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Gaihōzu: Japanese Imperial Maps

Last Updated: 21-Oct-2015

This guide gives information about the Japanese military and imperial maps held at Stanford Libraries.  It provides background information on the maps as well as access to them through an index map interface.  The maps may be downloaded through this interface.

Subject Librarians

Julie Sweetkind-Singer
Assistant Director of Geospatial, Cartographic and Scientific Data & Services, Head of the Branner Earth Sciences Library & Map Collections
(650) 725-1102


The maps in the collection are best found by using an index to locate the region and specific map of interest.  Indices have been created for each map set in the corpus.


Index Map Link

Access the entire cataloged collection here in Searchworks.  The collection holds over 120 different sets, which will be released through the index viewer as the indexes are created.  


Sinyang, North Korea

Sinyang, South Pyong An Province of North Korea


First surveyed in 1917, updated in 1932, reprinted in 1947.


Stanford University Libraries holds a large collection of Japanese military and imperial maps, referred to as gaihōzu, or "maps of outer lands." These maps were produced starting in the early Meiji (1868-1912) era and the end of World War II by the Land Survey Department of the General Staff Headquarters, the former Japanese Army.  The first charge was to map specific territories beyond Japan's borders.  Over time the mapping efforts grew to including "mapping of interimperial boundaries, cadastral surveys of the colonies, and detailed drawings of strategic cities and fortifications."  Geographically the Stanford maps cover a broad area including Japan, China, Mongolia, North Korea, South Korea, the Philippines, and beyond.  

The Library is in the process of scanning and making available all of the maps in the collection.  In order to quickly assess what we hold for each region, we have created an ArcGIS online interface to access each set.  This portal allows you to search for the maps geographically through an index and then download the images at multiple resolutions.  This guide provides access to the indexes, details the history of how the maps came to Stanford, and provides resources for further information about this corpus of material.


Distribution of the Maps

Maps were distributed to libraries in the United States through the Army Map Service and the Library of Congress's Map Depository Program.  Maps also came to Stanford directly from the Hoover Institute Tokyo Office in 1947 as part of the Wright Project.  Dr. Shigeru Kobayashi has written a detailed text in Japanese about these maps entitled, "Gaihōzu: Teikoku Nihon no Ajia chizu." Dr. Kobayashi paper presented at the Stanford Symposium gives a detailed history of the maps in English entitled, "Japanese Mapping of Asia-Pacific Areas, 1873-1945: An Overview."

A listing of known libraries that hold Japanese military and colonial maps produced up to the end of World War II.

Academia Sinica, Taiwan Southern Methodist University
California Academy of Sciences Stanford University
Carleton College Tohoku University, Japan
Claremont College University of Arkansas
Clark University University of California, Berkeley
Cleveland Public Library University of Chicago
Gifu Prefectural Library, Japan University of Colorado
Harvard University University of Georgia
Kyoto University, Japan University of Hawaii, Manoa
Library of Congress University of Illinois
Louisiana State University University of Iowa
National Geographic Society University of Michigan
National Library of Australia University of New Mexico
New York Public Library University of Oklahoma
Northwestern University University of Pittsburgh
Oberlin College University of Tennessee
Ochanomizu University, Japan University of Texas
Oklahoma State Library University of Washington
Oregon State University University of Wisconsin-Madison, American Geographical Society Library
Osaka University, Japan Washington State University
Princeton University

Yale University

San Diego Public Library