Ursula Flache
Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin-PK, East Asia Department. Head of Japan Section

Shopping books in Edo – the Eulenburg expedition and the beginning of the Japanese collection of Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin-PK

In the year 2021 we celebrate 160 years of German-Japanese relations. On behalf of Prussia an expedition lead by the Count Friedrich zu Eulenburg arrived in Japan in September 1860. It took five months of negotiations until the so called “Treaty of Amity and Commerce” between Prussia and Japan was finally signed on 24th January 1861. Between the official meetings the members of the expedition had a considerable amount of free time that they spent with exploring Edo and its surroundings. In the official report about the expedition extended passages concerning shopping, book stores and Japanese reading habits are to be found.

About 100 items of the current rare book collection of the East Asia Department of Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin-PK can be traced back to the Eulenburg expedition. In fact the books, maps and scrolls that the members of the expedition brought back to Germany constitute the beginning of the Japanese collection of the then Royal Library. Apart from Eulenburg himself, the items can be traced back to the attaché Max von Brandt, the geologist Ferdinand von Richthofen und the physician Robert Lucius von Ballhausen. Their purchases reflect not only their personal professional interests, but indicate a broader acquistion plan.

江戸のブックショッピング ― オイレンブルク使節団とベルリン国立図書館の日本コレクション事始め