You'll never see this on a modern map of Kyoto

 

The Antiquarian Book Fair at Shimogamo Shrine is full of treasures… Unfortunately treasures cost a pretty penny and we forked out a few tens of thousands of yen to acquire this Bakumatsu period (1853-67) woodblock print map of Kyoto City:

 
Bakumatsu map of Kyoto acquired by Craft Tabby
 

Thankfully some things have not changed very much in 160 years. Daimonjiyama is still being lit as part of the Gozan-no-Okuribi every year:

Daimonjiyama as depicted on the map.

Daimonjiyama as depicted on the map.

Daimonjiyama in 2019.

Daimonjiyama in 2019.

But more than a few things no longer exist, like the row of temples that gave Teramachi Street (Temple Street) its name (left), or the 1801 replica of Hideyoshi Toyotomi’s Big Buddha that burnt down in 1973 (right):

Takoyakushi Temple (marked here as タコヤクシ) still stands, but most of the temples (coloured yellow) on Teramachi Street (Temple Street) have disappeared or have had their lands shrunken.  Honno-ji 本能寺, marked here as being north of Sanjo-dori Avenue (三条通), has since moved south. The land it used to be on became Kyoto City Hall in 1927.

Takoyakushi Temple (marked here as タコヤクシ) still stands, but most of the temples (coloured yellow) on Teramachi Street (Temple Street) have disappeared or have had their lands shrunken.

Honno-ji 本能寺, marked here as being north of Sanjo-dori Avenue (三条通), has since moved south. The land it used to be on became Kyoto City Hall in 1927.

The Kyoto Daibutsu stood on what is now the Daibutsudenato Ryokuchi Park. Strangely the person who drew this map left out Toyokuni Jinja (aka Hōkoku Jinja) and labelled the whole area Daibutsu (大佛).  The area behind the Daibutsu is labelled Myohoingu 妙法院宮. The Kyoto National Museum now stands on what used to be the “gu” (Palace) part of Myohoingu.

The Kyoto Daibutsu stood on what is now the Daibutsudenato Ryokuchi Park. Strangely the person who drew this map left out Toyokuni Jinja (aka Hōkoku Jinja) and labelled the whole area Daibutsu (大佛).

The area behind the Daibutsu is labelled Myohoingu 妙法院宮. The Kyoto National Museum now stands on what used to be the “gu” (Palace) part of Myohoingu.

The other major landmarks also show destruction and re-modelling on a large scale:

Nijo Castle was administered as imperial property in the Edo period, so it had ancillary buildings on the side, which explains why there is space there for large supermarkets like Izumiya (top left corner of the moat).

Nijo Castle was administered as imperial property in the Edo period, so it had ancillary buildings on the side, which explains why there is space there for large supermarkets like Izumiya (top left corner of the moat).

The Kyoto Gyoen National Garden, which surrounds the Imperial Palace, marked Kinrigosho (禁裏御所) here, used to house the nobility. Their property, marked in white amid all the pink here, have become forested land.

The Kyoto Gyoen National Garden, which surrounds the Imperial Palace, marked Kinrigosho (禁裏御所) here, used to house the nobility. Their property, marked in white amid all the pink here, have become forested land.

But look closer and you’ll see a few things that make this map truly worth our time:

 
gojo.png
 

There’s a line that looks like train tracks, but this is the late Edo period. The Tokaido train line would only be complete in 1889, and Kyoto’s first streetcards would only appear in 1895, so this is something else — the Odoi. Built in 1591-92, this low mud wall of about 9 metres wide (more from Judith Clancy here) surrounded Hideyoshi Toyotomi’s reconstructed Kyoto City and marked the limits of Rakuchu (central Kyoto).

A map of discrimination

What’s most striking about this map though, is that labels one area just outside the Odoi as Eta (エタ). Eta is a highly pejorative term once used to refer to people shunned for having had jobs that dealt with the pollution of death.

The Eta were descendants (or worked as) of butchers, hangmen, and leather tanners. These days nobody openly speaks about areas formerly occupied by Eta because these people are still marginalised and covertly discriminated against (read Living on the edge: Buraku in Kyoto, Japan).

Area marked  Eta  (エタ)

Area marked Eta (エタ)

Today a government housing project stands over the same area (Google Maps rotated clockwise to be consistent with the older map).

Today a government housing project stands over the same area (Google Maps rotated clockwise to be consistent with the older map).

Village marked Sensa Eta センサエタ村.

Village marked Sensa Eta センサエタ村.

Now a park and railway tracks (rotated 90 degrees for consistency with old map).

Now a park and railway tracks (rotated 90 degrees for consistency with old map).

The area marked out on the map as エタ, and the area next to it marked Sensa Eta センサエタ村 (non-tax-paying commoners and Eta) are now government housing projects and continue to have simple public bathhouses. A 2004 film, Pacchigi!, famously depicted the lives of those living in the area.

Both areas remain poor after 160 years.