Japan’s Most Famous Surveyor: Ino Tadataka and His Iconic 1821 Map of Japan!

Brock, John Francis

Having examined famous surveyors and surveys from all over the world it is not often that I have encountered a country that was so proud of one of its legendary surveyors that they struck a postage stamp to him for his survey work. However, I was absolutely delighted when I discovered that the Japanese nation had dedicated an 80 yen postage stamp to their hero surveyor Ino Tadataka who had been responsible for surveying the country to provide the details for the first accurate map of its territory in 1821. Even though this large chart was published posthumously he is rightly celebrated as the genius behind this masterpiece of cartography having spent the last seventeen (17) years of his life personally walking and measuring the entirety of its coastal boundaries from the advanced age of 55 years.

Within this paper I will trace the life of this great man highlighting the Edo Period of Japanese history along with the techniques and surveying equipment utilized by Ino and his survey teams to collect the measurements required to produce the first accurate delineation of the coasts of their nation. Along the way we will visit Ino’s house and various museums and statue monuments honouring this surveying hero and his truly remarkable achievements in precise mapping during a time before GPS, drone and aerial photogrammetry and remote sensing from satellites.

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Brock, John Francis: Japan’s Most Famous Surveyor: Ino Tadataka and His Iconic 1821 Map of Japan!. 2019. Copernicus Publications.

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