Photo/IllutrationThe copy of Ino Tadataka’s map that was recently discovered is unveiled to the media in Fukuyama, Hiroshima Prefecture, on April 4. (Hiroki Hashimoto)

  • Photo/Illustraion

FUKUYAMA, Hiroshima Prefecture--A more than 200-year-old hand-drawn rare copy of a section of Ino Tadataka’s groundbreaking map of the Japanese archipelago has appeared as a generous donation to a museum here.

The irregular-shaped paper map, measuring about 2.5 meters long by 2 meters wide, shows part of Japan from southern Hokkaido to the Chubu region of the Honshu main island, and gives new clues to how far Ino’s work spread in society during the Edo Period (1603-1867).

Ino (1745-1818) was a famed surveyor and cartographer who created the first accurate maps of Japan by walking around the islands counting his footsteps one by one. He measured the land from Hokkaido to Kyushu by walking around 39,000 kilometers, almost equivalent to the Earth’s perimeter, using chains and ropes for 17 years.

His maps are so exact that very little difference between them and modern maps of Japan can be found.

No other similar-shaped copies of Ino’s maps, made in the style of the original, have been found to date. The original versions have been preserved at the homes of his children.

The recently emerged map, unveiled to the media on April 4, is a copy facsimiled by an intellectual of the Takada domain (present-day Niigata Prefecture) in 1807, based on another copy of Ino’s original drawn in 1804. It was discovered among a batch of historical materials donated to the prefectural historical museum by collector Hisashi Moriya.

Moriya, 76, former chairman of Merrill Lynch Japan Securities Co., has since 2014 donated 1,207 maps and historical materials to the museum, including 65 items that he personally handed over in February.

It was already known that feudal lords and people related to the Tokugawa government possessed copies of Ino’s maps, but this discovery suggests that intellectual people who were not from such privileged classes also may have copied the maps, according to a museum official.

“Ino’s maps might have been needed urgently at that time, as tensions with Russia were heightened,” said Minoru Kuge, chief curator of the museum.

The map, along with all the historical materials recently donated to the museum, are scheduled to be exhibited during a special event held there from July 19.