Among our recent acquisitions is a marvelous untitled manuscript map of the Japanese city of Nagasaki, its harbor, and the surrounding region, drawn in ink and water colors on rice paper by an anonymous cartographer/artist, ca. 1741-65. The map, which measures 21.5 x 53.5 inches, is oriented toward the northwest. It provides an exceptionally rich portrait of the then thriving trading center, including the fan-shaped, artificial island of Dejima that was constructed in 1634-36 for Portuguese merchants.
When the Portuguese were expelled in 1639, only Dutch traders were permitted in Japan, but they were largely confined to this island, which severely limited contact between the merchants and the Japanese people. European traders were forbidden from learning Japanese, and were not allowed to carry books or artifacts associated with Christianity. In addition to municipal buildings and shrine, private homes are depicted, including the Togin district, where Chinese traders lived. In the harbour are 4 ships flying Dutch flags, three Chinese vessels, and a number of small, local fishing craft. Rice fields and roads are also depicted, as well as the surrounding mountains.