At ComingAnarchy, I’ve spent years publishing posts that show, through simple graphic animation, the changing borders of nations over the course of human history. Japan as a nation is not a very exciting topic–the borders have stayed pretty much the same, except for the brief imperial period a century ago, at least internationally. Domestically and internally, there has been much change through the years, that may be too much of a Japan-centric topic for ComingAnarchy, but which may interest MF readers.
For the first of what I hope will be several examples, let’s look at Shikoku at the end of the 19th century. I was recently reading 日本全国「県境」の謎 (The mysteries of Japan’s prefectural borders) by Kenji Asai, who has written dozens of books on Japan’s regional geography. I was amused by the sudden changes that took place in the administrative divisions of Shikoku in less than two decades. Shikoku, which means “four countries”, and went from four “countries” during the Edo Period, to five prefectures, then three, then two, then three again, and finally back to four. The transition goes like this: