Behind the Story of Blood and Tears – Making a Map and Banners for the Battle of Ueno

Behind the Story of Blood and Tears – Making a Map and Banners for the Battle of Ueno

August 28, 2018 Behind the Story Blog Blood and Tears Graphic Design History Japan 0
Map of Edo showing Kaneiji Temple.

Credit: sabakuINK CC BY-SA 4.0  Source: C.V. Starr East Asian Library, University of California, Berkeley


Episode 12 (13AUG) of Blood and Tears includes a map detailing troop movements during the Battle of Ueno. This graphic started with a woodblock print of Edo published in 1858—part of the Japanese Historical Map Collection housed at the C.V. Starr East Asian Library at the University of California, Berkeley.

The historical map was a particularly useful starting point because it clearly shows the key battle sites, Kuromon Gate (southern, main entrance) and Yamanakamon Gate (northern, back entrance). It also clearly shows the samurai-owned properties located adjacent to the temple. For example, the large plot west of the pond belonged to Lord Maeda of the Kaga Domain, as indicated by the written label and family crest (see arrow).

I referred to a number of sources to determine which domains were involved and where they deployed. These sources were particularly helpful:

This image shows two rows of banners bearing domain crests. The Satsuma crest is a circle divided into quarters. The Chōshū crest is a horizontal line above three dots. The Ōmura crest is a five-petaled flower blossom. The Okayama crest is a butterfly viewed from the top. The Tsu crest is five, broad, plant leaves. The Yanagawa crest is a cord wrapped around a pair of crossed sticks. The Saga crest is a pair of plant shoots. The Tottori crest is a butterfly viewed from the side. The Kumamoto crest is a large dot surrounded by eight small dots.

上野戦争の旗 (top row l-r) Satsuma, Chōshū, Ōmura, Okayama, (bottom row l-r) Tsū, Yanagawa, Saga, Tottori, Kumamoto. 
Credit: sabakuINK CC BY-SA 4.0 Source: 家紋DB

I created the war banners bearing the various house crests (kamon) using the KamonDB [家紋DB] website, a searchable database that includes downloadable .png and .jpg files. The site even includes crests from famous manga/anime, such as Naruto and One Piece.

This image shows a small triangle combined with a spiral line.

Konoha family crest, “Naruto”
Source: 家紋DB


This image shows a bird's head and wings inside a scalloped circular border. Projecting from the circle are four leaf sprouts or fish tails.

Wano Country crest, “One Piece”
Source: 家紋DB

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