Shimane prefecture explains the history of Takeshima in 1876 (Part 1/2)

To follow is a translation of the document that Shimane prefecture sent to the Meiji governemnt to explain the history of Takeshima in 1876, when the government needed detailed information about "Takeshima and another island." Please note that Shimane prefecture thought that the first voyage to Ulleungdo took place in the era of Eiroku (1558-1569) while the year Oya Jinkichi drifted ashore was actually believed to be 1617. The text also included information about Matsushima, but it reads as if Oya Jinkichi reached Matsushima, although he reached Ulleungdo (Takeshima). There may have been confusion in the Shimane prefecture.

Isotakeshima is also called Takeshima. It is locate 120 ri (480 km) northwest of Oki county, and its circumference is about 10 ri (40km). The hills are steep, and there is little level ground. There are three rivers with a cascade; however, the valleys are deep and forests are dense, so one knows the source of the rivers.

The plants one can frequently see include are pine (“goryo matsu”), rosewood, “kihada” (a kind of orange tree), camellia, oak, paulonia, “ganpi” (a kind of fragrant daphne), Japanese hemlock, bamboo, “Mano” bamboo, ginseng, garlic, Japanese silverleaf, Japanese ginger, "udo", lily, burdock, goumi (silverberry), wild strawberry, “itadori” and “awokiba”, and the animals include sea lions, cats, mice, a variety of tits, pigeons, wild ducks, siskins, lapwings, cormorants, swallows, eagles, hawk eagles, hawks, “najikoana” birds, and the Japanese great tit.

There are also “shinsha” (mineral with mercury and sulfur) and “iwarokusho” (green pigments for Japanese paintings). There are also lots of sea products. Sea lion and abalone are especially prominent. To catch abalone, you can throw bamboo into the sea and find lots of abalone clinging to the twigs and leaves the next morning. They taste marvelous. One sea lion produces one to (50 litters) of oil.

There is another island called Matsushima that has a circumference of about 30 cho. It is located on the same line as Takeshima and is a distance of about 80 ri from Oki. There are few plants, but it produces fish and sea animals.

In the era of Eiroku (1558-1569), when a merchant named Oya Jinkichi, from the town of Yonago in Aimi-county, Houki-no-kuni, was sailing back home from Echigo (Niigata), he met with a typhoon that caused him to drift ashore to the island. He inspected the whole island and learned that it had good fishing. On the day of his return, he proposed to Abe Shiro-goro, who happen to be at the castle of Yonago for an inspection, to give him permission to go to the island. After that, Mr. Abe introduced him to Edo (the Shogunate) and got a letter of permission. It was the 16th of May, 1618 (the 4th year of Genwa).

Link to Part 2

1 comment:

lexico said...

Hello, Pacifist:

I appreciate the work you put into the translation. Nevertheless, I should point out that ri 里 could be either the nautical mile or the terrestrial mile. Please adjust the distance figures accordingly.

磯竹島一ニ竹島ト稱ス. 隱岐國ノ乾位一百二拾里許ニ在ス.

Isotakeshima is also called 'Takeshima' (modern Matsushima, Ulleung Island). It is located 120 ri (里 here is kairi 浬/海里 or nautical mile of 1.852km; 120 x 1.852km = 222.24 km) to the north of Okikuni.


Its circumference is around 10 ri (里 here is unit of distance 3.927km; 10 x 3.927 = 39.27 km).

Keep up the good work, Pacifist.