Mamiya Rinzō, Kita Ezo zusetsu (北蝦夷圖說), 1855

Author: Mamiya Rinzō (間宮倫宗Japanese, 1780-1844)

Title: Kita Ezo zusetsu (北蝦夷圖說)

Medium: Woodblock printed book: ink on paper

Binding: Bag binding

Publisher: Unspecified

LC Call Number: DK771.S2 M25 1855

Mamiya Rinzō, a Japanese explorer who lived during the late Edo period, wrote Kita Ezo zusetsu about his travels. However, the book was not published until 1855, nine years after Mamiya’s death. Mamiya is most famously known for his exploration and mapping of the Sakhalin island, an island located north of Japan that is now part of modern-day Russia. Kita Ezo is the Japanese name for Sakhalin, and the titled can be translated as “Illustrated Explanation of Northern Ezo.”  The book describes the customs of the inhabitants of the Sakhalin island, namely the Ainu, the Uilta, and the Nivkh people. Kita Ezo zusetsu provides both written descriptions and illustrations of the scenery and people on this island. It represents an important work in Mamiya’s ethnographies.

Kita Ezo zusetsu is divided into four separate volumes. The first picture from the top comes from pages 24 and 25 of the first volume and depicts some of the scenery of the Sakhalin island. The second picture is taken from pages four and five of the second volume .The image on the left shows two Ainu women talking together and holding baskets. The illustration on the right portrays an Ainu man walking on what appear to be a form of snow-shoes. The spear in his hand indicates that he may be hunting. These two images provide examples of the clothing of the Ainu people at the time as well as various tools they used. The third picture is also found on pages four and five, but of the third volume. These images show a small creature, possibly a sable, and a hunting trap. Volumes one and four were illustrated by Utagawa Sadahide (歌川貞秀) while Jūtansai (重探斎) was the artist for volumes two and three.

Several other copies of this book can be found at Harvard, the University of Michigan, the Library of Congress, and other locations.

Selected Reading

Walker, Brett L. “Mamiya Rinzo and the Japanese exploration of Sakhalin Island: Cartography and Empire,” Journal of Historical Geography 33 (2007): 283-313.

The Pulverer Collection. “Kita ezo zusetsu.” Accessed April 9, 2018.

Posted by Alley McFarland

April 9, 2018