Special Exhibition “The City – Exploring Yedo-Tokyo through Ancient Cartographs” and Related Exhibitions


Press Release: PDF file[2.3MB]

“This is not an exhibition of Ancient Cartographs.”
In reference to Michel Foucault’s famous title, a series of exhibitions on the theme of the city will be held at the University of Tokyo and Tokyo Tower. Experts with different perspectives on what cities are, and how we perceive them, are planning their own exhibitions. To kick off the series, a special exhibition on cutting out the city from both old illustrated cartographs (known as Yedo-Kiriezu) and maps of the future will open on March 5 2024, at the JP Tower Museum INTERMEDIATHEQUE (IMT). Yedo is an old transcription of Edo, from the time when it was changing to Tokyo, the capital of the modern Japanese nation in 1868. Yedo-Tokyo, a megacity having experienced such a symbolic transformation, provides excellent material for studying the nature of the “city” from a historical perspective. When visitors first enter the exhibition space, they will be able to experience a new perspective on the city by viewing ancient maps named Yedo-Kiriezu, which offer illustrated views of Yedo-Tokyo. As we walk through the exhibition of historical maps, maps of the future created by student artists from the Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies (III) of the University of Tokyo, as well as a variety of video images, invite the viewer into a new way of looking at the city. For other exhibitions in the series of “The City,” please refer to the dates listed at the end of this document.
Yedo-Kiriezu is a set of maps illustrating the Yedo castle area, showing the names of temples, shrines, places, and samurai residences in each area. The first publisher to produce it in Yedo was Kichimonja, who published eight map sets between 1755 and 1775. At that time, the early type of Yedo-Kiriezu were very plain and did not use many colors, but the woodblock print produced by Owariya in the latter half of the Yedo period were more colorful.
Yedo-Kiriezu means “Cutting area maps of Yedo.” Before Kichimonja, it was common practice to represent the entire Yedo area on a single sheet of paper, known as the Yedo-Ohedu (Yedo large map). Originally, when one wanted to depict a certain area, the basic idea of a drawing was to illustrate the entire area so that it would fit into a single sheet. The paper will be made larger and larger if the amount of information cannot be contained on a single sheet of paper. Not only the Yedo-Ohedu, but various other old area maps of castle towns became very large. A large painting can represent the vitality of the city and the power of its ruler. The reason why the Yedo-Kiriezu maps were separated is partly for convenience, but it is also evidence of a shift in perspective from Yedo as a whole to the various areas of Yedo. This is fundamentally different from the mapping method of establishing a unified set of map leaves, separated by lines of latitude and longitude, as seen in the survey maps of the Meiji period and later. In Yedo-Kiriezu, the areas that are cut out of the map have a semantic meaning in terms of the extent to which they are delimited. The Yedo-Kiriezu titled “Tsukiji Hatchobori, Nihonbashi Minami” (Tsukiji Hatchobori, The South of Nihonbashi) is nothing more than a depiction of Hatchobori itself. As the perspective focusing on Yedo as a whole and the Yedo shogunate as the original point of view became outdated, the focus had shifted to the details of the towns, the people who live there, the common people, and each of the places and scenic spots, and conversely Yedo as a whole was viewed as a result of such constitutive elements. It can be said that the act of “cutting” changed the way Yedo was seen.
The next section of the exhibition, which is a complete change from the Yedo-Kiriezu display, uses recent digital technology and video to propose a new way of looking at the city. In kaleidomap, a work by a student artist at the University of Tokyo’s Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies (III), part of a map of the Hongo area is taken from an Yedo-Kiriezu and collaged together with various maps of the area, each with a different expression, position, and maker, on a common topographical space represented by a pure white three-dimensional model. By folding the contacts of people trying to coexist in a finite space, a colorless and transparent space is transformed into a place that is colored with the subjectivity of history and culture. The work is evocative of the problem of place, which is the thesis of human geography confronting quantitative geography. The AI “Maps” can be said to be a map that Midjourney, a map-learning generative AI, produced by thinking “This is a city.” At first glance, the map appears to be an established city, but closer inspection reveals that it often shows structures that would be impossible in a real city, such as a blue line that looks like a river but turns into a road in the middle. Can this be dismissed as simply a fallacy of the AI’s learning and generation process? Real urban functions are established as feasible structures within the constraints of current technology and social institutions. However, from time to time in history, technological innovations and institutional changes occur, and the restrictions may disappear. For example, when the world’s first subway appeared in London in 1863, people must have felt that what ran above ground now ran underground, just as rivers and roads are connected. On the other hand, in future cities where amphibious vehicles are commonplace, structures with connected rivers and roads might be natural. How about taking a hint from AI “Maps” and applying it to the city you live in today to see what kind of innovations will unlock the constraints on the “impossible” of today, and whether what is normal today was normal also in the past? Now, after visiting the exhibition, when you go out into the midst of the city of Tokyo, you may see the megalopolis in a different light.

● Main Features of the Exhibition:
Yedo-Kiriezu published by Owariya (18 pieces)
Hybrid maps produced by student artists at the University of Tokyo’s Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies (III)
Kaleidomap, AI Maps
Numerous video images of Tokyo sceneries

●Key Information
Title: Special Exhibition “The City – Exploring Yedo-Tokyo through Ancient Cartographs”
Dates: March 6, 2024 – June 2, 2024
Opening Hours: 11:00 – 18:00 (open until 20:00 on Fridays and Saturdays) *Opening hours may change.
Closed: Mondays (or the following Tuesday if Monday is a National Holiday)
Other days determined by the museum
Venue: Intermediatheque 2F [GREY CUBE]
Organizer: The University Museum, the University of Tokyo (UMUT)
Sponsorship: Hitachi University of Tokyo Laboratory
Admission: Free of charge
Address: KITTE 2F - 3F, 2-7-2 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, JAPAN
Access: JR lines and Tokyo Metro Marunouchi line Tokyo
Station (Marunouchi South Exit). Nijubashimae Station (Exit 4) on the Chiyoda Line (about 2 minutes on foot).
Contact: +81-47-316-2772 (NTT Hello Dial Service)
From Japan: 050-5541-8600 (NTT Hello Dial Service)

● High-Resolution Images
High-resolution images can be downloaded from the URL: However, they can only be used for media coverage of this exhibition and "The Cities" series exhibitions.

● Information about the exhibition series “The City”
The aforementioned “Cities” series are listed below (in the order of the exhibition dates). Details of each exhibition will be announced in a press release and on our website as they become available.

- Related Exhibition 1
The University of Tokyo x Tokyo Tower Mobilemuseum “Soundscape”
Dates: May 10, 2024 – July 15, 2024
Venue: Tokyo Tower main deck 1F
Organizer: The University Museum, the University of Tokyo (UMUT)
Special Cooperation: TOKYO TOWER Co.,Ltd
Admission: The price of the observation fee to the main deck of Tokyo Tower
Open everyday during the exhibition

- Related Exhibition 2
Special Exhibition “Archeology”
Dates: May 31, 2024 –
Venue: The University Museum, the University of Tokyo
Opening Hours: 10:00 – 17:00
Closed: See website
Organizer: The University Museum, the University of Tokyo
Admission: Free of charge

- Related Exhibition 3
Special Exhibition “Smartcity Tokyo 2030”
Dates: July 1,2024 –
Venue: The University of Tokyo’s Interfaculty Initiative in Information Studies (III) B2F Exhibition Hall
Organizer: Hitachi University of Tokyo Laboratory
Admission: Free of charge
Address: 7-3-1 Hongo Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, JAPAN

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