TYPE: Manuscript
DIMENSIONS: 6 X 9 3/4 inches (closed)
COMPONENTS: 86 pages
NOTES: A rare look at Japan's knowledge of the outside world.
ITEM ID: 1767
  • Artwork
  • Artwork

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Manuscript on Foreign Trade and Geography

Century: 19th (1801-1900)

Nishikawa Joken manuscript on foreign trade and geography. Nishikawa was active in the 18th century and this manuscript was made before Perry came to Japan and covers the knowledge of the outside world that the Japanese had at that time. Very detailed account of distances to foreign countries and trade goods. For example, from From Nanjing China: silk, incense, pottery, ivory, tea, etc. From Beijing: medicine, fortune telling items, pottery, fabric, honey, snakes, tigers, birds, etc From Portugal: Kasutera (castella) sponge cakeOther regions mentioned are Taiwan, Ryukyu Islands (Okinawa), Choson (Korea), Holland, Spain, India, Cambodia, England (they mention black sailors), Siam, Jakarta, etc. It also covers distances from the trading port of Nagasaki, rules restricting foreign ships, etc. Since the Russians, British, and Americans were knocking on Japan’s door to get in, this type of manuscript would have been of great interest to the Japanese in anticipation of trade in the decades prior to Perry’s visit.

Name: Nishikawa Joken (西川 如見)
Type: Author
Artists Dates: ?, 1648 – November 9, 1724
Artist Information: An Edo period Japanese geographer and astronomer, and author of the encyclopaedic text Ka'i tsūshō kō