Regardless of what Korean Web sites may say or imply, this was the first time that the name "Dokdo" (獨島) had ever been used to refer to Liancourt Rocks. The year before, in 1903, it was recorded that Korean fishermen were using the Japanese name to refer to Liancourt Rocks, which suggests that Koreans had just recently learned of the rocks. There are no maps or reliable records to suggest that Koreans ever traveled to Liancourt Rocks before 1903.
Here is the relevant section from the Niitaka's September 25, 1904 log entry:
Information gathered from the oral testimony of a person on Matsushima [Ulleungdo] who has seen Liancourt Rocks
Liancourt Rocks is written as "Dokdo" (獨島) by Koreans and is called "Riangko-shima" by the fishermen of our country. As can be seen on the attached map, it is made up of two rock islets. The west islet is about 400 feet high and has a slope so steep that it would be difficult to climb; however, the east island is relatively low and has weeds growing on it. He said that the land on top is a little flat, so it would be suitable for buidling two or three small huts.
A small amount of fresh water can be gotten from a hollow on the east shore of the east island. On the south side of this island, at point "B," there is a spring about three ken (5.5 meters) above sea level where water flows down toward the west. There is so much of it that it flows throughout the year. On the west side of the west island, at point "C," there is also clear water.
The scattered rocks around the islets are generally flat, and the larger ones are big enough to spread out dozens of tattami. They are always above the surface of the water, and sea lions gather there. The space between the two islets is suitable for sheltering a boat, but it is common to bring small boats up onto the shore. He said that when the wind and waves get so strong that it is difficult to shelter on the island, boats generally seek shelter on Matsushima [Ulleungdo] and wait for fair winds.
The people who travel from Matsushima [Ulleungdo] to hunt sea lions use Japanese boats that are sixty to seventy seok in size. They build temporary shelters on the island and stay there about ten days each trip. He said he heard that they make a lot of money. Also, the number of people sometimes exceeds forty or fifty, but a shortage of water is not being reported. There have also been a number of trips this year. And he said that on June 17, he personally saw three Russian ships appear in the vicinity of the island. After drifting offshore for a while, the ships sailed off to the northwest.
Sketch of Liancourt Rocks
45 Japanese ri from Oki Island
25 Japanese ri from Matushima (Ulleungdo)
1 ri in circumference
Number of sea lions: Tens of thousands. Breeding season: June
JAPANESE TRANSLATION from Mr. Tanaka's site HERE