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Kokkei Sensou Sekai Chizu – A Humoros (sic) Wap (sic) Map of the World

  • Author: TANAKA, Ryozo (artist & publisher)
  • Publisher: Shobido Company, Tokyo
  • Date: 1914
  • Dimensions: Sheet: 61.3 x 46.2 cms.


Japanese satirical broadsheet map depicting the situation in Europe & Asia a few weeks after the outbreak of World War One

About this piece:

Kokkei Sensou Sekai Chizu – A Humoros (sic) Wap (sic) Map of the World

Some minor cosmetic repairs to sheet edges and verso archivally backed for better preservation/ conservation. With all a very attractive example.

Very few satirical maps of the First World War period were published in Japan, but this is one of two such rare satirical broadsheets, both designed by Tokyo bookseller, Ryozo Tanaka & published by his Shobido publishing company in September 1914, only seven weeks after the outbreak of war. This map bears a copyright date of September 22nd and a first publication date of September 25th.

A very similar map, A Humoros (sic) Atlas of the World, had been published just a few days previously but focused more heavily on the political and military situation in Russia, China and the Far East. It was labelled Plate No.16 in Tanaka’s scarce collection of colour-printed folio plates – The Illustration of the Graet (sic) European War – depicting the ever widening hostilities of the European War in Europe and Asia. His prints are strikingly engraved in a vividly naive & uniquely Japanese style with bright chromo-lithographed colours.

Tanaka was a native of Kyoto, born in 1874, who, after training with an Osaka bookseller, established his own business, “Tokyo Shobido Gakyoku” in April 1897, specialising in traditional Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints. The business relocated to the Kanda book selling district in 1898, where it became a well-known & long-established local enterprise. In addition to republishing ukiyo-e masterpieces, Tanaka produced several propagandist works, most notably a series of patriotic prints illustrating the Russo-Japanese War (1904-5) & the above-mentioned collection of September 1914.

It was during the Russo-Japanese War, that the European satirical map genre had been adopted with considerable popularity in Japan, its most notable manifestations being Keio University student Kisaburo Ohara’s A Humorous Diplomatic Atlas of Europe and Asia – modelled on Fred Rose’s earlier Octopus maps – and Kamijo Yomotaro’s New Comical Atlas, both published in Tokyo in 1904.

In the example here, the European & Eastern war theatres are cleverly combined in truncated fashion. A monstrous German bulldog flattens a prostrate Belgium under its front paw, attacked on one side by a canon-wielding Frenchman, on the other by a giant Russian, who attempts to sever its rear leg with his sword. Austro-Hungary directs its combined firepower on its Serbian & Russian foes. Britain, a heavily armed dreadnought, manned by pith-helmeted soldiers, bombards the German beast from afar. In the East, a Chinese general sits hand on head, his feet kicking a miniature German bulldog clone, colonial leaseholder, since 1898, of the Chinese concessions of Kiautschou (Jiaozhou) & Tsingtau (Qingdao). A Japanese soldier is now shown occupying Tsingtau, the Germans having surrendered after a short siege by a combined Anglo-Japanese force in late 1914. From across the Pacific, a neutral Uncle Sam surveys the unfolding events in both Europe & Asia through a pair of telescopes.