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Ino Tadataka: Mapping Japan

Tuesday, October 24, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: David Jordan
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In September 2017, David Jordan and his wife visited Japan. They went to the Ino Tadataka Museum to learn more about Japan's most industrious surveyor.

"I came across Ino Tadataka  while researching topics on the history of surveying. Having a background in Japanese history only further piqued my interest on learning about him. As such, when our 20th anniversary was approaching, my wife surprised me with a trip Japan, a destination which happened to be a desire of mine for over thirty years. As part of that vacation, I was intent on visiting the Katori District of Chiba to see his museum and get photos to share my experience with others. For the sake of keeping with Japanese customs and traditions of names, his name will appear last name then first name as I provide details on his work.

Prior to our trip to Japan, I knew that Ino Tadataka had originally been a Sake Merchant in his father’s business in the small fishing village of Sawara (now a part of the Katori District in Chiba) and retired at the age of 50 before changing professions to surveying. This happened during the latter part of the Edo Period (1603-1868) around 1750 according to the western calendar just prior to the French and Indian War. Based on the timelines provided in the museum, I learned that his surveying career spanned 17 years as he mapped Japan. Also, when we compare his career to George Washington’s career, his had a greater longevity. But, like Sir George Everest and his mapping of India, he was unable to complete the survey of Japan. What I did not know, was that his works and his instruments are part of Japan’s National Treasures and are held in high esteem. I learned that these artifacts are housed in Japan’s National museum. I also discovered that following Commodore Perry expedition in Japan in 1852, the west relied on these maps because they were deemed to be accurate enough and further surveying was not necessary.

For those who are interested, there is a biography of Ino Tadataka entitled “Tadataka Ino  : The Japanese Land-Surveyor,” written by Ryokichi Otani back in 2001.

If you are interested in learning more about Ino Tadataka, please click links below:

The photos David shot can be viewed below:

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