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Title: Hildreth's "Japan as It Was and Is": A Handbook of Old Japan, Volume 1 (of 2)

Author: Richard Hildreth

Author of introduction, etc.: William Elliot Griffis

Editor: Ernest W. Clement

Release date: December 9, 2021 [eBook #66913]

Language: English

Credits: MFR, Les Galloway and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive)


Transcriber’s Notes

Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected. Variations in hyphenation have been standardised but all other spelling and punctuation remains unchanged.

On page 168, 2nd paragraph of Chapter XIX, refers to a Papal Bull promulgated by Pope Clement VII in 1860. This has been corrected to Pope Clement VIII who was pope when the Bull was promulgated in 1600.

There are a number of footnote references to an Appendix which is not included in this edition. The first of these are footnotes 1 and 2, which are linked, but subsequent references are marked by an unlinked [1}.

Volume II contains a complete index to both volumes. This has been copied into this volume.


Uniform with this Work

By Ernest W. Clement. With two
maps and seventy-two illustrations
from photographs. Sixth edition.
Price, $1.40 net.

A. C. McClurg & Co.

Image of Date Masamune

“Japan as it Was and Is”







With One Hundred Illustrations and Maps

Volume I

publisher’s device


A. C. McClurg & Co.


Published September 29, 1906


[Pg v]


Volume I.

“Advertisement” to Original Edition. Richard Hildreth xiii
Editor’s Introduction Ernest W. Clement xix
Foreword Wm. Elliot Griffis xxv
Japanese Pronunciation xxxi
Earliest European Knowledge of Japan—Japanese Histories—Marco Polo’s Account of the Mongol or Tartar Invasion—Accounts of the Same Event given by the Chinese and Japanese Annalists—A. D. 1281 or 1283 1
Portuguese Empire in the East—Discovery of Japan—Galvano’s Account of it—Fernam Mendez Pinto’s Account of his First Visit to Japan, and Adventures there—Japanese Account of the First Arrival of Portuguese—A. D. 1542-1545 11
Pinto’s Second Visit to Japan—Anjirō, or Paul of the Holy Faith—A. D. 1547-1548 34
Religious Faith Three Centuries ago—Zeal of the Portuguese Conquerors—Antonio Galvano—Missionary Seminaries at Ternate and Goa—Order of the Jesuits—Francis Xavier—His Mission to India—His Mission to Japan—His Companion, Cosme de Torres—The Philippine Islands—A. D. 1542-1550 40 [Pg vi]
Political and Religious Condition of Japan, as found by the Portuguese—The Yakatas, or Kings, and their Vassals—Revenues—Money—Distinction of Ranks—The Kubō-Sama—The Dairi—Shintō—Buddhism—Judō—A. D. 1550 57
Civilization of the Japanese—Animals—Agriculture—Arts—Houses—Ships—Literature—Jurisprudence—Character of the Japanese—Their Custom of cutting themselves open—A. D. 1550 75
Preaching of Xavier—Pinto’s Third Visit to Japan—A. D. 1550-1551 81
Progress of the Missions under Fathers De Torres and Nugnes Barreto—Mendez Pinto a Fourth Time in Japan—A. D. 1551-1557 87
Louis Almeida—The Missionaries establish themselves at Miyako [Kyōtō]—Louis Froez—Princes converted in Shimo—Rise of Nobunaga—Prosperity of the Missions—Noble and Princely Converts—Nagasaki built—Nobunaga makes himself Emperor—A. D. 1557-1577 93
Father Valignani—State of the Missions—Conversion and Baptism of the King of Bungo—Growth of Nagasaki—Embassy to the Pope—Documents relating to this Embassy—A. D. 1577-1586 100
Events meanwhile in Japan—Downfall of Nobunaga—Accession of Hashiba, afterwards known as Kwambacudono, and, finally, as Taikō-Sama—Edict against the Jesuits—Return of the Ambassadors—A. D. 1582-1588 116[Pg vii]
Recapitulation—Extent of the Japanese Empire—Valignani arrives at Nagasaki—Progress hitherto of the Catholic Faith—The Emperor’s Projects against China—Valignani’s Visit to the Emperor at Miyako—Ukondono—The returned Japanese Ambassadors—Audience given to Valignani—The Viceroy’s Letter—The Interpreter Rodriguez—A. D. 1588-1593 123
New Troubles of the Missionaries from their own Countrymen—The Emperor claims Homage of the Governor of the Philippines—Mutual Jealousies of the Portuguese and Spaniards—Spanish Adventurers in Japan—The Emperor’s Suspicions excited—His Reply to the Viceroy of Goa—A. D. 1591-1592 134
The Expedition against Corea—The Emperor associates his Nephew—City of Fushimi—Correspondence of the Emperor with the Governor of Manila—The Jesuits denounced by the Spanish Envoys—Consequences thereof—Departure of Valignani—A. D. 1592 140
Progress of the Corean War—Success of the Japanese—Konishi Settsu-no-Kami, Viceroy of Corea—Edict of the Emperor for disarming the Converts in Shimo—Disgrace and Downfall of the Royal Family of Bungo—Terazawa, Governor of Nagasaki—His Conversion and Friendly Acts—A. D. 1592-1593 144
Jealousy on the Part of the Dominicans and Franciscans towards Jesuits—This Jealousy coöperates with the Mercantile Jealousy of the Spaniards at Manila—Franciscan Friars establish themselves at Miyako, Ōsaka, and Nagasaki—Edicts against them—Deposition and Death of the Emperor’s Nephew—A. D. 1593-1595 147
Great Earthquake—Mission from China—Arrival of a Spanish Galleon—Friars on Board her—New Accusations on her Account against the Jesuits—Connection of the Jesuits with the Trade to Japan—Arrest of Missionaries and Converts—First Martyrs—A. D. 1595-1597 151 [Pg viii]
New Edict for the Deportation of the Jesuits—Its Partial Evasion—New Correspondence between the Philippines and Japan—Taikō-Sama’s Justification of his Recent Proceedings—New Destruction of Churches in Shimo—Taikō-Sama’s Death—His Preceding Efforts to secure his own Deification and the Succession of his Infant Son, Hideyori—Regency—Iyeyasu, its Head, with the Title of Daifu-Sama—A. D. 1597-1599 158
Evacuation of Corea—Return of the Converted Princes—Favorable Disposition of Daifu-Sama—Third Visit of Father Valignani—Civil War between Daifu-Sama and his Co-Regents—His Triumph—Disgrace and Execution of Settsu-no-Kami—Daifu-Sama takes the Title of Ōgosho-Sama and still favors the Converts—Influx of Dominican and Franciscan Friars—Flourishing Condition of the Church—Local Persecutions—A. D. 1599-1609 162
Attempt of the English and Dutch to discover a New Route to the Far East—Voyages round the World—Attempted English Voyage to Japan—English and Dutch Voyages to India—First Dutch Voyage to Japan—Adams, the English Pilot—His Adventures and Detention in Japan—A. D. 1513-1607 166
Spanish Friars in Japan—Extension of Japanese Trade—Progress of the Dutch in the Eastern Seas—They open a Trade with Japan—Emperor’s Letter—Shipwreck of Don Rodrigo de Vivero on the Japanese Coast—His Reception, Observations, and Departure—Destruction of a Portuguese Carac by the Japanese—Another Dutch Ship arrives—Spex’s Charter—Embassies from Macao and New Spain—Father Louis Sotelo and his Projects—A. D. 1607-1618 179
Origin and Commencement of English Intercourse with Japan—Captain Saris’ Voyage thither, and Travels and Observations there—New Spanish Embassy from the Philippines—Commercial Rivalry of the Dutch and English—Richard Cocks, Head of the English Factory—A. D. 1611-1613 206 [Pg ix]
Ecclesiastical Retrospect—New Persecution—Edict of Banishment against the Missionaries—Civil War between Hideyori and Ōgosho-Sama—Triumph of Ōgosho-Sama—His Death—Persecution more Violent than ever—Mutual Rancor of the Jesuits and the Friars—Progress of Martyrdom—The English and Dutch—A. D. 1613-1620 227
Collisions of the Dutch and English in the Eastern Seas—The English retire from Japan—The Spaniards repelled—Progress of the Persecution—Japanese Ports, except Hirado and Nagasaki, closed to Foreigners—Charges in Europe against the Jesuits—Fathers Sotelo and Collado—Torment of the Fosse—Apostasies—The Portuguese confined to Deshima—Rebellion of Shimabara—The Portuguese excluded—Ambassadors put to Death—A. D. 1621-1640 236
Policy of the Dutch—Affair of Nuyts—Haganaar’s Visits to Japan—Caron’s Account of Japan—Income of the Emperor and the Nobles—Military Force—Social and Political Position of the Nobles—Justice—Relation of the Dutch to the Persecution of the Catholics—The Dutch removed from Hirado and confined in Deshima—Attempts of the English, Portuguese, and French at Intercourse with Japan—Final Extinction of the Catholic Faith—A. D. 1620-1707 251
Portuguese Trade to Japan—Dutch Trade—Silver, Gold, and Copper the Chief Articles of Export—Export of Silver prohibited—Chinese Trade—Its Increase after the Accession of the Manchu Dynasty—Chinese Temples at Nagasaki—A Buddhist Doctor from China—Edict on the Subject of Household Worship—Restrictions on the Dutch Trade—Increase in the Number of Chinese Visitors to Nagasaki—Their Objects—Restrictions on the Chinese Trade—The Chinese shut up in a Factory—Trade with Lew Chew [Riūkiū]—A. D. 1542-1690 269 [Pg x]
Engelbert Kämpfer—His Visit to Japan—Deshima and its Inhabitants as described by him—A. D. 1690 282
Particular Statement as to the Dutch Trade as it existed in Kämpfer’s Time—Arrival of the Ships—Unlading—Passes—Imports—Company and Private Goods—Kambans, or Public Sales—Duties—Profits—Exports—Departure of the Ships—Smuggling—Execution of Smugglers 316
Nagasaki and its Vicinity as seen by Kämpfer—Imperial Governors—Their Officers and Palaces—Municipal System—Street Government—Mutual Responsibility—Administration of Justice—Taxes—Government of other Towns—Adjacent Country—The God Suwa and his Matsuri—A. D. 1690-1692 337
Kämpfer’s Two Journeys to Court—Preparations—Presents—Japanese Attendants—Packing the Baggage and Riding on Horseback—Japanese Love of Botany—Accoutrements—Road-Books—Norimono and Kago—A. D. 1690-1692 366
Highways—Rivers—Fords—Ferries—Bridges—Water Part of the Journey—Coast and Islands—Frail Structure of Japanese Vessels—Description of them—Buildings on the Route—Proclamation Places—Places of Execution—Tera, or Buddhist Temples—Miya, or Shintō Temples—Idols and Amulets 380

[Pg xi]


Volume I.

Image of Date Masamune Frontispiece
The Invasion of the Mongol Tartars 2
Entrance to the Temple of Jimmu Tennō 8
Portrait of St. Francis Xavier, One of the Earliest Missionaries to Japan 42
Image of Yoritomo 64
Ise Temple 68
A Shintō Priest 70
Pilgrims returning from a Temple 72
A Buddhist Sermon 74
Performance of Harakiri 78
The Kintai Bridge, Snō 90
Image of Oda Nobunaga 96
Painting of Taikō-Sama 124
The Expedition against Corea 140
Feudal Strongholds: Himeji Castle; Nagoya Castle 160
Image of Iyeyasu 164
Temple of Hideyoshi, Kyōtō 182
A Scene in the Palace Gardens, Kyōtō 196
Performers on the Koto and the Samisen 212
The Tomb of Iyeyasu, Nikkō 230
Facsimile of an Anti-Christian Edict 242
Dutch Candelabrum at Nikkō 256
Attack on Fort Zeelandia in Formosa 302
Nagasaki Harbor 312
Examination of a Prisoner by Torture 354 [Pg xii]
Festival with Mikoshi 358
Musical Instruments: Two Styles of Drums; A Flute-player 362
Transportation Methods: A Buddhist Priest in a Norimono;
Ancient Imperial Carriages; Lady in a Kago 366
A Bridge spanning the River Ōigawa; View of Fujikawa 378
The River Ōi 384
Japanese Craft: Sailboats; Rowboats; Junks 386
A Merchant Ship 390
A Dry-goods Shop 396
Sketch Map of Old Japan 1
Map of Feudal Japan 272

[Pg xiii]

In collecting materials for a biography of the first explorers and planters of New England and Virginia, I was carried to Japan, where I happened to arrive (in the spirit) almost simultaneously with Commodore Perry’s expedition. My interest thus roused in this secluded country has produced this book, into which I have put the cream skimmed, or, as I might say, in some cases, the juices laboriously expressed, from a good many volumes, the greater part not very accessible nor very inviting to the general reader, but still containing much that is curious and entertaining, and, to most readers, new; which curiosities, novelties, and palatable extracts, those who choose will thus be enabled to enjoy without the labor that I have undergone in their collection and arrangement—the former, indeed, a labor of love for my own satisfaction; the latter, one of duty—not to say of necessity—for the pleasure of the reading and book-buying public.

Instead of attempting, as others have done, to cast into a systematic shape observations of very different dates, I have preferred to follow the historic method, and to let the reader see Japan with the successive[Pg xiv] eyes of all those who have visited it, and who have committed their observations and reflections to paper and print. The number of these observers, it will be found, is very considerable; while their characters, objects, and points of view, have been widely different; and perhaps the reader may reach the same conclusion that I have: that, with all that is said of the seclusion of Japan, there are few countries of the East which we have the means of knowing better, or so well.

The complete history of the Portuguese, Spanish, and Dutch relations with the Japanese is not to be found elsewhere in English; nor in any language, in a single work; while in no other book have the English and American relations been so fully treated. Many extraordinary characters and adventures make their appearance on the scene, and the reader will have no ground to complain at least of want of variety.

How little the history of Japan and of its former relations with Portugal and Holland are known—even in quarters where information on the subject might be said to constitute an official duty—is apparent in the following passage in a letter addressed from the State Department at Washington to the Secretary of the Navy, in explanation of the grounds, reasons, and objects, of our late mission to Japan, and intended as instruction to the envoy: “Since the islands of Japan were first visited by European nations, efforts have constantly been made by the various maritime powers to establish commercial intercourse with a country whose large population and reputed wealth hold out great temptations to mercantile enterprise. Portugal was the first to make the attempt, and her example was followed by Holland, England, Spain, and Russia,[Pg xv] and finally by the United States. All these attempts, however, have thus far been unsuccessful; the permission enjoyed for a short period by the Portuguese, and that granted to Holland to send annually a single vessel to the port of Nagasaki, hardly deserving to be considered exceptions to this remark.”

From Kämpfer, whose name has become so identified with Japan, but into whose folios few have the opportunity or courage to look, I have made very liberal extracts. Few travellers have equalled him in picturesque power. His descriptions have indeed the completeness, and finish, and, at the same time, the naturalness, and absence of all affectation, with much of the same quiet humor, characteristic of the best Dutch pictures. I have preferred to introduce entire the work of such an artist, rather than to run the risk of spoiling it by attempting a paraphrase; only, as I had so many other volumes on hand, the substance, or at least the spirit, of which was to be transferred to mine, and as folios are no longer in fashion, I have found it necessary in quoting him to retrench a little the superabundance of his words. It is from his work also that the ornamental title-page[1] is copied, stated by his editor to be after a style fashionable in Japan, where dragons are held in great repute. Kämpfer says, that heads of these imaginary animals are placed over the doors of houses all over the East—among the Mahometans of Arabia and Persia, as well as in China and Japan—to keep off, as the Mahometans say, the envious from disturbing the peace of families. Perhaps the Japanese authors surround their title-pages with them in hopes to frighten away the critics.

[Pg xvi]

The outline map,[1] copied principally from that given in the atlas of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, contains, with the observations annexed to it, and the note H[1] of the appendix, about all that we know of the geography of Japan—all at least that would interest the general reader. The contour of the coast is that delineated in our sea-charts, and though probably not very correct, is much more so than that of the Japanese maps; which, however large and particular, are not much to be relied upon, at least in this respect. The division into provinces of course rests upon Japanese authority.

In giving Japanese names and words, I have aimed at a certain uniformity; but, like all other writers on Japan, have failed to attain it. The Portuguese missionaries, or at least their translators into Latin, in representing Japanese names, employed c with the force of k before the vowels a, o, and u, and with the force of s before e and i; which same sound of s, in common with that of ts, they sometimes represented by x. In the earlier part of the book I have, in relation to several names known only, or chiefly, through these writers, followed their usage; though generally, in the representation of Japanese names and words, I have avoided the use of these ambiguous letters, and have endeavored to conform to the method of representing the Japanese syllables proposed by Siebold, and of which an account is given in the Appendix.[2]

The daguerreotype views and portraits taken by the artists attached to Commodore Perry’s expedition, the publication of which may soon be hoped for, will afford[Pg xvii] much more authentic pictures of the externals of Japan than yet have appeared; and, from the limited stay and opportunities of observation enjoyed by those attached to that expedition, must constitute their chief contribution to our knowledge of the Japanese empire.

R. H.

Boston, June 1st, 1855.

[Pg xix]


Hildreth’s “Japan as it Was and Is” was published in three editions,—in 1855, 1856, and 1861. In the last edition a new chapter was added to bring the book down to that date. The value of the book, as a compilation from all the important European writings on Old Japan, has always been acknowledged, but has been somewhat diminished by the various old-fashioned styles of transliteration, which rendered many Japanese words difficult of recognition. Therefore the present writer, more than ten years ago, conceived the idea of a revision of Hildreth’s work, especially by harmonizing the spelling of Japanese words with the modern system of Romanization, and by adding such other notes and explanations as might be necessary. This he has been doing gradually, as leisure afforded opportunity. In the meantime Mr. K. Murakawa, an alumnus of the Imperial University, Tōkyō, has issued, in two small limited editions, in 1902 and 1905, a reprint somewhat along that line. But as his work was done with the needs of Japanese in view, it does not entirely satisfy the needs of foreigners. The present writer acknowledges his indebtedness to Mr. Murakawa in some points, but he had done almost all his work before he saw the Japanese edition. He now offers an edition which is not merely a reprint, but also a revision, and is well illustrated. Of course the[Pg xx] text of the original has been followed as closely as possible, and yet not only additions, but also excisions, have been made whenever necessary. For instance, some of the footnotes and several of the long notes in the Appendix have been omitted because they have become either wholly or comparatively valueless. The writer’s additional notes are signed “Edr.,” and where Mr. Murakawa’s notes have been used the initials “K. M.” are signed.

Mr. Murakawa says that Hildreth’s book “contains many errors,” because it was “written by an author who was not in a position to avail himself of the Japanese sources, at a time when Japan was yet closed against foreign intercourse, and at a place far away from Japan.” This statement is partly true but somewhat unjust, because it fails to take into consideration the fact that Hildreth’s work is chiefly a compilation, including lengthy quotations, from authors who did avail themselves as much as possible of Japanese sources, at the very time when they themselves were living in the very place, Japan itself. But these writers were, of course, far from infallible and made errors of fact or inference which Hildreth followed. And yet it is really remarkable that, with so many limitations and hindrances, they gained so good an insight into Japanese life.

It goes without saying that the present editor has not attempted to correct all the errors of details,—a task which would be as impossible as unprofitable. He has corrected the most flagrant mistakes so far as he has discovered them, but he may have overlooked errors needing attention. He would here call special attention to a few mistakes which were so frequent and so closely[Pg xxi] interwoven in the narrative as to render correction impracticable. The word “Nippon,” which is really the name of the whole country, is applied by the old writers to the main island, the real name of which is Hondo. The word “Emperor” almost always refers to the Shōgun, while the true Emperor is mentioned under the name of “Dairi.”

It is quite likely that the transliteration of Japanese words is not absolutely uniform, even in this revision. There is still difference of opinion among the best authorities on some points. But in this book there is not so much variety as to be confusing. On this subject see also the Introduction to the editor’s “Handbook of Modern Japan.”

A word of explanation may be needed concerning some of the illustrations of Japanese manners and customs. They are produced, of course, from modern photographs; but as there has been comparatively little change in those particulars, the illustrations practically represent the olden times under consideration in this volume.

The map in the original was so crude and inaccurate that it was not worth reproducing; therefore an entirely new map has been prepared to show Japan as it was during those days. In the map of Sakhalin a dotted line shows also the present division of the island between Russia and Japan, because it was the old one.

The editor is under obligations to his friend, Dr. Wm. Elliot Griffis, himself both an author and an authority on Japan and the Japanese, for his Introduction to this volume. Dr. Griffis, in “The Mikado’s Empire,” was the first to give in America a full account of the land and people of Japan.

[Pg xxii]

The numerous references here and there and the bibliographical list in the Appendix ought to add considerably to the value of this edition. Many of the old books on Japan are out of print and difficult of access, but even those are included for the sake of any who may be so fortunate as to have access thereto. A few books ought without fail to be read in connection with this revision, because they give more accurate information than was possible in Hildreth’s day. These are “The Mikado’s Empire,” by Griffis, Rein’s “Japan” and “The Industries of Japan,” Brinkley’s eight encyclopædic volumes on Japan, and “History of Japan during the Earlier Century of Foreign Intercourse (1542-1651)” by Murdock and Yamagata. Frequent references have been made to the valuable papers in the Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, which are easily accessible in whole or in parts.

The bibliography is not complete, but contains the most important works in English. More extensive and specific bibliographies may be found in the editor’s “Handbook of Modern Japan,” Chamberlain’s “Things Japanese,” and especially Wenckstern’s (revised) “Bibliography of Japan.” Poole’s Index is also valuable. In the bibliography of this edition of Hildreth it has not been practicable, in all cases, to distinguish exactly between Old Japan and New Japan. There is still so much of the old remaining in this transition period that some writings of modern days may describe quite accurately conditions of olden days. With the increased facilities of the present it is possible to understand better the old conditions, especially as they were stereotyped for several centuries.

[Pg xxiii]

The original title of Hildreth’s work, “Japan as it Was and Is,” was proper in 1855 and 1856, but it is rather unsuitable in its entirety fifty years later. However, this revision of Hildreth, together with the editor’s “Handbook of Modern Japan,” may not unwarrantably be considered to cover Japan as it Was and Is.


Tōkyō, July 1, 1906.

[Pg xxv]


The first American teacher in Echizen (1870-1872) feels honored at the request of the first American teacher in Mito (1887-1891) to write for his revised and annotated edition of Hildreth’s “Japan” a few words concerning the author and his book and his most recent editor’s work. In the days of Townsend Harris and the premier Ii (1858), the feudal lords of Mito and Echizen, besides being blood relatives, had misunderstandings with the Yedo authorities, and, with unswerving loyalty to the Emperor and the most patriotic of motives, were linked together in strange experiences while manifesting a common desire to promote their country’s good.

After so long a time the pioneer American educator in Echizen salutes his fellow-worker who has done so much to make known to us the illustrious character of the lords of the house of Mito as patrons of literature and their unwearied devotion to the Imperial and national cause. I am sure that we are both proud of having been the servants of the Japanese people in helping to bring to pass that vision of Japan’s greatness, so tangible in A. D. 1906, to which Hildreth looked, yet died without ever seeing.

The personality of Richard Hildreth, the historian of the United States and the unquailing opponent of[Pg xxvi] African slavery in America, was one of the very first that appealed to me when my own boyish literary aspirations were first awakened. His intensely powerful novel, “Archy Moore,” which had been published in 1837, reprinted in England and again republished in the United States in 1852, under the title of “The White Slave,” appeared just when Commodore Matthew C. Perry was making his preparations to sail for Japan. Philadelphia was agog with interest about the expedition, and many of her citizens were keenly interested, among them my father, John L. Griffis, who, like my grandfather, Captain John Griffis, had voyaged to the Philippines, China, and the Far East. He had built a platform in his coalyard, which directly adjoined the shiphouse and dock of the United States Navy Yard, wherein was building the United States steam frigate “Susquehanna,” which later in Japanese waters became the flagship of Commodore Perry. It is not so many miles from the upper waters of this noble river of the three States, New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, that this “foreword” is written.

As a little boy, on the morning of April 6, 1850, at 8.35 A.M., I saw the graceful “Susquehanna” slide down the ways, float on the Delaware, and, like a bird of calm, “sit brooding on the charmèd wave.” I remember how, when sitting on my father’s knee, he put me down suddenly to rise and call for “three cheers for the future of the ‘Susquehanna.’” We could not then foresee what a noble part the frigate was to play in the annals of both peace and war. She bore the olive branch to Japan and she unchained her thunders in the destruction of slavery.

Richard Hildreth of Massachusetts, author, journalist,[Pg xxvii] economist, and historian, was born in 1807. He graduated from Harvard College in 1826 and studied law in Newburyport, entering upon practice in Boston. He left the law for journalism, and, as an editor of the “Boston Atlas,” lifted up the moral world. In 1834, in poor health, he went South and, in order to get unbiassed ideas, lived on a slave plantation to study the workings of the system of unpaid African labor. It was during this time that he wrote his famous novel, “Archy Moore, The White Slave.” Returning North he became, with pen and voice, the tireless opponent of slavery. From 1840 to 1848 Hildreth lived in Demerara, British Guiana, editing two newspapers, in which he advocated the system of free instead of slave labor, writing there also his “Theory of Morals” and his “Theory of Politics.” In the perspective of history we can now note clearly that he was one of the potent forces in destroying human slavery in America, and in helping, as an ex-Confederate officer, now president of the first Woman’s College in the Southern States, told me a few days ago, “to emancipate eleven million white men.”

Hildreth’s “History of the United States,” though not of great literary interest, is an amazingly honest picture of the real character of the makers of the American Republic. He shows our fathers without transfiguration of their virtues or disguise of their faults or errors. How he came to write his book on Japan is told by him with sufficient fulness in his own introduction. Those who know his book best are those who appreciate it most.

It was while we were fellow-workers in the Imperial University in Tokio, from 1872 to 1874, that Mr. Edward H. House, who afterwards found a grave in the land[Pg xxviii] he loved, gave me the details of Hildreth’s life and personality. Mr. House had been engaged with Mr. Hildreth on the staff of the “New York Tribune” from the completion of “Japan as it Was and Is” until the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln. Instead of appointing Hildreth as Minister to Japan, Mr. Lincoln did but follow the precedents of political succession, since Perry, Harris, Van Valkenburg, and Depew (who declined) were all citizens of the Empire State, and hence nominated the Hon. Robert H. Pruyn of Albany. It was my own beloved professor in Rutgers College, Dr. David Murray, also a native of New York State, later chief adviser to the Educational Department in Japan, who in Tokio first loaned me a copy of Hildreth’s valuable compilation, and I studied it with care. Notable among the many benefits which made the volume a boon to foreign students was the discovery, with its aid, in May, 1872, by Mr. James Walter of Yokohama, of the tomb of Will Adams at Yokosuka (p. 139).

Hildreth’s scarcely veiled satire on the ignorance of the Americans of 1852 concerning Japan in his “advertisement” is keen. None knew more than he how steadily the Hollanders had maintained commercial relations with the Japanese, had fertilized their minds for over two centuries, and had finally paved the way for American success.

In gratitude to Professor Clement for his unwearied researches and for his work as editor in this new presentation of the perennially interesting volume of Hildreth, in commendation of the publishers for issuing this uniquely valuable work, and in the faith that in its new dress “Japan as it Was and Is” will receive a warm welcome at the hands of the American public, we[Pg xxix] raise our cheer at this hopeful launch on the waters of literature. How the spirit of Hildreth must rejoice at free America and free Japan, with slavery and feudalism gone forever and the two nations in mutually beneficial rivalry for the uplifting of mankind.


Ithaca, N. Y., July 15, 1906.

[Pg xxxi]


a like a in father
e e men
i i pin
o o pony
u oo book
ai as in aisle
ei weigh
as o in bone
ū as oo in moon

i in the middle of a word and u in the middle or at the end of a word are sometimes almost inaudible.

The consonants are all sounded, as in English: g, however, has only the hard sound, as in give, although the nasal ng is often heard; ch and s are always soft, as in check and sin; and z before u has the sound of dz. In the case of double consonants, each one must be given its full sound.

There are as many syllables as vowels. There is practically no accent; but care must be taken to distinguish between o and ō, u and ū, of which the second is more prolonged than the first.

Be sure to avoid the flat sound of a, which is always pronounced ah.

[Pg xxxiii]

Sketch Map of Old Japan
Adapted from map in original edition of Hildreth

Text within Map

The Japanese islands are studded by lofty volcanic mountains, especially Nipon, which is traversed through its whole length by a chain which forms the water shed of the island and the highest peaks of which are covered with perpetual snow. There are seven active volcanoes, three in Kiusiu and four in Nipon, besides four other mountains sending out hot springs; along the coast there are several burning islands, the rivers are numerous but short. The empire includes eight great subdivisions, called Do, or Ways, viz.: 1. Saikaidō, west sea way, nine provinces; 2. Nankaido, south sea way, six provinces; 3. Sanyodo, south mountain way, eight provinces; 4. Sanindo, north mountain way, eight provinces; 5. Gokinaido, five provinces, imperial domain; 6. Tōkaidō, east sea way, fifteen provinces; 7. Tosando, east mountain way, eight provinces; 8. Hokurokudo, way of the north districts, seven provinces. Tsu, Iki and Jezo are not included in this arrangement.


In the pronunciation of Japanese names and words, and in their representation in European letters, an n is frequently added at the end of a syllable; as, Nangasaki for Nagasaki, Fingo for Figo, etc.

[Pg 1]

As It Was and Is


Earliest European Knowledge of Japan—Japanese Histories—Marco Polo’s Account of the Mongol or Tartar Invasion—Accounts of the same Event given by the Chinese and Japanese Annalists, A. D. 1281 or 1283.

The name Japan, pronounced in the country itself Nippon or Nihon, is of Chinese origin—in the Mandarin dialect Jih-pun, that is, sun-source, or Eastern Country.

The first account of Japan, or allusion to its existence, to be found in any European writer, is contained in the “Oriental Travels” of the Venetian, Marco Polo, first reduced to writing in the Latin tongue, about A. D. 1298, while the author was detained a prisoner of war at Genoa. Zipangu, Zipangri, Cyampagu, Cimpagu, as different editions of his work have it, is his method of representing the Chinese Jih-pun-quo, sun-source kingdom, or kingdom of the source of the sun. The Japanese chronicles go back for many centuries previous; but these chronicles seem to be little more than a bare list of names and dates, with some legendary statements interwoven, of which the authority does not appear very weighty, nor the historical value very considerable.

[Pg 2]

Marco Polo resided for seventeen years (A. D. 1275-1292) at the court of Kublai Khan (grandson of the celebrated Ghingis Khan,) and ruler, from A. D. 1260 to A. D. 1294, over the most extensive empire which the world has ever seen. This empire stretched across the breadth of the old continent, from the Japanese, the Yellow, the Blue, and the China Seas (embosoming the Caspian and the Black Seas), to the Levant, the Archipelago, the river Dniester, and beyond it. Not content with having added Anatolia and Russia to the western extremity of this vast kingdom,—the Greek empire being reduced, at this moment, to the vicinage of Constantinople and the western coasts of the Archipelago,—Kublai Khan, after completing the conquest of Southern China, sent an expedition against Japan; in which, however, the Mongols were no more successful than they had been in their attempts, a few years before, to penetrate through Hungary and Poland (which they overran and ravaged, to the terror of all Europe) in Germany, whence Teutonic valor repelled them.

The accounts given by Marco Polo, and by the Chinese and Japanese annalists, of this expedition, though somewhat contradictory as to the details, agree well enough as to the general result. As Marco Polo’s account is short, as well as curious, we insert it at length, from the English translation of his travels by Marsden, subjoining to it the statements which we have of the same event derived from Chinese and Japanese sources. We may add that Columbus was greatly stimulated to undertake his western voyages of discovery by the constant study of Marco Polo’s travels, confidently expecting to reach by that route the Cathay and Zipangu of that author—countries for which he sedulously inquired throughout[Pg 3] the Archipelago of the West Indies, and along the southern and western shores of the Caribbean Sea.

The Invasion by the Mongol Tartars
From Official History of Japan

“Zipangu,” says Marco Polo, “is an island in the eastern ocean, situated at the distance of about fifteen hundred miles[3] from the mainland, or coast of Manji.[4] It is of considerable size; its inhabitants have fair complexions, are well made, and are civilized in their manners. Their religion is the worship of idols. They are independent of every foreign power, and governed only by their own kings. They have gold in the greatest abundance, its sources being inexhaustible; but as the king does not allow of its being exported, few merchants visit the country, nor is it frequented by much shipping from other parts. To this circumstance we are to attribute the extraordinary richness of the sovereign’s palace, according to what we are told by those who have access to the place. The entire roof is covered with a plating of gold, in the same manner as we cover houses, or, more properly, churches, with lead. The ceilings of the halls are of the same precious metal; many of the apartments have small tables of pure gold, considerably thick; and the windows, also, have golden ornaments. So vast, indeed, are the riches of the palace, that it is impossible to convey an idea of them. In this island there are pearls, also, in large quantities, of a pink color, round in shape, and of great size, equal in value to white pearls, or even exceeding them. It is customary with one part of the inhabitants to bury their dead, and with another part to burn them. The former[Pg 4] have a practice of putting one of these pearls into the mouth of the corpse. There are also found there a number of precious stones.

