1878 - Japanese Map (日本海岸全圖)

The map below is entitled "Full Map of the Japanese Coastline" (日本海岸全圖) and was made by the Japanese Navy Waterways Bureau (海軍水路局) in 1878. The map shows Ulleungdo labeled as "Matsushima" (松島) and Liancourt Rocks labeled as "Liancourt Rocks" (リアンフールト石). The sizes, shapes, and positions of the islands look quite accurate, and the non-existent island called "Argonaut," which many contemporary Japanese maps labeled as Takeshima (竹島), does not appear. The map seems to have been one of the more accurate Japanese maps of the region at the time.

In the lower right-hand corner of the map, the mapmaker describes the map. With the help of Chaamiey (See comments section), the following is my translation of that description:

This map is a reduced, modified version of a map made by Ino Tadataka (伊能忠敬) in that it has omitted Hokkaido and added Korea and the East China Sea. Traditionally, we have referenced Inō's map when drawing our country's coastal regions, but the surveying technology of his time was still imprecise, so there were frequent errors and omissions. Therefore, even though this map is based on Inō's original map, our navy has corrected the surveying errors of the coastal regions. For areas our navy has yet to survey, the results of Western surveyors were used as a stopgap to reduce suspicions our navy has with the original map. The navy intends to make furture modifications as soon as new surveys are available. This map is not perfect, but we hope it is of some help to those navigators who reference it.

11th Month of the 11th Year of Meiji (1878)
Japanese Navy Waterways Bureau
(See the Comments Section for a transcription and Japanese translation of the map's old Japanese description.)

As you can see from the description of the map, Western maps were referenced for areas the Japanese navy had not yet surveyed, which almost certainly included Ulleungdo and Liancourt Rocks since the Japanese survey ship Amagi did not visit Ulleungdo until 1880 (See HERE). In fact, if you look at the comparison below with the 1876 British Navy map, you can see that the Japanese navy most likely got their surveys of Ulleungdo, Liancourt Rocks, and the Korean peninsula from the 1876 British map, which also does not show the non-existent island named Argonaut.

Japan's Council of State, the Dajokan (太政官), did not instruct the Japanese navy to survey Korean coastal waters until April 1878, so those results are almost certainly not reflected in this map.

If you compare the above map section with the following section of an 1876 Bristish Navy map, you will notice that the sea depth readings and shapes of the islands are the same, which suggests that the Japanese showed Ulleungdo, Liancourt Rocks, and the Korean peninsula on their map by borrowing from the 1876 Bristish map. The British also labeled Ulleungdo as "Matsushima" and Liancourt Rocks as "Liancourt Rocks" and also omitted the non-existent island of Argonaut.

The following is the description found in the right-hand corner of the Japanese map.
You can view the map in more detail HERE.


  1. Hi, Gerry

    Thank you for posting this sea chart. It is "日本海岸全図(海図95号)" made by 大日本海軍水路局.
    The 太政官(Dajokan:Department of State at the time) ordered the Ministry of Navy to send Amagi and survey the coast of Korea on April 1878. Later, Amagi surveyed Ulleungdo alone in 1880.

    The script of the map says " The shape of the map is based on Ino map, adding Hokkaido, China and Joseon. However, there are many mistakes, so Navy is continuously surveying and under way of correcting them. The part Navy haven't surveyed are based on westerners' survey. "

    I'm not perfectly sure if the reason Argonaut had dissapeared and Liancourt Rocks correctrly mapped on this map is based on the coastal survey by Amagi in 1878 or British Nautical Chart which dropped Argonaut in 1876.

    And I think that the main reason Japanese private map makers had continued to wrongfully mapped Argonaut are because of 陸軍参謀局(Army General Staff Office)「朝鮮全図」1894 and its original 1875 version, or 内務省地理局(office of Geography Department, Ministry of Interior)「大日本府県分轄図」『大日本全図略図』. Unlike Navy, the maps made by Ministry of Interior/Army are in the transitional form from old illustrative map to modern map with longitude and latitude.

    陸軍参謀局's(Army General Staff Office)「朝鮮全図」(1894) is here and Dokdo center explains this map spread to the public.
    "戰略用 지도로서 필요 충분한 기능을 했을 이 지도는 민간에도 전파되어 더욱 작은 축척으로 편집되어 보급되었다."

    But Dokdo center wrongfully explains this Takeshima is Ulleugdo and Matsushima is Liancourt Rocks. In fact, shape of Matsushima and the latitude and longitude both islands clearly tells us they are Argonaut and Ulleungdo. Though the image on Dokdo centor is fuzzy, we have clear image of original (1875 version) available on net. The script of the map says the map was based on 「朝鮮八道図」「大清一統輿図」 and British/American sea chart. Until 1876, British Navy chart mapped Argonaut.


  2. Isn't it influence of the map of Russia?

    The form of Ulleungdo is very exact, . Even 3仙岩 in the northeast of Ulleungdo are drawn correctly. It seems that the result of the Ulleungdo survey in 1878 June was reflected.

  3. Though I still can't get the whole image, Ulleungdo and Liancourt Rocks are apparently copied from Royal Navy chart in 1876. The description of islands names, depth of water and others are identical.

