The East Asia Library at UW is home to one of the most extensive collections of information about Japan, Korea and China in the USA. It’s also home to one-of-a-kind materials, each with its own unique story of how it was made and how it ended up at the library. This series tells some of those stories. Part 1 of the gaihozu series can be found here.
The University of Washington is poised to become a premier institution for research involving gaihozu (外邦図). The University’s collection of gaihozu—maps of Japan’s imperial territories created from the Meiji period (1868-1912) until the end of World War II (1945)—increased from 100 to nearly 2,500 this past summer with a generous donation from Oregon State University.
Azusa Tanaka, Japanese Studies Librarian at the East Asia Library (EAL), is all too familiar with such auspicious acquisition. In Winter 2014, Ms. Tanaka received notification from the Map Collection department in Suzzallo Library regarding the discovery of approximately 100 gaihozu and 3,000 naikokuzu (domestic maps also created by the Japanese Imperial Army), which were then given to the EAL.
“Azusa contacted Oregon State University Libraries to discover the provenance of our gaihozu, and they said they had a large collection of maps not being used,” says Monica Twork, Jackson School graduate student and assistant to Ms. Tanaka over the summer.
In total, Oregon State University donated 3,863 maps and 79 indices that were received by the University of Washington on July 17th, 2018.
The sizable donation required a small, temporary staff to organize and determine what maps the University had actually acquired. The undertaking—too large for Ms. Tanaka alone—enlisted the assistance of the aforementioned Monica Twork (whose work was funded by the Jackson School), and Tateuchi Visiting Librarian Ryo Kato, from Keio University Libraries to itemize the maps. Taking inventory has been completed for all maps using a Google Docs spreadsheet available for public viewing (words remain in Japanese). A webpage on the University of Washington Libraries website providing in-depth information on the gaihozu has also been created.
The collection is currently available to all UW faculty, students, and visiting scholars for viewing in the East Asia Library Auxiliary, located in Kane Hall. Those interested need only ask circulation staff at the EAL in Gowen Hall for access.
To physically handle rare artifacts of modern history is an uncommon opportunity: an opportunity made possible by Ms. Tanaka and company, the East Asia Library, and Oregon State University Libraries.