“Of so great celebrity was the wealth of this island, that a desire was excited in the breast of the grand Khan Kublai, now reigning, to make the conquest of it, and to annex it to his dominions. In order to effect this, he fitted out a numerous fleet, and embarked a large body of troops under the command of two of his principal officers, one of whom was named Abbacatan, and the other Vonsancin. The expedition sailed from the ports of Zaitun and Kinsai,[5] and crossing the intermediate sea, reached the island in safety; but, in consequence of a jealousy that arose between the two commanders, one of whom treated the plans of the other with contempt, and resisted the execution of his orders, they were unable to gain possession of any city or fortified place, with the exception of one only, which was carried by assault, the garrison having refused to surrender. Directions were given for putting the whole to the sword, and, in obedience thereto, the heads of all were cut off except of eight persons, who, by the efficacy of a diabolical charm, consisting of a jewel or amulet introduced into the right arm, between the skin and the flesh, were rendered secure from the effects of iron either to kill or to wound. Upon this discovery being made, they were beaten with a heavy wooden club, and presently died.

[Pg 5]

“It happened, after some time, that a north wind began to blow with great force, and the ships of the Tartars, which lay near the shore of the island, were driven foul of each other. It was determined thereupon, in a council of the officers on board, that they ought to disengage themselves from the land; and accordingly, as soon as the troops were disembarked, they stood out to sea. The gale, however, increased to so violent a degree, that a number of the vessels foundered. The people belonging to them, by floating upon pieces of the wreck, saved themselves upon an island, about four miles from the coast of Zipangu. The other ships, which, not being so near to the land, did not suffer from the storm, and on which the two chiefs were embarked, together with the principal officers, or those whose rank entitled them to command a hundred thousand or ten thousand men, directed their course homeward, and returned to the grand Khan. Those of the Tartars who remained upon the island where they were wrecked, and who amounted to about thirty thousand men, finding themselves without shipping, abandoned by their leaders, and having neither arms nor provision, expected nothing less than to become captives or to perish; especially as the island afforded no habitations where they could take shelter and refresh themselves. As soon as the gale ceased, and the sea became smooth and calm, the people from the main island of Zipangu came over with a large force, in numerous boats, in order to make prisoners of these shipwrecked Tartars; and, having landed, proceeded in search of them, but in a straggling, disorderly manner. The Tartars, on their part, acted with prudent circumspection; and, being concealed from view by some high land in the centre of the island, whilst the enemy were[Pg 6] hurrying in pursuit of them by one road, made a circuit of the coast by another, which brought them to the place where the fleet of boats was at anchor. Finding these all abandoned, but with their colors flying, they instantly seized them; and, pushing off from the island, stood for the principal city of Zipangu, into which, from the appearance of the colors, they were suffered to enter unmolested. Here they found few of the inhabitants besides women, whom they retained for their own use, and drove out all others. When the king was apprised of what had taken place, he was much afflicted, and immediately gave directions for a strict blockade of the city, which was so effectual that not any person was suffered to enter or to escape from it during six months that the siege continued. At the expiration of this time, the Tartars, despairing of succor, surrendered upon the condition of their lives being spared. This event took place in the course of the year 1264.”[6]

The above account Marco Polo no doubt derived from the Mongols, who endeavored, as far as possible, to gloss over with romantic and improbable incidents a repulse that could not be denied. The Chinese annalists, who have no partiality for their Mongol conquerors, tell a[Pg 7] much less flattering story. According to their account, as given by Père Amiot, in his “Mémoires concernant les Chinois,” the fleet consisted of six hundred ships, fitted out in the provinces of Kiang-nan, Fou-kien, Ho-nan, and Chan-tong. The army, sailing from Corea, landed first on the island of Kuchi [?], whence they proceeded to that of Tsushima, where they learned that the Japanese had long been expecting them with a great army. On approaching the coast of Japan, they encountered a furious tempest, which sunk their vessels; so that of the whole army scarcely one or two in every ten persons escaped.

In the “Histoire Général de la China,” compiled by Father Malela from Chinese sources, the story is thus told: “The sixth month (1281) Alahan set out on the expedition against Japan; but scarcely had he reached the port of embarkation when he died. Atahai, appointed to succeed him, did not arrive till the fleet had already set sail. In the latitude of the isle of Pinghou [Hirado], it encountered a violent tempest, by which most of the vessels were driven on shore. The officers, selecting those least damaged, themselves returned, leaving behind them in that island more than a hundred thousand men. The soldiers, finding themselves thus abandoned, chose a leader, and set themselves to work to cut down trees to build new vessels, in which to escape. But the Japanese, apprised of their shipwreck, made a descent upon the island with a powerful army, and put them to the sword. They spared only ten or twelve thousand Chinese soldiers, of whom they made slaves; and, of the whole formidable invading army, hardly three persons returned to China.”

[Pg 8]

Father Gaubil, in his “Histoire de la Dynastie des Mongoux,” compiled also from Chinese sources, states the number of Chinese and Corean prisoners at eighty thousand, and of the Mongols who were slain at thirty thousand.

Kämpfer, in his elaborate work on Japan, gives the following as from the Japanese chronicles, Nippon Ōdaiki, and Nippon Ōkeizu: “Go-Uda succeeded his father in the year of Jimmu 1985, of Christ 1275.” “In the ninth year of his reign, the Tartar general, Mōko, appeared on the coasts of Japan, with a fleet of four thousand sail, and two hundred and forty thousand men. The then reigning Tartarian emperor, Lifsu [Kublai Khan], after he had conquered the empire of China, sent this general to subdue also the empire of Japan. But this expedition proved unsuccessful. The Kami, that is, the gods of the country, and protectors of the Japanese empire, were so incensed at the insult offered them by the Tartars, that, on the first day of the seventh month, they excited a violent and dreadful storm, which destroyed all this reputed invincible armada. Mōko himself perished in the waves, and but few of his men escaped.”

Entrance to the Temple of Jimmu Tennō

Siebold, in his recently published “Archives of Japan,” gives the following as the account of this invasion contained in the esteemed Japanese chronicle, Nikongi:[7][Pg 9] “So soon as Kublai Khan had ascended the Mogul throne, he turned his eyes upon distant Japan. This nation, like Kaou-le (one of the kingdoms of Corea), must become tributary. Accordingly, in the year 1268,[8] he summoned the ruler of Nippon to acknowledge his sovereignty. No notice was taken of this summons, nor of others in 1271 and 1273, the Mongol envoys being not admitted to an audience, but always dismissed by the governor of Dazaifu. Hereupon a Mongol fleet, with a Corean contingent, appeared off Tsushima [a small island half-way from Corea to Japan]. The Mikado [ecclesiastical sovereign] appointed prayer days, but the Shōgun [the temporal sovereign] had previously made along the coast every necessary preparation for defence. The hostile army did not venture upon a decisive attack. Its movements were governed neither by energy nor by consistency; and after hovering about a while, without any apparent definite purpose, the squadron disappeared from the Japanese seas, merely committing some hostilities upon Kiūshiū at its departure.”

A Japanese encyclopædia, of quite recent date, quoted in Siebold’s work, besides giving Kublai Khan’s letter of summons, asserts that the Mongol fleet was met and defeated, after which, other Mongol envoys being sent to Japan, they were summoned into the presence of the Shōgun, by whom a decree was promulgated that no Mongol should land in Japan under pain of death. And it is even pretended that under this decree the persons composing two subsequent missions sent by Kublai Khan, in 1276 and 1279, were all put to death. This was followed, according to the same authority, by the appearance of a new Mongol-Corean fleet, in 1281, off the island of Hirado. This fleet was destroyed by a[Pg 10] hurricane. Those who escaped to the shore were taken prisoners and executed, only three being saved to carry to Kublai Khan the news of this disaster. All these additions, however, to the story—the letter of Kublai Khan, the murder of the ambassadors, and the double invasion—may safely enough be set down as Japanese inventions.[9]

[Pg 11]


Portuguese Empire in the East—Discovery of Japan—Galvano’s Account of it—Fernam Mendez Pinto’s Account of his First Visit to Japan, and Adventures there—Japanese Account of the First Arrival of Portuguese, A. D. 1542-1545.

Vasco da Gama, by the route of the Cape of Good Hope, entered the Indian Ocean in November, 1497, and, after coasting the African continent as far north as Melinda, arrived in May, 1498, at Calicut, on the Malabar or southwestern coast of the peninsula of Hindustan,—a discovery speedily followed, on the part of the Portuguese, by extensive Eastern explorations, mercantile enterprises, and conquests. The trade of Europe with the East in silks, spices, and other luxuries, chiefly carried on for two or three centuries preceding, so far as related to their distribution through Europe, by the Venetians, aided in the north by the Hanse towns, and, so far as the collection of the articles of it throughout the East was concerned, by the Arabs (Cairo, in Egypt, being the point of exchange), was soon transferred to the Portuguese; and Lisbon, enriched by this transfer, which the Mahometan traders and the Venetians struggled in vain to prevent, rose rapidly, amid the decline of numerous rivals, to great commercial wealth and prosperity, and the headship of European commerce.

The Portuguese, from the necessity of the case, traded sword in hand; and their intercourse with the nations of[Pg 12] the East was much more marked by the insolence of conquest, than by the complaisance of traders. Goa, some three hundred miles to the north of Calicut, which fell into their power in 1510, became a splendid city, the vice-royal and archiepiscopal seat, whence were governed a multitude of widespread dependencies. The rule of the Portuguese viceroy extended on the west by Diu, Ormus, and Socotra (commanding the entrances into the Gulf of Cambay, the Persian Gulf, and the Red Sea), along the east coast of Africa by Melinda to Sofala, opposite the south part of Madagascar. Malacca, near the extremity of the peninsula of Further India, occupied in 1511, became the capital of their possessions and conquests in the far East, and soon rose into a magnificent seat of empire and commerce, second only to Goa. Among the most valuable dependencies of Malacca were the Moluccas or Spice Islands. The islands of Sumatra, Java, and Borneo,—in the occupation of which the Mahometans had preceded them,—Celebes, Mindanao, and even New Guinea were coasted, and commercial and political relations established, to a greater or less degree, with the native chiefs. The coasts of Pegu, Siam, Cambodia, and the southern parts of China, were visited as early as 1516; but the usual insolence of the Portuguese, in attempting to establish a fortified post not far from Canton, resulted in the imprisonment and miserable death of an ambassador of theirs, then on his way to Pekin, while it gave a new impulse to the suspicious policy of the Chinese, which allowed no intercourse with foreigners, and even forbade the Chinese junks to trade to foreign ports. In spite, however, of this prohibition, numerous Chinese merchants, self-exiled from home, were established in the principal trading marts of[Pg 13] the southeastern seas; and with their aid, and sometimes that of the corsairs, by whom the coasts of China were then, as now, greatly infested, and by bribing the mandarins, a sort of commerce, a cross between smuggling and privateering, was carried on along the Chinese coast. The principal marts of this commerce were Ningpo (known to the Portuguese as Liampo, on the continent, opposite the isle of Chusan, in the suburbs of which city the Portuguese managed to establish a trading settlement) and Sancian, an island near the entrance of the bay of Canton, where the Chinese merchants from Canton met the Portuguese traders, who, during a few months in each year, sojourned there in temporary huts while the trade was going on. Down, however, to the year 1542 nothing had yet been heard of Japan, beyond Marco Polo’s mention and brief account of it.

The first visit of the Portuguese to Japan is ascribed to that year, 1542, by Antonio Galvano, in his little book, first published, after his death, in 1557, containing a brief chronological recital of discoveries by sea and land, from the flood to the year of grace 1555, particularly the recent ones of the Spanish and Portuguese, in which Galvano had been an active participator, having greatly distinguished himself as the Portuguese governor of the Moluccas. With a disinterestedness as uncommon then as now, more intent upon the public service than his own enrichment, after repeatedly refusing the regency of the Moluccas tendered to him by the natives, and putting into the public treasury the rich presents of spices which were made to him, he had returned to Portugal, in 1540, a poor man; and so vain was his reliance on the gratitude of the court that he was obliged to pass the last seventeen years of his life[Pg 14] as the inmate of a charitable foundation, solacing his leisure by composing the history of exploits in which he no longer participated. His account of the discovery of Japan, which he must have obtained at second hand, as it happened after he had left the Indies, is thus given in Hackluyt’s translation[10]:

“In the year of our Lord 1542, one Diego de Freitas being in the realm of Siam, and in the city of Dodra, as captain of a ship, there fled from him three Portuguese in a junco (which is a kind of ship) towards China. Their names were Antony de Moto, Francis Zimoro, and Antonio Perota. Directing their course to the city of Liampo [Ningpo], standing in 30° odd of latitude, there fell upon their stern such a storm, that it set them off the land; and in a few days they saw an island towards the east, standing in 32°, which they do name Japan, which seemeth to be the isle of Zipangry whereof Paulus Venetus [Marco Polo] maketh mention, and of the riches thereof. And this island of Japan hath gold, silver, and other riches.”

Upon the strength of this statement of Galvano’s, Maffei in his elegant Latin “Indian History,” first printed in 1589, and whom subsequent writers have generally followed, ascribes to the three Portuguese above mentioned the honor of the discovery of Japan, though it was claimed, he says, by several others. Of these others the only one known to us is Fernam Mendez Pinto, who in his “Peregrinations in the East,” first published in 1614, about thirty-six years after his death, seems to[Pg 15] represent himself and two companions as the original Portuguese discoverers.

Pinto’s veracity has been very sharply called in question[11]; but the main facts of his residence in the East and early visits to Japan are amply established by contemporary letters, written from Malacca as early as 1564, and published at Rome as early as 1566, including one from Pinto himself. In the introduction to his “Peregrinations” he describes himself as the child of poor parents, born in the city of old Montemayor, in Portugal, but placed in the year 1521, when he was about ten or twelve years old,—he fixes the year by the breaking of the escutcheons on the death of King Manuel, a ceremony which he witnessed, and the oldest historical fact he could remember,—through the interest of an uncle, in the service of a noble lady of Lisbon. Having been with her for a year and a half, some catastrophe occurred—he does not tell what—which led him to fly in terror for his life; and, finding himself upon a pier, he embarked on a vessel just about to leave it. That vessel was taken by French pirates, who threatened at first to sell him and the other captives to the Moors of Barbary; but having taken another richer prize, after much ill treatment they put him and several others ashore on the Portuguese coast. After this he passed into the service successively of two noblemen; but finding their pay very small, he was prompted to embark to seek his fortune in the East, and, in pursuit of that object, landed at Diu in 1537.

It was by the daring and enterprise of just such adventurers as Pinto that the Portuguese, who, up to this[Pg 16] time, had few regular troops in the East, had already acquired so extensive an empire there; just as a similar set of Spanish adventurers had acquired, and still were extending, a vast Spanish empire in America; the two nations, in their circuit round the globe, meeting at the Moluccas, the possession of which, though about this very time, as we shall see, contested by the Spaniards, the Portuguese succeeded in maintaining, as indeed they had been the first to visit and occupy them.

The Turks at this time were the terror and dread of all the Christian nations. In the West they had lately occupied Hungary, laid siege to Vienna, and possessed themselves of all the fortresses hitherto held by the Venetians in the Archipelago and the Morea. Having acquired the superiority over Egypt by dethroning the Mameluke sultans, and by the renunciation of the caliphs of Bagdad (long exiles in Egypt), the headship of the Mahometan church, they were now carrying on, with renewed energy, by way of the Red Sea, the perpetual war waged in the East, as well as in the West, by the Mussulmans against the infidels; and had, indeed, just before Pinto’s arrival at Diu, besieged that city in great force. Going to cruise against these Mussulman enemies, after various adventures and a visit to Abyssinia,—with which secluded Christian or semi-Christian kingdom the Portuguese had opened a communication,—Pinto was captured at the entrance of the Red Sea, carried to Mocha, and there sold to a Greek renegado, and by him to a Jew, from whom he was redeemed by the Portuguese governor of Ormus, who furnished him with the means of reaching Goa. At this centre of Portuguese enterprise and adventure Pinto entered[Pg 17] into the service of Dom Pedro de Faria, captain-general of Malacca. Perceiving his superior intelligence and adroitness, Faria sent him on numerous missions to the native princes of those parts, by intermeddling in whose domestic affairs the Portuguese generally contrived to find a foothold for themselves. Despatched on one of these missions, he was shipwrecked, made a slave of, and sold to a Mussulman, who carried him to Malacca, whence he was again sent on a new mission, provided with money to redeem certain Portuguese captives, and taking with him also a small sum, which he had borrowed at Malacca, to trade upon for himself. While occupied with this mission, Pinto met, at Patana [present Patany] (on the east shore of the Malay peninsula, and some four hundred miles to the north of Malacca), with Antonio de Faria, a kinsman of his patron’s, sent thither on a political mission, but who had also improved the opportunity for trade, by borrowing at Malacca twelve thousand crusados,[12] which he had invested in cloths. Finding no market there for these goods, Faria was induced to despatch them to Lugor, on the same coast, further north; and Pinto, with his small adventure, was led by the hope of a profitable trade to embark in the same vessel. He arrived safely near Lugor; but the vessel, while lying in the river below that city, was boarded by a Saracen corsair. Pinto with two others plunged into the water and escaped, wounded, to the shore; and having succeeded in reaching Patana, he communicated to Antonio de Faria information of their mutual loss.

[Pg 18]

Overwhelmed by this news, and afraid to face his creditors at Malacca, Faria, with the remnant of his fortune and the assistance of his friends, fitted out a small cruiser, in which he embarked in May, 1540, with several Portuguese, and Pinto among the rest, nominally to seek out the pirate who had robbed him, but in fact to recruit his fortune as he might. After many adventures—the acquisition of great wealth by numerous captures of richly laden corsairs and others, its loss by shipwreck, the getting of a new vessel, the meeting with the corsair who had robbed them at Lugor, the taking of his vessel, another shipwreck, and the sack of a Chinese town, where some of their shipwrecked companions were detained as prisoners—they put into Liampo (Ningpo), finding on some islands at no great distance from that city, and known as the Gates of Liampo, a Portuguese settlement of a thousand houses, with six or seven churches, and with regular Portuguese officers and laws—as much so, says Pinto, as if the place had been situated between Lisbon and Santarem.[13] Here they met with a Chinese corsair, who told them a marvellous story of the island of Calempui, not far from Pekin, in which lay buried seventeen Chinese kings, and whose tombs, guarded and watched over by priests, contained vast treasures. Under the pilotage of this corsair, Faria set out in May, 1542, to rob these tombs. Pinto’s account of the voyage thither, and of the tombs themselves, from which, terrified by the alarm that was raised, they fled away, with their object only partially accomplished, forms one of the[Pg 19] most questionable, and at all events the most distorted, portions of his narrative.

Shortly after, they were shipwrecked again on the Chinese coast. Faria with most of his countrymen were drowned; but Pinto with thirteen others escaped to the shore, where they lived a while by begging, but were presently taken up as vagabonds, harshly treated, sent to Nankin, and there, on suspicion of being thieves, condemned to lose their thumbs. They appealed from this sentence by the aid of certain officers appointed to look after the poor, and were taken to Pekin, where, after a residence of two months and a half, the charge of theft was dismissed for want of proof, the prosecutors being obliged to pay them damages; but still they were sent in confinement to the frontier town of Quansi for eight months, there to work in the maintenance of the great wall. From this imprisonment they were delivered by an inroad of Tartars, who laid siege to Pekin, and to whom one of the Portuguese, the party reduced by this time to nine, rendered essential military service. Accompanying these invaders back to Tartary, they were sent, except one, who remained behind, as attendants upon the train of an ambassador to Cochin China, by whose procurement they were conveyed to the island of Sancian, in hopes of finding a passage thence to Malacca. But the Portuguese ships had departed five days before; and so they proceeded on some leagues further to the island of Lampacau (the same upon which the Portuguese town of Macao was not long afterwards built, and already a resort for merchants and rovers). Here they found no other resource except to enlist in the service of a Chinese corsair, who arrived shortly after they did, with two ships, of which the crews were[Pg 20] mostly wounded, having just escaped, with the loss of many other ships, from a recent engagement with a Chinese fleet off Chincheo, a great city, about half-way from Canton to Ningpo. The Portuguese had got into a quarrel among themselves, which they carried out, as Pinto says, with true Portuguese obstinacy. Five of them embarked in one of the corsair’s ships, and Pinto, with two companions, named Diego Zeimoto and Christopher Borello, in the other. The five, with the vessel in which they sailed, were soon after lost in a desperate naval engagement, which lasted a whole day, with seven large corsair junks, in which that vessel was burnt. The other, in which Pinto was, escaped with the greatest difficulty, by favor of the breeze, which freshened at night. This breeze changed soon into a gale, before which the corsair ran for the Lew Chew islands (Riū-Kiū), with which he was familiar; but being without a pilot, and the wind shifting to the northeast, they had to beat against it for twenty-three days before they made land. After running along the coast for some distance they anchored off an island in seventy fathoms.[14] “Immediately,” says Pinto, “two little skiffs put off the shore to meet us, in which were six men, who, on coming on board, after having saluted us courteously, asked us whence our junk came; and being answered that it came from China, with merchandise to trade there, if permission should be obtained, one of the six said to us that the Nantaquim (?), the lord of that[Pg 21] island, which was called Tanegashima, would willingly permit us to trade if we would pay the duties customarily paid in Japan; ‘which,’said he, ‘is that great island which you see there over against us.’” Whereupon the ship was piloted into a good harbor, on which was situated a considerable town, and was soon surrounded with boats bringing provisions to sell.

In a short time they were visited by the Nantaquim (?) himself, accompanied by many gentlemen and merchants, with chests of silver. As he approached the ship, the first persons who attracted his attention were Pinto and his companions. Perceiving how different they were in complexion, features, and beard from the others, he eagerly inquired who they were. “The corsair captain made answer to him,” says Pinto, “that we were from a land called Malacca, to which many years before we had gone from another very distant country, called Portugal; at which the prince, greatly astonished, turning to those about him, said, ‘May I die, if these be not the Chenchicogins,[15] of whom it is written in our ancient books, that, flying on the tops of the waves, they will subdue all the lands about them until they become masters of all the countries in which God has placed the riches of the world! Wherefore we should esteem it a great piece of good fortune if they come to us with offers of friendship and good will.’ [16][Pg 22] And then calling in the aid of a woman of Lew Chew, whom he employed as interpreter, he proceeded to make very particular inquiries of the captain as to where he had found these men, and why he had brought them thither. “To whom,” says Pinto, “our captain replied, that without doubt we were merchants and trusty people, whom, having found shipwrecked on the island of Lampacau, he had received on board his junk, as it was his custom to do by all whom he found in such case, having himself been saved in the same way from the like disaster, to which all were liable who ventured their lives and property against the impetuous fury of the waves.” Satisfied with this answer, the prince came on board; not with his whole retinue, though they were all eager for it, but with only a select few. After examining the ship very curiously, he seated himself under an awning, and asked the Portuguese many questions about their country, and what they had seen in their travels. Highly delighted with their answers and the new information they were able to give him, he invited them to visit him on shore the next day, assuring them that this curious information was the merchandise he most wished for, and of which he never could have enough. The next morning he sent to the junk a large boat loaded with grapes, pears, melons, and a great variety of vegetables, for which the captain returned a present of cloths and Chinese jewels. The next day, having first moored the ship securely, the captain went on shore with samples of his goods, taking with him the[Pg 23] three Portuguese and ten or twelve of the best-looking of the Chinese. Their reception was very gracious, and the prince having called together the principal merchants, the samples were exhibited, and a tariff of prices agreed upon.

This matter arranged, the prince began to requestion the Portuguese; to which inquiries Pinto, who acted as spokesman, made answers dictated, as he confesses, less by strict regard to the truth than by his desire to satisfy the prince’s appetite for wonders, and to magnify the king and country of Portugal in his eyes. The prince wished to know whether it were true, as the Chinese and Lew Chewans had told him, that Portugal was larger and richer than China? Whether (a matter as to which he seemed very certain) the king of Portugal had really conquered the greater part of the world? And whether he actually had more than two thousand houses full of gold and silver? All which questions Pinto answered in the affirmative; though, as to the two thousand houses, he confessed that he had never actually counted them—a thing by no means easy in a kingdom so vast.

Well pleased with his guests, the king caused the Portuguese to be entertained, by a wealthy merchant, in a house near his own; and he assigned also warehouses to the Chinese captain to facilitate his trade, which proved so successful that a cargo, which had cost him in China twenty-five hundred taels[17] of silver,[Pg 24] brought him in twelve times as much in Japan; thus reimbursing all the loss he had lately suffered by the capture of his vessels.

“Meanwhile we three Portuguese,” says Pinto, “as we had no merchandise to occupy ourselves about, enjoyed our time in fishing, hunting, and visiting the temples, where the priests, or bonzes, as they are called, gave us a very good reception, the Japanese being naturally well disposed and very conversable.” Diego Zeimoto went often forth to shoot with an espingarda [a large hand-gun or musket], which he had brought from Tartary, and in the use of which he was very dexterous. One day, at a lake where were many kinds of birds, he killed at various shots six-and-twenty ducks. Some Japanese, observing this new method of shooting, which they had never seen before, reported it to the prince, who was busy at the moment in observing the running of some horses, which had been brought to him from a distance. Zeimoto, being called, came into his presence, with the gun on his shoulder, and two Chinamen loaded with the game; and as the thing was entirely novel in this country, and as the Japanese knew nothing of the secret of the powder, they all ascribed it to enchantment,—an astonishment which Zeimoto increased by shooting on the spot a kite and two doves. The prince caused Zeimoto to be mounted on a horse, himself sitting behind him, and to be conducted through the town, followed by a great crowd, preceded by a herald, who proclaimed him an adopted kinsman of the prince, to be treated by all as such; and having taken him to his own palace, he assigned him an apartment there next his own, doing many favors also to the other Portuguese for his sake. Zeimoto responded by making[Pg 25] the prince a present of the gun, who sent him, in return, a thousand taels of silver, beseeching him much to teach him how to make the powder; with which request Zeimoto complied. The prince, greatly delighted with his acquisition, caused other guns to be made like it; “so that,” says Pinto, “when we left, which was in five months and a half, there were more than six hundred; and when I visited Japan, in 1556, as ambassador from the Portuguese viceroy, Don Alonzo de Noronha, to the king of Bungo, the Japanese told me that in the city of Fuchū [or Funni], the capital of that kingdom, there were more than thirty thousand guns. And when I expressed my astonishment at this as incredible, some very respectable merchants positively assured me that in the whole land of Japan there were more than three hundred thousand, and that they themselves, in six voyages to Lew Chew, had carried thither five-and-twenty thousand. From which it may be known what this nation is, and how naturally inclined to military exercises, in which it delights itself more than any other of these distant nations yet discovered.”[18]

At the end of three-and-twenty days, a ship arrived from the kingdom of Bungo, in which came many merchants, who, as soon as they had landed, waited on the prince with presents, as was customary. Among them was an old man, very well attended, and to whom all the rest paid great respect. He made prostrations before the prince, presenting him a letter, and a rich sword garnished with gold, and a box of fans, which the prince received with great ceremony. The reading of this letter seemed to disturb the prince, and, having[Pg 26] sent the messengers away to refresh themselves, he informed the Portuguese, through the interpreter, that it came from the king of Bungo and Hakata, his uncle, father-in-law, and liege lord, as he was also the superior of several other principalities. This letter—which, as is usual with him in such cases, Pinto, by a marvellous stretch of memory, undertakes to give in precise words—declared that the writer had heard by persons from Satsuma that the prince had in his city “three Chenchicogins [Tenjikujin], from the end of the world, very like the Japanese, clothed in silk and girded with swords; not like merchants, whose business it is to trade, but like lovers of honor, seeking to gild their names therewith, and who had given great information, affirming, on their veracity, that there is another world, much larger than this of ours, and peopled with men of various complexions”; and the letter ended with begging that, by Hizen dono, his ambassador, the prince would send back one of these men, the king promising to return him safe and soon. It appeared from this letter, and from the explanations which the prince added to it, that the king of Bungo was a severe sufferer from a gouty affection and from fits of melancholy, from which he hoped, by the aid of these foreigners, to obtain some diversion, if not relief. The prince, anxious and bound as he was to oblige his relative and superior, was yet unwilling to send Zeimoto, his adopted kinsman, but one of the others he begged to consent to go; and when both volunteered, he chose Pinto, as he seemed the more gay and cheerful of the two, and so best fitted to divert the sick man’s melancholy; whereas the solemn gravity of the other, though of great account in more weighty matters, might, in the[Pg 27] case of a sick man, rather tend to increase his ennui. And so, with many compliments, to which, says Pinto, the Japanese are much inclined, he was given in charge to the ambassador, with many injunctions for his good treatment, having first, however, received two hundred taels with which to equip himself.

They departed in a sort of galley; and stopping in various places, arrived in four or five days at Usuki, a fortress of the king of Bungo,[19] seven leagues distant from his capital of Fuchū (present Ōita), to which they proceeded by land. Arriving there in the middle of the day (not a proper time to wait upon the king), the ambassador took him to his own house, where they were joyfully met, and Pinto was well entertained by the ambassador’s wife and two sons. Proceeding to the palace on horseback, they were very graciously received[Pg 28] by a son of the king, some nine or ten years old, who came forth richly dressed and with many attendants. After many ceremonies between the young prince and the ambassador, they were taken to the king, who, though sick abed, received the ambassador with many formalities. Presently Pinto was introduced, and by some well-turned compliments made a favorable impression, leading the courtiers to conclude—and so they told the king—that he could not be a merchant, who had passed his life in the low business of buying and selling, but rather some learned bonze, or at least some brave corsair of the seas. In this opinion the king coincided; and, being already somewhat relieved from his pains, proceeded to question the stranger as to the cure of the gout, which he suffered from, or at least some remedy for the total want of appetite by which he was afflicted. Pinto professed himself no doctor, but nevertheless undertook to cure the king by means of a sovereign herb which he had brought with him from China (ginseng, probably); and this drug he tried on the patient with such good effect that in thirty days he was up and walking, which he had not done for two years before. The next twenty days Pinto passed in answering an infinite number of questions, many of them very frivolous, put to him by the king and his courtiers, and in entertaining himself in observing their feasts, worship, martial exercises, ships of war, fisheries, and hunting, to which they were much given, and especially their hunting with hawks and falcons, quite after the European fashion.

A gun, which Pinto had taken with him, excited as much curiosity as it had done at Tanegashima, especially on the part of a second son of the king, named[Pg 29] Arichandono (?), about seventeen or eighteen years old, who was very pressing to be allowed to shoot it. This Pinto declined to permit, as being dangerous for a person without experience; but, at the intercession of the king, he appointed a time at which the experiment should be made. The young prince, however, contrived beforehand to get possession of the gun while Pinto was asleep, and having greatly overloaded it, it burst, severely wounding his hand and greatly disabling one of his thumbs. Hearing the explosion, and running out to see what might be the matter, Pinto found the young prince abandoned by his frightened companions, and lying on the ground bleeding and insensible; and by the crowd who rushed in he was immediately accused of having murdered the king’s son, hired to do so, as was suspected, by the relations of two noblemen executed the day before as traitors. His life seemed to be in the most imminent danger; he was so frightened as not to be able to speak, and so beside himself that if they had killed him he hardly thinks he would have known it; when, fortunately, the young prince coming to, relieved him from all blame by telling how the accident had happened. The prince’s wounds, however, seemed so severe, that none of the bonzes called in dared to undertake the cure; and it was recommended, as a last resource, to send to Hakata, seventy leagues off, for another bonze, of great reputation, and ninety-two years old. But the young prince, who declared that he should die while waiting, preferred to entrust himself to the hands of Pinto, who, following the methods which he had seen adopted by Portuguese surgeons in India, in twenty days had the young prince able to walk about again; for which he received so many presents[Pg 30] that the cure was worth to him more than fifteen hundred crusados. Information coming from Tanegashima that the Chinese corsair was ready to sail, Pinto was sent back by the king in a galley, manned by twenty rowers, commanded by a gentleman of the royal household, and provided with abundant supplies.

The corsair having taken him on board, they sailed for Liampo (Ningpo), where they arrived in safety. The three survivors of Antonio de Faria’s ship were received at that Portuguese settlement with the greatest astonishment, and many congratulations for their return; and the discovery they had made of the rich lands of Japan was celebrated by a religious procession, high mass, and a sermon.

These pious services over, all hastened with the greatest zeal and contention to get the start of the rest in fitting out ships for this new traffic, the Chinese taking advantage of this rivalry to put up the prices of their goods to the highest rates. In fifteen days nine junks, not half provided for the voyage, put to sea, Pinto himself being on board one of them. Overtaken on their passage by a terrible storm, seven of them foundered, with the loss of seven hundred men, of whom a hundred and forty were Portuguese, and cargoes to the value of three hundred thousand crusados. Two others, on board one of which was Pinto, escaped, and arrived near the Lew Chew Islands; where, in another storm, that in which Pinto was, lost sight of the other, nor was it ever afterwards heard of. “Towards evening,” says Pinto, “the wind coming east-northeast, the waves ran so boisterous, wild, and high, that it was most frightful to see. Our captain, Gaspar de Melo, an hidalgo and very brave, seeing that the junk had[Pg 31] sprung a leak in her poop, and that the water stood already nine palms deep on the lower deck, ordered, with the advice of his officers, to cut away both masts, as, with their weight and the rolling, the junk was opening very fast. Yet, in spite of all care he could not prevent the mainmast from carrying away with it fourteen men, among whom were five Portuguese, crushed in the ruins,—a most mournful spectacle, which took away from us survivors all the little spirits we had left. So we suffered ourselves to be drifted along before the increasing tempest, which we had no means to resist, until about sunset, when the junk began to open at every seam. Then the captain and all of us, seeing the miserable condition in which we were, betook ourselves for succor to an image of our Lady, whom we besought with tears and groans to intercede for us with her blessed Son to forgive our sins.”

The night having passed in this manner, about dawn the junk struck a shoal and went to pieces, most of the crew being drowned. A few, however, escaped to the shore of what proved to be the Lew Chew Islands, now first made known to the Portuguese. Here happened many new dangers and adventures; but at last, by female aid, always a great resource with Pinto, he found his way back in a Chinese junk to Liampo, whence, after various other adventures, he again reached Malacca.

