3
  8. Click the “clock” icon and select the options: “extractTextOnOpen”, “From spreadsheet” and “On open”
  9. Save the script editor and close it
  10. Upload jpegs to the folder (you can check out the sample items prepared for this work)
  11. Open the spreadsheet and wait for Google to do the work!

 

If you want to check Laura and Rebecca’s presentation about the topic, check out their slides. If you have questions, feel free to contact us.

 

Sources:

A workshop on Optical Character Recognition for Bangla (British Library)

OCR for non-English language text (Pixelating)

Pixelating-ocr (GitHub)

Lately, we’ve been highlighting some important lessons that can be learned in our collections, including the history of typography, how surgery was performed in the 16th century, and which artists are responsible for the art in the Chung Collection. But did you know that our collections also contain important business lessons? That’s right, business lessons from the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) collection, which is part of our Chung Collection! 

 

1. Keep Your Word

The Canadian Pacific Railway was built to fulfill a pledge that John A. Macdonald made to British Columbia. To be part of the Canada, BC demanded that a transcontinental railway should be built to connect the west and east.

Map of Canadian Pacific Railway, Kootenay District, British Columbia, 1904

 

2. Manage Projects Closely

British Columbia gave the Canadian government ten years to build the railway. Despite the complexity of building railways across Canada, the Canadian Pacific Railway completed the project before the estimated time.

 

3. Take Initiative

Although the railway project was successfully completed, and there was now a connection between the Canadians coasts, there were not enough people actually using it, which affected business profitability. As a result, the CPR sold their lands near the railway to settlers and immigrants in order for them to occupy the Prairies. The settlers did not know how to farm in the Prairie environment, so the CPR created ready-made farms where buyers could purchase the land and immediately start seeding the soil. The CPR also created initiatives to educate farmers on how to cultivate prairie soil. In the early 1900s, the CPR spent more money than the Canadian government in promoting immigration and settlement.

Ready made farms in Western Canada, 1910

 

4. Create Business Opportunities

The CPR management noticed that passengers needed a place to stop and rest during long trips across the country, so they decided to build their own hotels. Seeing the potential of the tourism trade, the CPR began to explore possible attractions for their hotels. This led to the discovery of natural hot springs in Alberta and the founding of the Banff Hot Springs Reserve (later Banff National Park), Canada’s first National Park. The park became a popular destination for vacations.

Canadian Pacific Hotels from Atlantic to Pacific, 1942

 

5. Transform Barriers into Opportunities

The CPR business was tested on several occasions. A notable example was when a climber unfortunately died while climbing Mount Lefroy in Banff National Park. In order to avoid any future tragedies and possible negative word of mouth, the CPR began to hire Swiss hiking guides to lead tourists through the mountains and ensure their safety. In the 55 years that the program was in place, no one died.

The challenge of the mountains, 1907

 

6. Diversify

You always hear that you should never put all your eggs in one basket. The CPR definitely took that advice to heart. Around 1971, their main businesses were: railway, ships, hotels, mines, minerals and manufacturing, oil and gas exploration, airlines, telecommunications, trucking, and real estate.

Canadian Pacific Airlines: straight to the point, 1946

 

7. Innovate

There was a time when telegrams were very popular at Christmas time. People loved to see the CPR telegram boy come to their door in his gray uniform to give them a colored telegram designed by the CPR’s art department, along with messages from their relatives. But the CPR’s real innovation was the Santagram, which were telegrams sent by Santa Claus himself to children.

 

8. Be Socially Responsible

The CPR contributed to the education of children in Northern Ontario, by bringing a school car to remote areas of the province. The car came equipped with a chalkboard, desks, a map, a library, and an area for the teacher to live. The car would typically stay in the same place for five days, then move around to other regions, leaving enough homework for the children to do until its return.

 

Sources:

Canadian Pacific Railway (Historica Canada)

Canadian Pacific Railway (UBC Library)

CPR history for students (CPR)

Our history (CPR)

The story of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR)

Do you ever wonder what Vancouver was like just a few decades ago? What used to exist where you live or work? If you want information about Greater Vancouver, you can check out our Greater Vancouver Regional District Planning Department Land Use Maps Collection.

