Japan’s 1695 Tottori Bafuku Records

Japan’s Shogunate Formally Excludes Ulleungdo and Dokdo From Japanese Territory

The following documents are very critical to the historical ownership over Dokdo Island (sometimes called Liancourt Rocks or Takeshima by Japan) After the first dispute on Ulleungdo Island involving Anyeongbok in 1693, Japan began to correspond with Chosun about territorial ownership of Takeshima (Ulleungdo) and Matsushima (Dokdo) The documents on this page are Japanese records that detail the Shogunate’s position on Ulleungdo and Dokdo. This is clearly demonstrated in the questions and anwers between the Shogunate government and Inbashu in 1695 over Takeshima and Matsushima. From these papers we know the Shogunate decided that both Ulleungdo and Dokdo were considered as not part of Japan but rather Chosun territory. The records of the Shogunate we written in a question – answer format and are thus presented in the same style below.

The Questions Asked by the Shognate to Inbashu (Japanese Text)


An English Translation of the 1695 Records

1. “…Since when has Takeshima (Ulleungdo) as part of Inaba Provice (因幡)and Hoki Province (伯耆), become under these two’s jurisdiction? Is it before or after the year 1632, when the ancestors (Japanese name) was given land..?”

2. “…What is the size of the island Takeshima (Ulleungdo)? Is it inhabited by people..?”

3. “…When is the departure time for its marine products of Takeshima (Ulleungdo)? Are they going every year or occasionally? What do they hunt? Are there many ships going there..?”

4. “…Three or four years ago, Koreans were found hunting there, and two of them were taken as hotages. Had Koreans sometimes been there even before that time? Or they hadn’t it been that way for two years..?”

5. “…Have they been there for the last two years..?”

6. “…When was the trip made last year? how many boats were there? And how many people were there..?”

7. “…Besides Takeshima (Ulleungdo) are there any other islands that are within the two areas jurisdiction? Do citizens from these two areas exercise their fishing and gathering on the island..?”

The three pictures above are original images of the documents recording Japan inquiry about territorial ownership of Ulleungdo (known asTakeshima) and Matsushima (Dokdo). Below we see Japan excluded both islands from their territory, thus defining them as Chosun’s.

Inbashu’s Response to the Shogunate Regarding Ulleungdo and Dokdo (Japanese Text)


海を渡って漁をしているのは、松平新太?(池田光政)が(因幡?伯耆を)領?としていた時( 1617-1632年)、 御奉書(幕府老中が?行した文書)によってご指示があったと聞いております。それ以前に渡海し

A Translation of the 1695 Response to the Shogunates Inquiry

1. “…Takeshima does not belong to Inaba Province (因幡) or Hoki Provnce (伯耆). When (Japanese name) was the Lord (1617~1632) a,b,c, (Japanese names) have been crossing the sea and fishing. I’ve also heard that this was permitted through an official document issued by government officials (Makbu) I’ve also heard that these activites had been conducted before that era but this is not confirmed…”

2. “…The island is about 8 or 9ri (36kms) around and there are no inhabitants…”

3. “…The hunting and gathering season starts around February and March and departs from Yonago. They go every year, gather abalone and hunt sealions. They use two boats, big and small…”

4. “…Four years ago, Chosun people came to the island and encountered our fishermen and it was recorded as such at the time. The next year, Chosun people kept coming and our fishermen confronted them and took two of them to Yonago and that incident was also recorded, they were sent to Nagasaki…”

5. “…The following year, due to terrible winds little attention was given to the island which is also reported. This year, voyages have been made again but a many foreigners were seen therefore they paid little to the island and left. On the way back they caught abalone on Matsushima…”

6. “…Four years ago, when the Chosun people came they arrived in 11 boats, six of them met with terrible winds and the remaing five boats stayed on the island (Takeshima) including 53 people. The following year 42 people came on 3 boats. This year, since there are many boats there appear to be people as well. So little attention was paid and not much else is known…”

7. “…There are no other islands belonging to the two prefectures including Takeshima (Ulleungdo) and Matsushima (Dokdo)…”

The three records above show clearly that Japan did not consider Ulleungdo and dokdo as part of Japan. These records effectively kill the false assertions of Japan’s MOFA and Shimane Prefecture lobbyists about 17th Century ownership of the islets

Tottori (Shimane) Prefecture Records Some Maps for Locational Reference

The maps to follow are from a Japanese historical chart from the 18th Century. Their purpose is to give locational reference as to what areas the documents above refer to. The map below left is an overview of Japan’s West coast showing Shimane Prefecture, Oki Island, Matsushima (Dokdo) and Takeshima (Ulleungdo).

The map below right is a close up of Shimane (Tottori) Prefecture showing exactly where the Japanese voyages to Takeshima and Matsushima originated from. From the records above we have learned that these yearly trips departed from Yonago City. Yonago is labeled upside down (米子) and can be seen as part of Hoki Province (伯耆) which is colored pink. Next, to Hoki is Inaba Province (因幡) colored in red. (click maps for larger image)

Again, although a few residents of this region were given permission of passage to these islands during the Shogunate’s isolationist era, it is a recorded fact above the Shogunate did not consider these lands as part of Japan. Thus, this “permission” was not an act of sovereignty over Takeshima or Matsushima, nor a “bestowal of these lands to Japanese residents, but rather the right to visit to these foreign lands.

