[BAJA CALIFORNIA & MEXICO] 海外異聞 [Kaigai Ibun - Ichi Mei Amerika Shinwa: A Strange Tale from Overseas, or a New Account of America]. Maekawa Bunzo, Junzo Sakai.
[BAJA CALIFORNIA & MEXICO] 海外異聞 [Kaigai Ibun - Ichi Mei Amerika Shinwa: A Strange Tale from Overseas, or a New Account of America]

[BAJA CALIFORNIA & MEXICO] 海外異聞 [Kaigai Ibun - Ichi Mei Amerika Shinwa: A Strange Tale from Overseas, or a New Account of America]

Item #386

[Tokio]: Seifuen Juō, Kaei kōin [1854]. First edition. Complete in 5 vols. [26], [20], [21], [18], [15] double leaves, including a double page woodblock hand coloured map showing East Asia, North Pacific and North America, woodcut title vignette and thirty-nine hand coloured woodblock illustrations (with thirteen double page). 25x17,5 cm. Text and illustrations within single borders (18,3x12,4 cm), main text ten vertical lines. Original Japanese fukuro toji bindings: white paper covers finished with brown brush strokes, with paper title labels on the front covers; leaves sewn together with strings. Previous owner’s stamps on the first and last leaves of each volume; owner’s inscriptions on the inner sides of the back covers. Vol. 2 with several pencil written kanji on the upper margins. Housed in a later Japanese cloth portfolio. Text with several minor worm holes neatly repaired, otherwise a very good set.

‘‘In August 1841 Hatsutaro, a peasant from Awa joined the crew of the Eju-maru (Eiju-maru) owned by Nakamuraya Ihei of Hyogo. The ship had a crew of thirteen, captained by Zensuke Inoue of Susami in Kishu. On a voyage from Hyogo to southern Oshu, the ship drifted in a storm for four months until the crew was rescued by a Spanish vessel and brought to San Jose del Cabo on the southern tip of Baja California. While Hatsutaro and a few of the others learnt Spanish, the remainder of the crew worked on a farm until such time as they were able to travel to Mazatlan, where they took passage to Japan. In 1844 Hatsutaro and his captain reached Canton in an American merchantman, then returned to Japan by way of Zhapu (Zhejiang province, China) aboard a Chinese junk.., The sailors were cross examined by the Awa clan lord, it being forbidden under normal circumstances for Japanese to travel abroad. A narrative of the voyage was compiled from the recollections of Hatsutaro by Bunzo Maekawa (a Confucian scholar) and Sakai Junzo, and published with forty-one woodblock illustrations in Japan in 1854’’
(Howgego, Encyclopedia of Exploration, 1800 to 1850, H11).

‘‘Hatsutaro’s narrative circulated first in manuscript copies, possibly as early as 1844. His report was incorporated in 1846 into another manuscript, Amerika chikushi, by Inoue Shin’yo. The full text, but lacking Maekawa Bunzo’s preface, was first printed in 1854, issued by Seifuen Juo with the title Kaigai Ibun: America shinwa (A Strange Tale from Overseas, or a New Account of America). It was printed by woodblock in five slender volumes; the first two comprise the narrative in chronological order, and the remaining volumes for an encyclopedia on ‘American’ geography, climate, inhabitants, living conditions, customs, artifacts, and natural life. The set is illustrated with many woodblock prints in colour’’ (Kaigai Ibun/ Baja California Travel Series/ Ed. By Edwin Carpenter & Glen Dawson. Vol. 20. Los Angeles, 1970, p. 18).

The book was illustrated by Morizumi Tsurana (1809-1892), ‘‘a Sumiyoshi painter who lived in Osaka. He trained under Watanabe Hiroteru (fl. Early 19th century) and later under Sumiyoshi Hirotsura (1793-1863). He specialized in the depiction of historical subjects. Sadateru is one of his go (artist names), used before he adopted the name Tsurana. He exhibited at the Naikoku Kaiga Kyoshinkai (Domestic Painting Competition) and the Naikoku Kangyo Hakurankai (Japanese Domestic Industrial Exhibition) and served on the Art Committee of the Imperial Household’’ (Bonhams).


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