1817 Aaron Arrowsmith's map of Japan and Von Siebold

Aaron Arrowsmith (1750-1823) was an English geographer (mapmaker) and member of the Arrowsmith family of geographers. His maps were very numerous, and the neatness and finished style gained a very extensive reputation, but his maps contain many great and important errors.
Here is his map of Japan which was published in 1817. The credit at the bottom of the map reads "Drawn by A. Arrowsmith.", "Published., 1817, by A. Constable & Co. Edinburgh." and "Engraved by Sid.y.Hall."

There are two islands in the Sea of Japan; "Argonaut I." and "I. Dagelet", both of which were discovered in 1789 and 1787 respectively. Liancourt Rocks were not drawn, as the rocks were yet to be discovered until 32 years later.
Although this map is not related with Liancourt Rocks, it has an important meaning.

The year 1817 was the 14th year of Bunka in Japan, literally Edo period and six years after, in 1823, Philpp Franz von Siebold (1796-1866) arrived in Nagasaki, Japan. Von Siebold focused on study of Japanese fauna and flora while he gave lectures on Japanese young scientists and medical students during his stay. In 1828 he went to Edo (today's Tokyo) collecting many plants and animals and during the journey he got some detailed maps of Japan drawn by Inoh Tadataka but posession of such maps were strictly forbidden. He was accused of posessing them and expelled from Japan in 1829. Most importantly, he may have had a chance to see the 1817 map by Arrowsmith during his stay in Nagasaki (1823-1829), where foreigners from UK, Holland etc were permitted to stay in a limited area.

After he came back to Europe, he published many books on Japan including books on botanical species in Japan. He finally published the precise atlas of Japan "Atlas von Land- und Seekarten vom Japanischen Reiche Dai-Nippon" in 1851. It has been said that he didn't publish it for many years to protect the Japanese people who gave him the maps. In the map of Japan by von Siebold, Argonaut island was labeled as "Takasima (I. Argonaute)" and Dagelet island was labeled as "Matsusima (I. Dagelet)", which was the beginning of the name confusion of later years. (Liancourt Rocks were not drawn in the map, as the rocks had just been discovered 2 years before by France and UK had not discovered Hornet Rocks yet in 1851.)

Details of the maps can be seen at the Sophia University's homepage here: http://libknwlg.lib.sophia.ac.jp/mcenter/special/jpnplateind.html
Or visit here and click the fifth book:

But when I saw the 1817 map by Arrowsmith, I thought it was natural for him to give names Takeshima to Argonaut island and Matsushima to Dagelet island because von Siebold may have heard from Japanese people around him (possibly his Japanese wife Taki or Otakisan) about Japanese two islands called Takeshima and Matsushima (or he may have seen some traditional maps with the two islands) and there was this famous map showing two islands, Argonaut and Dagelet islands, in the Sea of Japan.

BTW, von Siebold also included a map of Korea in the atlas. (Please see the details at the homepage above) There is a writing at Ulleungdo "UrIjong to v.v Tsjor sankuk" (Ulleungdo and Usanguk?) in his map of Korea. It is obvious that he believed that Ulleungdo belonged to Korea while Takeshima (Takasima) and Matsushima (Matsusima) belonged to Japan.


  1. Thank you pcso lotto for praising the post.

  2. Pacitist,

    Thank you, for posting the map. I don't know much about western maps in early 1800's, so it is realy intersting for me. If you find more, please share with us.

    By the way, the map you linked looks like it was made 1841. So does it mean the map was made in 1841 though the Atlas itself was published in 1851 ?

    I found another map by von Siebold in Nagasaki Uni's site. 1840 Karte vom japanischen Reiche, nach Originalkarten und astronomischen Beobachtungen der Japaner;die Inseln Kiusiu, Sikok und Nippon. / Philipp Franz von Siebold.

    Anyway, those maps by Siebold shows he must have had Nagakubo's maps. Though he made mistake to label Ulleungdo as Matsushima wchich Nagakubo depicted as today's Takeshima, luckily, he did wrote the latitudes of the island clearly and we can identify Matsushima as Ulleungdo.

  3. It looks like Siebold's Map of Japan is Nagakubo's 『日本輿地路程全図』 itself. See Osaka Uni's site.  

    "かなり実際に近い日本図で、シーボルトが相継いで公開した日本製の地図に基づくものと思われる。日本本土に関しては、四国の佐多岬の先端が南に曲がっていることからして、シーボルトの"Nippon"(1832-54)に収録された長久保赤水の『日本輿地路程全図』の図形を採用した可能性が高い。 E.Wellerはイギリスの地図作家兼彫版師兼出版業者。 "

  4. Kaneganese,

    Thanks for your comment.
    As you suggested , the map seems to have been made in 1840 and it may have been taken into the atlas in 1851, but I'm not sure.

    The point I wanted to say here is that a famous western map and von Siebold's knowledge that he got during his Japan days were united as von Siebold's map, which lead unfortunately to the confusion of the island names.

  5. It can assumed that Sebold referenced not only 長久保 or 高橋 map but also 林子平 map, judging from his Map of Chosun.
    朝鮮八道之圖 on Sebold Japan
    Koream map referenced from Japanese made

    So I guess, Sebold recognized,
    鬱陵島=于山国=弓高島 on map of Chosun is Argonaut on European maps and Takeshima on Japanese map.

  6. gtomr,

    But the "Ulleungdo" (different spelling) in his map of Korea and "Takeshima" in his map of Japan seem to be different to my eyes... Do you think they are the same island?