Japan’s 1877 Investigation of Ulleungdo – Another Record of Japan’s 17th Century Voyages

In the year 1877, Japan’s Meiji government conducted an investigation of the history of Ulleungdo (Takeshima) Island. This document is useful because within the pages can be found Japan’s first records of Ulleungdo (Takeshima) and Dokdo (Matsushima) The information here regarding Japan’s first “permissions” to voyage to Takeshima and Matsushima is identical to the 1695 Tottori Records above. Below are the documents and a translation.Kobunruko Documents from 1877

Images above are from the

A Translation of Japan’s 1877 Inquiry’s About Ulleungdo and Dokdo’s Historical Background

“…磯竹島 (Isotakeshima or Isotakejima) has another name, 竹島 (Takeshima). It is north-west of Oki province (隱岐國) and the distance from Oki is 120 Ri (里). The circumference is 10Ri (里). There is a steep mountain and flat fields are rare. It has three streams and there is a fall also. But, starting points of the streams cannot be seen since valleys are so deep and forest of trees and bamboos are so dense.

Plants which catch one’s eye are goryo pines, rose wood, amur cork tree, camellia, oak, paulownia, Wikstroemia sikokiana, southern Japanese hemlock, bamboo, mano bamboo, wild carrot, longstamen onion, Japanese butterbur, Japanese ginger, udo, lily, edible burdock, cherry elaeagnus, raspberry, giant knotweed, Japanese aucuba.

Animals are sea lion, cat, rat, varied tit, pigeon, wild duck, brown-eared bulbul, oriental greenfinch, wild duck, cormoant, swallow, golden eagle, eagle, hawk, nadikoana(?) bird, great tit, and so on. Also found are cinnabar and malachite.

Fishes and shellfishes are too many to enumera. (The island) yields sea lions and ear shells. To catch ear shells, in the evening, input bamboo into the sea, and in the morning, ear shells are on the leaves of the bamboo. It is said that the taste is very good. And (we can) obtain several 斗’s(unit of the volume) oils from a sea-lion.

Next, there is “another island” called 松島 (Matsushima). The circumference is 30 Jung( 町), It is on the way to 竹島 (Ulleungdo). The distance from Oki is 80 Ri(里). Trees and a bamboos are rare. (The island) yields fishes and sea lions, too.

During 永? period, a merchant, 大屋甚吉 (Ohya Jinkichi) [Later, he changed his name to 大谷], who lived in 伯耆國 會見郡 米子町 (present Yonago city in Tottori prefecture) was hit by typhoon on the way back from 越後 (Echigo; Niigata prefecture), and drifted to this place. (He) investigated the whole island and noticed that there are a lot of fishes and shellfishes. After returning home, (he) asked the Investigator, Abe Shirogoro who was staying in Yonago Castle by order of Shogunate, to allow him to visit there. Abe asked it to Edo, and received a letter of permission on May 16 of the 元和 4 year (1618)… “

The True Nature of Japanese Voyages to Ulleungdo and Dokdo

On the lower right side of the right page above is the Japanese record of the permission to voyage to Takeshima (Ulleungdo) the Oya and Murakawa families recieved. It reads as follows:

“..We have heard that a voyage was made from Hoki Provnce’s (伯耆) Yonago (米子) to Takeshima (Ulleungdo) in a previous year, which has led to a desire to go again. Concerning the application of Murakawa Ichibee and Oya Jinkichi of Yonago, we have spoken to the Shogun, and he listened to the request without seeming to have any objection and has granted their request. Therefore, I humbly convey this to you.

May 16 (1618)

Nagai Sinanonokami Naomasa
Inoue Kazuenokami Masatsugu
Doi Ohinokami Toshikatsu
Sakai Utanokami Tadayo

To Matsudaira Shintaro (Feudal lord of Tottori domain)…”

Notice this permission was just for voyage and not land being granted nor “feudal tenure” as some Japanese now assert.

The images on the above right side are the original documents of Japan’s 1877 Report on the history of Ulleungdo. Here it can be confirmed voyages to Takeshima and Matsushima were conducted from Yonago City in Hoki Province (伯耆國 會見郡 米子町). See the highlighted script on the bottom document. It was concluded the islands were not part of Hoki or Inaba Provinces as shown above (click image for larger view)

Tottori Prefecture Records, December 24, 1695 A Conclusion Based the Evidence

Both Hoki Province (伯耆) and Inaba Province (因幡) did not recognize Takeshima (Ulleungdo) and Matsushima (Dokdo) as Japanese territory, nor did the Shogunate government. We also know from this that Matsushima was involved the territorial dispute too.

The above session was conducted immediately before the Roju Abe, Bungono-kami sanctioned the official note from the problem of Ulleungdo Island in 1696 and it is believed to have influenced the decision of the Shogunate government. The official note states that “…from the beginning the island was not taken from Chosun by force and it does not make sense that it will be returned to Chosun…” and it acknowledges Takeshima as Chosun’s inherent territory from ancient times. This is precisely on this grounds that the Shogunate reversed its very decision in three years.

Now in the official letter of the Shogunate government there is reference to “prohibiting voyage to and fishing at Takeshima. What area does Takeshima include in this reference? Does it refer to Takeshima (Ulleungdo) only, or to include Dokdo (Matsushima)? That Takeshima included Matsushima could only be confirmed by Japanese data. According to Japanese Professor Kajimura Hideki, there was not reason for the Shogunate government to covet Matsushima (Dokdo) particularly because Matsushima had little value for fishing or logging, and that it was regarded simply as a milestone for voyage to Takeshima (Ulleungdo).

Therefore, no historical data shows that the Shogunate government consciously distinguished Takeshima (Ulleungdo) from Matsushima (Dokdo) and that Matsushima was understood to be an island attached to Takeshima (Ulleungdo). This must have been the generally accepted idea of that time.

일본의1695년 돗토리 막부기록