Kaibara Ekiken and the Fudoki: Traveling the Native Land
by Nobuko Toyosawa
Talk given at the Dec. 8-9, 2010 Conference
This presentation focuses on the scholar and traveler Kaibara Ekiken (1630-1714), who developed a new mode of writing about space and topography, movement across the landscape, and the relationship of places and spaces in the present to moments in the past. I will argue here that Ekiken’s spatial writings reflect his attempt to quantify space while investigating topographic features of the locale, and that his primary concern was to represent Japan in the tradition of regional gazetteer (fudoki) writing rather than introducing famous places (meisho; nadokoro). By writing about the locale based on a variety of official historical texts, Ekiken tapped into a sense of historical continuity rooted in the ancient past while visualizing the spatiality of the realm where he lived.