Universiteit Leiden

nl en

Japanese maps on display in SieboldHuis

Japan museum SieboldHuis has a new showcase in its panorama room, in which maps from the Siebold-collection of Leiden University Libraries are exhibited.

The map collection was brought together by Philipp Franz von Siebold (1796-1866) during his stay in Japan. Seven special maps from this collection are now on view in the new showcase. Every year, a new selection of maps will be exhibited. The first selection can be visited from 17 February in SieboldHuis.

Map selection
In this first selection, a manuscript map of Sachalin and one of the sheets of a hand-drawn map of Hokkaido are on view. These maps were among the crucial documents that led to Siebold's exile. Town plans of Edo (present-day Tokyo) and Nagasaki (with the Dutch trade island Dejima) are also on display. One of the top pieces is (a part of) an almost twelve-metre long leporello of the Tokaido, the eastern trade route from Edo to Kyoto, embellished with gold leaf.

Siebold incident
Through contacts with various Japanese geographers and his own surveying projects, Siebold gathered a lot of cartographic material, including 'sensitive' geographical information on the disputed islands of Hokkaido and Sachalin. In 1829, the Japanese authorities discovered the maps that Siebold had collected, after which he was accused of being a spy for the Russian state. This led to a house arrest and finally in October 1829 to his exile from Japan.