Books which introduced overseas information in late Edo period

The world map titled "Konyozusiki" (坤輿図識) produced in 1847 by a Japanese geographer.

Because of the national isolation policy of the Edo Shogunate, "Dejima" (出島) in Nagasaki Prefecture was the only place where the trade with other countries was allowed. Except China, the only Western trade partner was the Netherlands.

The Dutch books were brought to Japan through the Dutch trading house in Nagasaki's Dejima, and the "Dutch studies" on the Occidental new science and culture came into existence.

Japanese books that introduced the new knowledge including information on the institutes for the poor and persons with disabilities in Europe, etc. were published.

For example, "Koumou Zatsuwa" (literally "Red Hair Topics" (『紅毛雑話』) published in 1787 was written by Morishima Churyo (森島中良 1754-1810).

He summarized the talks of his elder brother and a surgeon of of the Edo Shogunate Katsuragawa Hoshu (桂川甫周) who heard from the Dutch visitors in Edo, the talks of the Dutch-studies scholars gathering in Katsuragawa's house, etc.

Mitsukuri Shogo (箕作省吾 1821-1847), a geographer and Dutch-studies scholar, made a map titled "Konyozusiki" (坤輿図識) in 1847. This document referring to geography books, such as "Algemeene Geographie (the Dutch version)" by J. Hubner, and "Geographische Oefeningen" by P. J. Prinsen, presumably had great influence on view-of-the-world formation of the intellectuals in the end of Edo Period. This map was said to be in personal effects when Yoshida Shoin* aimed at smuggling into the U.S. at Shimoda in Japan.

*He had a Deaf-mute brother named Sugi Toshisaburo.

Both the books possibly include information on the institutes or facilities for the Deaf-Mute in Europe.

Incidentally, in order to study in Nagasaki, many young persons visited across from the whole country, and learned at the private school which well-known Dutch interpreters opened for the Dutch studies. Out of them excellently talented individuals appeared in great numbers, contributing to the foundation of Japanese modernization.

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