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PRINTED FROM the OXFORD RESEARCH ENCYCLOPEDIA, ASIAN HISTORY (oxfordre.com/asianhistory). (c) Oxford University Press USA, 2020. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 08 April 2020

Summary and Keywords

Since the world in its entirety cannot be grasped through direct experience, world maps are mental constructs that serve as a radiography of a given culture’s attitudes towards its environment. Early modern Japan offers an intriguing study case for the assimilation of a variety of world map typologies in terms of pre-existing traditions of thought. Rather than topography, these maps stress topological connections between “myriad countries” and therefore embody the various mental maps of cultural agents in Japan. The maps’ materiality and embeddedness in social networks reveal connections to other areas of visual and intellectual culture of the period.

Keywords: world maps, Japan, Neo-Confucianism, knowledge networks, Dutch studies, map projections, world views, cartography, Edo-era intellectual history Matteo Ricci

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