1901 May - "Journal of Geography" (地学雑誌) - "An Island in the Sea of Japan"

In the May 1901 edition of Japan's "Journal of Geography" ("地学雑誌," 13輯148巻, 1901.5, pp. 301-302), the writer of the following article questioned the claim that a new island had been discovered in the Sea of Japan, which had been reported in several Japanese newspapers a month earlier. The writer believed the information on the so-called new island corresponded with that of an outcropping of rocks in the Sea of Japan known as Liancourt Rocks, though he added that a more detailed report would be needed to know for sure.

The newspaper reports of a new island in the Sea of Japan seem to have been sparked by an article in a 10 March 1901 publication of the Black Dragon Society, also known as "The Amur River Society." The Black Dragon Society article can be read HERE.

Here is an English translation of the May 1901 article in Japan's "Journal of Geography":
"An Island in the Sea of Japan (Yanko)"
In mid April several Tokyo newspapers reported that an island had been discovered in the Sea of Japan. According to the reports, an island yet unknown to the world was discovered in the sea 30 ri to the southeast of Korea’s Ulleungdo and about the same distance to the northeast of Japan’s Oki County. They said the island had not yet been recorded on Japan’s sea charts nor on British sea charts, but that the island did, in fact, exist. It said Japanese on Ulleungdo could, in fact, see the distant form of the island to the southeast from a mountain top on clear days.
According to the history of its discovery, one or two years ago a fishing boat with diving apparatus from the Kyushu area discovered the existence of the island in an unfamiliar area in the distance sea while hunting for fish. The fishermen happily used the island as a base to explore the surrounding waters. They found that the area was inhabited by a great many fish, but a colony of hundreds of sea lions obstructed the fishing boat. Finally, unable to do their job, it is said the fishermen returned.
A diver on the fishing boat who actually saw the island reported that it was about 30 cho in length; its hills were not very high. Here and there were weeds and bushes. The shape of the island was quite irregular, so it was a good place for ships to harbor and avoid the wind and waves. However, even if you dig a few feet below the surface, there is no water, so it cannot be described as a viable place for processing sea products. However, it is still sufficiently worthwhile for researchers and industrialists to explore. Japanese and Korean fishermen call it "Yanko."
According to the above article, the location is not precise, but I think this island corresponds to Liancourt Rocks, considering the article and the island's name, though it is yet to be plotted. Since this might not be the case, a precise judgment cannot be made without first receiving a detailed report. For reference, here is an excerpt from an article on Liancourt Rocks from Page 263 of the Second Edition of the “Joseon Waterways Directory” (朝鮮水路誌, 1899).
Liancourt Rocks
Liancourt Rocks are named after the French ship Liancourt, which discovered them in 1849; they were also called Menalai and Olivutsa rocks by the Russian frigate Pallas in 1854, and Hornet islands by H.M.S. Hornet in 1855. Captain Forsyth, of the latter vessel, gives their position as lat. 37°14′N. long. 131°55′E., and describes them as being two barren rocky islets, covered with guano, which makes them appear white; they are about a mile in extent N.W. by W. and S.E. by E., a quarter of a mile apart, and apparently joined together by a reef. The western islet, elevated about 410 feet above the sea, has a sugar-loaf form; the easternmost is much lower and flat-topped. The water appeared deep close-to, but they are dangerous from their position, being directly in the track of vessels steering up the Sea of Japan for Hakodate.

Here is the Japanese
"日本海中の一島嶼 (ヤンコ)" 
去る四月中旬 東京發行の各新聞紙は日本海中に一島嶼を發見せることを報せり、
韓國欝陵島を東南に去ること三十里 我日本國隱岐を西北に距ること殆んと同里數の海上に 未た世人に知られさる一島嶼を發見せり、該島は 未た本邦の海圖には載らす イキリスの海圖にも亦之を記せされとも 其島の存在は確實にして、現に欝陵島にありし日本人は晴天の日 山の高所より東南を望みたるに 遙に島影を認めたりといへり、今此の島發見の歴史を聞くに 一兩年前 九州邊の一潜水器船が 魚族を追ふて遠く海中に出てたるに、見慣れさる所に一島嶼の存在せることを發見し 喜んで之を根據地と定め 其四隣の海中を漁り回りたるに、此の邊魚族の棲息せるもの頗る多かりしも 海馬數百群を爲して潜水器船を沮みたれば 終に目的を終へすして引還したりといふ、此の船中にありし潜水業者の實見したる所なりとて報する所によれは 其島は長さ三十町に近く 丘陵甚た高からされとも 處々に蓁莾蕪穢、島形又極めて屈曲に富み 漁船を泊し風浪を避くるに最も便あり、只地上より數尺の間は之を鑚るも水を得ず 從て現今の所にては水産物製造場としての價値は乏しといふべし、故に學者實業家は猶充分なる探検を施すの餘地を留む、日韓漁民之を指してヤンコと呼へりといふ 
以上の記事に據るに其位置固より確實ならず、想ふに此の島は未だ海圖に示されすといふも 其記事及び稱呼より之を察せば 恰もLiancourt rocksリアンコートロツクに符合せり、或は之を指すに非ずやと疑はるヽも 尚其精確なる斷定は精細なる報告を得たる後に非れは下す能はず、
且らく參照の爲めに 左に朝鮮水路誌第二版(明治三十二年水路部刊行)二六三頁よりリアンコート島に關する記事を抄録せん