To these Portuguese accounts of the European discovery of Japan may be added the following, which Siebold gives as an extract from a Japanese book of annals: “Under the Mikado Go-Nara and the Shōgun Yoshiharu, in the twelfth year of the Nengō [era][Pg 32] Tembun,[20] on the twenty-second day of the eighth month [October, 1543], a strange ship made the island Tanegashima, near Koura, in the remote province Nishimura.[21] The crew, about two hundred in number, had a singular appearance; their language was unintelligible, their native land unknown. On board was a Chinese, named Gohow [Gobō], who understood writing. From him it was gathered that this was a nam-ban (Japanese form of the Chinese nan-man), that is, ‘southern barbarian,’ship. On the twenty-sixth this vessel was taken to Akuopi harbor on the northwest side of the island, and[Pg 33] Tokitaka, governor of Tanegashima, instituted a strict investigation concerning her, the Japanese bonze, Tsyn-sigu-zu, acting as interpreter by means of Chinese characters. On board the nam-ban ship were two commanders, Mura-synkya and Krista-muta. They had fire-arms, and first made the Japanese acquainted with shooting arms and the preparation of shooting powder.” It is added that the Japanese have preserved portraits of these two distinguished strangers[22]; but, if so, it is much to be feared that the likenesses cannot be relied upon, as Fischer, one of the most recent writers on Japan, and who has himself published the finest specimens which have yet appeared of Japanese graphic art, says he never knew nor heard of a tolerable Japanese portrait-painter; while Golownin declares that the portraits taken of himself and his companions, prisoners on the island of Matsumai, in 1812, to be forwarded to Yedo, bore not the least resemblance to the originals.[23]

[Pg 34]


Pinto’s Second Visit to JapanAnjirō, or Paul of the Holy FaithA. D. 1547-1548.

After a great variety of haps and mishaps in Pegu, Siam, Java, and elsewhere, Fernam Mendez Pinto represents himself as having embarked a second time for Japan, in a ship commanded by George Alvarez, which sailed from Malacca in the year 1547. In twenty-six days they made the island of Tanegashima, nine leagues south of the mainland of Japan; and on the fifth day afterwards reached Fuchū, in the kingdom of Bungo, a hundred leagues to the north. The king and the inhabitants gave them a very friendly reception; but very shortly after their arrival a civil commotion broke out, in which the king was murdered with most of his family and a number of Portuguese who were in his service; the city being set on fire during the outbreak, and great numbers killed on both sides.

One of the king’s sons, who, when this event occurred, happened to be at the fortress of Usuki, seven leagues distant, would have proceeded at once to Fuchū but for the advice of his tutor, Hizen dono, the same name borne by the ambassador of the king of Bungo, under whose guidance Pinto, according to his former narrative, had first visited Fuchū. This person advised the young prince first to collect a sufficient army; and of the Japanese method of calling to arms Pinto gives the[Pg 35] following account: Every housekeeper, high and low, was required to keep by him a conch-shell, which, under severe penalties, could be sounded on four occasions only,—tumults, fire, thieves, and treason. To distinguish what the alarm was for, the shell was sounded once for tumult, twice for fire, three times for thieves, and four times for treason. So soon as the alarm of treason was sounded, every householder who heard it was obliged to repeat it. And upon the signal thus given, and which spread from house to house and village to village, all were obliged to march armed to the spot whence it came, the whole population of the district being thus very soon collected.

By this means, in the course of seven days, during three of which the young prince lamented his murdered relatives at a convent of bonzes in a grove near the city, after which he proceeded to confiscate the estates of the rebels, Pinto collects for him an army,—he is generally pretty liberal in such matters,—estimated at one hundred and thirty thousand men, of whom seventeen thousand were cavalry. The multitude thus collected breeding a famine, the prince marched upon Fuchū, where he was received with great demonstrations of loyalty. But, before repairing to the palace, he stopped at the temple where the body of his father was lying, whose obsequies he celebrated with much pomp, the observance lasting through two nights, with a great display of torches and illuminations. The closing ceremony was the presentation to the son of the bloody garments of the father, on which he swore that he would show no mercy to the traitors, even though to save their lives they might turn bonzes; but that, rather than allow them to escape, he would destroy[Pg 36] every convent or temple in which they might take refuge.

On the fourth day, having been inaugurated as king, but with little pomp, he marched with a still-increasing army against the rebels, who, to the number of ten thousand, had entrenched themselves on a neighboring hill, where, being surrounded by the royal forces, rather than surrender, they were cut off to a man.

The city of Fuchū was left almost in ruins by this civil war; and the Portuguese, despairing of being able to find purchasers for their goods, proceeded to the city of Hamanoichi [or Miyakonojō], ninety leagues to the southward, on the bay of Kagoshima, where they remained for two months and a half, unable to sell their cargo, as the market was completely overstocked by Chinese merchandise, which had been poured in such quantities into the Japanese ports as to be worth much less than it was in China. Pinto and his company were entirely at a loss what to do; but from this dilemma they were delivered, as Pinto will have it, by the special providence of the Most High; for at the new moon of December a terrible storm occurred, in which almost the whole of these foreign traders were destroyed, to the incredible number, as Pinto relates, of near two thousand vessels, including twenty-six belonging to the Portuguese. Of the whole number, only ten or a dozen escaped, among them that in which Pinto was, which afterwards disposed of her lading to very good profit. So they got ready to depart, well pleased to see themselves so rich, but sad at having made their gains at the cost of so many lives, both of countrymen and strangers. Three times, however, they were detained by accidents, the last time barely escaping—by[Pg 37] the help of the Virgin Mary, as Pinto insists—being carried by the strong current upon a dangerous reef; just at which moment they saw approaching the shore, in great haste, two men on horseback, making signs to them with a cloth. The preceding night four slaves, one of whom belonged to Pinto, had escaped from the vessel; and, thinking to receive some news of them, Pinto went in the boat with two companions. “Coming to the shore,” he says, “where the two men on horseback awaited us, one of them, who seemed the principal person, said to me, ‘Sir, as the haste I am in admits of no delay, being in great fear of some people who are in pursuit of me, I beg of you, for the love of God, that, without suggesting doubts or weighing inconveniences, you will receive me at once on board your ship.’At which words of his I was so much embarrassed,” says Pinto, “as hardly to know what to do, and the more so as I recollected having twice seen him in Hamanoichi, in the company of some merchants of that city. Scarcely had I received him and his companion into the boat, when fourteen men on horseback made their appearance, approaching at full speed and crying out to me, ‘Give up that traitor, or we will kill you!’Others soon after came up, both horsemen and on foot; whereupon I put off to the distance of a good bow-shot, and inquired what they wanted. To which they made answer, ‘If thou dost carry off that Japanese, know that a thousand heads of fellows like thee shall pay the forfeit of it.’To all which,” says Pinto, “I replied not a word, but, pulling to the ship, got on board with the two Japanese, who were well received, and provided by the captain and the other Portuguese with everything necessary for so long a voyage.” The[Pg 38] name of this fugitive was Anjirō, “an instrument selected by the Lord,” so Pinto piously observes, “for his praise and the exaltation of the holy faith.”

In fourteen days the ship reached Chincheo, but found the mouth of the river leading to it blockaded by a famous Chinese corsair with a great fleet, to avoid whom they turned aside and sailed for Malacca.

In this city Pinto met, apparently for the first time, with Master Francis Xavier, general superior or provincial of the order of the Jesuits in India, in all parts of which occupied by the Portuguese he had already attained a high reputation for self-devotion, sanctity, and miraculous power; and who was then at Malacca, on his return to Goa, from a mission on which he had lately been to the Moluccas. “The father,” says Pinto, “had received intelligence of our arrival, and that we had brought with us the Japanese Anjirō. He came to visit George Alvarez and myself in the house of one Cosmo Rodriguez, where we lodged, and passed almost a whole day with us in curious inquiries (all founded on his lively zeal for the honor of God) about the countries we had visited; in the course of which I told him, not knowing that he knew it already, that we had brought with us two Japanese, one of whom appeared to be a man of consideration, well skilled in the laws and religion of Japan. Whereupon he expressed great desire to see him; in consequence of which we brought him to the hospital, where the father lodged, who received him gladly and took him to India, whither he was then on his way. Having arrived at Goa, Anjirō there became a Christian, taking the name of Paulo de Santa Fe [Paul of the Holy Faith], and in a short time learned to read and write Portuguese, and mastered the whole[Pg 39] Christian doctrine; so that the father only waited for the monsoon to go to announce to the heathen of the isle of Japan, Christ, the Son of the living God, nailed to the cross for our sins (as he was accustomed to do), and to take this man with him as an interpreter, as he afterwards did, and his companion also, who, as well as himself, professed the Christian faith, and received from the father the name of John.”

[Pg 40]


Religious Faith Three Centuries ago—Zeal of the Portuguese Conquerors—Antonio Galvano—Missionary Seminaries at Ternate and Goa—Order of the Jesuits—Francis Xavier—His Mission to India—His Mission to Japan—His Companion, Cosme de Torres—The Philippine Islands—A. D. 1542-1550.

Three centuries ago the religious faith of Europe was much more energetic and active than at present. With all imaginative minds, even those of the highest order, the popular belief had at that time all the force of undoubted reality. Michael Angelo and Raphael embodied it in marble and colors; and it is difficult to say which impulse was the stronger with the Portuguese and Spanish adventurers of that age,—the fierce thirst for gold and glory, which they felt as we feel it now, or passionate desire for the propagation of their religious faith, such indeed as is still talked about, and feebly exhibited in action, but in which the great bulk of the community, especially the more cultivated part of it, takes at present either no interest, or a very slight one.

The Portuguese adventurers in the East, wherever they went, were accompanied by friars, mostly Franciscans, and the building of magnificent churches was one of the first things attended to.

Of all these adventurers, few, if indeed a single one, have left so respectable a character as Antonio Galvano, already mentioned, governor of the Moluccas from 1536[Pg 41] to 1540, which islands, from a state of violent hostility to the Portuguese, and rebellion against them, he brought back to quiet and willing submission. Not less distinguished for piety than for valor and disinterestedness, Galvano made every effort to diffuse among the natives of the Oriental archipelago a knowledge of the Catholic faith; and with that view he established at Ternate, seat of the Portuguese government of the Moluccas, a seminary for the education of boys of superior abilities, to be collected from various nations, who, upon arriving at maturity, might preach the gospel, each in his own country,—an institution which the Council of Trent not long after warmly approved.

By the efforts of Galvano and others a similar seminary, sometimes called “Paul’s,” and sometimes “Of the Holy Faith,” had been erected at Goa, lately made the seat of an Indian bishopric; and it was at this seminary, endowed and enriched by the spoils of many heathen temples, that the Japanese Anjirō was placed by Xavier for his education. The name which he adopted at his baptism, Paul of the Holy Faith, was, as it thus appears, taken from the seminary at which he had been educated.

But the efforts hitherto made in India on behalf of the Catholic faith, if earnest, had been desultory. The establishment of the order of Jesuits in 1540 laid the foundation for a systematic attack upon the religious systems of the East, and an attempt at a spiritual revolution there, neither less vigorous nor less pertinacious than that which, for the forty years preceding, had been carried on by the new-comers from the West against political, commercial, and social institutions of those countries.

[Pg 42]

The leader in this enterprise was Francis Aspilcota, surnamed Xavier, one of the seven associates of whom the infant Society of Jesus, destined soon to become so powerful and so famous, originally consisted. He was born in 1506, in Navarre, at the foot of the Pyrenees, the youngest son of a noble and numerous family, of whom the younger members, and he among the rest, bore the surname of Xavier. Not inclining to the profession of arms embraced by the rest of the family, after preliminary studies at home he went to Paris, and was first a student at the College of St. Barbe, and afterwards, at the age of twenty-two, professor of philosophy in that of Beauvais. It was in this latter station that he first became acquainted with Ignatius Loyola, who, fifteen years older than Xavier, had come to Paris to pursue, as preparatory to a course of theology, those rudimentary studies which had not been thought necessary for the military destination of his earlier days. This remarkable Spaniard, whose military career had been cut short by a wound which made him a cripple, had already been for years a religious devotee; and having been from his youth thoroughly impregnated with the current ideas of romantic chivalry, he was already turning in his mind the formation of a new monastic order, which should carry into religion the spirit of the romances. Xavier, with whom he lived at Paris on intimate terms,—they slept, indeed, in the same bed,—was one of Loyola’s first disciples; and on the day of the Assumption, August 16, 1534, they two, with five others, of whom three or four were still students, in a subterranean chapel of the church of the abbey of Montmartre, united at a celebration of mass by Le Fèvre, who was already a priest, and in the consecration of themselves by a[Pg 43] solemn vow to religious duties. This rudimentary order included, along with Loyola and Xavier, three other Spaniards, Lainez, Salmaron, and Boabdilla, Rodriguez, a Portuguese, and Le Fèvre, a Savoyard,—all afterwards distinguished. A mission to Jerusalem, which Loyola had already visited, was at that time their leading idea.

St. Francis Xavier One of the Earliest Missionaries to Japan

Loyola then returned home, the others remaining at Paris; but with an agreement to meet at Venice before the close of the year 1536, at which meeting three more were added to their number. A scheme of the order was subsequently drawn up, which, besides the vows of chastity and poverty, and of absolute obedience, as to God, to a general of the order, to be elected for life, included, instead of the mission to Jerusalem, which the war with the Turks made impracticable, a vow to go wherever the Pope might send them for the salvation of souls. To procure the sanction of the Pope, Loyola, with Lainez and Le Fèvre, spent several years at Rome. The scheme, having been referred to a commission, was approved by Paul III., by a bull, bearing date September 27, 1540, in which the name of “Clerks of the Society of Jesus” was bestowed upon the order, which was limited, however, to sixty members. Loyola was elected, early in 1541, the first general; and by a subsequent bull of Julian III., dated March 15, 1543, the society was allowed to increase its members indefinitely. Its object was the maintenance of the absolute authority of the church as personified in the Pope, not only by resisting the rebellion against it, then lately set on foot by Luther in Germany, but by extending the domination of the Pope into all parts of the world. To guard against the corruptions of preceding orders, the members[Pg 44] were not to accept of any church preferment, except by the positive command of the Pope, nor of any fees for religious services; nor could the houses of the professed and the coadjutors (the two highest ranks of the order) have any endowments, though the colleges and novitiates might.

That which gave the Jesuits their first success was their introduction of good works, acts of charity and humanity, a care for the salvation of others as well as their own, into the first class of duties. Instead of being bound, like the other Catholic orders, to a peculiar garb and the stated repetition of formal prayers and ceremonies, they wore the ordinary clerical dress, and their time was to be divided between mental prayers and good works, of which the education of youth, the direction of consciences, and the comfort and care of the poor and sick, were the principal. In this latter service novices, or probationers, who must be at least fourteen years of age, of sound body, of good abilities and fair character, were to be tried for two years. From the novitiate, after taking the vows, the neophytes passed into the colleges, to which also were attached schools for lay pupils. From the colleges they might be admitted coadjutors and professed, which latter class must have studied theology for four years. These two latter ranks were to live in professed houses, which, unlike the colleges and novitiates, could have no property, but must be supported by alms. The coadjutors were of two classes: those admitted to holy orders, from which class the rectors of the colleges were appointed; and the lay coadjutors, furnishing cooks, stewards, agents, and the business men generally of the society. The professed and the coadjutors must renounce all[Pg 45] claim to hereditary succession, not for themselves only, but for the society also. There were, however, a class of lay coadjutors who simply took the vows, yet continued to enjoy their property and lived in the world.

What added to the efficiency of the order was its strict military organization. It had nothing about it of the republican cast of the other Catholic orders, in which rotation in office occurred, chapters were frequent, and many points were decided by a majority of votes. The general of the Jesuits, chosen for life by a select congregation, had absolute authority, as had also, under him, each in his sphere, the provincials, the vice-provincials, the superiors of professed houses, and the rectors of colleges, all of whom the general might appoint and remove at pleasure. The general received monthly reports from the provincials and vice-provincials, quarterly ones from the superiors of professed houses and rectors of colleges, and half-yearly ones from every professed member. Every member was bound to report to his immediate superior his own misconduct or that of any of his companions.

John III, of Portugal, though very desirous of sending out a competent supply of spiritual laborers to his dominions in the East, could hardly find the means for it at home. There was but a single university—that of Coimbra—in all Portugal, and that not much frequented. John, it is true, had exerted himself in behalf of that institution, by inviting professors not only from Spain, but from Germany and Italy; but as yet the few Portuguese who devoted themselves to study sought their education for the most part at Complutum or Salamanca, and some of them at Paris. In this dearth of Portuguese laborers, having heard some rumor of the[Pg 46] new order of the Jesuits, John charged his ambassador at Rome to request the founder, Ignatius, to send him for service in India not less than six members of it. Loyola, who had other schemes on foot, could spare only two, one of whom, Rodriguez, the original Portuguese of the order, remained behind in Portugal to organize the society there, where he established at Coimbra the first Jesuit college. The other was Xavier, to whom, as a test of his obedience,—though, the order being as yet not formally authorized, Loyola had no legal authority over him,—the command for his departure was communicated only the day beforehand, leaving him scarcely time before setting out upon so distant a journey to say farewell to his friends, and to get the rents mended in his tattered and threadbare cloak. He was indeed able to get ready the easier, not having, like our modern missionaries, the incumbrance or the comfort of a wife and children, and no baggage to impede his movements beyond his prayer-book and the clothes on his back.

Arriving at Lisbon, he waited on the king, but immediately upon leaving the palace proceeded, as was his wont, to the public hospital, devoting all his time, till the ships were ready, to the care and consolation of the sick and dying. While here he received from the Pope the appointment of apostolic nuncio for India, with full powers. Of all the offers made to him of an outfit for the voyage he would for a long time accept of nothing; but at last, lest he should seem too obstinate, he consented to receive some coarse cloaks, to be used in passing the Cape of Good Hope, one for himself, and one for each of the two companions who were to accompany him; likewise a few books, of which he understood[Pg 47] there was a great scarcity in India. To the offer pressed upon him of the service of a boy to attend to his daily wants during the voyage, he replied, “While I have hands and feet of my own I shall need no servant.” The matter being still urged, with the remark that it was unfitting for a man in his position to be openly seen among the crowd of sailors and passengers washing his clothes or cooking his daily food, “You see,” he answered, “to what a pass this art of preserving one’s dignity has brought the commonwealth of Christendom! For my part, there is no office, however humble, which, provided there be no sin in it, I cannot upon occasion perform.” This was a specimen of his whole conduct throughout the voyage, which commenced April 7, 1541, giving rise to a remark of the captain of the fleet that it was even harder to make Xavier accept anything than it was to get rid of other men’s importunities.

All this self-sacrifice, accompanied as it was by a most careful attention to the wants of others, was not without its reward. It gave Xavier—not to mention his subsequent canonization—an immense reputation with his fellow-voyagers, and a great influence over them, which he did not fail to exercise. Already, amid all this early austerity, the principles of Jesuitism were fully developed. Xavier addressed everybody, even the most notorious profligates, with mild familiarity, no severity in his face, no harshness in his words. He even volunteered himself as a sociable companion, and thus acquired an influence all the greater because it was hardly perceived by those who submitted to it, so that he was generally said by those who knew him best to have accomplished much more by his familiar conversation than even by his public preaching,—of the[Pg 48] effects of which, however, very extraordinary stories were told.

He arrived at Goa in May, 1542, and, taking lodgings at a hospital, entered at once with great zeal on the duties of his office as Pope’s nuncio, provincial in India of the order of Jesuits, and apostolical missionary, professing, however, entire submission to the bishop of Goa. Passing through the streets, bell in hand, he called the children, women, and servants to be catechised, and to help the memory and catch the ear he put the catechism into rhyme. But it was not merely to the Christian population that he confined his labors. He had to encounter the scornful fanaticism of the Mahometans, who, setting out from Arabia, had preceded the Portuguese by centuries in commercial and military visits to the coasts of India and the eastern islands, and who had in many places largely diffused their religion. He had to meet the insolent bigotry of the twice-born Brahmins, who, through the system of castes, held society fast bound, helpless and stationary, in the fetters of an all-pervading superstition. Jewish scoffers were also to be met. In fact, all sects seemed to be brought together in southern India, including even an ancient form of Christianity, a remnant of the followers of Zoroaster, from Persia, and in Ceylon, Buddhists. After a year’s stay at Goa, Xavier proceeded to the southern point of Hindustan, about Cape Comorin, the pearl-fishers of which region had, for the sake of Portuguese protection, professed the Christian religion, of which, however, they knew nothing but the name. Having preached for a year or more in this district, he passed to the neighboring territories of the Coromandel coast, where there already existed the[Pg 49] remains, before referred to, of an ancient Christianity, originally propagated, it seems probable, by Nestorian missionaries of the fifth or sixth century, but which the Portuguese insisted upon ascribing to St. Thomas, the apostle, about whose life and labors in the East a whole volume of fables was, between them and the native Christians, speedily manufactured.

Incapable of staying long in one place, from India Xavier soon proceeded to Malacca, where he arrived towards the close of 1545, and whence the next Spring he set out on a missionary journey through the Moluccas. It was on his return from this last expedition that he first met with the Japanese Anjirō, at Malacca,—as related, after Pinto, in the preceding chapter,—with whom he arrived at Goa in March, 1548. The Japanese were placed, as has been mentioned, in the seminary of St. Paul; and so delighted was Xavier with their progress and fervor, as to resolve to undertake, after visiting his churches at Cape Comorin, a new mission to Japan.

We have seen the account given by Pinto of the origin of the acquaintance between Xavier and Anjirō. The biographers of the saint and the Jesuit historians of the Japanese mission embellish this story by the addition of several romantic particulars. Anjirō, they tell us, had long been troubled with remorse of conscience, for which he could find no remedy, and which he only aggravated in the attempt to cure it by retiring for a time to a Japanese monastery of bonzes. Having made the acquaintance of some of the earliest Portuguese adventurers to Japan, he consulted them as to this malady, one of whom, by name Alvares Vaz, having heard the fame of Xavier, strongly advised the[Pg 50] inquiring Japanese to seek his assistance. Anjirō was much inclined to do so; but the danger and distance of the voyage deterred him, till, having killed a man in a rencontre, the fear of arrest drove him to embark on the first vessel he could find, which happened to be a Portuguese ship bound for Malacca, and commanded by George Alvarez, a great admirer of Xavier’s. The good example and edifying discourse of this pious sea-captain brought Anjirō to the determination to become a Catholic; but being disappointed in finding Xavier as he had expected, or, according to other accounts, being refused baptism by the vicar of the bishop of Goa resident at Malacca, he thought no more but of returning home again, and with that object, not meeting with any ship bound direct for Japan, he embarked for Chincheo, in China. Thence he sailed for home; but a terrible storm drove him back to the port he had left, reviving also his almost forgotten resolution to become a Catholic, in which he was the more confirmed by happening to find in the harbor his old Portuguese friend, Alvares Vaz, in command of a ship on her way back to India. Yielding to the persuasions of this old friend, Anjirō sailed in his ship for Malacca; and, on landing there, the very first person whom he met was George Alvarez, who immediately took him to Xavier. These accounts also give him two Japanese servants, both of whom are stated to have accompanied him to Goa, and to have been baptized, one by the name of John, the other by that of Anthony. And this last part of the story is confirmed by a letter of Xavier’s, dated July, 1549, and written from Malacca on his way to Japan, in which letter he gives an interesting, and at the same time characteristic, account of his converts, very much in[Pg 51] substance, and even in expression, like what we may read in the very latest missionary reports.

“No sooner,” he writes, “had they been cleansed by the waters of baptism, than the divine goodness shed upon them such delight, and brought them to such a sense of God’s beneficence towards them, that through pious and spiritual joy they melted into tears. In all the virtues they made such a progress as to afford us a pleasant and useful subject of conversation. They also learned to read and write, and diligently attended at the appointed seasons of prayer. When inquired of by me what subject of contemplation affected them most, they answered, the sufferings of our Lord; and, therefore, to this contemplation they chiefly applied themselves. They studied also the articles of faith, the means of redemption, and the other Christian mysteries. To my frequent inquiries what religious rites they found profited them the most, they always answered, confession and communion; adding, also, that they did not see how any reasonable man could hesitate to assent to and obey the requirements of Christian discipline. Paul of the Holy Faith, one of the number, I once heard bursting out, with sighs, into these exclamations: ‘O miserable Japanese! who adore as deities the very things which God has made for your service!’And when I asked him to what he referred, he answered, ‘Because they worship the sun and the moon, things made to serve those who know the Lord Jesus; for to what other end are they made, except to illuminate both day and night, in order that men may employ that light in the worship and to the glory of God and his Son?’”

He mentions, in the same letter, that the voyage to[Pg 52] Japan was so dangerous, that not more than two vessels out of three were expected to arrive there in safety. He even seems to have had some temptations to abandon the enterprise; but in spite of numerous obstacles put in his way, as he will have it, by the great adversary of mankind, he determined to persevere, especially as letters from Japan gave encouraging information of the desire there for Christian instruction, on the part of a prince of the country who had been much impressed by the efficacy of the sign of the cross, as employed by certain Portuguese merchants, in driving the evil spirits from a haunted house.

Another letter of Xavier’s, written from Kagoshima, in Japan, and dated in November, 1549, about three months after his arrival, gives an account of his voyage thither.

Taking with him the three Japanese, Cosme de Torres, a priest, and Jean Fernandes, a brother of the society,—of which, besides several who had joined it in India, some ten or twelve members had followed Xavier from Portugal, and had been distributed in various services,—he sailed in the ship of Chinese merchants, who had agreed with the Portuguese commander at Malacca to carry him to Japan. As Pinto tells the story, this merchant was a corsair, and so notorious a one as to go by the name of the Robber. Xavier says nothing of that, but complains of the levity and vacillation natural to barbarians, which made the captain linger at the islands where he touched, at the risk of losing the monsoon and being obliged to winter in China. Xavier was also greatly shocked at the assiduous worship paid by the mariners to an idol which they had on board, and before which they burnt candles and[Pg 53] odoriferous wood, seeking oracles from it as to the result of the voyage. “What were our feelings, and what we suffered, you can well imagine,” he exclaims, “at the thought that this demon should be consulted as to the whole course of our journey.”

After touching at Canton the Chinese captain, instead of sailing thence to Japan, as he had promised, followed the coast north toward Chincheo; but hearing, when he approached that port, that it was blockaded by a corsair, he put off in self-defence for Japan, and arrived safe in the port of Kagoshima.

Anjirō, or Paul as he was now called, was well received by his relations, and forty days were spent by Xavier in laborious application to the rudiments of the language, and by Paul in translating into Japanese the ten commandments, and other parts of the Christian faith, which Xavier determined, so he writes, to have printed as soon as possible, especially as most of the Japanese could read. Anjirō also devoted himself to exhortations and arguments among his relations and friends, and soon made converts of his wife and daughter, and many besides, of both sexes. An interview was had with the king of Satsuma,—in which province Kagoshima was situated,—and he presently issued an edict allowing his subjects to embrace the new faith. This beginning seemed promising; but Xavier already anticipated a violent opposition so soon as his object came to be fully understood. He drew consolation, however, from the spiritual benefits enjoyed by himself, “since in these remote regions,” so he wrote, “amid the impious worshippers of demons, so very far removed from almost every mortal aid and consolation, we almost of necessity, as it were, forget and lose[Pg 54] ourselves in God, which hardly can happen in a Christian land, where the love of parents and country, intimacies, friendship and affinities, and helps at hand both for body and mind, intervene, as it were, between man and God, to the forgetfulness of the latter.” And what tended to confirm this spiritual state of mind was the entire freedom in Japan “from those delights which elsewhere stimulate the flesh and break down the strength of mind and body. The Japanese,” he wrote, “rear no animals for food. Sometimes they eat fish;—they have a moderate supply of rice and wheat; but they live, for the most part, on vegetables and fruits; and yet they attain to such a good old age, as clearly to show how little nature, elsewhere so insatiable, really demands.”

Anjirō himself wrote at the same time a short letter to the brethren at Goa, but it adds nothing to the information contained in Xavier’s.

The following account, which Cosme de Torres,[24] a Spaniard by birth, Xavier’s principal assistant, and his successor at the head of the mission, gives of himself in a letter written from Goa to the society in Europe, just before setting out, shows, like other cases to be mentioned hereafter, that it was by no means merely from the class of students that the order of the Jesuits was at its commencement recruited.

Though always inclined, so Cosme writes, to religion, yet many things and various desires for a long time distracted him. In the year 1538, in search he knew not of what, he sailed from Spain to the Canaries, whence he visited the West Indies and the continent of New[Pg 55] Spain, where he passed four years in the greatest abundance, and satiety even, of this world’s goods. But desiring something greater and more solid, in 1542 he embarked on board a fleet of six ships, fitted out by Mendosa, the viceroy of New Spain, to explore and occupy the islands of the Pacific, discovered by Magellan in 1521. Standing westward, on the fifty-fifth day they fell in, so Cosme writes, with a numerous cluster of very small, low islands, of which the inhabitants lived on fish and the leaves of trees. Ten days after they saw a beautiful island, covered with palms, but the wind prevented their landing. In another ten or twelve days the ships reached the great island of Mindanao, two hundred leagues in circumference, but with few inhabitants. Sailing thence to the south they discovered a small island abounding in meat and rice; but having, during half a year’s residence, lost four hundred men in contests with the natives, who used poisoned arrows, they sailed to the Moluccas, where they remained about two years, till it was finally resolved, not having the means to get back to New Spain, to apply to the Portuguese governor to forward them to Goa. At Amboina, Cosme met with Xavier, whose conversation revived his religious inclinations; and, proceeding to Goa, he was ordained a priest by the bishop there, who placed him in charge of a cure. But he found no peace of mind till he betook himself to the college of St. Paul (which seems by this time to have passed into the hands of the Jesuits), being the more confirmed in his resolution to join the order, by the return of Xavier to Goa, whose invitation to accompany him to Japan he joyfully accepted, and where he continued for twenty years to labor as a missionary.

[Pg 56]

Cosme, in his letter above quoted, says nothing of any hostile collision of the Spanish ships, in which he reached the East, with the Portuguese; but it appears, from Galvano’s account of this expedition, that such collision did take place. He also gives, as the reason why the Spaniards did not land on Mindanao, the opposition they experienced from some of the princes of it, who, by his own recent efforts, had been converted to Catholicism; and who, owing their obedience to him, would by no means incur his displeasure by entertaining these interloping Spaniards.

One of the Spanish ships was sent back to New Spain with news of their success thus far. This ship passed among the northern islands of the group, which seem now first to have received the name of the Philippines. Another fleet sailed from Seville, in the year 1544, to coöperate with Rui Lopes; but none of the ships succeeded in passing the Straits of Magellan, except one small bark, which ran up the coast to Peru. The Spaniards made no further attempts in the East till the expiration of ten years or more, when the Philippines were finally colonized—an event not without its influence upon the affairs of Japan.

[Pg 57]


Political and Religious Condition of Japan, as found by the Portuguese—The Yakatas, or Kings, and their Vassals—Revenues—Money—Distinction of Ranks—The Kubō-Sama—The Dairi—Shintō—Buddhism—Judō—A.D. 1550.

Japan, as found by the Portuguese, embraced three large islands, besides many smaller ones. Shimo (or Kiūshiū), the most southern and western of the group, and the one with which the Portuguese first became acquainted, is separated at the north, by a narrow strait, from the much larger island of Nippon,[25] forming with its western portion a right angle, within which the third and much smaller island of Sikoku is included. These islands were found to be divided into sixty-six separate governments or kingdoms, of which Nippon contained fifty-three, Shimo (or Kiūshiū) nine, and Sikoku four—the numerous smaller islands being reckoned as appurtenant to one or another of the three larger ones. These kingdoms, grouped into eight, or rather nine, larger divisions, and subdivided into principalities, of which, in all, there were not less than six hundred, had originally (at least such was the Japanese tradition) been provinces of a consolidated empire; but by degrees and by dint of civil wars, by which the islands had been, and still were, very much distracted, they had reached at the period of[Pg 58] the Portuguese discovery a state of almost complete independence. Indeed, several of the kingdoms, like that of Hizen, in the west part of Shimo, had still further disintegrated into independent principalities.

It still frequently happened, however, that several provinces were united under one ruler; and such was especially the case with five central provinces of Nippon, including the great cities of Miyako, Ōsaka and Sakai, which five provinces formed the patrimony of a prince who bore the title of Kubō-Sama—Sama meaning lord, and Kubō general or commander. This title the Portuguese rendered into Emperor, and it was almost precisely equivalent to the original sense of the Imperator of the Romans, though still more exactly corresponding to Cromwell’s title of Lord-general.

This Kubō or Shōgun, as he was otherwise called, was acknowledged by all the other princes as in some respect their superior and head. The other rulers of provinces bore the title of Shugo, or Yakata, which the Portuguese rendered by the term King. Reserving to themselves, as their personal domain, a good half of the whole extent of their territories, these chiefs divided the rest among certain great vassals, called Tono, Kunishū, or Kunidaimiō, who were bound to military service in proportion to the extent of the lands which they held; which lands, after reserving a portion for their private domain, these nobles distributed in their turn to other inferior lords, called Yoriki, who held of them upon similar conditions of military service, and who had still beneath them, upon the same footing, a class of military vassals and tenants, called Dōshin, and corresponding to the men-at-arms of the feudal times of Europe. The actual cultivators of the lands—as had[Pg 59] also been, and still to a considerable extent was, the case in feudal Europe—were in the condition of serfs.

Thus it happened, that, as in feudal Europe, so in Japan, great armies might be very suddenly raised; and war being the chief employment of the superior classes, and the only occupation, that of the priesthood excepted, esteemed honorable, the whole country was in a constant state of turbulence and commotion.

