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Edo Period Map goes Digital: The O Edo ezu as an Interactive Resource



[Edo Period Map goes Digital: The O Edo ezu as an Interactive Resource]
May 1, 2020(Fri)

It is not easy to reconstruct how Edo period users of maps, guide books and other representations of geographical or spatial information interacted with these materials. Did they look at a map and only see it as an abstract grid of lines and strokes, names and differently coloured squares? Or did the map evoke other visual experiences and spanned the bridge between a two-dimensional reduction of space to symbols and other graphic representations of space? Edo period consumers with an access to maps (of the whole country, of famous places, or of cities), guide books and depictions of famous spots around the country (sometimes evenabroad; China mainly but even Europe), one can assume, were able to relate information asprovided on a map not only with their own experiences of the represented places (if they had such): They probably were also able to relate it with what they had read in travel guides or with what they had gleaned from illustrations in such books in addition to printed geographical representations of these places. With the rise of coloured woodblock prints since the middle of the 18thcentury the vivid impact of pictures and the traces they left in the viewer's memory and the way they shaped the world view spatially and visually increased continually.

The ARC resources offer fine examples of maps, guidebooks and coloured woodblock prints available to the late Edo period consumer. This project will bring them together in an attempt to correlate sources of both geographical and visual experience and knowledge. Even if it cannot be proven that this attempt is of any historical reliability, it is one way of hypothetically reconstructing how different resources might have shaped the Edo period consumers's consciousness based on the materials they had access to.