PRONUNCIATION: Tenmon Zukai
MATERIAL: Woodblock Printed
TYPE: Book
DIMENSIONS: 22.5 x 16 cm
COMPONENTS: 5 volumes; 339 pages, 4 double-page illustrations, 62 further illustrations (many full-page) on 46 pages, 4 woodcut seals (2 black on white and 2 white on black) on 2 pages, and tables of numerical data. In the original Japanese stab-sewn stiff paper wrappers with woodblock-printed labels giving the title and volume numbers. In a modern folding case.
CONDITION: In very good condition, with only an occasional small worm hole (restored in a few leaves). The wrappers are somewhat rubbed with a few tears in the paper covering, but still very good. The blank back page of last double leaf in volume 4 has been pasted down to the wrapper along part of its fore-edge. A remarkably well-preserved copy of the first Japanese book on astronomy, beautifully and extensively illustrated.
NOTES: Kazuhiko Miyajima, "Japanese Celestial Cartography ...," in: Harley & Woodward, History of Cartography II.2, pp. 579-603, espec. pp. 590-591; OCLC WorldCat (5 copies).
LANGUAGE
Language: Japanese
ITEM ID: 733
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First Astronomy Book Published in Japan

DATE
Year: 1689
Decade: 1680s
Century: 17th (1601-1700)
Notes: Genroku 2

First edition of the first astronomical book published in Japan, printed entirely from woodblocks and including 66 illustrations on the outer pages of folded double-leaves.

Illustrations include two celestial charts, an armillary sphere (with legs in the form of dragons), a terrestrial hemisphere (showing East Asia, the East Indies, New Guinea and Alaska), numerous geocentric diagrams of the earth, sun, moon, planets and stars, diagrams of solar and lunar eclipses and of the phases of the moon, and a representation of traditional Buddhist cosmology. etc. It discusses the planetary system, the phases of the moon (clearly explained in geocentric diagrams), seasons, eclipses and their prediction, the twenty-eight “lunar lodges,” and the radii and periods of the orbits of the sun, moon, planets and stars.

The traditional Buddhist cosmology, based on a flat earth, is nicely illustrated (a circular platform with a large tree, at the top of a mountain on a seven-tiered base with four figures around the foot), but is rejected for a more modern geocentric universe with a spherical earth.

In the traditional Asian fashion, the book comprises numbered double leaves, each pair printed from a single woodblock and folded down the middle to give two pages on the two outer surfaces with the fold at the fore-edge, and stab sewn through the wrappers and printed leaves.

The Japanese government in Edo had severed ties with the Portuguese and Jesuits, and even restricted relations with China in the 1630s, culminating in the expulsion of all foreigners except the Dutch from Japan in 1641, and even the Dutch were severely restricted. As a result, Japanese astronomy showed little influence from the most recent developments in Europe (such as the heliocentric planetary system), and even the maps and celestial charts published by Verbiest in China in the 1670s were little known. But Shibukawa Harumi (1639-1716), the greatest Japanese astronomer of this period, supposedly assisted from 1669 by Iguchi Tsunemori, made extensive observations and reformed the Japanese calendar in 1684.

Iguchi’s present book, partly based on Shibukawa’s work (for example, on his 1670 celestial map, Tensho Retsuji No Zu), therefore systematically brought together the most up-to-date Japanese astronomical knowledge of the time, and includes a spectacular picture of the armillary sphere they used. The terrestrial hemisphere showing Asia, the East Indies, New Guinea and Alaska clearly depicts a spherical earth as in Ricci’s ca. 1600 map, still a progressive notion in Japan, and is now explicitly represented as a globe, with a grid of parallels and meridians (represented as arcs) and even an axle through the poles, a meridian ring and an equatorial ring. Korea, Southeast Asia and to some degree even Alaska begin to assume their familiar modern forms.

Scholar Matthias Hayek noted, “It is indeed a fine copy of Tenmon zukai, an important book in the history of the diffusion of knowledge on astronomy and calendar. Your seller mistyped the name of the author: it should be Tsunenori, not Tsunemori. I think his collaboration with Shibukawa Harumi might be an extrapolation, but he allegedly worked for the Mito domain in Edo, to which Shibukawa was acquainted.”

ARTISTS
Name: Iguchi Tsunemori
Type: Author
Artist Information: Active 1689-1698.
Name: Tenmon Zukai

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