All the classes above enumerated except the last enjoyed the highly prized honor of wearing two swords. One sword was worn by certain inferior officials; but merchants, traders, and artisans, were confounded, as to this matter, with the peasants, not being permitted to wear any. The revenue of the princes and other proprietors was, and still is, reckoned in koku of rice, each of three sacks or bales, each bale containing (according to Titsingh) thirty-three and one-third gantings [shō],—the universal Japanese measure for all articles, liquid or dry,—and weighing from eighty-two to eighty-three katties, or somewhat more than a hundred of our pounds.[26] Ten thousand koku make a mankoku, in[Pg 60] which the revenues of the great princes are reckoned. The distinction of rank was very strictly observed, being even ingrained into the language. Inferiors being seated on their heels, according to the Japanese fashion, testified their respect for their superiors by laying the palms of their hands on the floor, and bending their bodies so low that their foreheads almost touched the ground, in which position they remained for some seconds. This is called the kitō. The superior responded by laying the palms of his hands upon his knees, and nodding or bowing, more or less low, according to the rank of the other party.

As to everything that required powers of analysis, or the capacity of taking general views, the Portuguese missionaries were but poor observers; yet they could not but perceive in the Dairi the surviving shadow, and indeed, in the earlier days of the missions, something more than a mere shadow, of a still more ancient form of government, in which the civil and ecclesiastical authority had both been united under one head.

The Dairi,[27] Ō, or Mikado, as he was otherwise[Pg 61] designated, had for his residence the northeast quarter of Miyako (a great city not far from the centre of Nippon, but nearest the southern shore). This quarter was of vast extent, surrounded by a wall, with a ditch and rampart, by which it was separated from the rest of the city. In the midst of this fortified place, in a vast palace, easily distinguished from a distance by the height of its tower, the Dairi dwelt, with his empress or chief wife; his other eleven wives had adjoining palaces in a circle around, outside of which were the dwellings of his chamberlains and other officers. These Dairi claimed to be descended from Jimmu, who, it was said, had, A. D. 660, introduced civilization into Japan, and first established a regular government, and commencing with whom, the Japanese annals show a regular series of Dairi, who are represented as having been for many ages the sole lords and imperial rulers of Japan, till at length they had been insensibly set aside, as to the actual exercise of authority, by the Kubō-Sama, or commanders of the armies. Yet these gradually eclipsed and finally superseded emperors—equivalents of the “idle kings” of the Carlovingian race of France, or to the present nominal sovereign of the British empire—were, and still are, treated (as Queen Victoria is) with all the ceremonial of substantial power, and even with the respect and reverence due to the spiritual head of the national church, descended from a race of divinities, and destined at death to pass by a regular apotheosis into the list of the national gods.

All the revenue drawn from the city of Miyako and its dependencies was appropriated to their support, to which the Kubō-Sama added a further sum from his treasury. He himself treated the Dairi with as much[Pg 62] ceremonious respect and semi-worship as the British prime minister bestows upon the British queen. He paid an annual visit to the court of the Dairi in great state, and, withal, the carriage of an inferior; but took care to maintain a garrison at Miyako, or its neighborhood, sufficient to repress any attempt on the part of the Dairi or his partisans to reëstablish the old order of things,—an idea which, when the islands first became known to the Portuguese, seems not yet to have been entirely abandoned.

We may trace a still further resemblance between the position of the Dairi of Japan and the Queen of England, in the circumstance that all public acts are dated by the years of his reign, and that all titles of honor nominally emanate from him, though of course obliged, as to this matter, to follow the suggestions of the Kubō-Sama. Even the Kubō-Sama himself condescends, like a British prime minister, to accept such decorations at the hands of the Dairi, affecting to feel extremely honored and flattered at titles which had been, in fact, dictated by himself.

The whole court of the Dairi, and all the inhabitants of the quarter of Miyako in which he dwelt, consisted of persons who plumed themselves upon the idea of being, like the Dairi himself, descended from Tenshō-daijin, the first of the demigods, and who in consequence looked down, like the Indian Brahmins, upon all the rest of the nation as an inferior race, distinguishing themselves as Kuge, and all the rest of the nation as Gege. These Kuge, who may be conjectured to have once formed a class resembling the old Roman patricians, all wore a particular dress, by which was indicated, not only their character as members of that order, but, by the length[Pg 63] of their sashes, the particular rank which they held in it; a distinction the more necessary, since, as generally happens with these aristocracies of birth, many of the members were in a state of poverty, and obliged to support themselves by various handicrafts.[28]

Of the magnificence of the court of the Dairi, and of the ceremonials of it, the missionaries reported many stories, chiefly, of course, on the credit of hearsay. It was said that the Dairi was never allowed to breathe the common air, nor his foot to touch the ground; that he never wore the same garment twice, nor ate a second time from the same dishes, which, after each meal, were carefully broken,—for, should any other person attempt to dine from them, he would infallibly perish by an inflammation of the throat. Nor could any one who attempted to wear the Dairi’s cast-off garments, without his permission, escape a similar punishment. The Dairi, as we are told, was, in ancient times, obliged to seat himself every morning on his throne, with the crown on his head, and there to hold himself immovable for several hours like a statue. This immobility, it was imagined, was an augury of the tranquillity of the empire; and if he happened to move ever so little, or even to turn his eyes, war, famine, fire, or pestilence was expected soon to afflict the unhappy province toward which he had squinted. But as the country was thus kept in a state of perpetual agitation, the happy substitute was finally hit upon of placing the crown upon the throne without the Dairi—a more fixed immobility[Pg 64] being thus assured; and, as Kämpfer dryly observes, one doubtless producing much the same good effects.

At the time of the arrival of Xavier in Japan the throne of the Dairi was filled by Go-Nara, the hundred and sixth, according to the Japanese chronicles, in the order of succession; while the throne of the Kubō-Sama was occupied by Yoshiharu, who was succeeded the next year by his son Yoshiteru, the twenty-fourth of these officers, according to the Japanese, since their assumption of sovereign power in the person of Yoritomo, A. D. 1185.

The Japanese annals, which are scarcely more than a chronological table of successions, cast little light upon the causes and progress of this revolution;[29] but, from the analogy of similar cases, we may conjecture that it was occasioned, at least in part, by the introduction into Japan, and the spread there, of a new religion, gradually superseding, to a great extent, the old system, of which the Dairi was the head.

Image of Yoritomo From Official History of Japan

One might have expected from the Portuguese missionaries a pretty exact account of the various creeds and sects of Japan, or, at least, of the two leading religions, between which the great bulk of the people were divided; instead of which they confound perpetually the ministers of the two religions under the common name of bonzes, taking very little pains to distinguish[Pg 65] between the two systems, both of which they regarded as equally false and pernicious. Their attention, indeed, seems to have been principally fixed on the new religion, that of Buddha, or Ho, of which the adherents were by far the most numerous, and the hierarchy the most compact and formidable, presenting, in its organization and practices (with, however, on some points a very different set of doctrines), a most singular counterpart to the Catholic Church,—a similarity which the missionaries could only explain by the theory of a diabolical imitation; and which some subsequent Catholic writers have been inclined to ascribe, upon very unsatisfactory grounds, to the ancient labors of Armenian and Nestorian missionaries, being extremely unwilling to admit what seems, however, very probable, if not, indeed, certain,—little attention has as yet been given to this interesting inquiry,—that some leading ideas of the Catholic Church have been derived from Buddhist sources, whose missionaries, while penetrating, as we know they did, to the East, and converting entire nations, may well be supposed not to have been without their influence also on the West.

Notwithstanding, however, the general prevalence, at the time when Japan first became known to Europeans, of the doctrine of Buddha,—of which there would seem to have been quite a number of distinct observances, not unlike the different orders of monks and friars in the Catholic Church,—it appears, as well from the memoirs of the Jesuit missionaries, as from more exact and subsequent observations made by residents in the Dutch service, that there also existed another and more ancient religious system, with which the person and authority of the Dairi had been and still[Pg 66] were closely identified. This system[30] was known as the religion of Shintō, or of the Kami,—a name given not only to the seven mythological personages, or celestial gods, who compose the first Japanese dynasty, and to the five demigods, or terrestrial gods, who compose the second (two dynasties which, as in the similar mythology of the Egyptians and Hindus, were imagined to have extended through immense and incomprehensible ages preceding the era of Jimmu), but including also the whole series of the Dairi, who traced their descent from the first of the demigods, and who, though regarded during their lives as mere men, yet at their deaths underwent, as in the case of the Roman Cæsars, a regular apotheosis, by which they were added to the number of the Kami, or Shin,—words both of which had the same signification, namely, inhabitants of heaven.[31] A like apotheosis was also extended to all who had seemed to deserve it by their sanctity, their miracles, or their great benefactions.

The Kami of the first dynasty, the seven superior gods, being regarded as too elevated above the earth to concern themselves in what is passing on it, the chief object of the worship of the adherents of this ancient system was the goddess Tenshō-daijin,[32] already mentioned as the first of the demigods, and the supposed progenitor of the Dairi, and of the whole order of the Kuge. Of this Tenshō-daijin, and of her heroic and[Pg 67] miraculous deeds, a vast many fables were in circulation. Even those who had quitted the ancient religion to embrace the new sects paid a sort of worship to the pretended mother of the Japanese nation; and there was not a considerable city in the empire in which there was not a temple to her honor. On the other hand, the religion of the Kami, by its doctrine of the apotheosis of all great saints and great heroes, gave, like the old pagan religions, a hospitable reception to all new gods, so that even the rival demigod, Buddha, came to be regarded by many as identical with Tenshō-daijin,—a circumstance which will serve to explain the great intermixture of religious ideas found in Japan, and the alleged fact, very remarkable, if true, that, till after the arrival of the Portuguese missionaries, religious persecution had never been known there.

Each of these numerous demigods was supposed by the adherents of the religion of Shintō to preside over a special paradise of his own; this one in the air, that one at the bottom of the sea, one in the moon and another in the sun, and so on; and each devotee, choosing his god according to the paradise that pleased him best, spared no pains to gain admission into it. For what St. Paul had said of the Athenians, might, according to the missionaries, be applied with equal truth to the Japanese,—they were excessively superstitious, and this superstition had so multiplied temples, that there was scarcely a city in which, counting all the smaller chapels, the number did not seem at least equal to that of the most pious Catholic countries.

The temples of the Shintō religion, called Miya, were and are—for in this respect no change has taken place—ordinarily built upon eminences, in retired spots, at[Pg 68] a distance from bustle and business, surrounded by groves and approached by a great avenue having a gate of stone or wood, and bearing a tablet or door-plate of a foot and a half square, which announces, in gilded letters, the name of the Kami to whom the temple is consecrated. These exterior appendages would seem to foretell a considerable structure; but within there is usually found only a wretched little building of wood, half hid among trees and shrubbery, about eighteen feet in length, breadth, and height, all its dimensions being equal, and with only a single grated window, through which the interior may be seen, empty, or containing merely a mirror of polished metal, set in a frame of braided straw, or hung about with fringes of white paper. Just within the entrance of the enclosure stands a basin of water, by washing in which the worshippers may purify themselves. Beside the temple is a great chest for the reception of alms, partly by which, and partly by an allowance from the Dairi, the guardians of the temples are supported, while at the gate hangs a gong, on which the visitant announces his arrival. Most of these temples have also an antechamber, in which sit those who have the charge, clothed in rich garments. There are commonly also in the enclosure a number of little chapels, or miniature temples, portable so as to be carried in religious processions. All of these temples are built after one model, the famous one of Ise, near the centre of the island of Nippon, and which within the enclosure is equally humble with all the rest.

Ise Temple

The worship consists in prayers and prostrations. Works of religious merit are, casting a contribution into the alms-chest, and avoiding or expiating the[Pg 69] impurities supposed to be the consequence of being touched by blood, of eating of the flesh of any quadruped except the deer, and to a less extent even that of any bird, of killing any animal, of coming in contact with a dead person, or even, among the more scrupulous, of seeing, hearing of, or speaking of any such impurities. To these may be added, as works of religious merit, the celebration of festivals, of which there are two principal ones in each month, being the first and fifteenth day of it, besides five greater ones distributed through the year, and lasting, some of them, for several days, in which concerts, spectacles, and theatrical exhibitions form a leading part. We must add the going on pilgrimages, to which, indeed, all the religious of Japan are greatly addicted. The pilgrimage esteemed by the adherents of Shintō as the most meritorious, and which all are bound to make once a year, or, at least, once in their life, is that of Ise, the name of a central province on the south coast of Nippon, in which Tenshō-daijin was reported to have been born and to have died, and which contains a Miya, exceedingly venerated, and already mentioned as the model after which all the others are built.

Though it is not at all easy to distinguish what, either of ceremony or doctrine, was peculiar or original in the system of Shintō,[33] yet in general that system seems to[Pg 70] have been much less austere than the rival doctrine of Buddha, which teaches that sorrow is inseparable from existence, the only escape from it being in annihilation. The adherents of Shintō were, on the other hand, much more disposed to look upon the bright side of things, turning their religious festivals into holidays, and regarding people in sorrow and distress as unfit for the worship of the gods, whose felicity ought not to be disturbed by the sight of pain and misery. And this, perhaps, was one of the causes that enabled the religion of Buddha, which addresses itself more to the sorrowing hearts of which the world is so full, to obtain that predominance of which the Portuguese missionaries found it in possession.

A Shintō Priest

Of this religion of Buddha, by no means peculiar to Japan, but prevailing through the whole of central and southeastern Asia, and having probably more adherents than any other religious creed, it is not necessary here to speak at any length. A much more correct idea of it is to be obtained from the recorded observations of our modern missionaries, and from the elaborate investigations of Abel Rémusat, and several other learned Orientalists, who have shed a flood of light upon this interesting subject, than can be gathered from the[Pg 71] letters of the Portuguese missionaries, whose comprehension of the Buddhist doctrine was, on many important points, especially as to the cardinal one of annihilation, exceedingly confused, contradictory, and erroneous; and, indeed, the same confusion and error exists in almost all European travellers in the East, down to a very recent period. Suffice it to say, that in the austerities and contempt for the world and its pleasures, practised and professed by the bonzes of the Buddhists, even Xavier and his brother Jesuits found their match; while, in the hierarchy into which those bonzes were arranged; the foreign language, imperfectly known even to themselves, of their sacred books and their liturgy, and which recent investigations have detected to be, with the bonzes of China and Japan, not Pali alone, but also pure Sanscrit; their doctrine of celibacy; the establishment of monasteries and nunneries; their orders of begging devotees; their exterior of purity and self-denial, but supposed secret licentiousness;[34] their fasts; their garbs; the tinkling of bells; the sign of the cross; the rosaries on which they counted their prayers; the large number of persons of noble birth who entered upon the clerical life; their manner of preaching; their religious processions; their pilgrimages; the size, splendor, and magnificence of their temples, known as Tera, the roofs supported by tall pillars of cedar; the altar within, and the lamps and incense burning there; the[Pg 72] right of asylum possessed by the Tera; and even the practice of confession, prayers for the dead, and the sale of merit;—in all these respects, this system presented a complete counterpart at least to the show and forms and priestly devices of that very scheme of Roman Catholic worship which Xavier and his brother missionaries sought to introduce into Japan. The only striking difference was in the images, often of gigantic size, to be found in the Tera, but which, after all, were no more than a set-off against the pictures of the Catholic churches.

At the head of the Buddhist hierarchy was a high priest called Shaku, resident at Miyako, and having much the same spiritual prerogative with the Pope of Rome, including the canonization of saints. With him rested the consecration of the Jūji, corresponding to the bishops, or rather to the abbots, of the Catholic Church—all the Buddhist clergy being, in the language of Rome, regulars (similar, that is, to the monks and friars), and living together in monasteries of which the Jūji were the heads. These Jūji, however, could not enter upon their offices, to which great revenues were attached, except by the consent of the temporal authorities, which took care to limit the interference of the Shaku and the Jūji strictly to spiritual matters.[35]

Pilgrims returning from a Temple

[Pg 73]

There was this further resemblance also to the regular orders of the Romish church, that the Buddhist clergy were divided into a number of observances, hardly less hostile to each other than the Dominicans to the Franciscans, or both to the Jesuits. But as the church and state were kept in Japan perfectly distinct,—as now in the United States,—and as the bonzes possessed no direct temporal power, there was no appeal to the secular arm, no civil punishments for heresy, and no religious vows perpetually binding, all being at liberty, so far as the civil law was concerned, to enter or leave the monasteries at pleasure. It was also another result of this separation of state and church—as here in the[Pg 74] United States—that there was only needed a Jo Smith, a man hardy or self-deceived enough to pretend to inspiration, to set up a new observance; an occurrence by which the theology of Japan had become from time to time more and more diversified.

There were also, besides the more regular clergy, enthusiasts, or impostors, religious vagabonds who lived by beggary, and by pretending to drive away evil spirits, to find things lost, to discover robbers, to determine guilt or innocence of accused parties, to interpret dreams, to predict the future, to cure desperate maladies, and other similar feats, which they performed chiefly through the medium, not of a table, but of a child, into whom they pretended to make a spirit enter, able to answer all their questions. Such, in particular, were the Yamabushi, or mountain priests, an order of the religion of Shintō.

Yet, exceedingly superstitious as the Japanese were, there was not wanting among them a sect of Rationalists, the natural result of freedom of opinion, who regarded all these practices and doctrines, and all the various creeds of the country, with secret incredulity, and even contempt. These Rationalists, known as Jiudōshiu, and their doctrine as Judō, and found chiefly among the upper classes, looked up to the Chinese Confucius as their master and teacher. They treated the system of Buddha with open hostility, as mere imposture and falsehood; but, in order to avoid the odium of being destitute of all religion, conformed, at least so far as external observances were concerned, to the old national system of Shintō.[36]

A Buddhist Sermon

[Pg 75]


Civilization of the Japanese—Animals—Agriculture—Arts—Houses—Ships—Literature—Jurisprudence—Character of the Japanese—Their Custom of cutting themselves open—A. D. 1550.

The doctrine of the transmigration of souls, one of the most distinguishing tenets of the Buddhist faith, had not failed to confirm the Japanese in a distaste for animal food, which had originated, perhaps, from the small number of animals natives of that insular country [sic],—an abstinence, indeed, which even the ancient religion of Shintō had countenanced by denouncing as impure the act of killing any animal, or being sprinkled with the slightest drop of blood. Of domestic tame animals, the Japanese possessed from time immemorial the horse, the ox, the buffalo, the dog, and the cat; but none of these were ever used as food. The Portuguese introduced the deer and the goat; but the Japanese, not eating their flesh nor understanding the art of working up their wool or hair, took no pains to multiply them. The Chinese introduced the hog; but the eating of that animal was confined to them and to other foreigners. The deer, the hare, and the wild boar were eaten by some sects, and some wild birds by the poorer classes. The fox was hunted for its skin, the hair of which was employed for the pencil used in painting and writing. The animal itself, owing to its roguery, was believed to be the residence of particularly wicked souls—an idea confirmed[Pg 76] by many strange stories in common circulation. The tortoise and the crane were regarded in some sort as sacred animals, never to be killed nor injured. Whales of a small species were taken, then as now, near the coast, and were used as food, as were many other kinds of fish, the produce of the sea and rivers. Shell-fish and certain seaweeds were also eaten in large quantities.

The soil of Japan, being of volcanic origin, was in some places very fertile; but in many parts there were rugged and inaccessible mountains, the sides of which, not admitting the use of the plough, were built up in terraces cultivated by hand. Agriculture formed the chief occupation of the inhabitants, and they had carried it to considerable perfection, well understanding the use of composite manures. The chief crops were rice, which was the great article of food; barley, for the horses and cattle; wheat, used principally for vermicelli; and several kinds of peas and beans. They cultivated, also, a number of seeds, from which oils were expressed; likewise cotton, hemp, the white mulberry for the feeding of silkworms (silk being the stuff most in use), and the paper mulberry for the manufacture of paper. To these may be added the camphor-tree, which grew, however, only in the southwestern parts of Shimo, the Rhus vernix, which produces the celebrated Japanese varnish, and the tea-plant, spoken of by one of the early Portuguese missionaries as “a certain herb called Cha, of which they put as much as a walnut shell may contain into a dish of porcelain, and drink it with hot water.” From rice they produced by fermentation an intoxicating drink, called sake, which served them in the place of wine, and which was consumed in large quantities. A yeast, or rather vinegar, produced from[Pg 77] this liquor, was largely employed in the pickling of vegetables. Their most useful woods were the bamboo, the fir of several species, and the cedar.

They understood in perfection the arts of weaving silks and of moulding porcelain, and excelled in gilding, engraving, and especially in the use of lacquer or varnish. They also were able to manufacture sword-blades of excellent temper.

As in other Eastern countries, the greater nobles exhibited an extreme magnificence; but trade and the arts were held in low esteem, and the mass of the people were excessively poor. Their buildings, though they had some few solid structures of stone, were principally light erections of wood, to avoid the effects of frequent earthquakes; but this and the varnish employed exposed them to conflagrations, which, in the towns, were very frequent and destructive. These towns consisted, for the most part, of very cheap structures (like most of those throughout the East), so that cities were built and destroyed with equal ease and celerity.

Their commerce was limited almost entirely to the interchange of domestic products, a vast number of vessels, of rather feeble structure, being employed in navigating the coasts of the islands, which abounded with deep bays and excellent harbors.

Of the sciences, whether mathematical, mixed, or purely physical, they knew but little. They had, however, a considerable number of books treating of religion, medicine, and their history and traditions. The young were instructed in eloquence, poetry, and a rude sort of painting and music, and they had a great fondness for theatrical representations, in which they decidedly excelled. Their writing, in which they[Pg 78] greatly studied brevity, was in columns, as with the Chinese, from the top to the bottom of the page, for which they gave this reason: that writing ought to be a true representation of men’s thoughts, and that men naturally stood erect. These columns read from right to left. They employed, besides the Chinese ideographic signs, a syllabic alphabet of their own, though in many works the Chinese characters were freely introduced.[37]

Jurisprudence, as in most Eastern countries, was a very simple affair. The laws were very few. Heads of families exercised great power over their households. Most private disputes were settled by arbitration; but where this failed, and in all criminal cases, a decision was made on the spot by a magistrate, from whom there was seldom any appeal. The sentences were generally executed at once, and often with very great severity. Whether from their temperament, or their belief in the doctrines of transmigration and annihilation, it was observed that the Japanese met death with more courage than was common in Europe. It was, indeed, a point of honor, in many cases, to inflict it on themselves, which they did in a horrid manner, by cutting open their bowels by two gashes in the shape of a cross. The criminal who thus anticipated execution secured thereby the public sympathy and applause, saving his property from confiscation, and his family from death; and, upon the death of superiors or masters, the same fate was often, as a mark of personal devotion and attachment, self-inflicted; and sometimes, also, in consequence of a disgrace or affront, to escape or revenge[Pg 79] which no other means appeared.[38] The missionaries especially noted in the Japanese a pride, a self-respect, a haughty magnanimity, a sense of personal honor, very uncommon in the East, but natural characteristics enough of a people who had never been conquered by[Pg 80] invaders from abroad; while the great vicissitudes to which they were exposed—all vassals generally sharing the fate of their superiors—made them look upon the goods and evils of fortune in a very philosophical spirit.

Performance of Harakiri

Such was the condition in which Japan was found when it first became known to Europe through the letters and relations of Xavier and the other Portuguese missionaries, his successors.

[Pg 81]


Preaching of Xavier—Pinto’s Third Visit to Japan—A. D. 1550-51.

It is not our purpose to trace minutely the progress and fluctuating fortunes of the Jesuit missionaries; nor, indeed, would it always be easy to extract the exact truth from relations into which the marvellous so largely enters. Xavier’s letters throw very little light on the subsequent history of his mission, which mainly depends upon accounts derived from an inquisition into the particulars of the apostle’s ministry and miracles in the East, ordered to be made shortly after his death by John III., of Portugal, and which resulted in a large collection of duly attested depositions, containing many marvellous statements, most of them purporting to come from eye-witnesses, from which source the Jesuit historians of the Eastern missions and the biographers of the saint have drawn most of their materials.

If we are to believe them, Xavier was not only always victorious in his disputes with bonzes; he went even so far, shortly after his arrival in Japan, as to raise the dead—a miracle which furnished Poussin with a subject for a celebrated picture. Xavier, we are told, had been charged in India with a similar interference with the laws of nature; it is true he attempted to explain it away, as, perhaps, he would have done this Japanese miracle; but that denial the historian Maffei thinks, instead of disproving the miracle, only proves the modest humility of Xavier.

[Pg 82]

Though at first well received, as we have seen, by the king of Satsuma, and though, in the course of near a year he remained there, the immediate family and many of the relations of Anjirō were persuaded to be baptized, yet the remonstrances of the bonzes, followed by the transfer of the Portuguese trade, for the sake of a better harbor, from Kagoshima to Hirado, caused the king of Satsuma to issue an edict forbidding his subjects, under pain of death, to renounce the worship of their national gods. In consequence of this edict, Xavier departed for Hirado, which island, off the west coast of Shimo, having separated from the kingdom of Hizen, had become independent under a prince of its own. Anjirō was left behind, but soon afterwards was obliged to fly to China, where, as Pinto informs us, he was killed by robbers.

At Hirado, in consequence of the representations of the Portuguese merchants, Xavier was well received; but, desirous to see the chief city of Japan, leaving Torres behind, he set out with Fernandez and two Japanese converts on a visit to Miyako.

Proceeding by water, he touched first at Hakata, a considerable town on the northwest coast of Shimo, and capital of the kingdom of Chikuzen, and then at Yamaguchi, at that time a large city, capital of Nagato, the most western kingdom or province of the great island of Nippon, separated at this point from Shimo by a narrow strait.

The populace of Yamaguchi, ridiculing Xavier’s mean appearance as contrasted with his pretensions, drove him out of the city with curses and stones. Winter had now set in, and the cold was severe. The coast was infested by pirates, and the interior by robbers,[Pg 83] which obliged the saint to travel as servant to some merchants, who, themselves on horseback, required him, though on foot, and loaded with a heavy box of theirs, to keep up with them at full gallop. This, however, seems a little exaggerated, as Japanese travellers on horseback never exceed a walk; while the box which Xavier carried is represented by the earlier writers as containing the sacred vessels for the sacrifice of the mass.

Arriving thus at Miyako in rather sad plight, Xavier found that capital almost ruined by civil wars, and on the eve of becoming the field of a new battle. He could obtain no audience, as he had hoped, either of the Kubō-Sama or of the Shaku, nor any hearing except from the populace, so that he judged it best to return again to Hirado.

There are two means of working upon the imagination, both of which are employed by turns alike by the Romish and by the Buddhist clergy. One is by showing a contempt not merely for elegances, but even for common comforts and ordinary decencies: the other, by pomp, show, and display. Xavier, on his way to Miyako, entered the city of Yamaguchi barefoot and meanly clad, and had, as we have stated, been hooted and stoned by the populace. He now returned thither again from Hirado handsomely clothed, and taking with him certain presents and recommendatory letters from the Portuguese viceroy of the Indies and the governor of Malacca, addressed to the Japanese princes, but of which as yet he had made no use. Demanding an audience of the king, he was received with respect, and soon obtained leave to preach, and an unoccupied house of the bonzes to live in. Here, being soon surrounded[Pg 84] by crowds, he renewed, say his biographers, the miracle of tongues, not only in preaching fluently in Japanese and in Chinese to the numerous merchants of that nation who traded there, but in being able by a single answer to satisfy a multitude of confused questions which the eager crowd simultaneously put to him. Such was his success that, in less than two months, five hundred persons, most of them of consideration, received baptism; and, though the king soon began to grow less favorable, the converts increased, during less than a year that he remained there, to three thousand.

The seed thus planted, Xavier resolved to return to the Indies for a fresh supply of laborers; and, having heard of the arrival of a Portuguese vessel at Fuchū, in the kingdom of Bungo, leaving De Torres and Fernandez at Yamaguchi, he proceeded to Fuchū for the purpose of embarking.

Among the merchants in this ship was Fernam Mendez Pinto, now in Japan for the third time, and who gives at some length the occurrences that took place after Xavier’s arrival at Fuchū, where he was received with great respect by the Portuguese, of whom more than thirty went out on horseback to meet him.

The young king, whose name was Kiuan,[39] had already obtained, through intercourse with Portuguese merchants, some knowledge of their religion. He invited Xavier to an audience, to which the Portuguese merchants accompanied him with so grand a display as somewhat to shock the modesty of the saint, but which strongly impressed in his favor the people of Bungo, to whom he had been represented by the bonzes as so[Pg 85] miserable a vagabond as to disgust the very vermin with which he was covered. The young king received him very graciously; and he preached and disputed with such success as greatly to alarm the bonzes, who vainly attempted to excite a popular commotion against him as an enchanter, through whose mouth a demon spoke, and a cannibal, who fed on dead bodies which he dug up in the night.

Finally, after conquering, in a long dispute before the king of Bungo, the ablest and most celebrated champion of the bonzes,[40] and converting several of the order to the faith, Xavier embarked for Goa on the 20th of September, 1551, attended by two of his Japanese converts. Of those one died at Goa. The other, named Bernard, proceeded to Europe, and, after a visit to Rome, returned to Portugal, and, having entered the Society of Jesus, closed his life at the Jesuit college of Coimbra, a foundation endowed by John III for the support of a hundred pupils, to be prepared as missionaries to the East.

At Yamaguchi, after Xavier’s departure, the bonzes, enemies of Catholicity, were more successful. An insurrection which they raised so alarmed the king, that he shut himself up in his palace, set it on fire, and,[Pg 86] having slain his only son with his own hand, ended by cutting himself open. The missionaries, however, were saved by an unconverted princess, who even induced certain bonzes to shelter them; and a brother of the king of Bungo having been elected king of Nagato, the Catholics, not one of whom, we are told, had been killed in the insurrection, were soon on a better footing than ever.[41]

[Pg 87]


Progress of the Missions under Fathers De Torres and Nugnes Barreto—Mendez Pinto a Fourth Time in Japan—A. D. 1551-1557.

The apostle of the Indies returned no more to Japan. He died in December, 1552, at the age of forty-six, on his way to China, at the island of Sancian, a little way from Macao, partly, it would seem, through vexation at having been disappointed, by the jealousy and obstinacy of the governor of Malacca, in a more direct mission to that empire, on which he had set his heart, and for which he had made every arrangement.

But already, before leaving for China, he had despatched from Malacca three new missionaries to Japan, Balthaza Gago, a priest, and two brothers, Peter d’Alcaceva and Edward de Sylva, who landed at Kagoshima, in August, 1552, whence they proceeded to Bungo, where, as well as at Yamaguchi, a site had been granted for a residence and a church. Father de Torres, now at the head of the mission, in a sort of general assembly of the faithful, to which the principal converts were admitted, regulated the policy of the infant church. To meet the objection of the bonzes, that the new converts had left their old religions to escape the usual contributions of alms, it was resolved to establish hospitals for the sick and poor, as well pagan as converted,—and the more so as poverty in Japan was regarded as peculiarly despicable, and the[Pg 88] poor as condemned by the gods. To suit the taste of the Japanese for spectacles, an impressive burial service was agreed upon.

Great attention, according to the policy of the Catholic Church, and especially of the Jesuits, was bestowed on the education of the young. Not to be outdone by the bonzes, the missionaries practised great austerities; regular whipping of themselves in church by all the converts made a stated part of their religious exercises; but what most contributed to the spread of the new faith was, so we are told, the exceeding zeal, self-denial, and disinterestedness of the new converts, including among the number several bonzes of the old religions, some of whom were made Jesuits, and even ordained priests, and who soon gave examples of sublime piety, which even the missionaries themselves found it difficult to imitate.

Meanwhile, Peter d’Alcaceva, one of the newly arrived Jesuits, having been sent back to Goa for further aid, on his way to that capital found at Malacca the body of Xavier, preserved in quicklime, and also on its way to Goa, whither he attended it. At Goa he encountered Fernam Mendez Pinto, who, having amassed great wealth in the Indies, was about to return to Portugal. Preliminary to this voyage Pinto made a general confession to Father Nugnes Barreto, the vice-provincial of the Jesuits; after which, falling upon the subject of Xavier, whose dead body lying at Goa was reported to work numerous miracles, he related to his confessor many wonderful stories of the prodigies which he himself had witnessed while with Xavier at Bungo. Passing thence to the zeal and merits of the Japanese converts, he strongly urged Nugnes to proceed[Pg 89] thither to take Xavier’s place, even offering himself to go as his companion, and to devote the whole of his fortune (except two thousand crowns to be sent to some poor relations in Portugal), partly to the founding of a seminary at Yamaguchi, whence the faith might be diffused through the whole of Japan, and partly in purchasing magnificent presents for the princes of the country, which he thought would be a good means of securing their favor for the new religion.

Pinto was accordingly appointed ambassador from the Portuguese viceroy to the king of Bungo, and Nugnes sailed for Malacca in his company, taking with him Father Gaspard Vilela, four brothers, not yet priests, and five young orphans from the Seminary of the Holy Faith, to act as catechists. Before setting out, Nugnes and his brother Jesuits renewed their vows, according to a rule of the order, which required such a renewal once every six months. Pinto was present at this ceremony, and his excitable temperament was so wrought upon by it, that, seized with a sudden impulse, he insisted upon himself repeating the vows, with an additional one to consecrate his person and his goods to the Japanese mission. As he was the viceroy’s ambassador, it was resolved that he should not adopt the Jesuit habit till after he had fulfilled his mission—a delay which proved a lucky thing for Pinto, whose zeal speedily began to evaporate. He served, indeed, for some time in the hospitals of Malacca, where they arrived in June, 1554, and where, by the sickness of Nugnes and other accidents, they were detained upwards of a year; and, according to the letters of Nugnes, he gave great edification, the people admiring to see so rich a man, and one lately so fond of display and good living, clothed in rags[Pg 90] and begging alms from door to door, having given up all his wealth that he might the better obey the Lord.