此列岩は洋紀一八四九年佛國船「Liancourt」初て發見し稱呼を其船名に取る 其後一八五四年露國「フレガツト」形艦「Pall as」は此列岩を「Menalai」及「Olivutsa」列岩と名つけ 一八五五年英艦「Hornet」は此の列岩を探検して「ホル子ツト」列島と名つけり 該艦長「Forsyth」の言に據れば 此列岩は北緯三七度一四分東經一三一度五五分の處に位する二座の不毛嶼にして 鳥糞常に嶼上に堆積し嶼色爲めに白し 而して北西彳西至南東彳東の長さ約一里 二嶼の間距離約二鏈半にして 見たる所一礁脉ありて之を連結す●西嶼は海面上高さ約四一〇呎にして其形棒糖の如し 東嶼は較低くして平頂なり●此列岩附近は水頗深きか如しと雖 其位置は實に凾館に向て日本海を航行する船舶の直道に當れるを以て頗危險なりとす

Copy of the Journal Article


  1. Thanks for the pdf image, Matsu.

  2. Thank you, Gerry

    pronunciation しんもうぶわい or しんもうぶあい

  3. 小嶋様

    ”蓁莾蕪穢”の意味は”weeds and bushes” で合ってますか?


    Thank you for posting.
    Could you correct "蓁〓蕪穢" to "蓁莾蕪穢" in Japanese text ?

  4. 英訳は"weeds and bushes"のままで良いと思います。




    shrubby wastes
    the bush
    lie waste

  5. 小嶋 and Kaneganese,

    I made the changes to the Japanese. Do I also need to make any changes to the English?

  6. 小嶋様

    難しい表現ですが、これは『東京日日新聞』にも葛生「日本海中未發見の一嶋 」にもない表現ですね。


    すなわち、ヤンコはLiancourt Rocksではないか、という提言は、無視しているか、知らなかったことになります。

    もっといえば、1903年1月の、単行本の『韓海通漁指針』にも、ヤンコはLiancourt Rocksだという記述はありません。この時には時間的余裕は十分にあったと思うのですが、その見解を取らなかった。

  7. まとめておきます。


    ○葛生修亮 黒龍会『会報』3月10日
    ○『地学雑誌』はすでに Liancourt Rocksと符合すると指摘

    ○東京日日新聞 the NichiNichi4月13日
    →Japan Times(4月14日)東京で発行されていた英字新聞 翌日に翻訳
    →Straits Times(6月22日)シンガポール

    ○Japan Times(4月14日)
    →Montreal Star(日付不明)Montreal, Quebec, Canada  未発見not found yet
    同じ記事を引用(same article)
    →The Long Island Farmer Jamaica, New York, USA5月31日
    →Fulton County News Atlanta, Georgia, USA 7月4日
    →Article from the "Journal Junior" of "The Minneapolis Journal" Minnesota, USA7月27日
    →The Pacific Commercial Advertiser  Honolulu, Hawaii, USA 7月30日
    →Article in the "Plymouth Republican"  Indiana, USA10月3日

    〇Montreal Starのoriginalは未発見
    Japan Timesからの引用と思われる。



  8. Matsu,

    The article in the "Journal of Geography" (地学雑誌) said that "all" Tokyo newspapers at the time reported on the discovery of the new island. If Tokyo, at the time, had more than just "The Tokyo Daily" and "The Japan Times," then that suggests that other Tokyo newspapers also reported on the discovery of the island. Didn't the "Asahi Shimbun" (朝日新聞) also have an article on this? In fact, wasn't it one of the first newspapers to report on it? It seems like I read that somewhere.

  9. Gerry,

    Actually I was searching the newspapers that reported about Yanko in the middle of April in 1901 as 地学雑誌 says.
    I could not found any, but for your hinting about 『東京日日新聞』theTokyo Nichi Nichi I could find the article.

