Fair highlight from Jonathan A. Hill, Bookseller, Inc.
KANO, Hisaakira, 2nd Fiefdom Lord of Ichinomiya-han. Beautifully illustrated & vividly colored scroll entitled “Kano Bicchumori kaei gonen kacchu chakuyo choren ezu” [“Military Exercises at the Estate of Kano, Lord of Bicchu, in the Fifth Year of Kaei”]. One picture scroll, 263 x 10,170mm., with numerous illus. and black & red manuscript explanatory text. [From the preface]: “April 1852.”
In the early 1850s, Japan still maintained sakoku, a policy of isolationism established in1635 and intended to minimize foreign influence. The governments of Britain, the United States, and Russia, were each determined to be the first to benefit from trade with Japan. Within Japan, there was a growing and passionate debate about how to respond to foreign incursions.
This is a finely illustrated scroll with bird’s-eye views of Lord Hisaakira Kano’s well-equipped private army at a shimoyashiki (a secondary estate) outside of central Edo. It depicts military exercises which took place a year before Commodore Matthew Perry’s first arrival. The scroll vividly illustrates formations, uniforms, and the coordinated use of rifles and cannons. In one of the scenes depicted in our scroll, Kano (1813-64), second lord of Ichinomiya-han in Kazusa province, is shown leading the exhibition of his troops’ capabilities. A top minister of security, Kano advised the shogun closely on matters of national defense. An authority on such matters, he prioritized the coastal defenses of his province, which occupied a key strategic location close to Edo. Kano’s army, composed of farmers, fishermen, and merchants, was superbly organized and well-equipped with the latest military technology supplied by the Dutch.