Sailing from Malacca, Nugnes and his company, after perils from pirates, were driven by storms first to Sancian, and then to Macao, whence, in the spring of 1556, Nugnes proceeded to Canton, where he made many unavailing efforts for the introduction of Catholicism into China. Meanwhile, he received letters from Goa, urging his return, enclosing one from Loyola himself, disapproving of such long voyages by the vice-provincials of the order; but he was still induced to Japan by a pressing letter from the prince of Hirado, who hoped by this means to attract the Portuguese trade from Bungo to that port. He sailed accordingly for Hirado, but was compelled by stress of weather to find a harbor in Bungo.

Meanwhile, the parts of Japan occupied by the missionaries had been the seats of serious commotions. The king of Bungo had indeed confirmed his power by suppressing an insurrection; but his brother, the king of Nagato, had been driven from his throne and defeated and slain by Mōri Motonari, a relative of the late king; and during this civil war the city of Yamaguchi had been sacked and burnt, and the missionaries obliged to flee for their lives to Bungo. There, too, a new insurrection had been attempted, but again without success; though the king still kept himself shut up in a fortress at a distance from his capital. He returned, however, to receive Nugnes, which he did very graciously, but resisted, on grounds of expediency, all his exhortations to make an open profession of Catholicism. Thus disappointed, Nugnes, after sending Gago to establish himself at Hirado, thought it best to return to Goa.

The Kintai Bridge, Snō

[Pg 91]

On arriving in Japan, the zeal of Pinto had speedily declined, and he had begun to sigh for his liberty. Perhaps he was alarmed at the appearance of Cosme de Torres, who, from being plump and portly, had, under the thin diet of the country, and the labors of the mission, grown to be exceedingly lean and haggard. At all events, it was found impossible to revive his fervor, and, as the Jesuits wanted no unwilling members, it was decided to release him from his vows. He returned with Nugnes to Goa, whence, not long after, he sailed for Lisbon. In his book he relates his last visit to Japan, but with no mention of his having joined the Jesuits,—of which our knowledge is drawn from the published letters of the missionaries, including one dated in 1554, and written by Pinto himself, from the college at Malacca, addressed to the scholars of the college of Coimbra, and giving a sketch of his travels in the East.

Having arrived at Lisbon, September 22, 1558, he delivered to the queen regent a commendatory letter from the viceroy of Goa, and had the honor to explain to her what his long experience suggested as of most utility for the affairs of Portugal in the East, not forgetting also some private application for himself. The queen referred him to the minister, who gave him high hopes; but at the end of four or five years of tedious solicitation, which became more insupportable than all his past fatigues, he concluded to content himself with the little fortune which he had brought from India, and for which he was indebted to nobody but himself. Yet he piously and loyally concludes that, if he had been no better rewarded for twenty-one years’ services, during which he had been thirteen times a slave, and seventeen times sold, it could only be attributed to the divine[Pg 92] justice, which disposes of all things for the best, and rather to his own sins than to any want of royal discernment. He died about 1580, leaving his narrative behind him, which was not printed till 1614, and which was written, as he says at the beginning of it, in his old age, that he might leave it a memorial and heritage to his children to excite their confidence in the aid of Heaven by the example of his own sufferings and deliverances.[42]

[Pg 93]


Louis Almeida—The Missionaries establish themselves at Miyako (Kyōto)—Louis Froez—Princes converted in Shimo—Rise of Nobunaga—Prosperity of the Missions—Noble and Princely Converts—Nagasaki built—Nobunaga makes himself Emperor—A. D. 1557-1577.

The loss of Pinto and Nugnes, and even that of Father Gago, who, three or four years later, after a very zealous career as a missionary, grew weary of the work, and obtained permission to return to Goa, was more than made up for by the accession of William and Ruys Pereyra, two of the catechists brought by Nugnes, and whom, before his departure, he admitted into the order, and especially by that of Louis Almeida, who had arrived in Japan as surgeon to a trading vessel, and who, after amassing a large fortune, gave it all to pious uses,—of which a hospital for abandoned infants was one,—and, joining the Jesuits, soon became distinguished for his zeal and assiduity as a missionary.

The extension which, in the fluctuating condition of affairs, shortly afterwards took place of the dominions of the king of Bungo over the greater part of the island of Shimo, was very favorable to the new religion. The prince of Hirado was obliged to pay him tribute, and, notwithstanding the double-faced policy of that prince, the new doctrine continued to spread in his territories, where some of the members of the ruling family became converts. A new church was planted at Hakata, and[Pg 94] the old original one at Kagoshima was reëstablished. Presently the new faith gained a footing also in the kingdoms of Arima and Gotō, which, as well as Hirado, had been dissevered from the ancient province of Hizen. The lord of Shimabara (afterwards famous as the last stronghold of the Catholics) invited the missionaries to his city. The king of Arima was also very friendly; he gave the missionaries an establishment, first at Yokoseura, and, after that city had been burned by the bonzes, at a port of his called Kuchinotsu, on the southern coast of the southwestern peninsula of Shimo. The prince of Ōmura, a dependency of Arima, and the prince of the island of Tanegashima, the same at which Pinto had first landed, then a dependency of Hirado, were both among the converts, and exceedingly zealous to induce their subjects to follow their example; and, notwithstanding the hostility of the bonzes, the frequent wars between the princes, and repeated internal commotions, by which the missionaries were often in danger, the new religion continued to spread in all parts of Shimo, and in fact to be carried by native converts to many parts of Nippon, which no missionary had yet reached. Meanwhile, new establishments also had been gained on the island of Nippon, in addition to that at Yamaguchi, at its western extremity. The fame of the missionaries had induced an old Jūji, or superior of a Buddhist monastery near Miyako (Kyōto), to send to Yamaguchi to ask information about the new religion. Father Vilela was despatched, in 1559, for his instruction, and though the Jūji died before the arrival of the missionary, his successor and many of the bonzes listened with respect to the words of Vilela. As none, however, were willing to receive baptism, he[Pg 95] departed for Miyako, where he found means to approach Yoshiteru, the Kubō-Sama, and to obtain from him permission to preach. Having secured the favor of Miyoshi, the emperor’s principal minister, and presently that of Matsunaga, the chief judge, he converted many bonzes and nobles, and built up a large and flourishing church.

An attack upon the emperor by Mōri Motonari, king of Nagato, who forced the city of Miyako, and set it on fire, detained Vilela for a while in the neighboring town of Sakai, the most commercial place in Japan, which seems, at that time, to have been a free city, as it were, with an independent government of its own; and there also a church was planted. But the emperor soon reëstablished his affairs; and although, from the hostility of Mōri, the church at Yamaguchi was very much depressed, everything went on well at Miyako, where Vilela was joined, in 1565, by Louis Almeida, and by a young missionary, Louis Froez, lately arrived from Malacca. Of their journey from Kuchinotsu to Miyako we have a detailed account in a long and very interesting letter of Almeida’s. His visit to Miyako was only temporary. Froez remained there, and from him we have a long series of letters, historical and descriptive, as well as religious, which, for a period of thirty years following, throw great light on the history and internal condition of Japan.

At this time the entire empire, since and at present so stable, was the scene of constant revolutions. Very shortly after Froez’s arrival Miyoshi and Matsunaga conspired against their patron (i. e. the Shōgun Yoshiteru), dethroned him, and drove him to cut himself open, as did great numbers of his relatives and partisans.[Pg 96] These nobles, hitherto favorable to the missionaries, now published an edict against them, probably to secure the favor of the bonzes; and Vilela and Froez were thus again driven to take refuge at Sakai, where they had a few converts. But the believers at Miyako stood firm, and a new revolution soon occurred, headed by a noble called Wada Iga-no-kami, and by Nobunaga (Oda Nobunaga), king of Owari,—which province adjoined the emperor’s special territory on the east, a prince whose military prowess had already made him from a petty noble the master of eighteen provinces in the eastern part of Nippon.

In 1566 Wada and Nobunaga proclaimed as emperor a brother of the late one—a bonze who had escaped from the rebels. Miyako was regained, and the new emperor established there A. D. 1567. All real authority remained, however, with Nobunaga, who showed himself very hostile to the Buddhist bonzes, they having generally taken the side of the late rebels. He even destroyed many of their temples, using the idols which they contained as materials for a new palace. He easily granted to Wada, who was himself a sort of half convert, the reëstablishment of the missionaries at Miyako, which was soon confirmed by an imperial edict, issued in 1568; and, in spite of an attempt at interference on the part of the Dairi, the new religion, under the protection of Wada, who was appointed governor of Miyako, soon reached a very flourishing condition.

Image of Oda Nobunaga
From Dening’s New Life of Toyotomi Hideyoshi

To this prosperity at Miyako a strong contrast was, however, presented by the state of things at Yamaguchi, whence the missionaries were expelled by the king of Nagato, though the church there was still kept alive by the zeal and constancy of some of the converts. In the[Pg 97] island of Shimo the new religion continued to spread. Indeed, the baptized prince of Ōmura, not content with hacking idols to pieces, and refusing to join in the old national festivals, wished also to prohibit all the old ceremonies, and to compel his subjects to adopt the new ones,—an excess of zeal which, by displaying the intolerant spirit of the new sect, fostered a union of all the old ones against it, such as at last occasioned its destruction.

This prince had allowed certain Portuguese merchants to establish themselves at Nagasaki, then a mere fishing village, but having a capacious harbor, the port of Japan nearest to China and the Indies, at the head of a deep bay, opening to the west. Presently he built a church there, and, A. D. 1568, invited the missionaries to make it their headquarters, with a promise that no religion but theirs should be allowed. This invitation was accepted; many converts flocked thither, and Nagasaki soon became a considerable city. Fathers de Torres and Vilela both died in 1570,[43] worn out with years and labors, the latter being succeeded as head of the mission by Father Cabral, sent out from Goa as vice-provincial of the order, and accompanied by Father Gnecchi, who soon became an efficient laborer.

Meanwhile, an insurrection in the imperial provinces, on the part of the old rebels, which it cost the life of Wada to suppress, so provoked Nobunaga that he[Pg 98] wreaked his vengeance anew upon the bonzes (who had again aided the insurgents), by destroying a great number of their monasteries on the famous mountain of Japan (Hieizan), and putting the inmates to death. This occurrence took place A. D. 1571, as the missionaries remarked, on the day of St. Michael, whom Xavier had named the patron saint of Japan. Cabral, the vice-provincial, having made a visit to Miyako, was very graciously received by Nobunaga. Shortly after the titular Kubō-Sama made a vain attempt to regain the exercise of authority. The defeated prince was still left in possession of his title, but Nobunaga was thenceforth regarded as, in fact, himself the emperor. This was in 1573. In 1576 the church received new and important accessions in Shimo. The king of Bungo, though from the beginning favorable to the missionaries, had, from reasons of policy, and through the influence of his wife, who was very hostile to the new religion, declined baptism; none of the courtiers had submitted to it, and the converts in that kingdom had consisted as yet of an inferior class. But the second son of the king having taken the resolution to be baptized, in spite of the violent opposition of the queen, his mother,—who had great influence over Yoshimune, the king’s eldest son, associated, according to a usual Japanese custom, in the government,—his example was followed by many persons of rank in the kingdom of Bungo, and even by the neighboring king of Arima, who died, however, shortly after, leaving his kingdom to an unbelieving successor.[44]

[Pg 100]


Father Valignani—State of the Missions—Conversion and Baptism of the King of Bungo—Growth of Nagasaki—Embassy to the Pope—Documents relating to this Embassy—A. D. 1577-1586.

Such was the state of things on the arrival, at the beginning of 1577, of Father Alexander Valignani, visitor-general of the Jesuit establishments in the East, and who in that capacity came to inspect the missions of Japan. He found there, in addition to a large number of native catechists, fifty-nine professed Jesuits (including twelve who had arrived but a short time before), of whom twenty-six were native Japanese; but, as only twenty-three of the whole number were ordained priests, it was found very difficult to meet the demand for ministers qualified to baptize and to administer the other sacraments. Hence the visitor was the more convinced of the necessity of establishing a novitiate of the order (a project already started by Father Cabral, the vice-provincial), and seminaries for the education of the children of the converts designed for the priesthood, especially those of superior rank; and in his letter to the general of the order and to the Pope, he recommended the appointment of a bishop, so that ordination might be had without the necessity of going to Malacca. He also settled, at a general assembly of the missionaries, who met him at Kuchinotsu, many points of discipline, and especially a difficult and much disputed question as to the wearing[Pg 101] of silk garments, which, as being the stuff in use by all persons of consideration in Japan, some of the Jesuits wished to wear. The ground taken was that it would only be a new application of the policy, which had been agreed upon, of conforming as far as innocently might be to the customs of the country. This argument, however, had not satisfied Father Cabral; he had prohibited the wearing of silk, which the rule of the order did not allow; and that decision was now confirmed by the visitor.

There were, however, other points upon which the vice-provincial and the visitor did not so well agree. Of Cabral, Charlevoix draws the following character, one for which many originals might be found: “He was a holy professor, a great missionary, a vigilant and amiable superior; but he was one of those excellent persons who imagine themselves more clear-headed than other men, and who, in consequence, ask counsel of nobody but themselves; or rather, who believe themselves inspired, when they have once prayed to be so, regarding as decrees of Heaven, expressed by their mouth, all the resolutions which they have taken at the foot of the cross, where the last thing to be laid down is one’s own judgment.” Cabral had taken up the idea that persons of such vigorous understanding as the Japanese must be duly held in check; and the whole twenty-six of them received, up to this time, into the company, and almost all of whom aspired to the priesthood, he strictly limited to such studies as would suffice to qualify them for the subordinate parts of divine service. This policy Valignani did not approve; but when he sought to alter it, he encountered such opposition from Father Cabral, to be obliged to send him[Pg 102] off to Goa, appointing Father Gaspard Cuello in his place.

Shortly after the arrival of Valignani, the church gained a new and distinguished accession in Kiuan,[45] king of Bungo, who, having repudiated his old pagan wife, to whom the Catholics gave the name of Jezebel, married a new one, and was baptized with all his household, taking the name of Francis, according to the custom of the missionaries in giving European names to their converts. There were even strong hopes of gaining over his eldest son and colleague, Yoshimune, when a war broke out with the king of Satsuma for the possession of the intervening kingdom of Hyūga, which resulted in the loss of all Kiuan’s conquests, and his reduction to his original province of Bungo, which also he was in danger of losing,—a change by no means favorable to the missionaries. Kuchinotsu was ruined in this war; and the spectacle of the vicissitudes to which everything in Japan was exposed induced Valignani to urge upon the Portuguese merchants and residents to fortify Nagasaki. This was done in 1579, and that port became thenceforward almost the sole one resorted to by the Portuguese. The converted king of Gotō having died, the guardian of his infant son showed himself hostile to the missionaries; but this circumstance was an advantage to Nagasaki, which received many fugitives from these islands.

The new king of Arima being brought, by the labors of the visitor, to a better disposition, was baptized, and became one of the most zealous of the converts. Both the emperor Nobunaga and his three sons still continued very well disposed to the missionaries, allowing Father[Pg 103] Gnecchi, who was a favorite with him, to establish a house, a church, and a seminary at Azuchiyama, his local capital, which he had greatly beautified, and between which and Miyako he had caused a highway to be built, at great expense and with immense labor. His evident design to make his authority absolute had indeed led to a league against him, which, however, proved of no avail, this attempt at resistance resulting in the subjection of all the kings of the western half of Nippon, except Mōri of Nagato. The good service which the missionaries rendered, in persuading the Christian princes, and the Christian vassals of the unconverted ones, to submit to the emperor, as their superior lord, caused Valignani to be very graciously received, both at Miyako and also at Azuchiyama.

On the visitor’s return to Shimo, the converted kings of Bungo and Arima, and the prince of Ōmura, determined to send ambassadors to be the bearers of their submission to the Pope. For this purpose two young nobles were selected, scarcely sixteen years of age: one, prince of Hyūga, the son of a niece of the king of Bungo, the other, prince of Arima, cousin of the king of Arima, and nephew of the prince of Ōmura. They were attended by two counsellors somewhat older than themselves, by Father Diego de Mesquita, as their preceptor, and interpreter, and by a Japanese Jesuit, named George Loyola, and, in company with Father Valignani, they sailed from Nagasaki February 20, 1582, in a Portuguese ship bound for Macao, now the headquarters of the Portuguese trade to Japan. They arrived at Macao after a very stormy and dangerous passage of seventeen days; but the season of sailing for Malacca being past, they had to wait there six months.[Pg 104] When at length they did sail, they encountered very violent storms; but at last, after twenty-nine days’ passage (January 27, 1583), they reached Malacca, passing, as they entered the harbor, the wreck of another richly laden Portuguese vessel, which had sailed from Macao in their company. After resting at Malacca eight days, they embarked for Goa, which third voyage proved not less trying than the two others. Delayed by calms, they ran short of provisions and water, and by the ignorance of the pilot were near being run ashore on the island of Ceylon. They disembarked at length at Travancore, at the southeastern extremity of the peninsula of India, whence they proceeded by land to the neighboring port of Cochin. Here, owing to the unfavorable monsoon, they had to wait six months before they could sail for Goa, at which capital of Portuguese India they arrived in September. The viceroy of the Indies received them with great hospitality, and furnished them with a good ship, in which they had a favorable passage round the Cape of Good Hope, arriving at Lisbon August 10, 1584.

Four years before, Portugal had passed under the rule of Philip II, of Spain, who had thus united on his single head the crowns of both the East and the West Indies; and to him these ambassadors were charged with a friendly message. The viceroy of Portugal received them at Lisbon with every attention. At Madrid they were received by Philip II himself with the greatest marks of distinction. Having traversed Spain, they embarked at Alicante, but were driven by a storm into the island of Majorca, thereby escaping an Algerine fleet and a Turkish squadron, both of which were cruising in that neighborhood. Sailing thence[Pg 105] they landed at Leghorn, where Pierro de’ Medici, brother of the grand duke of Tuscany, was waiting to attend them. They spent the carnival at Pisa, and thence by Florence proceeded towards Rome.

Aquiviva, general of the Jesuits (the fourth successor of Loyola), was very pressing with the Pope for a reception without display; but Gregory XIII (the same to whom we owe the reform of the calendar) had determined in consistory that the honor of the church and of the holy see required a different course. The ambassadors were met at Viterbo by the Pope’s light horse, and were escorted into the city by a long cavalcade of Roman nobles. The whole of the corso up to Jesus, the church and house of the Jesuits, where the ambassadors were to lodge, was crowded with people, who greeted their arrival with deafening shouts. As they alighted from their carriage, they were received by Father Aquiviva, attended by all the Jesuits then at Rome, who conducted them to the church, where Te Deum was chanted.

The next day a magnificent procession was formed to escort them to the Vatican. It was headed by the light horse, followed by the Pope’s Swiss guard, the officers of the cardinals, the carriages of the ambassadors of Spain, France, Venice, and the Roman princes, the whole Roman nobility on horseback, the pages and officers of the ambassadors, with trumpets and cymbals, the chamberlains of the Pope, and the officers of the palace, all in red robes. Then followed the Japanese on horseback, in their national dress,[46] three silken gowns of a light fabric, one over the other, of a white[Pg 106] ground, splendidly embroidered with fruits, leaves, and birds. In their girdles they wore the two swords, symbols of Japanese gentility. Their heads, shaven, except the hair round the ears and neck, which was gathered into a cue bent upwards, had no covering. Their features were hardly less divergent from the European standard than their dress, yet their whole expression, air, and manner, modest and amiable, but with a conscious sentiment of nobility, was such as impressed the bystanders very favorably. The prince of Hyūga came first, between two archbishops. The prince of Arima followed, between two bishops. Of their counsellors, one was kept away by sickness, the other followed between two nobles, and after him Father de Mesquita, the interpreter, also on horseback. A great number of richly dressed courtiers closed the procession. The crowds, which filled the streets and the windows, looked on in almost breathless silence. As the ambassadors crossed the bridge of St. Angelo, all the cannon of the castle were fired, to which those of the Vatican responded, at which signal all the bands struck up, and continued to play till the hall of audience was reached.

The ambassadors approached the foot of the papal throne, each with the letter of his prince in his hand. Prostrating themselves at the Pope’s feet, they declared in Japanese, in a voice loud and distinct, that they had come from the extremities of the earth to acknowledge in the person of the Pope the vicar of Jesus Christ, and to render obedience to him in the name of the princes of whom they were the envoys, and also for themselves. The Father de Mesquita expressed in Latin what they had said; but the appearance of the young[Pg 107] men themselves, who had essayed so many dangers and fatigues to come to pay their homage to the holy see, was more expressive than any words; and it drew tears and sobs from the greater part of the audience. The Pope himself, greatly agitated, hastened to raise them up, kissed their foreheads, and embraced them many times, dropping tears upon them. They were then conducted to an alcove, while the secretary of the consistory read the letters from the Japanese princes, which Father de Mesquita had translated into Italian, and of which the following may serve as a specimen:


To him who ought to be adored and who holds the place of the King of Heaven, the great and most holy Pope.

“Full of confidence in the grace of the supreme and almighty God, I write, with all possible submission, to your Holiness. The Lord, who governs heaven and earth, who holds under his empire the sun and all the celestial host, has made his light to shine upon one who was plunged in ignorance and buried in deep darkness. It is more than thirty years since this sovereign Master of nature, displaying all the treasures of his pity in favor of the inhabitants of these countries, sent thither the fathers of the Company of Jesus, who have sowed the seed of the divine Word in these kingdoms of Japan; and he has pleased, in his infinite bounty, to cause a part of it to fall into my heart: singular mercy, for which I think myself indebted, most holy Father of all the faithful, as well to the prayers and merits of your Holiness as to those of many others. If the wars which I have had to sustain, my old age, and my infirmities had not prevented me, I should myself have visited the holy places where you dwell, to render in person the obedience which[Pg 108] I owe you. I would have devotedly kissed the feet of your Holiness, I would have placed them on my head, and would have besought you to make with your sacred hand the august sign of the cross on my heart. Constrained, by the reasons I have mentioned, to deprive myself of a consolation so sweet, I did design to send in my place Jerome, son of the king of Fiunga [Hyūga], and my grandson; but as he was too far distant from my court, and as the father-visitor could not delay his departure, I have substituted for him Mancio, his cousin and my great-nephew.

“I shall be infinitely obliged if your Holiness, holding upon earth the place of God himself, shall continue to shed your favor upon me, upon all Christians, and especially upon this little portion of the flock committed to your care. I have received from the hand of the father-visitor the reliquary with which your Holiness honored me, and I have placed it on my head with much respect. I have no words in which to express the gratitude with which I am penetrated for a gift so precious. I will add no more, as the father-visitor and my ambassador will more fully inform your Holiness as to all that regards my person and my realm. I truly adore you, most holy Father, and I write this to you trembling with respectful fear. The 11th day of January, in the year of our Lord 1582.

Francis, King of Bungo,

“prostrate at the foot of your Holiness.”

The reading of this and of the other letters, translated into Italian, was followed by a “Discourse on Obedience,” pronounced, in the name of the princes and the ambassadors, by Father Gaspard Gonzales, a model of rhetorical elegance and comprehensive brevity—whatever may be thought of its ethical or theological doctrines—which some of the long-winded speakers of the present day, both lay and clerical, would do well to[Pg 109] imitate. We give, as a specimen, a passage from the beginning:

“Nature has separated Japan from the countries in which we now are, by such an extent of land and sea, that, before the present age, there were very few persons who had any knowledge of it; and even now there are those who find it difficult to believe the accounts of it which we give. It is certain, nevertheless, most holy Father, that there are several Japanese islands, of a vast extent, and in these islands numerous fine cities, the inhabitants of which have a keen understanding, noble and courageous hearts, and obliging dispositions, politeness of manners, and inclinations disposed towards that which is good. Those who have known them have decidedly preferred them to all the other people of Asia, and it is only their lack of the true religion which prevents them from competing with the nations of Europe.

“For some years past this religion has been preached to them, under the authority of the holy see, by apostolical missionaries. Its commencements were small, as in the case of the primitive church; but God having given his blessing to this evangelical seed, it took root in the hearts of the nobles, and of late, under the pontificate of your Holiness, it has been received by the greatest lords, the princes and kings of Japan. This, most holy Father, ought to console you, for many reasons; but principally because, laboring as you do with an indefatigable zeal and vigor to reëstablish a religion, shaken and almost destroyed by the new heresies here in Europe, you see it take root and make great progress in the most distant country of the world.

“Hitherto your Holiness has heard, and with great pleasure, of the abundant fruits borne by this vine newly planted, with so much labor, at the extremities of the earth. Now you may see, touch, taste them, in this august assembly, and impart of them to all the faithful. What joy ought not all[Pg 110] Christians to feel, and especially the Roman people, at seeing the ambassadors of such great princes come from the ends of the earth to prostrate themselves at the feet of your Holiness, through a pure motive of religion,—a thing which has never happened in any age! What satisfaction for them to see the most generous and valiant kings of the East, conquered by the arms of the faith and by the preaching of the gospel, submitting themselves to the empire of Jesus Christ, and, as they cannot, from their avocations, come in person to take the oath of obedience and fidelity to the holy see, acquitting themselves of this duty by ambassadors so nearly related to them, and whom they so tenderly love!”

In the following passage the orator alludes more at length to the revolt in Europe against the authority of the Pope, which Philip II, no less than the Pope, was at this moment vigorously laboring to put down, by the recent introduction of the Jesuits into the Netherlands, where the Protestant rebels had been suppressed, by war against Holland, by aiding the French leaguers, by countenancing the retrograde movement then in rapid progress in Germany, and by preparing to carry out against Elizabeth of England the sentence of deposition which the Pope had fulminated against her.

“O immortal God! What a stroke of thine arm! What an effect of thy grace! In places so distant from the holy see, where the name of Jesus had never been heard, nor his gospel ever preached, as soon as the true faith shed there the first rays of the truth, men of temperaments quite different from ours, kings illustrious by their nobility, redoubtable for their power, happy in the abundance of their possessions, conquerors and warriors signalized by their victories, acknowledge the greatness and dignity of the Roman church, and hold it a great honor to kiss the feet of the church’s[Pg 111] head by the lips of persons infinitely dear to them; all this happens while we see men at our very gate blind and impious enough to wish to cut off with a parricidal hand the head of the mystic body of Jesus Christ, and to call in doubt, to their own ruin, the authority of the holy see, established by Jesus Christ himself, confirmed by the course of so many ages, defended by the writings of so many holy doctors, recognized and approved by so many councils!

“But it is not proper that I should give way to grief, or trouble the joys of this day by the recollection of our miseries!”

To this address, on behalf of the Japanese princes and their ambassadors, Monseigneur Antony Bocapaduli replied in Latin, in the Pope’s name, as follows:

“His Holiness commands me, most noble lords, to say to you that Dom Francis, king of Bungo, Dom Protais, king of Arima, and Dom Barthelemi, prince of Ōmura, have acted like wise and religious princes in sending you from the extremities of Asia to acknowledge the power with which God’s bounty hath clothed him on the earth, since there is but one faith, one church universal, and but a single chief and supreme pastor, whose authority extends to all parts of the earth where there are Christians, which pastor and only head is the bishop of Rome, the successor of St. Peter. He is charmed to see that they believe firmly and profess aloud this truth, with all the other articles that compose the Catholic faith. He gives ceaseless thanks to the divine goodness which has wrought these marvels; and this joy appears to him so much the more legitimate, as it has its foundation in the zeal by which he is animated for the glory of the Almighty, and the salvation of souls which the incarnate Word has purchased with his blood. This is why this venerable pontiff and all the sacred college of the cardinals of the Roman church receive, with a truly paternal affection, the[Pg 112] protestation which you make to the vicar of Jesus Christ of faith, filial devotion, and obedience, on the part of the princes whom you represent. His Holiness earnestly desires and prays to God that all the kings and princes of Japan, and all those who rule in other parts of the world, may imitate so good an example, may renounce their idols and all their errors, may adore in spirit and in truth the sovereign Lord who has created this universe, and his only son, Jesus Christ, whom he has sent into the world; since it is in this knowledge and this faith that eternal life consists.”

The reply finished, the ambassadors were conducted around to the foot of the throne, and again kissed the feet of the Pope; after which the cardinals, drawing near, embraced them, and put to them many questions as to their travels and the rarities of their country: questions to which they replied with so much sense and acuteness as to cause no little admiration.

At length the Pope rose, exclaiming, Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine (which might by a pious Catholic be taken as a prophecy of his approaching death). The two chief ambassadors, who were of the blood royal, were directed to lift up the train of his robes,—an honor monopolized, as far as the princes of Europe were concerned, by the ambassador of the emperor. The holy father having been thus conducted to his apartment, the cardinal St. Sixtus, his nephew, the cardinal Guastavillani, and the duke of Sora entertained the Japanese at a magnificent dinner. A private audience followed, in which the ambassadors delivered the presents they had brought, and the Pope announced that he had endowed the proposed new seminary at Fuchū with an annual dotation of four thousand Roman crowns.

[Pg 113]

Gregory XIII died a few days after;[47] but his successor, Sixtus V, who, as cardinal of Monte Alto, had taken greatly to the Japanese, was not less favorable to them as Pope. They assisted, among the other ambassadors of kings, at his coronation, bearing the canopy and holding the basin for his Holiness to wash in when he said mass. They had the same honors when the pontiff was enthroned at Saint John Lateran. The holy father afterwards invited them to visit his country-house, where they were splendidly entertained and regaled on his behalf by his steward and four-and-twenty prelates.

Finally, on the eve of the Ascension, in the presence of all the Roman nobility, they were dubbed knights of the gilded spurs. The Pope himself girded on their swords, while the spurs of the two princes were buckled on by the ambassadors of France and Venice, and those of the two others by the Marquis Altemps; after which the Pope placed about their necks chains of gold, to which his medal was attached, and kissed and embraced them. The next day his Holiness said mass in person, and they communicated from his hand. He dismissed them with briefs, addressed to their princes, of which the following may serve as a sample:


Noble prince and our well-beloved son, salvation and apostolical benediction.

“Our well-beloved son Dom Michael, your ambassador to this court, delivered to Pope Gregory XIII, our predecessor,[Pg 114] of holy and happy memory, now, as we must presume, in glory, the letters with which your majesty had charged him; and after these letters had been publicly read, he rendered to that pontiff the obedience due to the vicar of Jesus Christ, and which all Catholic kings are accustomed to render to him. This was done in presence of all the cardinals of the holy church, then assembled at Rome, of which number we were. A greater concourse of persons of all conditions, and a greater public joy, had never been seen. Shortly after, it having pleased God to charge us, without our having in the least merited it, with the government of His church, we have also received with entirely paternal tenderness the same duties of obedience which Dom Michael has renewed to us, in the name of your majesty; whereupon we have thought proper to add you to the number of our very dear children, the Catholic kings of the holy church. We have seen, with much joy and satisfaction, the testimonies of your piety and religion; and, to give you the means of increasing these in your heart, we have sent you, by your before-named ambassador, inclosed in a cross of gold, a piece of the cross to which was nailed Jesus Christ, King of kings and eternal Priest, who, by the effusion of his blood, has made us also kings and priests of the living God. We send you, also, a sword and hat, which we have blessed, such as it is the custom of the Roman pontiff to send to all the Catholic kings, and we pray the Lord to be the support of your majesty in all your enterprises. According to the usage in the courts of the kings of Europe, the sword and hat should be received at the end of a mass, to which we shall attach a plenary indulgence for all sins for the benefit of all who may assist thereat, and who, after having confessed themselves, shall pray for the tranquillity of the Catholic church, the salvation of the Christian princes, and the extirpation of heresies—provided they have a true confidence in the divine mercy, in the power which has been given to the holy[Pg 115] apostles Peter and Paul, and in that with which we are clothed. Given at Rome, at St. Peter’s, under the seal of the fisherman,” etc.

From Rome, escorted out of the city with all honors, the ambassadors went by way of Loretto, where they paid their devotions, to Venice, and thence to Milan and Genoa, at which latter place they embarked for Barcelona. They declined, as they had been so long from home, a pressing invitation from Henry III to visit France, and, after a new audience with Philip II, they hastened to sail from Lisbon on their return voyage, embarking April 13, 1586.[48]

[Pg 116]


Events meanwhile in Japan—Downfall of Nobunaga—Accession of Hashiba, afterwards known as Kwambacudono, and, finally, as Taikōsama—Edict against the Jesuits—Return of the Ambassadors—A. D. 1582-1588.

While the ambassadors were on their way to Europe, great changes had taken place in the Japanese islands. A few months after they had sailed from Nagasaki, Akechi Mitsuhide, a favorite general of Nobunaga’s, had marched from Miyako to join Hashiba Hideyoshi, another favorite general, employed in prosecuting the war against Nagato. The stern severity of Nobunaga had rendered him very unpopular, of which Akechi took advantage to turn about and attack him, left as he was at Miyako almost without troops. Nobunaga, thus betrayed and surprised, having no other resource, set fire to his palace, and perished in it, June 15, 1580, with his eldest son. His second son, overwhelmed by this disaster, went mad, and in that condition set fire to his father’s patrimonial palace at Azuchiyama, thus kindling a conflagration which consumed almost the entire city, including a splendid temple, which Nobunaga had lately erected there, and in which, suspending all other worship by edict, he had required divine honors to be paid to a stone graven with his arms[49] and other devices. To the missionaries, who[Pg 117] had all along counted upon making a convert of Nobunaga, this step had caused no less horror than surprise; and they found in it a ready explanation of the sudden ruin which had overtaken himself and his family, especially as his eldest son had been the first to pay the required worship.

