As key components of the “peculiar metaphysic of modernity,” geographers in nineteenth-century Japan began to remap the world in the name of science and “civilization” (Mitchell 1991, xii). What is often overlooked in this equation of the map with modernity, however, is Japan's history of mapmaking before the modern period. Although the earliest imperial governments in Japan practiced administrative mapmaking on a limited scale beginning in the seventh century, it was only during the reign of the Tokugawa shogunate (1603–1868) that comprehensive land surveying and mapmaking by the state were standardized and regularized. The Tokugawa ordered all daimyo to map their landholdings in 1605; these edicts were repeated numerous times, such that by the early nineteenth century the bakufu had organized five countrywide mapmaking and surveying projects, and produced from those surveys four comprehensive maps of Japan.

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