Gyōki-Type Shape: Representation of the Japanese Archipelago in East-Asian and Western Maps

  • Ekaterina Simonova-GudzenkoEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography book series (LNGC)


The first known Japanese visual representation of the archipelago is attributed to Gyōki Bosatsu (668–749). Today at least eighteen manuscript Gyōki-type 行基 maps are preserved, in different formats, and they date from the beginning of fourteenth century through the second half of the eighteenth century. The prototype of Gyōki maps can be clearly seen in the first representation of the Japanese islands on the oldest of surviving Korean maps—Kangnido (1402, the earliest extant copy 1472) and on the earliest printed map of Japan (1471, Sin Sukchu). The depiction of Japan as a little oval island with the name Nihon is prevalent in Chinese maps beginning with the earliest extant maps of the Chinese Empire dating from the Song dynasty (960–1279) and till the Ming period (1368–1644). Beginning with the 1459 Fra Mauro map, the earliest European map with the name Japan and a representation of the archipelago seems to draw influence from the East Asian cartography. Maps made by Homem (1554, 1558), Velho (1561), Dourado (1568) and even the first separate map of Japan by Teixeira (1595) were to a great extent based on Gyōki-type maps. From the seventeenth century onwards Japanese cartographers used in their mapping methods geographical data they adopted from European maps and changed their restrained depiction style to a colourful description of nature, celebrated sights etc. (Ryūsen’s maps, 1661–1720). Korean cartographers borrowed the Western tradition of making atlases and produced a rather rare, unique tradition in the East Asian cartography—atlases for everyday use.


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Asian and African Studies, Moscow State UniversityMoscowRussia

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