Akechi now aspired to succeed the master he had betrayed and overthrown; but he was defeated by Ukondono [Kōyama Ukon], another general, a nephew of the Wada, who had played so conspicuous a part in previous revolutions, and a convert to the Catholic faith, who united with Hashiba to revenge their master’s death, the latter marching upon Miyako in the name of the late emperor’s third son, whom he proclaimed as Kubō-Sama, reserving, however, to himself all real authority; and thus again was Japan, as during part of Nobunaga’s reign, furnished with two “idle kings,”—a Dairi and a titular Kubō-Sama,—while the real power was in the hands of a third party.

Hashiba’s own very humble birth made him the more willing to begin, at first, with ruling in the name of another. Originally he was but a mere private soldier, who, having attracted the attention of Nobunaga, as well by his wit and drollery as by his courage and sagacity, had been gradually raised by him to the highest commands. This founder of the Japanese imperial authority, as it now exists, is described as having been short, but quite fat, and exceedingly strong, with six fingers on each hand, and something frightful in his face, his eyes protruding in a strange manner. It was[Pg 118] he who completed what Nobunaga had begun, and who first gave to Japan, at least in modern times, a real and effective emperor, ruling supreme over the whole territory.

The son of Nobunaga, being restless under the humiliation to which he was reduced, was deprived of his place as Kubō-Sama, and obliged to be satisfied with the island of Shikoku, the smaller of the three larger Japanese islands which his father had assigned him as an appanage, while Hashiba declared himself the guardian of an infant child of Nobunaga’s eldest son, whom he set up as titular Kubō-Sama.

He showed at first the same favor to the Catholics as his predecessor had done, and the more so as Ukondono, his confederate against the rebel Akechi, was himself a convert, as were others of his great vassals and principal officers of his court and army.

As the son of Nobunaga could not keep quiet, he was presently stripped of all authority, though his life was spared, and Hashiba, assuming to himself the high title of Kwambakudono, strengthened himself still further by marrying a daughter of the Dairi.

Desirous to outdo his predecessor in everything, he converted Ōsaka, which had, till lately subdued by Nobunaga, been under the rule of a bonze, into a great city, and he built in its neighborhood a great stone castle. To this city, made his capital, the Jesuit seminary, originally established in the now ruined Azuchiyama, was removed, another being also set up in the neighboring city of Sakai. The king of Nagato was even induced to allow the reintroduction of missionaries into his territories. The king of Bungo having appealed to Hashiba for aid against his neighbors, the converted general[Pg 119] Kodera Yoshitaka, the chief commander of his cavalry, whom he sent to Shimo, not only rescued the young king, Yoshimune, from his enemies, the kings of Chikuzen and Satsuma, who had taken his capital and ravaged his territories, but succeeded also in bringing up to the point of baptism that fickle and inconstant prince, who had long been a great trial to the missionaries, as well as to his pious father Civan, who, having given up to him the reins of government, had been treated thenceforth with very little respect. The result of this interference also was to reduce the whole of Shimo to the power of the emperor, who now reigned supreme over Shimo, Sikoku, and all the western part of Nippon, though still obliged to pay a certain deference and respect to the pretensions and power of the local kings and princes, whom, however, he required to be frequent attendants on his court, and to leave their wives and children there as hostages, and whose authority and consequence he sought by all means to diminish.

Peace thus reëstablished, everything seemed to favor the spread of Catholicity, when, all of a sudden, and in the most unexpected manner, in the month of July, 1587, the emperor signed an order for the banishment of the missionaries; and because Ukondono would not renounce his religion (at least such was the ostensible cause), stripped him at once of his place and his property. Father Cuello, the vice-provincial, was ordered to assemble all the missionaries at Hirado; and, in obedience to his order, they collected there to the number of about one hundred and twenty, only Father Gnecchi remaining concealed at Ōsaka, and one brother in Bungo. But when the emperor commanded them to embark on board a Portuguese vessel about to sail, they resolved not to obey. A few[Pg 120] indeed went on board and sailed for China; but the greater part remained, a message being sent to the emperor that the vessel could not carry the others; to which he responded by ordering all the churches in Miyako, Ōsaka, and Sakai to be destroyed. The converted princes, however, in general, stood firm, except Yoshimune, king of Bungo; and even the unconverted ones are said to have protested against the emperor’s edict as in violation of the freedom of religious opinion heretofore allowed. The missionaries, in disguise, were distributed through the territories of their adherents. The emperor’s grand admiral, Konishi Settsu-no-Kami, who was viceroy of Shimo, though himself a convert, still kept the confidence of the emperor, as did also Kodera, the chief commander of his cavalry. The Portuguese merchants were admitted as before. After a little while the emperor seemed disposed to wink at the conduct of the converted princes, and the missionaries soon began to conceive hopes that, by caution on their part, the work of conversion might still go on, the stimulus of a prohibition not very strictly enforced, more than supplying all the benefits hitherto derived from the éclat of imperial favor.

Some difficulty about obtaining recruits for the imperial seraglio, especially from the province of Hizen, celebrated for its handsome women, but in which the converts were numerous, was said to have provoked the emperor, in a fit of drunken fury, to put forth so suddenly his edict of persecution. But, in fact, his policy brooked no power but his own. He did not fancy a religion which taught his subjects to look up with implicit reverence to a distant and foreign potentate; nor probably was his hostility to the Jesuits much different in substance from that sentiment which had caused[Pg 121] Henry VIII, of England, fifty years earlier, to break with the holy see—a breach also ascribed by the Catholics to amorous passion.

But the cautious and artful emperor, who, however he might give way to sudden fits of violence and caprice, was a perfect master of all the arts of dissimulation, knowing, as well as Bonaparte, if not better, how to wait till the pear was ripe, was not yet wholly prepared to break with the converted kings and nobles, whom he found, perhaps, as well as the humbler converts, more attached to their faith than he had supposed. There were too many inflammable materials in his yet unconsolidated empire for him to run the risk of provoking a rebellion; and, besides, there still remained to be subdued eight independent provinces in the east and north of Nippon, including a kingdom of five provinces, in which were situated the great cities of Suruga and Yedo.

The conquest of this kingdom was speedily achieved, partly by arts and partly by arms. A new palace was erected for the Dairi, in place of the old one, which had been burnt during the late troubles at Miyako. A splendid temple had also been built near that city, in which it was suspected that the emperor intended to cause himself to be worshipped, as his predecessor had done; when, in August, 1588, Father Valignani, appointed ambassador to the emperor and kings of Japan, from the Portuguese viceroy of Goa, arrived at Macao, on his way to Nagasaki, having in his company the returning ambassadors to the Pope, who had touched at Goa on their way home, and who had stopped there a[Pg 122] whole year before proceeding for Japan.[50]

[Pg 123]


Recapitulation—Extent of the Japanese Empire—Valignani arrives at Nagasaki—Progress hitherto of the Catholic Faith—The Emperor’s Projects against China—Valignani’s Visit to the Emperor at Miyako—Ukondono—The returned Japanese Ambassadors—Audience given to Valignani—The Viceroy’s Letter—The Interpreter Rodriguez—A. D. 1588-1593.

The Japanese islands had been found by Xavier and his successors divided into numerous principalities, which, though they acknowledged a nominal subordination to one imperial head, were substantially independent, and engaged in perpetual wars with each other. The superior abilities of two successive military usurpers,—Nobunaga, who ruled from 1567 to 1582, and Hashiba Hideyoshi, who took first the title of Kwambacudono, and subsequently that of Taikō-Sama—had consolidated these numerous states into a real empire, embracing then as now the three principal islands of Nippon, Shimo (or Kiūshiū), and Shikoku, with many smaller ones, and some claims also of authority over parts, at least, of the large northerly island of Matsumaye, or Yezo, the latter the aboriginal name.

Among the dependencies, at present, of the Japanese empire, are reckoned at the north, besides this island, the southern half of the large island or peninsula of Sakhalin, called by the Japanese Oku Yezo (upper Jeso), or, as Siebold says, Karafuto, and the three smaller Kurile islands, Kunajiri, Etoropu, and Uruppu, numbered on the Russian charts as the 20th, 19th, and 18th Kurile islands, and the two latter called by the[Pg 124] Dutch State’s Island and Company’s Island. On the south, the Lew Chew Islands form, or did form (for the Japanese seem lately to have renounced their claim of sovereignty), a dependency of the kingdom of Satsuma. But all these are of comparatively recent acquisition, subsequent to the accession of Hashiba. It is said, indeed, on Japanese authority, that Yezo was first invaded in 1443 by the Japanese family of Matsumae; but it is apparent from missionary letters that in 1620 it was a recent settlement. The Japanese annals date the conquest of the Lew Chew Islands from the year 1610; and, according to Golownin, the Japanese settlements on Sakhalin have been subsequent to the voyage of La Perouse in 1782.

Of Nippon, at least equal in extent to Great Britain, and with a population nearer, it would seem, to that of Great Britain now than to what that island could boast in the reign of Elizabeth, the missionaries were as yet acquainted only with the southwestern part—their establishments being confined to the kingdom of Nagato, at its western extremity, where it is separated from Shimo by a narrow strait, and to the great cities of Miyako, Ōsaka, and Sakai, situated towards the middle of the southern coast. Many princes, nobles, and large landed proprietors had fallen under the influence of the Jesuits, and had professed the new faith; but it does not appear that either in Nippon or in the adjoining island of Shikoku (about equal in extent to Sicily) any considerable progress had been made in converting the rural population. It was in the island of Shimo, the westernmost in situation and the second in size (two-thirds as large as Ireland), that the new religion had taken the firmest root. The kingdom of Bungo, indeed almost the[Pg 125] whole of the eastern portion of that island, was thoroughly indoctrinated with the new faith; and such was still more the case with the kingdom of Arima and the principality of Ōmura, embracing that great southwestern peninsula itself, divided into three smaller peninsulas by two deep bays, one opening to the south and the other to the west, at the head of the latter of which is situated the city of Nagasaki.

Painting of Taikō Sama

Founded in 1579 by converts to the new faith, and made the centre of the Portuguese trade to Japan, as well as of the Jesuit missions, Nagasaki had grown up with great rapidity; nor was any other worship practised in it except that of the new religion. It had become the largest and most important town in Shimo; and, since the recent subjection of that island to the imperial authority, according to the new policy of weakening the local princes, the emperor had assumed the appointment of its governor,—Nagasaki being placed, along with Miyako, Ōsaka, and Sakai in the list of imperial towns.

At the date of the edict, so unexpectedly issued in 1587, for the banishment of the Jesuits, there were in Japan three hundred members of the company, a novitiate, a college, two preparatory seminaries for the education of young nobles designed for the church, two hundred and fifty churches, and a number of converts, amounting, probably, to between two and three hundred thousand, though the estimate of the Jesuits was much larger. Notwithstanding the apostasy of Yoshimune, the young king of Bungo (whose father, Civan, had died just before the emperor’s edict had appeared), the numerous converts in that kingdom remained firm in the faith. That zealous Catholic, the prince of Ōmura, had also lately deceased; but the young prince, his only son and[Pg 126] successor, who had been educated by the Jesuits, was hardly less zealous than his father had been. The king of Arima also continued steady in the faith. It was this king who, along with the deceased king of Bungo and the deceased prince of Ōmura, had sent the ambassadors to the Pope, of whose visit to Europe an account has been given in a preceding chapter, and whom the last chapter left at Macao, on their return to Japan, in company with Father Valignani, who had been deputed by the viceroy of Goa as his ambassador to the emperor.

It was at Macao that Valignani and his companions learned the news of the edict for the banishment of the Jesuits. It was said at Macao that the emperor was a good deal mollified, and seemed inclined to wink at the general disregard of his edict; yet as Valignani was himself a Jesuit, and had once already visited Japan in that character, he did not judge it best to proceed to Japan till he had first obtained express permission to do so. On the representations of the Christian princes, who put forward Valignani’s character as ambassdor, the emperor readily consented to receive him; and, accompanied by the returning Japanese envoys and some twenty Jesuits, he landed at Nagasaki, in June, 1590, where he was received with great affection by the converted princes of Shimo, and by Father Gomez, who, on the death of Cuello, had succeeded to the post of vice-provincial. The emperor, in the late redistribution of the kingdoms of that island, had liberally provided for Konishi Settsu-no-kami, the grand admiral, and for Kodera, his general of horse, both of whom, notwithstanding their continued adhesion to the new faith, still retained his favor. To Konishi he had given the kingdom of Higo, and to Kodera that of Buzen, so that almost the whole of the island of[Pg 127] Shimo was now ruled by converted princes. Even the changeable Yoshimune, not finding his apostasy so advantageous as he had expected, soon sought and presently obtained a reconciliation to the church. The king of Hirado was not friendly, but he was kept in check by the number of converts among his subjects, especially by a very zealous converted wife, a sister of the prince of Ōmura—whom he complained of as having more influence over his kingdom than himself,—and also by his fear of driving off the Portuguese merchants, who still occasionally visited his island.

Notwithstanding the emperor’s edict of expulsion, there still remained in Japan a hundred and forty Jesuits, including those lately brought by Valignani. The seminary of nobles at Ōsaka had been broken up, most of the pupils retiring with their teachers; but the other seminary in the kingdom of Arima was still maintained, being, for greater security, removed to a retired spot surrounded with wood. The college and novitiate, for similar reasons, were transferred to the island of Amakusa. Besides these, the Jesuits had twenty other houses of residence. Those districts in which the missionaries had no settled establishments they supplied by frequent journeys, which they made secretly, and generally in disguise, being assisted also by a great number of adroit and zealous native catechists, who not only maintained the fervor of the old converts, but daily added new ones to the number. This employment of catechist was held in great honor in the church of Japan. None were admitted into it except persons of approved virtue, generally young men of family and promise, devoted by their parents from their infancy to a service upon which they entered for life, being[Pg 128] ordained with much ceremony, and wearing a garb similar to that of the missionaries with whom they lived in community, observing the same rules. Conversions still continued to be made among the upper as well as among the lower classes, and the numerous adherents to the new faith, or favorers of it, in the court and household of the emperor, including even the empress, carefully watched and reported to the missionaries every word or hint dropped by him, from which his disposition and intentions might be conjectured.

At this moment the emperor’s thoughts seemed a good deal withdrawn from domestic affairs, being engrossed by a war, which he had determined to commence by invading Corea, a dependency of the Chinese empire, and the part of the continent of Asia nearest to Japan. For this purpose he was constructing a fleet at a port of Shimo, on the strait of Corea. Not long after Valignani’s arrival at Nagasaki, leave was obtained for him to visit the emperor’s court at Miyako; but his friends there advised that, instead of ecclesiastics, his retinue should be composed as much as possible of Portuguese merchants. The merchants at Nagasaki entered zealously into the affair, and not less than twenty-seven of them accompanied Valignani, in the style of great lords, sparing no expense to give magnificence to the ambassador’s train. He took with him also four priests, some young Japanese Jesuits not yet ordained, and the four returned youthful ambassadors. These ambassadors had learned to sing in the European style, and chanted church music tolerably well. They also had with them a great show of maps, globes, clocks, watches, and other European curiosities, which attracted much attention. Their description of what they had[Pg 129] seen and heard made a deep impression upon the princes and nobles, who flocked from all quarters to see them. And there was ample leisure for this, as the approach of the ambassador to Miyako was delayed for more than two months by the death of the emperor’s only son.

In this interval Valignani had the pleasure of a visit from the disgraced Ukondono, whose face he was rejoiced to see lighted up with an air of content rarely seen among those on whom the favors of fortune are most prodigally showered. He protested that the happiest day in his life was that on which he had lost everything for Jesus Christ. He communicated to Father Valignani a design he had formed of quitting the world altogether, and consecrating himself entirety to the service of God; but besides that he had a wife and a numerous family, whom his retreat would have left without resource, the father considered that he was much younger than the emperor; that if reëstablished in his offices and his possessions, he might render much greater services to the church by remaining in the world than by quitting it, and on that ground he advised Ukondono not to withdraw from that station in life in which Providence had placed him.

At last the emperor consented to admit Valignani to an audience, but only on condition that he should say nothing about religion or the revocation of the edict against the Jesuits. Through the care of Kodera, to whom that business had been entrusted, the embassy was received at Miyako with all honor, and was able to make a display which strongly impressed the inhabitants, and even the emperor in its favor. On the day of audience, Gon-dainagon Hidetsugu, the emperor’s nephew and presumptive heir, attended by a great number of[Pg 130] lords, met the ambassador, and conducted him to the hall of audience. This hall, which opened upon a magnificent balcony, before which spread a parterre of great beauty, consisted of five several divisions, rising, like steps, one above the other. The first served as an antechamber, or hall of waiting, for the gentlemen in attendance. In the two next were assembled the lords of the court and the great officers of the empire, arranged in order, according to their rank. In the fourth, there were only two persons, a priest who held the first dignity in the household of the Dairi, and the chief counsellor of that same dignitary; by the side of whom Gon-dainagon also took his place, after introducing the ambassador to the fifth and highest apartment, in which the emperor was seated alone, on his heels, in the Japanese fashion upon an elevated throne, approached by steps on all sides. Father Valignani was preceded by one of the Portuguese gentlemen of his suite, bearing the letter of the Indies, written in gilded letters upon fine vellum, with a golden seal attached to it, the whole enclosed in a little box beautifully wrought. That letter was as follows:


Most Serene Emperor: Though the great space that separates us has not hitherto allowed me much communication with your majesty, yet fame and the religious men who labor in your empire to make known the law of the true God to your subjects, have informed me of the great deeds done by you, and of the victories which have made you the greatest monarch who has reigned in Japan for ages; and I have[Pg 131] therefore thought it my duty to congratulate your majesty on the happy successes with which the God of heaven has favored you. The same religious men, who are, for the most part, natural-born subjects of the great prince whom the Indies obey, and who go through the earth with a truly heroical courage to teach men to know and to adore the Author of nature, have also informed me of the distinguished favors with which your majesty has uniformly honored them, and have begged me to convey to you their thanks, which I willingly do, conjointly with my own; and that, indeed, is the particular object of this embassy, with which I have charged the Father Alexander Valignani, who has the honor to be already known to you. After rendering to your majesty his humblest thanks for your past favors, he will supplicate you, in my name, to vouchsafe to continue them; and I dare to assure your majesty that subjects for your favors cannot be found who will merit them better. Favors to them I shall esteem as favors to me, and shall take every opportunity to acknowledge them as such. I have charged my ambassador to present you with two Arabian genets, with their housings and harness, two swords, and two guns of a new fashion, two webs of tapestry embroidered with gold, and two complete suits of wrought steel armor, a dagger, which serves also as a pistol, and a tent for country excursions.

“At Goa, this year of Redemption, 1587.

Dom Edward de Menesez.[51]

The presents seemed greatly to please the emperor, by whom they were carefully examined. A signal being given, Valignani was led up the steps of the throne to the emperor’s feet, whom, on bended knee, he saluted, after the European fashion, by kissing his hand,—a[Pg 132] privilege to which all the members of his suite were admitted in succession, the ambassador being meanwhile seated in the third compartment among the grandees of the court. Tea was then served to the emperor in a gilded cup, which, after sipping from it a little, he sent to the ambassador, who, at the same time, received, by way of present, a hundred silver platters and four silk dresses. Presents were also distributed among the members of his suite. The emperor then retired, first directing his nephew to entertain the ambassador at dinner, which he did, but with more of ceremony than good cheer. The guests consisted of three members of the imperial family and eight other great lords, all eating, each from his own little table or salver, in profound silence, many persons of inferior rank standing about them. The ambassador’s suite were entertained at the same time in a separate apartment.

After dinner the emperor again made his appearance in undress, and, seating himself beside Father Valignani, conversed with him for some time. He also conversed freely with the four returned Japanese, and seemed much pleased at hearing them sing and play in the European fashion. He made great offers to one of them; but they had all made up their minds to enter the company of the Jesuits, which, in spite of a good deal of opposition on the part of their friends and relations, they presently did.[52] Passing into the hall where the ambassador’s suite had dined, the emperor addressed them with great familiarity, and they improved the opportunity to complain of some oppressions, on the part of the collector of the port[Pg 133] of Nagasaki, which he promised should be redressed.[53] In the evening, Rodriguez, a young Portuguese Jesuit, who acted as one of Valignani’s interpreters, was sent for to show the emperor how to wind up a clock which the ambassador had presented to him. The emperor seemed much pleased with Rodriguez’s conversation, detaining him till late at night. On dismissing him he bade him say to Father Valignani that he was at liberty to remain at Miyako or wherever he pleased, till an answer to the viceroy’s letter was prepared, but that he must take care that the ecclesiastics who accompanied him comported themselves with discretion, so as not to drive him into striking disagreeable blows. Not long after Rodriguez was selected as the emperor’s interpreter, in which capacity he became attached to the court, and, by his access to the emperor and influence with him, had opportunities of rendering essential service to his order.

[Pg 134]


New Troubles of the Missionaries from their own Countrymen—The Emperor claims Homage of the Governor of the Philippines—Mutual Jealousies of the Portuguese and Spaniards—Spanish Adventurers in Japan—The Emperor’s Suspicions excited—His Reply to the Viceroy of Goa.—A. D. 1591-1592.

Valignani’s gracious reception greatly raised the hopes of the Japanese converts. But much annoyance was soon experienced from two pagan lords, who had been appointed joint governors of Nagasaki. Nor was it pagan hostility alone which the Jesuits had to dread. Enemies even more dangerous were found among their own countrymen in Japan, many of whom had ceased to exhibit that zeal for the faith, at first so universal. The irregular conduct of certain Portuguese merchants, in frequenting ports where there were no missionaries, and where they could freely follow their own devices, had greatly troubled the Jesuit fathers. A Japanese adventurer, by name Harada Kiyemon, having gone to the Philippines to trade, had taken it into his head to suggest to the emperor of Japan to require the Spanish governor of those islands to acknowledge him as sovereign. This idea, conveyed to the emperor through a Japanese courtier with whom Harada was intimate, was eagerly caught at by a prince rendered vain by the elevation to which he had attained, and whose head was filled with schemes for still further extending his empire. He wrote an imperious letter to[Pg 135] the governor of the Philippines, demanding his homage, and despatched it by the hand of Harada, who applied to Father Valignani, to write to the Jesuits at Manila, and to the Spanish governor, in furtherance of this project. Valignani refused to write any such letters, alleging as an ostensible reason, that he had no acquaintance with the governor of the Philippines, nor authority over the Jesuits of Manila; and, in consequence of this refusal, Harada did not venture to carry the letter himself, but sent it by another hand. Valignani wrote, however, by a simultaneous opportunity, to the Jesuits of Manila, informing them of this affair, suggesting its delicate character, and the expediency, while due care was had of the honor of the Spanish crown, of not giving to the emperor of Japan any pretence for renewing his persecution of the missionaries.

Notwithstanding the union of the crowns of Spain and Portugal upon the head of Philip II, a very fierce jealousy and hatred continued to exist between the two nations; and this feeling was particularly violent at Manila, which city, founded in 1572, was almost contemporaneous in its origin with Nagasaki, and whose merchants looked very enviously at the monopoly of the trade to Japan secured to the Portuguese, and to the city of Macao, by the terms of the union between the two crowns.[54] This express exclusion of all Spanish merchants from Japan had been indeed already broken through, in at least two instances, by the arrival of one Jean de Solis from Peru, by way of Macao, and of another Spanish merchant from the Philippines, both of whom,[Pg 136] after various adventures, and receiving aid and services from the Jesuit missionaries, had reached Nagasaki. Solis soon after proceeded to Satsuma on the southern coast of Shimo, where he commenced building a vessel in which to trade to China and thence to Peru,—a project in which he was presently joined by the other Spaniard. But to carry out this scheme it became necessary for Solis to get back a sum of money which he had been compelled to deposit in the hands of the Portuguese, at Nagasaki, as security for certain debts which he had contracted at Macao; and because Father Valignani would not help them in this matter, the two Spaniards threatened to give information to the emperor of the large number of Jesuits still in Japan, in violation of his edict, and to denounce the princes who gave them shelter.

The emperor, meanwhile, had been a good deal soured and his suspicions excited by some suggestions, thrown out by the enemies of the Jesuits, that Valignani was no real ambassador, that being a mere pretence to secure his entry into Japan. Means, indeed, had been found to quiet him upon this head, to which the representations of Rodriguez greatly contributed; but the answer which he caused to be prepared to the viceroy’s letter, took so high a tone, and was so filled with invectives against the missionaries, that Valignani was unwilling to be the bearer of it.

Finally, by the persuasions of the governor of Miyako, an idolater, but favorable to the new religion, the emperor was induced to modify his letter; and he even adopted a crafty suggestion of Rodriguez that the Jesuits whom Valignani had brought with him should remain at Nagasaki as hostages, till the authenticity of his mission was placed beyond question. The letter, as finally modified,[Pg 137] a frank exposition of Taikō’s policy, was in the following terms:


Most Illustrious Lord: I received with pleasure the letter which you wrote me, and in reading it seemed to realize that great distance between us of which you speak. Japan contains more than sixty realms or principalities, which have been for a long time agitated by troubles and civil wars, growing out of the refusal of the princes to render to their sovereign lord the obedience which they owe him. The sight of so many evils sensibly afflicted me from my earliest age, and I resolved in my mind a remedy for them; and with that view I laboriously applied myself to the acquisition of three virtues the most necessary for so great an undertaking. In the first place, I studied affability, so as to gain all hearts. Next I strove to accustom myself to judge soundly of all things, and to comport myself at all times with prudence and discretion. In the third place, I have omitted no occasion of inspiring a high idea of my valor. Thus have I succeeded in subjecting all Japan to my authority, which I govern with a mildness equal to the courage displayed in subduing it. I have especially caused the effects of my tenderness to be felt by the laborers who cultivate the earth. All my severity is reserved for those who deviate from the paths of virtue. Nothing is more tranquil than Japan at this moment, and it is this tranquillity which makes it strong. This vast monarchy is like a firmly fixed rock; all the efforts of its enemies cannot shake it. So, not only am I at peace at home, but even very distant countries send to render me the obedience which is my due. I expect soon to conquer China, and as I have no doubt of succeeding in it, I hope we shall soon be much nearer to each other, and that the communication between us will not be so difficult.

[Pg 138]

“As to what regards religion, Japan is the realm of the Kami, that is, of Shin, the beginning of all things; and the good order of the government depends upon the exact observance of the ancient laws of which the Kami are the authors. They cannot be departed from without overturning the subordination which ought to exist, of subjects to their sovereign, wives to their husbands, children to their parents, vassals to their lords, and servants to their masters. These laws are necessary to maintain good order within and tranquillity without. The fathers, called the Company, have come to these islands to teach another religion; but as that of the Kami is too deeply rooted to be eradicated, this new law can only serve to introduce into Japan a diversity of worship very prejudicial to the state. It is on that account that, by an imperial edict, I have forbidden these strange doctors to continue to preach their doctrine. I have even ordered them to leave Japan, and I am determined not to allow anybody to come thither to retail new opinions. But I still desire that commerce, as between you and me, may continue on its old footing. I shall keep the way open to you both by sea and land, by freeing the one from pirates and the other from robbers. The Portuguese may trade with my subjects in all security, and I shall take care that nobody harms them. All the presents mentioned in your letter have been faithfully delivered; and I send you in return some rarities of this country, of which a list is annexed. For other matters I refer you to your ambassador, and will therefore say no more. Dated the 25th year of the era Tenshō, and the 25th of the 7th month.”[55]

It would seem from this letter and from what we know[Pg 139] of the actual policy adopted by Taikō-Sama and his predecessor Nobunaga that, in seeking to reëstablish the imperial authority on its old traditional basis, they had aimed also at reëdifying the old national religion. Nobunaga had treated the Buddhist bonzes with very great severity; and, though the policy of Taikō was less bloody, they do not appear to have enjoyed any share of his favor; and it is to be observed that in his letter he speaks exclusively of the religion of the Kami as the creed proper to Japan. The assurances on the subject of commerce seemed the more necessary on account of a dispute which had arisen between the governors of Nagasaki and the commander of the annual Portuguese ship, which, however, on appeal to the emperor, had been settled against the governors. The presents that accompanied this letter were two suits of Japanese armor, not so strong as the armor of Europe, but very handsome, a kind of esponton or halbert, enclosed in a scabbard of gold, and a sabre and poniard of the highest temper, and richly ornamented.

[Pg 140]


The Expedition against Corea—The Emperor associates his Nephew—City of Fushimi—Correspondence of the Emperor with the Governor of Manila—The Jesuits denounced by the Spanish Envoys—Consequences thereof—Departure of Valignani—A. D. 1592.

Meanwhile, an army of eighty thousand men,[56] divided into four corps, had been raised for the war against Corea; and not to leave the country without a head, should the emperor choose himself to lead the invading forces, he took his nephew [Hidetsugu by name] as an associate in the empire, resigning to him the title of Kwambacudono, while he assumed for himself that of Taikō-Sama, the title by which this most illustrious of the Japanese emperors is commonly known.

Though much engaged in this foreign enterprise, he still found time to lay the foundations of the new city of Fushimi, which he designed to make his capital, but the nearness of which to Miyako ultimately placed it in the position of a sort of suburb to that ancient city.

The first division of the invading army, which at length set sail, was led by the grand admiral, king of Higo [Konishi Yukinaga], whose troops, as well as those of the second division, led by the son of Kodera, the king of Buzen [Kuroda Nagamasa], were drawn from the island of Shimo, and were composed almost entirely, officers as well as men, of Catholic converts. And, indeed, the suspicion soon began to be entertained that[Pg 141] Corea had been invaded, not so much to add new provinces to the Taikō-Sama’s empire, as to keep the converted princes employed away from home.

The Expedition against Corea
From Official History of Japan

While the emperor, to look after and to second the invasions, hastened to Shimo, where his presence caused no little alarm to the missionaries, the grand admiral was already making rapid progress. Having taken two places by assault, all the others, as far as the capital, opened their gates. To save their capital, the Coreans fought and lost a pitched battle. A second victory, on the part of the grand admiral, drove the Corean king to seek refuge in China, while the capital opened its gates to the triumphant Japanese.[57]

But the joy of the missionaries at the success of an army led by one of their adherents, and so largely composed of converts, was not a little damped by a side blow from another and an unexpected quarter. So[Pg 142] anxious was the Spanish governor of Manila to improve every chance for opening a trade with Japan, that, in spite of the imperious character of the emperor’s letter, he sent an answer to it by a Spanish gentleman named Liano, in which, indeed, he evaded its demands by suggesting that the mean quality of the person who had brought it, and his not having heard anything on the subject from the Jesuits at Nagasaki, had led him to suspect its authenticity. Liano, accompanied by a Dominican friar, landed in Satsuma, where he met with Solis, the Spaniard from Peru, still busy with his ship-building enterprise, and in no very good humor with the Portuguese and the Jesuits. To confer with Harada, the envoys proceeded to Nagasaki, which city they left again without any communication with the Portuguese merchants, or the missionaries; and, accompanied by Harada, and his Japanese friend, Hasegawa, they hastened to the northern coast of Shimo, where the emperor then was. Hasegawa and Harada translated so ill the letter of the governor of Manila, as to make it express something of a disposition to comply with the emperor’s pretensions, who thereupon wrote a second letter, declaring the other to be genuine, and renewing the demand which it had contained of submission and homage. The envoys, without fully understanding its contents, consented to receive this letter; and in the hope that, if the Portuguese were driven away, the commerce of Japan might fall into the hands of the Spaniards of Manila, they proceeded to suggest heavy complaints against the Portuguese at Nagasaki, whom they not only charged as guilty of great harshness in support of their commercial monopoly, but also with protecting the Jesuits, great numbers of whom, in spite[Pg 143] of the emperor’s edicts, still continued to be sheltered in that city and its neighborhood. The emperor either was, or had affected to be, ignorant of the extent to which his edicts had been disregarded. This information put him into a great rage; and he issued instant orders for the destruction of the splendid church at Nagasaki, hitherto untouched, and also of the house of the Jesuits, who had now no place of residence left there except the hospital of Misericordia. But these wicked Spaniards did not long go unpunished. Solis, on his way back to Satsuma, perished by shipwreck, as did the Spanish envoys on their return voyage to Manila. It was stated, too, that the emperor’s mother died at Miyako, at the very moment of his signing the order for the destruction of the church,—judgments so striking as to become, so we are told by the missionaries, the occasion of many conversions.

Such was the state of affairs when Father Valignani, leaving Japan for the second time, sailed for Macao in October, 1592.

[Pg 144]


Progress of the Corean War—Success of the Japanese—Konishi Settsu-no-kami, Viceroy of Corea—Edict of the Emperor for disarming the Converts in Shimo—Disgrace and Downfall of the Royal Family of Bungo—Terazawa, Governor of Nagasaki—His Conversion and Friendly Acts—A. D. 1592-1593.

Though the emperor did not himself pass into Corea, he sent thither such reinforcements as to raise his army there to the number of two hundred thousand men. But the Coreans having abandoned their cities and fled to inaccessible places, burning everything, even to provisions which they could not carry away (thus setting an example long afterwards followed by the Russians on a similar occasion), this great force was soon reduced to extremities, by which its numbers were rapidly diminished. The Chinese also came to the assistance of the Coreans; and the grand admiral, with forces so reduced as to be greatly inferior in numbers, was obliged to encounter these new enemies in several desperate engagements. Compelled at last to retreat, he fell back upon a garrison which he had left to keep up his communications with the coast, the command of which he had entrusted to Yoshimune, king of Bungo. But that feeble prince, in a moment of terror, had abandoned his post; and, the grand admiral’s communications thus cut off, nothing but his distinguished firmness and courage saved his army from total destruction. After a drawn battle under the walls[Pg 145] of the Corean capital, terms of peace were agreed upon, according to which five of the eight provinces of Corea were assigned to the Japanese; and the commerce between China and Japan, which by the act of the former had for some time been broken off, was again renewed.[58]

The admiral was named viceroy of Corea, and the converted princes were still detained there at the head of their troops. The missionaries, thus separated from their protectors, were filled with new alarms by an order of the emperor for disarming all their converts in Shimo. The king of Bungo, as a punishment for his cowardice, was stripped of his estates; and in the end he and his family, reduced to absolute poverty, were obliged to retire to Nagasaki, and to live there on the charity of the Jesuits. His territories were assigned to pagan lords, and the converted inhabitants soon felt the consequences of the change. Indeed, throughout Shimo the converts suffered greatly by the absence of their princes, of whom several died about this time. But, in general, the Catholics stood firm; and several of the Jesuit fathers having made their way to Corea, new converts were made in the ranks of the army.

