GIICHI AKITA. [THE ENTRY USED BY WORLDCAT NAMES HIM HODO AKITA]. - [Sanpo Jikata Taisei].
Tokyo, Kitajima Junshiro &c 1837 (Tenpo 8). Five volumes (25x18cm) publisher's wrappers; 4,156 double folded leaves, numerous woodcut illustrations. A very good set. ¶ First edition of this manual of land management and surveying, published at a troublesome time in Japanese history: the 1830s brought a movement, fiercely resisted by the authorities, towards the adoption of western science and technology and, relevant to this book in particular, a period of horrendous drought, famine and unrest in rural Japan. Land surveying was primarily concerned with taxation and, before the Meiji reforms, accurate measurement was not only unimportant but unwanted. The extent and value of land was a matter for negotiation. The intricacies of Japanese land surveying in the early modern period demand long learned essays - and after reading a couple I'm none the wiser - but what is clear is that this book is a major work in the history of rural engineering, survey and management. It was also problematic for the authorities: "problems in surveyor education were aggravated by government censorship. Bakufu officials did not want administrative uses of survey techniques discussed in public. Under the guise of 'respect authority; despise the people (kanson minpi),' the mysteries of official practice were not to be released to the public domain." (Brown: A Case of Failed Technology Transfer - Land Survey Technology in Early Modern Japan; 1998). The authorities did suppress or attempt to suppress the Sanpo Jikata Taisei; Brown refers us to the preface of the 1976 reprint of this book for details and I came across another reference that claimed the woodblocks were destroyed. This seems fairly scarce outside Japan; the title is well represented in western libraries but once we discard the 1976 reprint I found only two libraries with originals through Worldcat.AUD 650.00 [Appr.: EURO 461.25 US$ 498.02 | £UK 398.25 | JP¥ 55387] Book number 9170
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