Karen Wigen - Associate Professor of History at Stanford University
Seen in spatial terms, the Meiji Restoration was less a quick coup d’etat than a centuries-long project of rehabilitating an ancient map for modern purposes. Beginning with Hideyoshi and Ieyasu, central power-holders had recruited classical geography to the cause of administrative reform. By the nineteenth century, this classicizing strategy was embraced and carried forward not only at the center but by leading lights in the region itself. Drawing on the cartography of Shinano Province (Nagano Prefecture), this illustrated talk traces the continuing career of the classical court’s most important unit of governance, showing how an ancient set of imperial boundaries came to undergird the map of modern Japan.