The kana chart appears at the bottom of the page.

Here's the information Serge Flore has at the moment:

The table was printed as an illustration to the description of the travels of "Engelbert Kaempfer", which were written by himself during his stay in Japan in the period between the years 1690 - 1693.

The characters were probably drawn by a European, as closely as possible resembling the Japanese original calligraphy at the time. This procedure is mentioned in the book.

The original German handwriting of the book was bought by "Ridder Hans Sloane", and first translated into English by "Hr. Scheuchzer", member of the "Koninglyk Genootschap van London" (Royal Society of London).

Then, the book was translated from this English version into French by "Hr. Naude" (French refugee in London) as "Histoire Naturelle Civile & Ecclesiastigne de l'Empire du Japon", printed in "den Hage" by "Gosse" and "Neaulme", 1732 in three parts in 12.

Later, this French version was translated into Dutch, named "Reize van Engelbert Kaempfer naar Japan" (Travels of Engelbert Kaempfer to Japan), printed by "Arent van Huyssteen" te Amsterdam, 1733, in folio. This is the book the "Imatto Canna" table was taken from.

Finally, this Dutch translation was again reviewed with reference to the French edition, which led to some different interpretations, and the work was abridged and printed in a smaller edition (smaller book and print, larger number of copies) in the year 1758. The travels to Japan are covered in part 17 of the series, which as a whole contains stories from travels all around the world.

A copy of part 17 of this last mentioned edition was given to me by my friend in London (many thanks to her). Unfortunately, in this copy I can't find any reference to the character table or Japanese writing systems in general. Maybe this is because this edition doesn't have the same artwork as the original. (Besides, the plates that should be in the book are all missing from my copy.) So I have to do some additional investigation.

I have put the names of people and institutions involved between "", and have deliberately NOT translated them, for I am afraid this might lead to some misunderstandings. In some cases I have ADDED the supposed translation between (). Please correct me if I was wrong somewhere.

I hope this will provide sufficient information for people who are interested, to look out for the original book in historical libraries. Perhaps more recent reprints are available? Anyway, besides the language issue, the amount of historical social, cultural, political and geographical background information is amazing.

If you have any questions about the chart and where it came from, you may contact Serge by email.

Here is the chart (reduced to half size):


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