UCHIDA, Masao. Yochi Shiryaku [Outlines of World Geography or Short Description of the World]. 216 pp. Printed on double-leaves of rice paper. Illustrated with 37 wood-engravings or lithographs plus 4 maps of the Americas, United States and Mexico (2 folding). 4to., 253 x 167 mm, bound Japanese style in original dark blue paper wrappers, paper title-label on cover. Laid into black cloth box. [Tokyo, Japan]: Uchida Masayoshi zoban, Meiji 10, 1877.
First Edition (?) of this fascinating Japanese geo-encyclopedia of the United States and Mexico. This volume represents the North America section of a 13-volume Japanese series covering the entire world. Of particular interest here are the many illustrations, primarily woodcuts (there are two beautiful lithographs as well), depicting such typically American subjects as big trees in California, steamboats on the Mississippi, Native Americans in the Southwest, gold mining in California, a buffalo hunt, railroads, Niagara Falls, scenes in New York City, Washington (view of the Capitol before the addition of the dome, Congress in session and the White House, views of Boston, St. Louis, Philadelphia, and other American cities. Natural history illustrations include an American bald eagle, a cotton plant and a black bear.
Uchida Masao (1838-1876), a graduate of the Nagasaki naval school and one of the earliest Japanese travelers in America. Uchida was dispatched to Europe by the Tokugawa shogunate, where learned Western culture and technology in Holland for five years beginning in 1862. Uchida was part of a Bakufu "student" group that visited America on his way back from Europe. He then returned to Japan with oil paintings, photographic albums, and hundreds of pictorial natural history images.
Based upon the sources he collected on his travels, "Uchida began to compile the Yochi Shiryaku in 1870, a thirteen-volume of encyclopedia of world geography. Its success was primarily due to the huge number of illustrations that Uchida called "shashin (photography)," the images copied from the Western photographic albums and traveling magazines." (Paper delivered to the "Association of Asian Studies," Chicago, March 26-29, 2009).
The Mexican views include the Cathedral in Mexico City, views of other Mexican towns such as Guanajuato, view of the volcano Popocatepetl, a pair of Mexican women in traditional dress, and a Mexican farmer harvesting maguey juice. Holdings of the complete 13 volume series are held by Harvard, University of Michigan and UC Berkeley, but individual volumes are more commonly found since the work was issued over a period of years. Very minor wear to wrappers, one binding thread broken, cover label with small chip to one corner, occasional worm tracing, very minor, and not affecting text.
Beasley, W.G. Japan Encounters the Barbarian (1995), p. 121 and passim.
Item nr. 136741