Our digital collections cover a wide range of topics and disciplines that you can explore through Open Collections. Among our thousands of digital items, you can find materials to support your research, your teaching, and even your imagination. Below, we’ve selected a few of our collections that may be helpful when researching topics related to Asian Studies.

 

Rikuchū no kuni yōsan no zu. 6

 

There are many collections that can be used as a resource for historical Asian Studies, including:

  • Chinese Rare Books Collection: this collection is mainly composed of works from the Puban and Pang Jingtang. You can find census information, literature, as well as historical, political, and military documents from China covering the years 1368 to 1959.
  • Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era: this is the world’s largest collection of maps and guidebooks of the Tokugawa Era. It contains travel maps, guides and stunning woodblock prints. The collection is used as a resource at the ASIA 453: Japanese Travel Literature class. If you are curious to know more, check out our blog post Explore Open Collections: Japanese Maps of the Tokugawa Era.
  • Meiji at 150: the collection is part of the Meiji at 150 project, which was created to celebrate the 150 years since the start of the Meiji Era in Japan. The collection consists of materials produced during the period, including: woodblock prints, photographs, books, albums, and booklets. Visit the Meiji at 150 website to learn more about planned special events, lecture series, workshop series, podcast, and digital teaching resources.
  • One Hundred Poets: the collection consists of 74 books and 20 sets of cards of the Japanese poetry anthology “Hyakunin Isshu” (One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each). This anthology, edited by Fujiwara no Teika, became the most famous poetry anthology in Japan. Get to know about this collection, more specifically about the card sets, by checking out our blog post Utagaruta: a poetry game.

 

Family wedding portrait, Vancouver, B.C.

 

If you are interested in studying Japanese and Chinese life in Canada, then the following collections will be helpful:

  • Chinese Canadian Stories: composed of several sub-collections and fonds, this collection covers a wide range of topics, including Chinese Canadian military service, businesses, and social life in Canada.
  • The Chung Collection: the collection contains materials that can be comprised into three themes: British Columbia History; Immigration and Settlement; and the Canadian Pacific Railway Company. The collection has several materials relating to the Chinese community in British Columbia.
  • Yip Sang Collection: the collection contains Yip Sang’s personal and business-related materials. Yip Sang was an important businessman in the Chinese community in Vancouver and was often referred to as the “major of Chinatown”. Get to know more about him and his collection in our blog post Explore Open Collections: Yip Sang Collection.
  • Japanese Canadian Photograph Collection: this collection contains materials that registered the life of Japanese Canadians in British Columbia. The collection is a great resource for anyone researching about how Japanese Canadians were treated during the World War II.
  • Tairiku Nippo (Continental Daily News): this publication was an important information source for Japanese Canadians in British Columbia. It was published between 1907 and 1941, and is a valuable resource for studying the history of the Japanese Canadians before the World War II.

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)

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