These beautiful topographic and geological maps of China, published by the Tokyo Geographical Society (Tōkyō Chigaku Kyōkai) in 1917, accompany a research report reflecting the rising Japanese interest around the turn of the century in this vast country’s geography. Several years in the surveying, topographic and geological information are shown along roads in contrast with the blank interiors. The considerable linguistic care given reflect the cosmopolitan nature of this society and its Japanese scientists and cartographers. Appearing in Shina chigaku chōsa chikei oyobi chishitsu zu, Part 1 and 2 (支那地學調査地形及び地質圖 第壱帙 and 第貳帙), the 52 maps have legends in English and Japanese, with location names and points of interest rendered in Chinese and the Wade-Giles system of romanization.
Maps and charts were a fundamental tool of the imperial state up until the end of World War II. A large category of Japanese maps is known as gaihōzu 外邦図, referring to maps of areas outside Japan proper. Overlapping the gaihōzu category are the “Captured Japanese Maps.” These refer specifically to Japanese maps confiscated by the Allied occupation authorities post-war. Many copies of these maps were distributed to mostly American libraries as a thank-you for contributing to war-time cartographic knowledge. Japanese nautical charts from the 1920s to 1930s formed the basis for later topographic maps of the 1940s. Approximately 3,000 plus sheets from 1910s to 1940s are held in the UHM Map Collection. We are gradually making them available through our digital repository.