# 18612

大倉孫兵衛 [Ōkura Magobei], (1843-1921) (publisher)

[MELBOURNE; SYDNEY] 万国名所双録(萬國名所雙録) [Bankoku Meisho Sugoroku] (Famous Places of the World Sugoroku)

[Tokyo] : Published by 大倉孫兵衛 (Ōkura Magobei), [1887] (Meiji 20). Traditional Japanese children’s dice game, sugoroku. Colour woodblock print on paper, 800 x 710 mm (opened, not including the title slip affixed to the top of the board), folding to 253 x 205 mm; pictorial cover; a fine example.

There are two varieties of sugoroku, one similar to backgammon and another similar to Snakes and Ladders. The present example is of the latter type, also called e-sugoroku (picture sugoroku). Countless variations of playing boards were made, with many different themes. This sugoroku board depicts 37 different places around the world. Some are famous locations and some are simply regions. The bottom right is labeled as “start (furidashi 振出し) and it lists six points ① (The country of) Hawaii ② New Zealand, ③ Cape Town, ④ Central Africa, ⑤ Yokohama, and ⑥ Korea. A player would roll a six-sided die, which would determine where they would move their piece. Each image lists three to six additional numbered place names, which would be where the player could move to on their next roll. In the event that they rolled one of the numbers which was not represented in their current space, their turn would end there without them being able to move. The winner was the first to reach the space at the upper centre, an image of six Meiji era officials dressed in military finery gathered around a table in a lavishly decorated room. This space is marked 上り (agari), which is what one says when they go out (win) a game.

Each location belongs to one of six regions: Asia, Europe, South America, Africa, Australia, or North America. These locations include separate, illustrated views of Sydney and Melbourne, and one illustration depicting New Zealand. Each of these six regions has a small symbol associated with it, which appears in a key next to the title as well as before each location name. For example, a location belonging to the region of South America is indicated by a small gourd shape, while one belonging to the region of Asia is indicated by a circle.

Interestingly, each locality – including Sydney, Melbourne and New Zealand – is labeled in English, with Japanese script above providing the pronunciation for Japanese people.

This game was produced only 33 years after the opening of Japan, so extremely few Japanese of the time would have actually visited the places depicted. Certainly there was knowledge of the outside world pouring into Japan at a greater rate than ever before – a rate increased by the Japanese government’s quest for western knowledge. Indeed, the ending square with the military officials may allude to the diplomatic missions that the Meiji government sent around the world to gather information and negotiate diplomatic ties. In that light, this playing board could be seen as representing the journeys of these missions, which had a significant impact on the modernization of Japan. From 1879 to 1896, the Melbourne and Yokohama-based merchant Alexander Marks was honorary consul for Japan for the Australian colonies.