On Japanese Imports of Optical Instruments during the Early Edo Period

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On Japanese Imports of Optical Instruments during the Early Edo Period

Format:
Article
Kyushu Univ. Production Kyushu Univ. Production
Title(Other Language):
江戸初期の光学製品輸入について
Responsibility:
ミヒェル, ヴォルフガング(九州大学大学院言語文化研究院:教授)
Language:
Japanese
Publication info:
洋学. 12, pp. 119-164, 2003-05. Society for the History of Western Studies in Japan
Version:
Publisher
Abstract:
Based on unpublished sources of the Dutch East Indian Company (VOC) this study traces the imports of spectacles, magnifying glasses, telescopes and microscopes during the 17th and early 18th century. For each of these items it is shown when and how it was introduced to Japan and in which quantities it was delivered during the first decades. Technical specifications are given as well as the name of Japanese officials who received these optical instruments as presents or bought it as a high priced commodity. Furthermore the introduction of glass blowing is clarified for the first time and some light is shed on Mori Ninzaemon, one of the first Japanese telescope makers. While telescopes were introduced soon after their invention in amazing quantitites, it took more than a century for the first imports of microscopes to take place because they were considered to be less useful. For similar reasons the import of magnifying glasses was interrupted in 1668 when the Tokugawa regime declared a series of commodities to be unnecessary and therefore not welcome any more. Spectacles were brought to Japan throughout the 17th century, but the Dutch dealt mainly in small quantities of expensive and therefore lucrative models often sold together with lavish cases. Read more
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