The missionaries also found a new friend in Terazawa, a young man appointed governor of Nagasaki, and who, not long after, was secretly baptized. He represented to the emperor that, if the Portuguese merchants were still to be admitted to trade at Nagasaki, they ought to be allowed some priests, since it was the influence and authority of the priests that kept the merchants in order, settled their quarrels, and obliged them to strict justice[Pg 146] in their commercial transactions; and, upon the strength of these plausible representations, Terazawa obtained leave for the Jesuits to rebuild their house and church at Nagasaki. Father Gnecchi, also, in consideration of his age and infirmities, was allowed to remain at Miyako, though without any church, or permission to celebrate divine service openly.

[Pg 147]


Jealousy on the Part of the Dominicans and Franciscans towards Jesuits—This Jealousy coöperates with the Mercantile Jealousy of the Spaniards at Manila—Franciscan Friars establish themselves at Miyako, Ōsaka, and Nagasaki—Edicts against them—Deposition and Death of the Emperor’s Nephew—A. D. 1593-1595.

It was not alone against the emperor’s hostility and the mercantile envy of the Spanish that the Jesuits had to contend. The rapid rise and great successes of the Company of Jesus had excited against them not only the dread and deadly hatred of the Protestants (which might naturally enough have been expected), but feelings also of envy and jealousy, scarcely less hostile, and by no means very scrupulous, on the part of their monastic brethren of the Catholic church,—the Dominicans, and especially the numerous bodies of Franciscans, who had attempted, by various reforms and modifications, to revive and purify that ancient order so as to make it equal to compete with the Jesuits.

A brief of Pope Gregory XIII, dated in 1585, had forbidden, under pain of the greater excommunication, any but Jesuits to proceed to Japan with the view of exercising any ecclesiastical function there; and this bull was not less disagreeable to the Dominicans and Franciscans, than the Portuguese monopoly of the Japanese trade was to the Spanish merchants. At Manila these feelings of dissatisfaction, both mercantile and ecclesiastical, combined in a common focus, giving rise[Pg 148] to the most injurious and unfounded reports, which were even embodied in print, of extensive apostasies among the Japanese converts, and of the great jeopardy into which Catholicism had been brought by the misconduct of the Jesuits, who, at this moment, were out of favor in Spain.

The same Harada, already mentioned, having gone in person to Manila, inflamed the zeal of some Franciscans whom he found there, by representing that it was to the Jesuit missionaries personally, and not to their religion, that the emperor was opposed. The Spanish governor, not having received the emperor’s answer to his former letter, was induced, in the hope of opening the door to commercial intercourse, to write a new one; and four Franciscans attached themselves to the bearer of it, eagerly seizing upon this opportunity to gain admission into Japan.

When the emperor found that these new deputies had not brought the submission which he had demanded, at first he was very angry, but was finally persuaded to allow them to travel through the empire in order to see and to report its greatness. The Franciscans were even suffered to build or buy a house at Miyako, to which they presently added a church; and, being joined by others of their order, a convent was established at Ōsaka. Two of them having gone to Nagasaki, took possession of a church in the environs of that city, which had remained closed since the commencement of the persecution; and here, as well as in the other two cities, they performed their religious functions with an ostentation and publicity which greatly alarmed the Jesuits, whom the Franciscans accused of an unworthy timidity.

[Pg 149]

The Jesuits, under these circumstances, thought proper to call the attention of these new-comers to the bull of Gregory XIII, above referred to, prohibiting the entry into Japan of any ecclesiastics except those of the Company of Jesus; to which the Franciscans replied, that they had entered Japan not as ecclesiastics, but as envoys from the governor of Manila; and that being there without any violation of the bull, nobody had any right to prevent them from exercising their ecclesiastical functions,—a piece of casuistry which not even a Jesuit could have outdone. Very soon, however, the governor of Nagasaki closed the church of the Franciscans, and, before long, an edict appeared threatening the punishment of death to all who frequented the convent and church at Miyako,—procedures which the Franciscans were uncharitable enough to ascribe to the intrigues of the Jesuits. It seems probable, however, that decisive steps would still earlier have been taken against these over-zealous Franciscans, had not the emperor’s attention been engrossed by other more pressing matters. He had conceived a jealousy against his nephew and colleague, whom, by slow and cautious steps, he stripped of all his authority, sending him at length to a monastery of bonzes, where he soon received an order to cut himself open. The thirty-one wives of the deposed prince, with all their children, were publicly beheaded, and all his closest adherents shared his disgrace, and many of them his tragical fate.[59] An infant[Pg 150] son, by name Hideyori, borne to the emperor from his new wife [Yodo-gimi by name], and to whom he desired to secure the succession, was the innocent cause of these cruelties. No sooner was the nephew out of the way than that infant received from the Dairi the title of Kwambacudono.

[Pg 151]


Great Earthquake—Mission from China—Arrival of a Spanish Galleon—Friars on Board her—New Accusations on her Account against the Jesuits—Connection of the Jesuits with the Trade to Japan—Arrest of Missionaries and Converts—First Martyrs—A. D. 1595-1597.

The emperor, now at the height of his power and glory, was making great preparations to receive an embassy from China, when Japan was visited by a frightful earthquake, which almost ruined his new city of Fushimi. The sea rose to an extraordinary height, especially in the strait between Nippon and Shikoku, attended with a terrible destruction of life and property. Nor did the mission from China at all answer the expectation of the emperor, since the ambassadors demanded nothing less than the entire evacuation of Corea,—a demand which speedily led to a renewal of the war.

In 1596, a richly laden Spanish galleon, from the Philippines, disabled and driven by adverse winds to the coast of Japan, was induced, partly by persuasions and partly by a show of force, to enter a harbor on the south coast of Shikoku, where she was immediately seized by the local authorities as forfeited. The commander of the vessel sent two of his officers to Miyako to solicit a remission of this forfeiture, which mission was charged to have nothing to do with the Jesuits, but to consult only with the Franciscans established in that city. It had, however, no success. The prize seemed to the emperor too valuable to be given up. Driven at[Pg 152] length by extremity to seek the aid of the Jesuits, the ship’s company, after being for some time supported by their charity, were shipped off by their assistance to Manila, all except four Augustine friars, a Dominican and two Franciscans, who remained in Japan as missionaries. But, instead of getting any thanks from the inhabitants of Manila, the Jesuits were accused of having by their intrigues caused the forfeiture of the ship and her cargo.[60]

A narrative of the affair, written by a monk, and full of charges against the Jesuits, was printed there, and sent to Spanish America, whence it was carried to Europe, and widely diffused by the enemies of the order, being soon followed by violent memorials to the same effect, addressed to the Pope and the king of Spain. These charges, however, did not remain unanswered, a reply to them being published at Acapulco, signed by a number of Japanese who traded thither,[61][Pg 153] and by several Spaniards and Portuguese who had been in Japan.

It was the Manila pamphlet above referred to which first brought against the Jesuits the charges, ultimately so damaging to the order, of an uncanonical connection with commerce. The account of this trade, so far as Japan was concerned, as given by the Jesuits themselves, is as follows. The revenues of the mission had consisted at first only of the charities of some individuals, aided by a sum of five hundred ducats, paid yearly at Macao by the king of Portugal—a donation doubled in 1574, to facilitate the foundation of a college. Some considerable amounts had been received at different times from the wealthier native converts; but almost the whole of these sums had been expended in the founding and support of hospitals and other charities. For several years the chief resource of the fathers for their own support had been the proceeds of a fund of four thousand ducats, which Louis Almeida, on entering the order in 1556, and devoting himself to the Japanese mission, as mentioned in a former chapter, had set aside for that purpose out of his own private fortune, all the rest of which he had bestowed in the founding of hospitals. This fund had been entrusted by Almeida to certain Portuguese merchants to trade upon for the benefit of the Jesuits. But, though this trust had been faithfully executed, the proceeds of it had been quite too small to support the increasing number of the missionaries. Some small pensions, allowed them by the Popes Gregory XIII and Sixtus V, failed to make up the deficiency; and, at length, it was agreed by the commercial company at Macao, by whom the annual Portuguese carac was fitted out for Japan, and by[Pg 154] means of which the chief trade between Japan and the Portuguese was now carried on, that out of the sixteen hundred packages of silks, which formed a part of her cargo, fifty (afterwards increased to eighty) packages should be shipped on account of the Jesuits,—an arrangement to which the viceroy of the Indies assented. For this business two commercial agencies were maintained by the Jesuits,—one at Macao, the other at Nagasaki. The enemies of the Jesuits insisted that they sent to Japan yearly goods to the value of a hundred and sixty thousand ducats, on which their profits were sixty thousand. This was probably exaggerated; yet, when Charlevoix pretends that the whole annual Portuguese trade and profits did not amount to those sums, his statement is refuted as well by other known facts as by the vastly larger value of the cargoes of such of the annual caracs as some years later fell into the hands of the Dutch.

While the unlucky affair of the forfeited Spanish galleon caused Europe to resound with accusations against the Jesuits, in Japan itself it had results more speedily and more fatal. The Spanish pilot, finding that entreaties did not succeed, had attempted to make an impression upon those who had seized the ship by expatiating on the power of the king of Spain, the extent of whose dominions in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, he exhibited on a map of the world. To the inquiry how such an extent of dominion had been obtained, the pilot replied that nothing was easier; that the king began by sending missionaries into the countries he wished to conquer, who, as soon as they had converted a part of the inhabitants, were followed by troops, which troops, being joined by the converts,[Pg 155] easily succeeded in subduing the country. This statement, it is said, was immediately reported to the emperor, who no sooner heard it than he ordered guards to be placed at the doors of the Franciscan converts at Miyako and Ōsaka, at which latter city, since the earthquake, the emperor had made his residence. Guards were also placed at the houses of the Jesuits; but in that at Ōsaka there was only one young priest with two proselytes, and in that at Miyako only the aged Father Gnecchi, who soon, through the dexterity of some of his friends, was conveyed out of it unobserved by the guards. There were taken in the convents of the Franciscans three priests, a clerk, and two lay brothers, one of them a Spanish creole of Mexico, the other a Portuguese creole of the East Indies. A list was also ordered to be taken of the persons who frequented the Franciscan churches at Miyako and Ōsaka. A great many names were originally placed on it, but the governor of Miyako, desirous to limit as much as possible the number of victims, finally struck off all but fifteen, who also were put under arrest.

On the 3d of January, 1597, these twenty-four prisoners were taken to a public square in Miyako, where each of them had the tip of his left ear cut off, after which they were placed in carriages and paraded through the streets. A similar ceremony soon after took place in Sakai and Ōsaka, whence the prisoners were sent to Nagasaki to be executed. At all the towns and cities on the way they were made a spectacle of, as if to terrify those of the same faith. But they exhibited, we are told, great fervor and firmness, making many new converts and inspiring many old ones with the desire of martyrdom. On the way their[Pg 156] number was increased to twenty-six by the addition of two others who had greatly busied themselves in ministering to the wants of the prisoners, and who, upon being asked if they were Catholics, replied that they detested the gods of Japan.

Fortunately for himself, Terazawa, the secretly converted governor of Nagasaki, had been ordered to Corea, his place being supplied by a pagan brother of his, by whom an edict was issued threatening with death all who should embrace the foreign religion. At the same time he intimated to the Jesuits that he should allow no Japanese to enter their church in that city, nor themselves to traverse the country, as they had done, preaching and baptizing. He exhibited, however, every disposition to be as indulgent as possible in the execution of his orders; for though the prisoners were denied the privilege of hearing mass, they were permitted on their way to the place of execution to stop at the hermitage of St. Lazarus, where the Jesuits confessed to Father Rodriguez and another of their order, who met them there, and the Franciscans to each other.

The place of execution was not that made use of for ordinary malefactors, but a hill bordering on the sea, one of those by which the city of Nagasaki is surrounded, and thenceforth known among the converts as the Holy Mountain, or Mount of Martyrs, to which name it gained still further claim by becoming the scene of many subsequent executions, continuing also, as long as the new religion lasted in Japan, a place of pilgrimage for its adherents. The prisoners were followed to this hill by an excited crowd, who, with tears and benedictions, besought their prayers. They were put to death by crucifixion, which, however, according to the[Pg 157] Japanese method, is not a lingering punishment. The sufferer is bound, not nailed, to the cross, and his body is immediately pierced by a lance, or sometimes by two lances, thrust in at the sides, and coming out at the shoulders.

The earth, wet with the martyr’s precious blood, was sedulously gathered up by the bystanders, and, in spite of the care with which the bodies were guarded, those of the three Jesuits were conveyed away to Macao; or, at least, bodies alleged to be the same were preserved in the churches there with great veneration as relics. Many miracles were alleged to have attended and followed the death of these martyrs, as to which duly authenticated affidavits may be found recorded in the great collection of Bolandus, affording grounds for the canonization of these twenty-six Japanese proto-martyrs, decreed, thirty years after, by Pope Urban VIII.

[Pg 158]


New Edict for the Deportation of the Jesuits—Its Partial Evasion—New Correspondence between the Philippines and Japan—Taikō-Sama’s Justification of his Recent Proceedings—New Destruction of Churches in Shimo—Taikō-Sama’s Death—His Preceding Efforts to secure his own Deification and the Succession of his Infant Son Hideyori—Regency—Iyeyasu, its Head, with the Title of Daifu-Sama—A. D. 1597-1599.

Even a more serious blow than the execution of the first martyrs, which seems rather to have warmed than to have cooled the zeal of the converted Japanese, was an order from the emperor to the governor of Nagasaki to collect all the missionaries, and to ship them off to China, except only his interpreter, Rodriguez, and two or three other Jesuits, who might be permitted to remain at Nagasaki for the benefit of the Portuguese traders.

There were still in Japan as many as a hundred and twenty-five members of the Company, of whom forty-six were priests. To blind the emperor by an apparent submission to his will, it was agreed that the newly arrived bishop of Japan (the fourth appointed to this diocese, but the first who had arrived there) should depart in the same vessel in which he had come, especially as he might improve his absence to represent to the viceroy of the Indies the pressing necessities of his diocese. The novitiate, the college in the island of Amakusa,[62] and the[Pg 159] seminary for young nobles hitherto kept on foot in Arima, were all given up, and most of the fathers connected with them set out for Nagasaki. Of the whole number, however, there remained behind eight in the island of Amakusa, twelve in Arima and Ōmura, four in Bungo, and as many more in Hirado and Gotō, while two others passed into Corea; but it was understood that these priests thus left behind, while ministering to the faithful, should avoid doing anything that might draw attention upon them.

The aged Father Gnecchi, with two priests and five or six other Jesuits, remained at Miyako, Father Matthew de Couros being appointed to fill the place of Father Louis Froez, lately deceased, in the office of sending to Rome memoirs for the history of Japan. With these exceptions all the rest of the Jesuits assembled at Nagasaki, making a show of getting ready to depart. Indeed, the poop of a Portuguese vessel, which sailed shortly after, appeared to be full of them; but most of these seeming Jesuits were only Portuguese merchants, dressed for the occasion in the habit of the order; while, to account for the staying behind of any who might happen to be detected in the provinces, it was given out that some had been left because the vessel was not large enough to take all.

Soon after the departure of this vessel, a Spanish gentleman arrived from Manila with presents and a letter to the emperor from a new governor of the Philippines, remonstrating, though in measured terms, against the confiscation of the “San Philip” and the execution of[Pg 160] the Spanish ecclesiastics, several of whom had entered Japan in the character of envoys from his predecessor. The letter requested the bodies of those martyrs, and, for the future, safety and kind treatment to all Spanish vessels driven accidentally to Japan. Taikō-Sama, in reply, justified his proceedings against the missionaries, not only because they had disregarded his repeated orders to leave Japan, but because, insinuating their creed into the minds of his subjects, they designed finally to get possession of the country as the Spaniards had done of Manila. His excuse for the confiscation of the “San Philip” was that she had attempted to enter a port of Japan in violation of law. He refused to give up any part of her cargo, but offered to restore a number of slaves which had belonged to her, at the same time expressing a willingness to consent to a regulated trade with the Spaniards, provided they would promise to bring no priests.

A report that the emperor was about to visit Nagasaki led to the destruction in the adjoining provinces of not less than a hundred and thirty-seven churches and of many houses which had belonged to the Jesuits; and, to appease the authorities, a new embarkation of missionaries became necessary, limited, however, by reason of the smallness of the vessel, to eleven persons.

Himeji Castle
Nagoya Castle
Feudal Strongholds

In the midst of these alarms news arrived that the emperor had been seized with a sudden and violent sickness, apparently a dysentery, which, after two months’ struggles against it, brought him to his end. He died in September, 1598, at the age of sixty-four, retaining his absolute authority to the last. During his latter years two thoughts seem principally to have engrossed him,—the securing divine honors to himself, and the[Pg 161] transmission of his authority to his infant son, Hideyori, not yet above three or four years old. With the first object in view, though really (at least, so the missionaries concluded) without any religion at all, he had rebuilt, in a magnificent manner, many temples and Buddhist monasteries destroyed by Nobunaga, by himself, or by the accidents of war. He also had erected, in a new quarter which he had added to Miyako, a splendid temple, which he caused to be consecrated to himself in the character of the new Hachiman, that being the title of a Kami celebrated for his conquests, and regarded as the god of war.

To secure the succession of his infant son, the expiring emperor established, on his death-bed, a council of regency, composed of nine persons, at the head of which he placed Tokugawa Iyeyasu, king of the Bandō, which, besides the five provinces of the Kwantō, in which were the great cities of Suruga and Yedo, embraced, also, three other kingdoms. Iyeyasu had been king of Mikawa, a more westerly province, which he had lost by adhering to the fortunes of the third son of Nobunaga, he being allied to that family by marriage. But afterwards, by some means, he had recovered the favor of Taikō-Sama, who had even bestowed upon him the newly conquered Bandō, and who, the better to secure his fidelity, had caused his infant son and destined successor to be married to a young granddaughter of Iyeyasu.

The strong castle of Ōsaka had been chosen by Taikō-Sama as the residence of his son during his minority, and there he dwelt with his baby wife, in charge of his mother, while the administration of affairs passed into the hands of Iyeyasu, who, as head of the regency, governed with the title of Daifu-Sama.

[Pg 162]


Evacuation of Corea—Return of the Converted Princes—Favorable Disposition of Daifu-Sama—Third Visit of Father Valignani—Civil War between Daifu-Sama and his Co-regents—His Triumph—Disgrace and Execution of Settsu-no-Kami—Daifu-Sama takes the Title of Ōgosho-Sama and still favors the Converts—Influx of Dominican and Franciscan Friars—Flourishing Condition of the Church—Local Persecutions—A. D. 1599-1609.

The first act of the regency was to put an end to the war in Corea. That country was abandoned,[63] and the return of so many converted princes greatly strengthened the lately suffering church. Father Rodriguez had always been on good terms with Daifu-Sama, with whom he had become acquainted at the court of the late emperor. This head of the regency was even thought to be well disposed to the new religion, and the converted princes, in conjunction with Father Valignani, who, just before the death of Taikō-Sama, had reached Japan for the third time, in company with a new bishop, proceeded gradually and unostentatiously to re-establish the missionaries, to rebuild the churches, and to set up again the college and seminaries, till soon the Catholic faith seemed to be replaced on almost as firm a basis as ever. For a time, indeed, things were thrown into confusion by a civil war which soon broke out between Daifu-Sama and his co-regents. Some of the[Pg 163] Catholic princes lost their provinces as adherents of the defeated party, and among the rest, that distinguished pillar of the church, Konishi Settsu-no-Kami, the grand admiral, king of Higo and conqueror of Corea, who, for his share in this business, perished by the hand of the executioner,—his religious opinions not allowing him to adopt the Japanese alternative of cutting himself open. But the victorious regent, who presently took the title of Ōgosho-Sama, and with it the entire imperial authority (though the boy, Hideyori, still enjoyed the title of Kubō-Sama), showed himself so far favorable to the Jesuits (to the headship of whom Father Francis Pazio had lately succeeded as vice-provincial) as to permit their reëstablishment at Nagasaki, Miyako, and Ōsaka. Yet an edict of his, restraining the missionaries to their ancient seats, and forbidding the accession of new converts, though little regarded, showed the necessity of caution.

Pope Clement VIII, having promulgated a bull in December, 1600, by which all the mendicant orders were allowed to go as missionaries to Japan, provided they proceeded by way of Portugal, and not by the Philippines, Dominican and Franciscan friars took advantage of this favorable disposition of the emperor to enter that empire, the Franciscans reoccupying their old station at Miyako, and setting up a new one at Yedo, where the Jesuits had never been. This was the seat of the emperor’s son, whom, according to the Japanese custom, he had associated with him in the empire. He himself had his residence at Suruga, no great distance to the west. The young Hideyori, the titular Kubō-Sama, still dwelt in the castle of Ōsaka, Miyako being given up exclusively to the Dairi, or ecclesiastical emperor. The prohibition to pass from the Philippines to Japan was little regarded.[Pg 164] As there was no civil arm to enforce it, the friars laughed at the excommunication denounced by the Pope’s bull. The Jesuits, on the other hand, did not submit to this invasion without loud complaints.

In the Tenza, or five provinces[64] nearest to Miyako, and including, also, the cities of Sakai and Ōsaka, the ancient imperial domain, the adherents of the new religion were seldom molested, and the governor of Miyako even built a magnificent church for the Jesuits in the upper city, in addition to one which they already possessed in the lower city. An observatory at Ōsaka had gained additional credit for their religion by displaying their scientific knowledge. A seminary for nobles was reopened at Nagasaki, and, by the special zeal of Father Gnecchi, hospitals for lepers, which had been from the first a favorite charity, were set up at Ōsaka and in several other cities. By the favor of particular princes, Jesuit missionaries even penetrated into the more remote and hitherto unvisited provinces. Persecution, however, still went on within the jurisdiction of several of the local rulers, especially in the island of Shimo; and some of the converted princes, having apostatized, became themselves persecutors. But the bishop, having made a journey to Miyako in 1606, was very favorably received by the Kubō-Sama,—a circumstance not without its influence in all the local courts.

Such was the state of things in Japan when the hold of the Portuguese and the Jesuits upon that country, already shaken by the consolidation of the empire under one head, and by the intrusion of Dominican and Franciscan friars and Spanish merchants and negotiators,[Pg 165] encountered a still more alarming disturbance from the appearance of the Dutch flag in the eastern seas.[65]

Image of Iyeyasu
From Official History of Japan

[Pg 166]


Attempt of the English and Dutch to discover a New Route to the Far East—Voyages round the World—Attempted English Voyage to Japan—English and Dutch Voyages to India—First Dutch Voyage to Japan—Adams, the English Pilot—His Adventures and Detention in Japan[66]—A. D. 1513-1607.

For a full century subsequent to the discovery of the passage to India by the Cape of Good Hope, the commerce of the Indian seas, so far as Europe was concerned, remained almost a complete monopoly in the hands of the Portuguese. The ancient Venetian commerce with India, by the Red Sea, had been speedily brought to an end, while the trade carried on overland, by way of Aleppo and the Persian Gulf, was mainly controlled by the Portuguese, who held possession of Ormus, through which it mostly passed. Nor did the Spanish discovery of another passage to India, by the Straits of Magellan, and the lodgment which the Spaniards made about the year 1570, in the Philippine Islands, very materially interfere with the Portuguese monopoly. The passage by the Straits of Magellan was seldom or never attempted, the Spanish trade being confined to two annual ships between Acapulco and Manila.

It was the desire to share in this East India commerce (which made Lisbon the wealthiest and most populous[Pg 167] city of Europe) that led to so many attempts to discover a northeastern, a northwestern, and even a northern passage to India (directly over the pole), not only as shorter, but as avoiding any collision with the Portuguese and Spanish, who did not hesitate to maintain by force their respective exclusive claims to the passages by the Cape of Good Hope and the Straits of Magellan. These attempts were at first confined to the English, beginning with that made by Sebastian Cabot, on his third and last voyage from England. The Dutch and Belgians were long content to buy Indian merchandise at Lisbon, which they resold in the north of Europe; but after the union of the Spanish and Portuguese dominions, in 1580, and the seizure, which soon followed, of the Dutch ships at Lisbon, and their exclusion from any trade with Portugal, the Dutch began to entertain, even more ardently than the English, the desire of a direct commerce with the far East. Drake, in his voyage round the world (1577-80), outward by the Straits of Magellan and homeward by the Cape of Good Hope, a track in which he was speedily followed by Cavendish (1586-88), led the way to the Indian seas; but the failure of Cavendish in a second attempt to pass the Straits of Magellan, and the capture, A. D. 1594, by Spanish-American cruisers in the Pacific, of Sir Richard Hawkins, a son of the famous Sir John Hawkins, who had attempted a voyage to Japan by the same route, served to keep up the terrors of that passage.

Meanwhile, Captain Lancaster, as early as 1592, accomplished the first English voyage to India by the Cape of Good Hope. After a rather disastrous voyage, he returned in 1594, having been greatly delayed by[Pg 168] his ignorance of the monsoons. A second expedition, destined for China, sailed in 1596, but perished miserably at sea. It is to the Dutch that the credit mainly belongs of first breaking in upon the Portuguese and Spanish monopoly of Indian commerce.[67]

Among other Dutch ship captains and merchants who had been thrown into prison at Lisbon was Cornelius Houtman, who improved that opportunity to acquire, by conversation with Portuguese seamen, a knowledge of the Indian seas; and it was by his persuasion that the merchants of Amsterdam, associating as an East India Company, fitted out, in 1595, eight vessels,—four to renew the experiment of a northeastern passage, and four to proceed to India by the Cape of Good Hope. The voyage of the first four, under the direction of Hugh Linschooten,[67] who had lately returned from Goa, where he had resided six years in the service of the archbishop, resulted in the discovery of Nova Zembla, beyond which neither this expedition nor two subsequent ones were able to proceed. The four other ships, under the charge of Houtman, reached the west coast of Java, and in spite of the arts and opposition of the Portuguese, whom they found established at Bantam, in that island, they opened a trade with the natives, not without an occasional intermixture of hostilities, in which they lost more than half their numbers, besides being obliged to abandon and burn one of their vessels. The other three ships returned to Holland in 1598. This voyage had not been profitable; yet the actual commencement of the long-desired Indian traffic greatly stimulated the hopes of the merchants, and that same year not less than four distinct India squadrons were[Pg 169] fitted out,—one of two vessels, under Houtman; another, under Jacques Mahay, of five vessels, known as Verhagen’s fleet, from the chief promoter of the enterprise; a third, of three vessels, under Oliver Noort; and a fourth, of not less than eight vessels, set forth by a new East India association, including not only the merchants of Amsterdam, but those of the other cities of the province of Holland, rudiment of the afterwards so celebrated Dutch East India Company. The first and last of these expeditions proceeded by the Cape of Good Hope. The other two were to attempt the passage by the Straits of Magellan.

The Dutch merchants were at this time much richer than those of England, and for these enterprises of theirs to India they obtained the assistance of quite a number of adventurous Englishmen. Houtman had an English pilot named Davis; Noort carried, in the same capacity, Thomas Melis, who had made the voyage round the world with Cavendish. The fleet of Mahay had two English pilots, William Adams and Timothy Shotten, with the former of whom, as being the first Englishman who ever reached Japan, and long a resident there, our narrative has chiefly to do.

Born, according to his own account, on the banks of the Medway, between Rochester and Chatham, Adams, at the age of twelve, had commenced a seafaring life, apprentice to Master Nicholas Diggins, of Limehouse, near London, whom he served for twelve years. He acted afterward as master and pilot in her Majesty’s (Queen Elizabeth’s) ships. Then for eleven or twelve years he was employed by the worshipful company of the Barbary merchants. The Dutch traffic with India beginning, desirous, as he tells us, “to make a little[Pg 170] experience of the small knowledge which God had given him,” he was induced to enter that service.

Mahay’s squadron, in which Adams sailed as chief pilot, consisted of the “Hope,” of two hundred and fifty tons and one hundred and thirty men, the “Faith,” of one hundred and fifty tons and one hundred and nine men, the “Charity,” of one hundred and sixty tons and one hundred and ten men, the “Fidelity,” of one hundred tons and eighty-six men, and the “Good News,” of seventy-five tons and fifty-six men; but these names of good omen did not save these small and overcrowded vessels from a succession of disasters, too common in the maritime enterprises of those days. They left the Texel the 24th of June, and on the 21st of August reached the Cape Verde Islands, where they remained twenty-one days to refresh the men, of whom many were sick with scurvy, including Mahay, their chief commander, who died soon after they had recommenced their voyage. Encountering contrary winds and heavy rains, they were forced to the coast of Guinea, and landed on Cape Gonsalves, just south of the line. The sick were set on shore, and soon after a French sailor came aboard, who promised to do them all favor with the negro king. The country could furnish very few supplies; and as the sick recovered from the scurvy, those hitherto well began to suffer from fever.

In this state of distress they set sail for the coast of Brazil; but falling in soon after with the island of Annabon, in the Gulf of Guinea, they landed, took the town, which contained eighty houses, and obtained a supply of oxen, and of oranges and other fruits; but still the men continued to die, of whom they buried more than thirty on this island.

[Pg 171]

Two months were thus spent on the African coast. The ships, setting sail again about the middle of November, were greatly delayed by one of the vessels losing her mainmast, and it was five months before they reached the Straits of Magellan, the crews during most of that time on short allowance, and driven to such extremity as to eat the calf-skins with which the ropes were covered.

Having entered the straits the beginning of April, 1599, they obtained a good supply of penguins for food; but the commander stopping to wood and water, they were overtaken by the winter then just setting in, during which they lost more than a hundred men by cold and hunger, and were thus detained—though, according to Adams, there were many times when they might have gone through—till the 24th of September, when at last they entered the South Sea.

A few days after, they encountered a violent storm, by which the ships were separated. Captain Wert, with the “Faith” and “Fidelity,” was driven back into the straits, where he fell in with Oliver Noort, who had left Holland a few days after the Verhagen fleet, had followed in the same track, had encountered many of the same difficulties, but who, more fortunate, not only passed the strait, but succeeded in completing the fourth circumnavigation of the globe,—a feat accomplished before his voyage only by the ships of Magellan, Drake, and Cavendish. As Noort was unable to afford him any aid, Wert abandoned the enterprise, and returned with his two ships to Holland.

The other three ships steered separately for the coast of Chili, where a rendezvous, in the latitude of forty-six degrees, had been appointed. The “Charity,” in which Adams was, on reaching the place of rendezvous found[Pg 172] some Indian inhabitants, who at first furnished sheep in exchange for bells and knives, with which they seemed well satisfied, but who shortly after disappeared, probably through Spanish influence. Having waited twenty-eight days, and hearing nothing of her consorts, the “Charity” ran by Valdivia to the island of Mocha, and thence toward the neighboring island of Santa Maria. Seeing on the mainland near by a number of people, boats were sent for a parley; but the people would suffer none to land from the boats, at which they shot a multitude of arrows. “Nevertheless,” says Adams, “having no victuals in our ship, and hoping to find refreshing, we forcibly landed some seven-and-twenty or thirty of our men, and drove the wild people from the water-side, having the most of our men hurt with their arrows. Having landed, we made signs of friendship, and in the end came to parley, with signs that our desire was to have victuals for iron, silver, and cloth, which we showed them. Whereupon they gave our folks wine, with batatas (sweet potatoes) and other fruits, and bade them, by signs and tokens, to go aboard, and the next day to come again, and they would bring us victuals.”

The next day, after a council, in which it was resolved not to land more than two or three men at once, the captain approached the shore with all the force he had. Great numbers of people were seen, who made signs for the boats to land; and in the end, as the people would not come near the boats, twenty-three men landed with muskets, and marched up toward four or five houses; but before they had gone the distance of a musket-shot they found themselves in an ambush, and the whole, including Thomas Adams, a brother of William, the chief pilot, were slain or taken. “So our boats waited long,”[Pg 173] says Adams, “to see if any of them would come again; but seeing no hope to recover them, our boats returned, with this sorrowful news, that all our men that landed were slain, which was a lamentable thing to hear, for we had scarce so many men left as could wind up our anchor.”

After waiting a day longer, they went over to the neighboring island of Santa Maria, where they found the “Hope,” which had just arrived, but in as great distress as themselves, having, at the island of Mocha, the day before the “Charity” had passed there, lost their commander and twenty-seven men in an attempt to land to obtain provisions. Some provisions were finally got by detaining two Spaniards, who came to visit the ships, and requiring them to pay a ransom in sheep and oxen. It was proposed to burn one of the ships, as there were not men enough for both; but the new captains, of whom the one in command of the “Charity” was named Quackernack, could not agree which of the ships to burn.

At length, the men being somewhat refreshed, a council was called to consider what should be done to make the voyage as profitable as possible to the merchants. It was stated by one of the sailors, who had been to Japan in a Portuguese ship, that woollen cloth, of which they had much on board, was good merchandise there; and considering that the Moluccas, and most parts of the East Indies, were not countries in which woollen cloths would be likely to be very acceptable; hearing also from the people on shore that Spanish cruisers were after them,—by whom, in fact, their third vessel was captured, news of their intentions and force having been sent from Spain to Peru about the time of their departure from Holland,—it was finally resolved to stand[Pg 174] away for Japan. Leaving the coast of Chili on the 27th of November, and standing northwesterly across the equator for three or four months, they had the trade-wind and pleasant weather. In their way they encountered a group of islands somewhere about sixteen degrees of north latitude (perhaps the Sandwich Islands), to which eight of their men ran off with the pinnace, and were eaten, as was supposed, by the islanders, who, by the report of one who was taken, were cannibals.

