This captivating, large format Japanese world map doubles as a ‘Sugoroku’ gameboard and was issued by the Osaka Mainichi Shinbun newspaper as a 1930 ‘New Year’s Supplement’, a special reward to its readers. The composition is dominated by a stylized, colourful world map, depicting all major countries adorned with their flags. All major cities are labelled and connected by flight routes, while images of famous aircraft, such as Charles Lindbergh’s ‘Spirit of St. Louis’ (the first plane to cross the Atlantic in 1927) and the legendary German Zeppelin airships are shown crossing the seas. The margins feature photographic images of the wonders of the world, whether they be great edifices, archeological sites, exotic animals or people in local garb.
The map is the product of Japan’s intense contemporary fascination with the outside world and its embrace of technology, including aeronautics. In fact, during the 1920s and ‘30s Japan moved rapidly from having no domestic aircraft industry to possessing world class production. Unfortunately, these developments were channeled into Japan’s rising hyper-militarism that led to World War II.
Sugoroku is a Japanese game that can perhaps best be likened to backgammon. In the lower right corner, the map features the directions for playing ‘The Easiest Way’, as Interpreted by The David Rumsey Map Collection:
“Departing from Osaka  and moving to all the places in order of 2, 3, 4, you then return to Tokyo . the player who reaches there first is the winner. “throw the dice and proceed as many places as the number you cast…” upper right text informs players of distances between locations, with basic geographic facts. the legend, toward the bottom of the map oval, shows 5 types of red lines & 1 square: 1. well-known large aircraft route (refers to Zeppelin, seen center of map) 2. first-class limited time route 3. liner air route 4. air route already mastered/controlled/conquered 5. planned route. main localities [red square inside black square].”
References: David Rusmey Map Collection: 7926.000.