Online Exhibits

The Edo Period (or Tokugawa Period), was a time of great stability and tradition in Japan, lasting from 1603 to 1868. Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder and first shogun of the Tokugawa shogunate, was extremely suspicious of outsiders. He permitted only Chinese and Dutch merchants to land and trade in Nagasaki, in an attempt to prevent foreigners from influencing Japanese culture. Thus, Chinese and Dutch cartography alone influenced Japanese mapmakers. Publishers were highly regulated by the shogunate’s guilds, and operated mainly out of the three cities; Kyoto, Edo and Osaka. The maps of this period are marked by the strong presence of traditional Japanese Buddhism, class structure, landscape paintings, drawings and woodblock prints; a reminder that for almost three centuries, the purity of Japanese cartography and art was well preserved.