(JAPAN). ~ Shochu Yogaku Dojikun [Handbook of Western Knowledge for Children] [Tokyo?]: [s.n.], 1871.
Tall narrow 12mo, 168 × 65 mm, 54 pages, concertina style (total lenth 345 cm), copper engraved throuhout. Very minor worming to a few margins, expertly repaired. Linen covered soft boards and slip case, the latter with original printed label. Preserved in a modern blue cloth folding case. An excellent copy.
A rare and unusual juvenile guide to Western knowledge dating from the opening of Japan to the West, which includes a world map, several alphabets, a glossary, and instructions for telling the time with a western pocket watch and for using a thermometer. The work is copper-engraved throughout, still very unusual at this date in Japan.
The world map, covering 4 pages, is a curious reduction and misinterpretation of a British admiralty map (it attempts a reproduction of the original imprint: ‘Engaved by J. and C. Walker ... London—publized at de Admiralty 30th June 1858 under superintendence of Capn. Washington, R.N.F.R, ydrographer’) The projection is turned on its head so that Antarctica appears at the top. Australia appears twice, and New Zealand twice (once off the coast of Japan). The writing guide gives equivalences between Western and Japanese characters, syllables and numerals, with the Western characters (French and English) given typographically and in imitation of cursive script.
The pocket watch instructions reflect the fact that it was not until 1872 that the Japanese government officially adopted Western style timekeeping practices, including equal hours that do not vary with the seasons and, also the Gregorian calendar. Previously the Japanese had used an (unequal) temporal hour system that varied with the seasons; the daylight hours being longer in summer and shorter in winter. This system was abolished at the start of the, 1868, The Meiji Restoration, an event that restored practical imperial rule to Japan under Emperor Meiji. The Meiji Emperor announced in his 1868 Charter Oath that ‘Knowledge shall be sought all over the world, and thereby the foundations of imperial rule shall be strengthened.’ This modernization led to the the emergence of a western-style clock industry that replaced the typical Japanese clock which only had six numbered hours, from 9 to 4, which counted backwards from noon until midnight.