  7. Pacifist,
    Even though there are not found 三国通覧図説 by 林子平 in the collection of Sebold, I guess Sebold named Matsushima as Dagelet because of the reason;
    1.At least His Map of Chosun is referenced from Hayashi's map.I guess Ryuchu7s map also referenced from Hayashi's map(not confirmed).
    On Hayashi Shihei's map of Chosun, "Ulllungdo-Usanguk-Isotake" island nearby Chosun peninsula with no adjunctive island. It is single island.

    2.On Hayashi shihei's map,三国通覧図説(not attached on Sebold collection) ”竹嶋” is drawn east of 鬱陵島 and there are adjunctive island of Jukdo-Boussole rock.

    At least, La perouse's "Plan de Dagelet" has Ulleungdo with anjunctive island of Jukdo, is already known in the Europe. In addition, the shape of 竹嶋 on Hayashi's map is similar with Plan de Dagelet.
    In addition, Hayashi's Map had already been published on Europe 1834.

    So It can assumed that Sebold renamed Dagelet as Matsushima, instead of "竹嶋 on Hayashi map"

    But...Hayashi's "Ulluengdo-Usanguk-Isotake" island(1) is completely different from two islands "2" above. So he would named the island(1) as Takeshima-Argonaut, also referenced from European maps.

    And, It means Sebold never recognized Liancourt Rocks ofcourse, it was known after 1848.

  8. The text in Sebold "Japan"about Dagelet.Although there are Argonaut island on his map but no mentioned in the content.
    Sorry it is from Japanese translation book
    Philip von Sebold ”Japan" Vol1 第四章 ヨーロッパ人による日本とその海域発見の歴史的概観

  9. La Perouse's Dagelet article.
    ・27日、船首を風下の東に向けるよう合図したが、まもなく北北西に海図にない島を認めた。朝鮮半島から約20リユくらい沖合いであった。島に接近しようと試みたが、島へと風が吹つけていたので接近は無理だった。しかし夜のうちに風向きも変わり、空が白む頃にはこの島を偵察するべく船首を向けた。この島を最初に発見した天文学者であるダジュレ氏にちなんで、ダジュレ島と命名した。島は周囲僅かに三リユ、海岸線に沿って進み、ほとんど一周したが、三分の一リユまでせっきんしても海底を測深できなかった。そこでボートを降ろし岸辺まで測深させることを決断、ボートの指揮をブタン氏にとらせた。彼の報告では、海岸に打ち寄せるうねりが始まるあたり、島の岸から100トワーズの距離でやっと20ブラスの水深を測ることができたという。島の北東端は、緯度三十七度二十五分、パリ子午線緯度百二十九度二分であった。島は、一周三リユほどであろうか、切り立った海岸であったが、頂上から海面附近まで眼も覚めるような美しい樹木で覆われていた。剥き出しの岩壁が、殆ど城壁のように垂直に 立して島をぐるりと取り巻いていたが、例外として七箇所の砂浜の小さな入り江があり、そこは上陸可能であった。この入り江にみつけた作業場には、中国船とまったく同一の形状の船がいくつか建造中であった。艦載砲の射程距離内に私達の艦艇が現れるや、職人達は仰天したのか、作業場から五十歩と離れていない森の茂みの中に逃げ込んでいった。それとは別に、小屋がいくつか見受けられはしたものの、集落も耕作地も無かった。つまり、一番ありえそうな推論は、次のようになる。即ち、二十リユばかりしか離れていない朝鮮半島から船大工たちが渡ってきて、ここで作った船を朝鮮各地で売るのだろう、と。これは最初は憶測だったが、しかし次第に確信に変わっていった。というのは、西側の岬を回りこんだ際に、ここにもさらに作業場があって、それまで岬に隠れて見えなかったわが艦艇が突然姿を現したものだから、浜の職人たちがびっくりして森に転がるように逃げていくのを目撃したらだった。私たちを見ても平然として後に残っていたのは、せいぜい二、三人であった。停泊できる場所を見つけて友好の態度を示し、是非とも私たちが敵でないことを納得させたかったのだが、しかし激しい潮流によって船は岸から引き離されたのだった。周囲は夜の帳が下りようとしていたので、ボートに帰還を命じざるを得なかった。ブタン氏は上陸目前であったが、船が風下に流されてボートが改修できなくなる事を私は強く懸念したからである。潮流にながされてずっと西にまで進んでいたアストロラブ号にようやく追いつく頃には、凪の静かな夜となった。ダジュレ島にXえる山々が、沖合いからの突風を遮ってくれるおかげだった。
    Refernced from ;La Perouse 太平洋周航記 下 佐藤淳二訳 第十五章 カビナテ出航、台湾・朝鮮海峡から日本海へ

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  11. Kaneganese said:

    "Anyway, those maps by Siebold shows he must have had Nagakubo's maps. Though he made mistake to label Ulleungdo as Matsushima wchich Nagakubo depicted as today's Takeshima, luckily, he did wrote the latitudes of the island clearly and we can identify Matsushima as Ulleungdo."

    You are wrong again. Don't play with Siebold's mapping error. Pro-Japanese people distort Siebold's map as they want to deny Matsushima in the Meiji era maps is today's Dokdo.

    There's no doubt Takeshima and Matsushima in Siebold's map indicates Ulleongdo and Dokdo respectively.

    I linked how Siebold mismapped the Takeshima and Matsushima HERE for you.

    If the link doesn't work, go to http://whathappenedtodokdo.blogspot.com/2012/04/how-did-siebolds-mapping-error.html