UCHIDA, MASAO. Yochi Shiryaku [Outlines of World Geography or Short Description of the World]. [Tokyo, Japan: Uchida Masayoshi zoban, Meiji 10, 1877]. First edition? Bound Japanese style in original dark blue paper wrappers, paper title-label on cover, laid into black cloth box. 9 7/8 x 7 inches (25.5 x 17 cm); 216 pp., printed on double leaves, illustrated with 37 wood engravings or lithographs plus 4 maps of the Americas, United States and Mexico (2 folding). Very minor wear to wrappers, one binding thread broken, cover label with small chip to one corner, occasional worm tracing at end (about 5 ff.).
The North American section of a thirteen-volume Japanese series covering the entire world, this is of special interest as it reflects Japanese understanding of a country of which they were only dimly aware until Matthew Perry's opening of Japan in 1852-54. Of unusual interest are the many illustrations, primarily woodcuts (though 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 etc.
Uchida Masao (1838-1876), was a graduate of the Nagasaki naval school and one of the earliest Japanese travelers in America. He was dispatched to Europe by the Tokugawa shogunate, where learned Western culture and technology in Holland for five years beginning in 1862, visiting America on his way back from Europe. He 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."
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