Gappo sansui kan (Scenes of Nature in Gappo. See: Hirosakishi shi Tsūshi hen 2: Kinsei 1, pg. 343, fig. 107)
Scenes of Nature in Gappo is an Ansei 6 (1859) compilation of three sketch books by Hirao Rosen (1808–1880), a painter and nativist scholar from Tsugaru who was active from Bakumatsu/late Tokugawa through early Meiji. The area known as Gappo used to encompass the coast of Mutsu bay, Sotogahama (presently Aomori city and the eastern Tsugaru district), and Kamiiso (covering the eastern part of the Tsugaru peninsula); however, Rosen seems to use the word to represent Tsugaru in its entirety. A total of 59 illustrations depict scenes of nature not only from the Gappo area's Kamiiso and Sotogahama, but also views of Mt. Iwaki from many different perspectives, as well as other beautiful and scenic spots throughout the Tsugaru domain.
Each volume is bound in the Japanese style and measures 19cm by 26.8 cm, and the title plate is written in reisho script. According to the author's preface, his goal in publishing these picturesque scenes of Tsugaru's mountains, rivers, and shoreline was to increase his and other Tsugaru inhabitants' awareness of their native place. The drawings appear within a border on the page, suggesting that Rosen planned to publish them using a woodblock printer in order to widen their exposure to the public.
Volume one begins with a Chinese-style preface by Hirosaki retainer Kanematsu Sekikyo (1810–1877) and a Japanese-style preface by Tsuruya Yutaka (1808–1871), a disciple of nativist scholar Hirata Atsutane. These are followed by Rosen's preface, explanatory notes, and then sketches the scenic Nijikai Village stone tower (now located in Minami Tsugaru gun Ōwani machi Nijikai). Volume two illustrates Zatōishi of Ichinowatari Village (now part of Hirosaki city), Kodomari Cape, and Lake Jūsanko; volume three illustrates Aomori, Yu no shima and Hadakajima in Asamushi Village (now Asamushi of Aomori city), and stone monuments from Miyadate Village (now part of Hirosaki city), known today for the Nakabessho collection of medieval stone tablets and stupas. All are detailed and realistic depictions of the landscapes composed using fine lines and landscape perspective techniques. These are valuable historical resources which visually depict the Tsugaru landscape during the Bakumatsu period when they were created.
The title plate describes it as a “volume one,” suggesting that there were further installments planned. According to the short-form biography written by Rosen's students Mikami Sennen and Kudō Sen'itsu in Meiji 10 (1877), there exist ten volumes of sketches entitled Scenes of Nature; if they were referring to Scenes of Nature in Gappo, then it will be vital in the future to determine the existence of these additional volumes and their relation to the present collection.
The sketches in this collection never went to print beyond this manuscript form, and Rosen's younger brother Saburōji's great grandchild Hirao Tadazō gifted it to the Hirosaki Public Library in 1967 (Showa 42). In 1987 (Showa 62) the library published its first replica copies. (Chiba Ichidai)
Tsugaru no eshi (Hirosaki shiritsu hakubutsukan, 1982)
Gappo sansui kan (Hirosaki shiritsu Hirosaki toshokan, 1987)