    I remember I saw 朝日新聞 and could not find it.
    I also saw 時事新報、二六新聞、都新聞.

    But as you say
    >In fact, wasn't it one of the first newspapers to report on it? It seems like I read that somewhere.
    I will try again to find other papers.

    去る四月中旬 東京發行の各新聞紙は日本海中に一島嶼を發見せることを報せり
    In mid April every newspaper printed in Tokyo reported that an island had been discovered in the Sea of Japan.

    “some newspapers printed in Tokyo”,
    “every newspaper printed in Tokyo”

  10. I didn't know 各 could mean "some," but I think it can be translated as "several," so couldn't 東京發行の各新聞紙 be translated as "several newspapers published in Tokyo"?

  11. Gerry,

    I am not sure the difference between “some” and “several”.
    Both would be translated into Japanese “いくつかの”

    “各” here would mean “not one” but plural.
    So your translation “several newspapers” is a very good translation.

    I think “各”here has nuance like more than three, not two.

    For native English speakers, “some” and “several” would be entirely different.
    It is very difficult for foreign people .

  12. BTW

    If “the Montreal Star” was published in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, it could be covered by some French paper and translated into French.

    So if we can google Yanko in French papers in the date of 1901, we may find some French article.

    And furthermore, if it was translated into French, some Russian could catch the information.
    It is worth searching Yanko(Янко is it right? ) in Russian, isn’t it?

    Or maybe before that, we should google “Liancourt” in English or French in the papers in about 1890~1905, if we can.
    (And Менелай and Оливуца in Russian as well)

  13. このブログの3つ前、『山陰新聞』1905年5月14日の新聞記事を発見された「神の目」(Mr. Magic Eye)さんが、同じ『山陰新聞』にのった「日本海中の一島嶼」を見つけてくれました。1901(明治34)4月18日の記事です。



    1面と4面の欄外に載っている記事で、破れてしまって読めないところがありますが、[ ]部分は破れていて見えないところを『東京日日新聞』の起こしから類推しました。

    韓國の鬱陵島[を東南]に去ること三十里、我帝國の隱岐の島を西[北に距ることまた殆んど同里數の海中に 未だ世人に知られざる一島]嶼あり 此島未だ日本の海圖に上らず 英國の海圖亦之を記さざれども 其島の存在(そんざい)するは事實(じじつ)にして現に鬱陵島に在りたる日本人は晴天の日同島山京の高處に於て東南の方に遙に島影を認めたりと云へり 今此島發見の歴史を聞くに 一兩年(前ナシ)九州邊の一潜[水器船魚類を尋(たづ)ねて遠(とほ)く海中に出でたる時 見馴れざ]る場所に一島嶼の存在することを認[めたれば 喜んで]其島を根據地(こんきょち)として 其四隣の海中を漁(あさ)り廻(まは)りたるに魚類の棲息(せいそく)するもの頗る多かりしも海馬數百群を爲して潜水器船を遮りたれば終に目的を達する能はず元來し方に引返し 此事を以て某水産家に質[したるに●は該潜水器船が右の無名島(むめいたう)に至りたるは海馬の産期なる五六月の]交なりしが爲め其妨害[を受け]たるものならんと云へりと 而して同潜水業者の實見したる所に依れば 同島は長さ三十町に近く丘陵甚だ高からさざれども 處々雑草雑木を生じ 島形また極めて屈曲多く漁船を泊(はく)し風浪を避(さ)くるに[は最も便利なり唯、地上數尺の間は之を穿(うが)つも水を]得ざるを以て 現今の處水産物製造場としては未だ好位地と云ふを得ざるも 航海家水産業者の爲めには猶(なほ)充分(じうぶん)探険(たんけん)の価値あるべしとなり 因に日韓漁民は此島を指してヤンコと稱すといふ


    もしかしたら、中井養三郎もこの記事を読んだかも知れない、とMagic Eyeさんは書かれています。


    “Mr. Magic Eye” who found 1905 May 14 article of Sanin-Shimbun posted just previous of your finding of Newspapers of Yanko, has found a new article in 『山陰新聞』1901 Apr.18th

    It is almost the same of 『東京日日新聞』1901 Apr.13th.

    Nakai Yozaburo might have read the article.

    Kaneganese has got the image of the山陰新聞.

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  15. matsuさん・神の目さん








    とでもして措くのが良いかと思います。 (コメント冒頭の「御」が抜けていたので投稿し直しました。)

  16. 小嶋様




    逆にJapan Times が翌日14日なのは、翻訳という過程があっても、文字の形になっている情報は、ある意味、無批判に広がっていくのに、時間を要しないことが分かります。


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