  4. 此圖伊能忠敬ノ製圖ニ基ツキ縮摸スルモノニ係ル但シ北海
    明治十一年十一月 海軍水路局

  5. Anonymous24/4/12 19:44


    明治11年11月        海軍水路局

    이 지도는 이노우 타다타카(伊能忠敬)가 작성한 지도를 축소한 것이다. 다만 홋카이도는 당분간 생략 하여, 조선과 시나 동부 바다를 추가하여 그렸다. 종래부터 우리나라 근해의 상황을 그릴 때는 이노우 의 지도가 참고로 여겨져 왔다. 그러나, 그 당시의 측량 기술은 아직 정확하지 않고, 자주 실수나 누락이 있었다. 그래서,이번에 이 지도를 작성하여, 우리 해군이 실측한 곳에 대해서는 그 실측에 근거해 원도의 잘못을 수정했다. 아직 실측하지 못하는 장소는, 당분간 서양인의 측량 성과를 이용해, 그 외는 원도를 기본으로서 의문점을 줄였다. 또, 향후 실측의 결과에 따라서 신속히 개정하고 싶다. 이 지도는 완전한 것이 아니지만, 항해에 종사하는 사람들이 이것을 참조하고, 조금이라도 도움이 될 것을 바란다.
    메이지11년11월 해군 수로국

  6. I would like to thank everyone for their comments and information on this map. I have added much of the information you gave me to my post, but if there is anything else you would like me to add, please let me know.

  7. Gerry said:

    "The Japanese Department of State, the Dajokan (太政官), did not instruct the Japanese navy to survey Korean coastal waters until April 1878.."

    Gerry, the Dajokan did not order the survey of Ulleungdo. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs did.

    "Foreign Minister Terajima Munenori (寺島宗則) finally ordered an on-site survey of Ulleungdo in 1880 (明治十三年) and dispatched the warship Amagi to the Ulleungdo area.."

    I think you're confusing the Dajokan with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    The Dajokan was the supreme power in Japan. All the different Ministry's were beneath the Dajokan.

    "The Imperial governing structure was headed by the Daijō-kan. This council and its subsidiary ministries handled all secular administrative affairs of the country.."

    The Wikipedia article calling the Dajokan the "Department of State" is not accurate.
    The Dajokan was not at all like the U.S. Department of State. (That would be the Foreign Ministry.)
    The Dajokan was the supreme power in the country.

  8. Dajokan in early Meiji is much like today's Cabinet(内閣). I agree with jk that using "Department of States" is confusing.

    As far as I know, in 1875, Japanese Navy surveyed western coast of Joseon peninsula. On April 1878, Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked Dajokan to send survey ship to Joseon coast in order to find good ports. I'm not sure which part of Joseon coast they surveyed at the time nor it has something to do with debates concerning Argonaut-Dagelet confusion.

    (By the way, "jk" means female high school student in Japan.)

  9. I am neither Japanese nor female nor of high school age.
    I am Korean-American.

  10. The fact this map was based on the Ino's map means the Japanese Navy Waterways Bureau(海軍水路局) didn't consider Matsushima(Dokdo) as Japanese land. It is because Dokdo was not included as Japanese land in Ino Tadataka (伊能忠敬)' map. Since the Edo shogunate banned the Japanese people to travel to Ulleongdo and its attached island Dokdo, Japan consistently excluded Dokdo as her land.

    To see Ino's map, click HERE

    This map also shows Japanese Navy Waterways Bureau was well aware of the identity of Argonaut as non-existent island in the western maps. Thus, Japanese Navy naturally ignored Argonaut and adopted the name Matsushima for Ulleungdo because western maps labelled Ulleongdo as Matsushima. And Dokdo was labelled as Liancourt Rocks because the western maps did so.

    This map is a clear evidence Japanese government organization had no confusion on the existence of two islands(Ulleongdo and Dokdo) in the East Sea between Korean Peninsual and Oki island, though it was confused by the name of Ulleongdo. In other words, it can be inferred it was normal and general during Meiji era for Japanese mapmakers not to draw Argonaut in the maps.

    Today, pro-Japanese people make Meiji era mapmakers ignorant of the nature of Argonaut claiming Takeshima in the Meiji era maps is Argonaut, not today's Ulleongdo. I think it's those pro-Japanese people who are ignorant. Why did the mapmakers draw the non-existent island in the map? If the answer is western mapping error, go HERE to know what the western mapping error is. If the mapmaker followed the western mapping error, they should have drawn three islands in the East Sea which are Argonaut, Takeshima and Matsushima. If two islands were drawn, they are always and undoubtedly Takeshima(Ulleongdo) and Matsushima(Dokdo) no matter what the longitude and latitude cited from western maps are correct or not.

    Kaneganese wrote that shape of Matsushima and the latitude and longitude both islands in 朝鮮全図 are Argonaut and Ulleungdo. She shouldn't distort the truth. The great imperial Japanese Army General Staff Office(陸軍参謀局) couldn't be foolish enough to draw non-existent island in the map.

    朝鮮全図 is a clear proof 陸軍参謀局 considered Matsushima(Dokdo) as Korean land.

  11. Kaneganese wrote:

    Dajokan in early Meiji is much like today's Cabinet(内閣). I agree with jk that using "Department of States" is confusing.

    What about referring to it as "Council of State," as was suggested in the Wikipedia article?


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