The Cartographic Heritage of Tokyo: The Representation of Urban Landscapes on Maps from the Seventeenth to Nineteenth Centuries


  • Shinobu Komeie Department of Geography, Hosei University, Tokyo, Japan


This study presents an overview of the history of maps depicting Tokyo (Edo) published from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. Of these maps, the main emphasis is given to Edo Kiriezu, sectional maps of Edo; these maps are used to determine the ways people were conscious of their city, and also to discuss past geographical thought. Here, an investigation is made of the cityscape characteristics of Edo as depicted on old maps. The study concludes that the urban landscape of Edo as depicted in Edo Kiriezu is the terminal point for considering what kind of spatial awareness “Edoites” had of the places where they lived. The Edo cityscape depicted in these maps has also served modern Tokyo as an important tool for recollecting and understanding Edo. Not only do maps of Edo help us to reconstruct lost urban landscapes, they also function as our cartographic heritage and illuminate the geographic thought of people who came before.


Iida R. and Tawara M., Edo zu no rekishi, Tokyo, Tsukijishokan, 1988.

Iwabuchi R., “What We Can Glimpse beyond the Distant Edo Period? On Blissful Images of the Edo Period and Cultural Nationalism”, Journal of Historical Studies, 966, 2018, pp. 29-38.

Jinnai H., Tokyo no kukan zinruigaku, Tokyo, Chikuma Shobo, 1992.

Jinnai H., Tokyo: A Spatial Anthropology, Berkeley, University of California Press, 1995.

Kobayashi F. and Nakamaru N., Koko shumi no rekishi – Edo-Tokyo kara tadoru, Hosei University Research Center for Edo-Tokyo Studies, Bungakutsushin, 2020.

Komeie S., “Representation of the Landscape and Image of Edo in the Meiji Period: A Case Study of Geographical Description of Famous Places in Modern Tokyo”, Journal of The Geographical Society of Hosei University, 52, 2020, pp. 109-124.

Nagai K., Hiyori geta, Tokyo, Momiyama Shoten, 1915 (Kindle Aozora Bunko version, ID:49658).

Tamai T., Ushinawareta toshi kukan wo yomu, Tokyo, Heibonsha, 1986.

Tamai T., “The Urban Landscape of Early Edo in an East Asian Context”, in Wigen K., Fumiko S. and Karacas C. (Eds.), Cartographic Japan: A History in Maps, Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 2016, pp. 75-77.

Tawara M., Edo no chizuyasan, Tokyo, Yoshikawa Kobunkan, 2003.

Waley P., “The Social Landscape of Edo”, in Wigen K., Fumiko S. and Karacas C. (Eds.), Cartographic Japan: A History in Maps, Chicago, The University of Chicago Press, 2016, pp. 81-84.




Mapping societies (edited by Edoardo Boria and Tania Rossetto)