The collection has over 1,800 detailed maps—produced in 1965, 1980 and 1983—and covers Vancouver and several surrounding municipalities. You can explore maps of: North and West Vancouver, Vancouver, Burnaby, New Westminster, Richmond, Port Moody, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam, Surrey, Delta, and even the Howe Sound and Bowen Island!

When looking through the maps, you’ll be able to see that symbols were used to indicate what individual lots were used for. In total, there are 64 zoning categories, which indicate whether lots were residential, commercial, industrial, mixed and more.  The maps are used by urban planning and geography students at UBC, the local business community, and property development firms. The originals are held at UBC Library’s Maps & Atlas Collection, but you have access online through Open Collections.

If you want to start exploring the area, check the index to search specifically the map of your interest:

Index – Land use series

 

Development map series: city of Vancouver, 1971

 

Take a look at the map of False Creek. The Vancouver General Hospital remains, but can you see some changes that happened on the last 47 years?

Development map series: city of Vancouver, 1971

 

Access the Greater Vancouver Maps Collection, try to find some places that you frequent today and see what they used to be!

We here at the Digitization Centre were wondering: “What can I learn from the Early printed books and Western manuscripts”? We found the answer: “A lot of things.” This time, we chose to discuss what we found out about the history of typography.

The earliest printed books were produced to be similar to handwritten manuscripts by imitating scribal handwriting. It was common to send books to be finished by the hands of illuminators (who created initial letters and illustrations) and rubricators (who added text in red to highlight important information).

In general, people from the medieval era couldn’t distinguish manuscripts from early printed books because the books were produced in a way to imitate scribal handwriting. Even now, it can be difficult to distinguish the two forms. An example of this can be found in the Book of Hours, which is probably a manuscript rather than a book, but features the work of illuminators and rubricators.

[Book of hours], 1440

When printing the Bible, Gutenberg used the Textura quadrata script, commonly used for books in churches. To make it similar to scribal handwriting, he created and used about 300 types, which included ligatures and abbreviated letters.

Examples of other scripts that were used in manuscripts and early books in medieval Europe include:

  • Textura quadrata: a type of gothic script, where the black of the letters overcomes the white of the page. Used for books in churches.
  • Rotunda: another type of gothic script, used in books. It was created in Bologna, in the 12th
  • Bastarda: a third type of gothic script, used in documents and for formal information, such as the French and Burgundian book of hours from the 15th
  • Carolingian minuscule: created in the 8th century during the governing of Charlemagne. It is the basis for the Roman type that we use today.

 

Examples of gothic scripts

Can you differentiate from Textura quadrata, Rotunda and Bastarda? These materials can help you if you want to try: Fonts for Latin paleography and Dawn of Western printing.

Roemische Historien, 1574

 

Der Römischen Kaiserlichen Maiestat Edict wider D. Martin Luther seine Anhenger Enthalter und Nachuolger…, 1546

 

[Catholicon], 1460

 

Carolingian minuscule

This script deserves its own section. The person responsible for the creation of this type of letter is not clear. Some say that Alcuin of York was the primary creator, while others say that the style actually was developed over time. But Alcuin of York’s contributions go beyond the creation of the Carolingian minuscule. He instructed scribes to use easy-to-read letters, insert spaces between words, a capital letter at the beginning of sentences, and to use punctuation on texts.

The Carolingian minuscule had clear forms and did not make use of ligatures and abbreviations, which made the information legible. The script was used for legal documents and literary works, which in turn contributed to increased communication and information comprehension.

The Carolingian minuscule, as mentioned before, gave origin to the Roman type that we still use today.

M. Fabii Quintiliani rhetoris clarrissimi Oratoriarum institutionum libri XII : opera ac studio Ioachimi…, 1543

 

Orlando furioso, 1577

 

Check out our Western Manuscripts and early Printed Books to see the different scripts used and appreciate the beauty of these works.

 

Sources:

8th century: the Roman letterform is revived by the Carolingians (Design history)

A guide for the perplexed (Mark Bland)

Blackletter: the gothic hands 12-15th C. (Design history)

Early printed books (First impressions)

Features of early printed books (First impressions)

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