In the latitude of twenty-seven degrees north, the vessels, encountering variable winds and stormy weather, were separated. The “Hope” was never more heard of; the “Charity” still kept on her course, though with many of her men sick and others dead, when, on the 11th of April, being then in great misery, with only four or five men out of a company of four-and-twenty able to walk, and as many more to creep on their knees, the whole expecting shortly to die, at last they made the hoped-for land, which proved to be the eastern coast of Shimo. They were immediately boarded by numerous boats, which they had no force to resist; but the boatmen offered no injury beyond stealing what they could conveniently lay their hands on. This, however, was put a stop to the next day by the governor of the neighboring district, who sent soldiers on board to protect the cargo, and who treated the crew with great kindness, furnishing them with all necessary refreshments, and giving them a house on shore for their sick, of whom nine finally died.

For some days the only conversation was by signs; but before long a Portuguese Jesuit, with some other Portuguese, arrived from Nagasaki, on the opposite western coast of the island.

[Pg 175]

The Dutch now had an interpreter; but, what with religious and what with national antipathies, little was to be hoped from a Jesuit and a Portuguese. In fact, the Portuguese accused them of being pirates, and two of their own company, in hopes to get control of the cargo, turned traitors, and plotted with the Portuguese. After nine days the emperor [Iyeyasu] sent five galleys, in which Adams, attended by one of the sailors, was conveyed to Ōsaka, distant about eighty leagues. Here he found the emperor, “in a wonderful costly house, gilded with gold in abundance,” who, in several interviews, treated him with great kindness, and was very inquisitive as to his country and the cause of his coming. Adams replied that the English were a people who had long sought out the East Indies, desiring friendship, in the way of trade, with all kings and potentates, and having in their country divers commodities which might be exchanged to mutual advantage. The emperor then inquired if the people of Adams’ country had no wars. He answered that they had with the Spanish and Portuguese, but were at peace with all other nations. He also inquired as to Adams’ religious opinions, and the way in which he got to Japan; but when Adams, by way of answer, exhibited a chart of the world, and pointed out the passage through the Straits of Magellan, he showed plain signs of incredulity.

Notwithstanding this friendly reception, Adams was ordered back to prison, where he was kept for nine-and-thirty days, expecting, though well treated, to be crucified, which he learned was the customary mode of execution in that country.

In fact, as he afterwards discovered, the Portuguese were employing this interval in poisoning the minds of[Pg 176] the natives against these new-comers, whom they represented as thieves and common sea-robbers, whom it was necessary to put to death to prevent any more of their freebooting countrymen from coming, to the ruin of the Japanese trade. But at length the emperor gave this answer: that, as these strangers had as yet done no damage to him nor to any of his people, it would be against reason and justice to put them to death; and, sending again for Adams, after another long conversation and numerous inquiries, he set him at liberty, and gave him leave to visit the ship and his companions, of whom, in the interval, he had heard nothing. He found them close by, the ship having in the interval been brought to Sakai, within seven or eight miles of Ōsaka. The men had suffered nothing, but the ship had been completely stripped, her whole company being thus left with only the clothes on their backs. The emperor, indeed, ordered restitution; but the plundered articles were so dispersed and concealed that nothing could be recovered, except fifty thousand rials in silver (five thousand dollars), which had formed a part of the cargo, and which was given up to the officers as a fund for their support and that of the men. Afterward the ship was taken still eastward to a port near Yedo. All means were used to get her clear, with leave to depart, in which suit a considerable part of the money was spent; till, at the end of two years, the men refusing any longer to obey Adams and the master, the remaining money was, “for quietness’ sake,” divided, and each was left to shift for himself. The emperor, however, added an allowance to each man of two pounds of rice a day, besides an annual pension in money amounting to about twenty-four dollars. In Adams’ case this pension was afterward raised to one hundred and forty[Pg 177] dollars, as a reward for having built two ships for the emperor on the European model. Adams’ knowledge of mathematics also proved serviceable to him, and he was soon in such favor as to be able, according to his own account, to return good for evil to several of his former maligners. The emperor acknowledged his services, and endeavored to content him by giving him “a living like unto a lordship in England, with eighty or ninety husbandmen as his servants and slaves”; but he still pined for home, and importuned for leave to depart, desiring, as he says, “to see his poor wife and children, according to conscience and nature.” This suit he again renewed, upon hearing from some Japanese traders that Dutch merchants had established themselves at Acheen in Sumatra, and Patania on the east coast of Malacca. He promised to bring both the Dutch and English to trade in Japan; but all he could obtain was leave for the Dutch captain and another Dutchman to depart. This they presently did, for Patania, in a Japanese junk, furnished by the king or prince of Hirado, whence they proceeded to Jor, at the southern end of the peninsula of Malacca, where they found a Dutch fleet of nine sail. In this fleet the Dutch captain obtained an appointment as master, but was soon after killed in a sea-fight with the Portuguese, with whom the Dutch were, by this time, vigorously and successfully contending for the mastership[Pg 178] of the eastern seas.[68]

[Pg 179]


Spanish Friars in Japan—Extension of Japanese Trade—Progress of the Dutch in the Eastern Seas—They open a Trade with Japan—Emperor’s Letter—Shipwreck of Don Rodrigo de Vivero on the Japanese Coast—His Reception, Observations, and Departure—Destruction of a Portuguese Carac by the Japanese—Another Dutch Ship arrives—Spex’s Charter—Embassies from Macao and New Spain—Father Louis Sotelo and his Projects—A. D. 1607-1618.

The Dutch and English, though they had not yet reached Japan, were already, especially the Dutch, making great progress in the Indian seas; but it was not by them alone that the Portuguese monopoly of Japanese commerce and Japanese conversion was threatened.

Taking advantage of the bull of Clement VII, already referred to, a multitude of Spanish friars from Manila poured into Japan, whose first and chief business it was, according to the Jesuit letter-writers and historians, to declaim with vehemence against the conduct of the fathers of the company, whom they represented as altogether too circumspect, reserved, and timid in the publication of the gospel. The fanaticism of these Spanish friars was excessive, in illustration of which the Jesuit historians relate, with malicious satisfaction, the following story: One of them, in a dispute with one of the shipwrecked Hollanders of Adams’ company (perhaps with Adams himself), to sustain the authority of the Catholic church, appealed to its miraculous power, and when this obstinate Dutch heretic questioned the reality[Pg 180] of any such power, and challenged an exhibition of it, the fanatical missionary undertook to convince him by walking himself on the sea. A day was appointed for the miracle. The Spaniard prepared himself by confession, prayer, and fasting. A crowd of Japanese assembled to see it, and the friar, after a confident exhortation to the multitude, stepped, crucifix in hand, into the water, certain of being buoyed up by faith and providence. But he was soon floundering over his head, and was only saved from drowning by some boats sent to his assistance; nor did this experiment add much either to the faith of the Dutchman or to the docility of the Japanese. About this same time, also, the institution of parish priests was introduced; but this, like the admission of friars, led only to new disputes and collisions.

The merchants of Manila, no less than the monks, still looked with longing eyes in the direction of Japan, anxious to share in its commerce; and Don Rodrigo de Vivero, upon his accession to that government, by way of conciliation discharged from confinement and sent home some two hundred Japanese, whom he found imprisoned there, either by way of retaliation for the confiscation of the “San Philip” and the execution of the Spanish missionaries, or for some other cause.

Besides these European rivals, a dangerous competition in the way of trade seems to have been threatened on the part of the Japanese themselves, who appear to have been much more adventurous at this time, whether in point of navigation or the visiting of foreign countries, than the present jealous policy of their government permits. Japanese vessels frequented Manila for the purchase of rich China silks, which formed the chief article of export from Macao to Japan, the policy of[Pg 181] China and the relations of Japan towards her not allowing a direct trade. Japanese vessels appeared even in the Pacific Spanish-American ports. It is to this period that the Japanese ascribe the conquest by the king of Satsuma of the Lew Chew Islands; and Macao, Siam, and Annam are enumerated, on Japanese authority, as additional places to which Japanese vessels traded.[69]

The Portuguese seem, on the other hand, to have had little left of that courage and spirit by which their forefathers of the preceding century had been so distinguished. The Dutch cruisers in the East Indies proved a great annoyance to them. In 1603 they blockaded Goa, and the same year Hemkirk took the carac of Macao, a prize of fourteen hundred tons, and valued, with her cargo, at several millions of florins. When the Dutch, under Matelief, attacked Malacca, in 1606, the Portuguese were greatly indebted to a small body of Japanese, who formed a part of the garrison, for their success in repelling the assault. On the other hand, in 1608 a large number of Japanese, obliged to winter at Macao, got into collision with the Portuguese authorities of that city, who suspected them of a design to seize the place, and who, in consequence, put a number of them to death. During this and the two preceding years the annual Portuguese carac had been prevented from sailing from Macao by fear of Dutch cruisers; and, with the effect of this interruption of intercourse and of the bad feeling produced by the collision at Macao, still other circumstances coöperated to endanger the Portuguese ascendency.

[Pg 182]

The first was the arrival at Hirado, in July, 1609, of the Dutch vessel, the “Red Lion,” attended by the yacht “Griffon.” They belonged to the fleet of Verhœven, who had left Holland December 12, 1607, with thirteen ships (of which several were of a thousand tons burden), nineteen hundred men, and three hundred and seventy-seven pieces of artillery. The Portuguese fleet, which sailed about the same time from Lisbon, to take out a new viceroy to Goa, was composed of eight great caracs and six galleons. This fleet was scattered by a storm off the Canaries, and one of the galleons, mounting ten cannon, and with one hundred and eighty men, fell into Verhœven’s hands. He had previously made an unsuccessful attack on Mozambique; but had taken, however, in the harbor a carac, mounting thirty-four guns and loaded with merchandise. Off Goa another carac was burned by the Portuguese, to prevent its falling into the hands of the Dutch, who proceeded to Calicut, where a treaty of alliance against the Portuguese was entered into with the king. The Dutch then proceeded by Cochin to Johor, on the peninsula of Malacca (whence the two ships were despatched to Japan) and finally to Bantam and the Moluccas, where the Dutch expected that a truce with Spain, announced by a ship late from Holland, would enable them to devote all their strength to guard against the English, who were also aiming at an establishment in those islands.

Temple of Hideyoshi, Kyōtō

The ships detached from Johor, equally equipped for trading and for fighting, as were all the Indiamen of that period, having missed, by being a few days too late, the carac of Macao, proceeded to carry out their instructions for opening a commercial intercourse with Japan. They were very kindly received at Hirado, whence they sent a[Pg 183] deputation to the emperor’s court, with presents, in the name of the Stadtholder, and were successful in obtaining leave to establish a factory at Hirado, for the supply of which with goods the Dutch were to send a ship or two yearly. The “Red Lion,” arriving in the Texel, July, 1610, carried back the following letter:


“I, emperor and king of Japan, wish to the king of Holland [prince of Orange] who hath sent from so far countries to visit me, greeting.

“I rejoice greatly in your writing and sending unto me, and wish that our countries were nearer the one to the other, whereby we might continue and increase the friendship begun betwixt us, through your presence, whom I imagine in earnest to see; in respect I am unknown unto your majesty, and that your love towards me is manifested through your liberality in honoring me with four presents, whereof, though I had no need, yet, coming in your name, I received them in great worth, and hold them in good esteem.

“And further, whereas the Hollanders, your majesty’s subjects, desire to trade with their shipping in my country (which is of little value and small), and to traffic with my subjects, and desire to have their abiding near unto my court, whereby in person I might help and assist them, which cannot be as now, through the inconvenience of the country; yet, notwithstanding, I will not neglect, as already I have been, to be careful of them, and to give in charge to all my governors and subjects that, in what places and havens, in what port soever they shall arrive, they shall show them all favor and friendships to their persons, ships, and merchandise; wherein your majesty or your subjects need not to doubt or[Pg 184] fear aught to the contrary. For they may come as freely as if they came into your majesty’s own havens and countries, and so may remain in my country to trade. And the friendship begun between me and my subjects with you shall never be impaired on my behalf, but augmented and increased.

“I am partly ashamed that your majesty (whose name and renown through your valorous deeds is spread through the whole world) should cause your subjects to come from so far countries into a country so unfitting as this is, to visit me, and to offer unto me such friendships as I have not deserved. But considering that your affection hath been the cause thereof, I could not but friendly entertain your subjects, and yield to their requests, whereof this shall serve for a testimony; that they in all places, countries, and islands under mine obedience, may trade, and traffic, and build houses serviceable and needful for their trade and merchandises, where they may trade without any hindrance at their pleasure, as well in time to come as for the present, so that no man shall do them any wrong. And I will maintain and defend them as mine own subjects.

“I promise, likewise, that the persons whom I understand shall be left here, shall now and at all times be held as recommended unto me, and in all things to favor them, whereby your majesty shall find us as your friends and neighbors.

“For other matters passed between me and your majesty’s servants, which would be too long here to repeat, I refer myself unto them.”[70]

The Dutch were greatly indebted for their success to Matsuura Hōin, king of Hirado, who interested himself greatly in the establishment of a Dutch factory in his[Pg 185] island. In fact, it had been at his expense that the two Dutchmen, shipmates of Adams, had some years before been sent to Patania upon their promise to induce their countrymen to open a trade to Japan. In addition to this outlay, which had amounted to fifteen hundred taels, he had furnished the Dutch belonging to the two recently arrived vessels with a galley manned with fifty-six rowers, for their visit to court, of which they had the use for two months; and he had, besides, accommodated them by purchasing all their pepper and silk, the latter article at a considerable loss to himself.

Some time previous to the arrival of these Dutch ships, in the autumn of 1608, Don Rodrigo de Vivero, the late governor of Manila, returning to New Spain in the galleon the “St. Francis,” was wrecked on the southeast coast of Nippon.[71] At first it was not known what land it was, but a Japanese Catholic on board soon recognized it. The crew, who had escaped to the shore, proceeded to a neighboring village, the people of which evinced much compassion for them, the women even shedding tears. They gave them clothing and food (consisting of rice, pulse, and a little fish), and sent word to the Tono, or lord of the district, who issued orders that they should be well treated, but not suffered to remove.

They were soon visited by the Tono, who came in great pomp, preceded by three hundred men; some bearing banners, others armed with lances, matchlocks, and halberts. He saluted Don Rodrigo with much politeness, by a motion of his head and hand, and placed him on his left, that being considered the place of honor among the Japanese, because the swords are worn on that side.[Pg 186] He made Don Rodrigo several presents, and took upon himself the subsistence of the party, allowing two Spanish officers to proceed to the emperor’s court, to communicate to him and to his son and, according to the Japanese custom, colleague, the details of the case.

Yedo, where the emperor’s son resided, was about forty leagues distant, and Suruga, where the emperor held his court, still forty leagues further. The messengers returned in twenty-four days, with an officer of the prince, charged with a message of condolence from the emperor, and leave to visit their courts. All the property that could be saved from the wreck was given up to the Spaniards.

The first place on their route was a town of ten or twelve thousand inhabitants. The Tono took Don Rodrigo to his castle, situated on a height, and surrounded by a ditch fifty feet deep, passed by a drawbridge. The gates were of iron; the walls of solid masonry, eighteen feet high, and the same in thickness. Near the first gate stood a hundred musketeers, and between that and the second gate, which opened through a second wall, were houses, gardens, orchards, and rice-fields. The dwelling rooms were of wood, exquisitely finished and adorned with a profusion of gold, silver, varnish, etc.

All the way to Yedo the density of the population greatly surprised the Spaniards, who were everywhere well lodged and entertained. They entered that city amid such a crowd, that the officers of police had to force a way for them,—and yet the streets were very broad. Such crowds collected about the house which the prince had ordered to be prepared for them, that they had no rest; till at last a guard was placed about[Pg 187] it, and a tablet set up, prohibiting the populace from molesting them. Of the city Rodrigo gives this description: “Yedo contains seven hundred thousand inhabitants, and is traversed by a considerable river which is navigable by vessels of moderate size. By this river, which divides in the interior into several branches, the inhabitants are supplied with provisions and necessaries, which are so cheap that a man may live comfortably for a rial (five cents) a day. The Japanese do not make much wheaten bread, though what they do make is excellent. The streets and squares of Yedo are very handsome, clean, and well kept. The houses are of wood, and mostly of two stories. The exterior is less imposing than with us, but they are far handsomer and more comfortable within. Towards the street the houses have covered galleries, and each street is occupied by persons of the same calling; carpenters in one, jewellers in another, tailors in another, including many trades unknown in Europe. The merchants and traders dwell together in the same way. Provisions also are sold in places appointed for each sort. I observed a market where game was sold; there was a great supply of rabbits, hares, wild boars, deer, and other animals which I never saw before. The Japanese rarely eat any flesh but that of game, which they hunt. The fish market, very extensive and extremely neat and clean, affords a great variety of fish, sea and river, fresh and salt; and there were large tubs containing live fish. Adjoining the inns are places where they let and sell horses, and these places are so numerous, that the traveller, who, according to custom, changes his horse every league, is only embarrassed where to choose. The nobles and great men inhabit a distant part of the city, and their[Pg 188] quarter is distinguished by the armorial ornaments, sculptured, painted, or gilt, placed over the doors of the houses,—a privilege to which the Japanese nobles attach great value. The political authority is vested in a governor, who is chief of the magistracy, civil and military. In each street resides a magistrate who takes cognizance, in the first instance, of all cases, civil and criminal, submitting the more difficult to the governor. The streets are closed at each end by a gate, which is shut at nightfall. At each gate is placed a guard of soldiers, with sentinels at intervals; so that, if a crime is committed, notice is conveyed instantly to each end of the street, and, the gates being closed, it rarely happens that the offender escapes. This description is applicable to all the other cities in the kingdom.”

After an interval of two days, the prince sent his secretary, whose name was Honda Kōzuke-no-Suke, to invite Don Rodrigo to visit him. The palace he describes as enclosed by a wall of immense blocks of freestone, put together without cement, with embrasures, at equal distances, well furnished with artillery. At the foot of this wall was a deep wet ditch, crossed by a drawbridge of a peculiar and very ingenious construction. Don Rodrigo passed through two ranks of musketeers, about one thousand in number, to the second wall, distant from the first three hundred paces. At the gate four hundred lancers and pikemen were stationed. A third wall, about twelve feet high, was guarded by three hundred halberdiers. Within was the palace, with the royal stables on one side, containing three hundred horses, and on the other an arsenal with arms for one hundred thousand men. Rodrigo affirms that from the entrance to the palace were more than twenty thousand men, not[Pg 189] assembled for the occasion, but constantly employed and paid for the daily service of the court.

The first apartment of the palace was entirely covered with rich ornaments, carpets, stuffs, velvet, and gold. The walls were hung with pictures representing hunting subjects. Each apartment exceeded the preceding in splendor, till the further one was reached, in which the prince was seated on a superb carpet of crimson velvet, embroidered with gold, placed upon a kind of platform, raised two steps, in the centre of the apartment. He wore three dresses, one over the other, the exterior one green and yellow; in his girdle were his longer and shorter swords. His hair was tied up with ribbons of different colors, and his head had no other ornament. He was about thirty-five years of age; of a brown complexion, a pleasing figure, and good height. Don Rodrigo was conducted to a seat on the left hand of the prince, who conversed with him on a variety of indifferent subjects.

Four days after, the travellers set off for Suruga, on a visit to the emperor. The road is thus described: “On whatsoever side the traveller turns his eyes, he perceives a concourse of people passing to and fro, as in the most populous cities of Europe. The roads are lined on both sides with superb pine-trees, which keep off the sun. The distances are marked by little eminences planted with two trees.” In the hundred leagues between Suruga and Miyako, several towns were passed, estimated to contain one hundred thousand inhabitants, and a village occurred at every quarter of a league. Rodrigo declares himself so delighted with Japan, that, “if he could have prevailed upon himself to renounce his God and his king, he should have preferred that country to his own.”

[Pg 190]

He estimated Suruga to contain from five to six hundred thousand inhabitants. The climate was more agreeable than that of Yedo, but the city not so handsome. As at Yedo, a convenient residence was provided for him, which the crowd besieged as they had done there. The emperor sent a secretary to compliment him on his arrival, with a present of rich dresses, and in about a week he had his presentation. He was conveyed in an elegant litter to the palace, which was a fortress like that at Yedo. On the whole, there was less display than at the prince’s court, but more marks of power and fear. The interview with the emperor is thus described: “I followed the minister, who conducted me into the presence of the sovereign, whom I saluted. He was in a kind of square box, not very large, but astonishingly rich. It was placed two steps above the floor, and surrounded at four paces’ distance by a gold lattice-work, six feet high, in which were small doors, by which the emperor’s attendants went in and out, as they were called from the crowd, prostrate on their hands and knees around the lattice.[72] The monarch was encircled by nearly twenty grandees, ministers or principal courtiers, in long silk mantles, and trousers of the same material, so long that they entirely concealed the feet. The emperor was seated on a kind of stool, of blue satin, worked with stars and half-moons of silver. In his girdle he wore a sword, and had his hair tied up with ribbons of different colors, but had no other head-dress. His age appeared to be about sixty.[73] He was of the middle stature, and of a very full person.[Pg 191] His countenance was venerable and gracious; his complexion not near so brown as that of the prince.”

As if to magnify the emperor, Don Rodrigo was detained during the introduction of a Tono of high rank, who brought presents in gold, silver, and silk, worth twenty thousand ducats. At a hundred paces from the throne he prostrated himself with his face to the floor, and remained in this posture for several minutes in perfect silence, neither the emperor nor either of the ministers vouchsafing a word. He then retired with his suite, consisting of three thousand persons. After other exhibitions of the same sort, Don Rodrigo, having been directed to make what requests he would, was conducted by two ministers to a third apartment, whence other great officers escorted him out of the palace with all ceremony.

Afterwards he was entertained by Kōzukedono, the prime minister, at a magnificent collation, the host pledging his health in exquisite Japanese wine [sake?] by placing the glass upon his head.[74] The Spaniard presented at this time a memorandum of his requests translated into Japanese. They were three: first, that the royal protection might be granted to Christian priests of different orders who then resided in the empire, and that they might not be molested in the free use and disposal of their houses and churches; secondly, that amity might continue between the emperor and the king of Spain; and, lastly, that, as an evidence of that friendship, the emperor would not permit the Dutch (whose arrival has already been mentioned) to reside in his territories, but would drive them out—since, besides[Pg 192] being enemies of Spain, they were little better than pirates and sea-rovers.

The minister, the next day, after another collation, reported the emperor’s answer, who had remarked, with admiration, that Don Rodrigo, though destitute, had asked nothing for himself, but had regarded only the interests of his religion and his king. The two first requests were granted. As to the expulsion of the Hollanders, that, the emperor said, “will be difficult this year, as they have my royal word for permission to sojourn in Japan; but I am obliged to Don Rodrigo for letting me know what characters they are.” The emperor offered the shipwrecked Spaniard one of the ships of European model, which the pilot Adams had built for him, in which to proceed to New Spain; and he begged him to request King Philip to send to Japan fifty miners, as he understood those of New Spain to be very skilful, whereas those of Japan did not obtain from the ore half the silver it was capable of yielding.

Don Rodrigo soon after set out for Shimo, where he was to take ship. From Suruga to Miyako, estimated at one hundred leagues, the country was mostly level and very fertile. Several considerable rivers were crossed in large ferry-boats by means of a cable stretched from bank to bank. Provisions were very cheap. His idea of the population of the country grew more and more exaggerated. He insists that he did not pass a town of less population than one hundred and fifty thousand; and Miyako, which he considers the largest city in the world, he sets down at one million five hundred thousand.[75] Situated upon a highly cultivated[Pg 193] plain, its walls were ten leagues in circuit, as Don Rodrigo ascertained by riding round them on horseback. It took him an entire day. He enters into a number of details about the Dairi and his court. He was powerless, and lived in splendid poverty. The court of the governor of Miyako, who had six vice-governors under him, was scarcely less splendid than that of the emperor. He told Don Rodrigo that this city contained five thousand temples and more than fifty thousand public women. He showed him a temple, the largest building he had seen in Japan, containing statues of all the gods, and another in which was an immense bronze statue, the size of which filled him with astonishment. “I ordered,” he says, “one of my people to measure the thumb of the right hand; but, although he was a person of the ordinary size, he could not quite encircle it with both arms. But the size of the statue is not its only merit; the feet, hands, mouth, eyes, forehead, and other features are as perfect and expressive as the most accomplished painter could make a portrait. When I first visited this temple it was unfinished; more than one hundred thousand men were daily employed upon it. The devil could not suggest to the emperor a surer expedient to get rid of this immense wealth.”[76]

The temple and tomb of Taikō-Sama, raised since his death to the rank of the gods, is thus described by Rodrigo, who deplores the dedication of such an edifice to one whose “soul is in hell for all eternity.” The[Pg 194] entrance was by an avenue paved with jasper four hundred feet by three hundred. On each side, at equal distances, were posts of jasper, on which were placed lamps lighted at night. At the end of this passage was the peristyle of the temple, ascended by several steps, and having on the right a monastery of priests. The principal gate was encrusted with jasper and overlaid with gold and silver ornaments skilfully wrought. The nave of the temple was supported by lofty columns. There was a choir, as in European cathedrals, with seats and a grating all round. Male and female choristers chanted the prayers, much as in Catholic churches, and the surplices put Rodrigo in mind of the prebends of Toledo. The church was filled with silent devotees. Four of the priests accosted him, and seem to have put him to great uneasiness by conducting him to the altar of their “infamous relics,” surrounded with an infinite number of lamps. After raising five or six curtains, covering as many gratings, first of iron, then of silver, and the last one of gold, a kind of chest was exposed, in which were contained the ashes of Taikō-Sama. Within this enclosure none but the chief priests could enter. All the Japanese prostrated themselves.

Hastening to quit “this accursed spot,” Rodrigo was accompanied by the priests to their gardens, exceeding, he says, those of Aranjuez.

Of the religion of Japan he makes the following observation: “The Japanese, like us, use holy, or rather unholy, water, and chaplets consecrated to their false gods, Shaka [Buddha] and Nido [Amida], which are not the only ones that they worship, for there are no less than thirty-five different sects or religions in Japan. Some deny the immortality of the soul, others adore[Pg 195] divers gods, and others yet the elements. All are tolerated. The bonzes of all the sects having concurred in a request to the emperor that he would expel our monks, the prince, troubled with their importunities, inquired how many different religions there were in Japan. ‘Thirty-five,’was the reply. ‘Well,’said he, ‘where thirty-five sects can be tolerated, we can easily bear with thirty-six;—leave the strangers in peace.’” He estimates the Christians at three hundred thousand,—a much more probable number than the eighteen hundred thousand at which they were reckoned by the missionaries,[77] whose reckoning was the same now that it had been ten years before.

From Miyako Don Rodrigo proceeded to Fushimi, adjoining, where he embarked for Ōsaka, ten leagues down a river, as large as the Guadalquivir at Seville, and full of vessels. Ōsaka, built close to the sea, he reckons to contain one million inhabitants. Here he embarked in a junk for Nagasaki. Not finding his vessel in proper repair, he accepted an invitation from the emperor to return to Suruga, where he renewed his endeavors to persuade that prince to expel the Dutch, but without effect. At last, with presents and despatches for the king of Spain, he set sail August 1, 1610, after a stay in Japan of nearly two years.[78]

[Pg 196]

Meanwhile an event occurred of which Rodrigo makes no mention, but for which the Portuguese were inclined to hold him responsible, no less than the Dutch. The annual carac from Macao had arrived, as we have seen, in the autumn of 1609, after an interval of three years, commanded, as it happened, by the very same person who had been chief magistrate there on occasion of the late seizure and execution of certain Japanese. The emperor, strengthened, as it was thought, by the expectation of Dutch and Spanish trade, encouraged the prince of Arima to revenge the death of his subjects who had perished at Macao; and when the carac was ready to sail on her return voyage she was attacked by a fleet of Japanese boats. They were two or three times repulsed, but, taking the carac at a disadvantage, becalmed and drifted into a narrow passage, they succeeded in setting her on fire, and in destroying her with all her crew.

Both the Dutch factors who had been left in Japan, and the king of that island, Hōin-Sama, who had exerted himself greatly for the establishment of Dutch commerce, were not a little annoyed at the non-appearance of any Dutch vessels at Hirado during the year 1610. The Dutch in the East Indies had, indeed, at this moment other things to attend to. Verhœven, after his return to the Moluccas, had been entrapped and treacherously slain at Banda, by the natives of that island, along with many of his principal officers. This, however, did not prevent the Dutch from soon after making a treaty with these islanders, by which they obtained the sole right of purchasing their nutmegs and mace, and[Pg 197] which they followed up by the establishment of not less than seven forts in the Molucca Islands, and by vigorous, though as yet unsuccessful, attempts to drive away the Spaniards who had come to the aid of the Portuguese.

A Scene in the Palace Gardens, Kyōtō

The Moluccas thus occupied, Admiral Wittert, who had succeeded to the command of the Dutch fleet, sailed with part of the ships for Manila; for though the truce between Spain and Holland was known, it had not been proclaimed in the East Indies, and was not regarded by either party. Here, unfortunately, Wittert suffered himself to be surprised by a much superior Spanish force, and though he fought with the greatest courage till he fell, his own ship and two others were taken, and another blown up, two only making their escape.

Immediately upon the arrival of the “Red Lion” in Holland, a number of ships had been fitted out for Japan; but the first to arrive was a small yacht, called the “Brach,” in July, 1611, with only a trifling cargo of cloths, silks, pepper, ivory, and lead. Presently a government officer came on board to demand a manifest of the cargo to be sent to the emperor; but this the Dutch did not like to submit to, as the Portuguese were free from it, and especially as the present cargo was so trifling. These demands being renewed, finally, though somewhat perplexed by the small means they had of making presents, they resolved upon a new mission to the emperor’s court. The king of Hirado advised them also to extend their visit to the hereditary prince at Yedo, and not to omit paying their respects to Hideyori at Ōsaka, son of the late emperor, and who might yet mount the throne. The king of Hirado furnished a galley, in addition to one belonging to the factories, and two commissioners, of whom the principal was Jacob Spex,[Pg 198] set out for Suruga, July 17, with an interpreter and a Japanese gentleman as a guide or conductor[79].

The 6th of August they reached Ōsaka, defended by a fine castle, in which dwelt Hideyori, now eighteen years of age. He had always been kept secluded, but enjoyed a large revenue, and had many adherents, by whom, as the Dutch learned, the hope of placing him on the throne was zealously entertained.

Arriving at Miyako, they learned that a Portuguese embassy had passed through it four days preceding. They were deputies from Macao, who had landed at Kagoshima, in a small vessel, and had gone with rich presents to the emperor to solicit a renewal of trade and indemnification for the vessels destroyed at Nagasaki two years before. Accompanied by a large number of trumpeters and other musicians, they marched, with great pomp, to the sound of the instruments, the whole of them, even their black slaves, clothed in velvet of a uniform color. The governor of Miyako, to whom they had made rich presents, had furnished them with eighty-eight horses, which they had equipped at their own expense.

Nor was this governor (the same apparently who had entertained Don Rodrigo) less bountiful to the Dutch. He furnished them with horses, a passport, and letters to the chief of the emperor’s council, but refused their presents, not being accustomed, he said, to take anything from strangers. When they pressed him, he still refused to accept anything now, but promised, if they had[Pg 199] anything left at their return, to allow them to remember him,—a piece of disinterestedness by which the economical Dutch were greatly charmed.

Just before reaching Suruga they encountered Adams, the English pilot, to whom they had written, and who, upon arriving at Suruga, hastened to Kōzukeno-Suke, the same secretary of the emperor seen by Don Rodrigo, but whom the Dutch call president of the council, to solicit for them a speedy audience. While waiting for it, they learned that the Portuguese ambassadors had not been very successful; nor had a Spanish embassy, which had just arrived from New Spain, with thanks to the emperor for his courtesies to Don Rodrigo. The presents of this ambassador were very splendid; but his carriage was so haughty as to displease the Japanese. He demanded leave for the Spaniards to build ships, for which the forests and workmen of Japan afforded greater facilities than either Manila or New Spain, and to explore the coasts, the Spaniards’ ignorance of which had cost them the loss of some valuable vessels. This was agreed to; but the emperor declined the request for the expulsion of the Dutch, saying that he had nothing to do with these European quarrels. Adams was present at these interviews; nor did he fail by his representations to excite the suspicions of the emperor against the Spaniards.

Gotō Shōzaburō, the emperor’s treasurer, freely told the Dutch that the Spaniards and Portuguese had represented him as coming to Japan rather as privateersmen than as traders, and that, as might be seen by the smallness of their present cargo, their chief resource for trade was in the prizes they took. But Adams entered with great zeal into their defence, insisting upon their[Pg 200] honesty and fairness as the qualities which had given them such success in trade, referring to the recent truce with Spain as showing that plunder was not their object, and excusing the smallness of the present venture by the lack, as yet, of any regular treaty.

These representations were not without their effect. Kōzukeno-Suke received the Dutch very graciously, approved the requests which they made on the subject of trade, and promised to lay them before the emperor pending their visit to Yedo, for which he furnished them with vessels, horses, and guides. With much persuasion he was at last induced to accept a present, which the Dutch regarded as a special favor, as he had positively declined any from the Portuguese and Spaniards. Before their departure, they were admitted to an audience from the emperor, who inquired of them how many soldiers they had in the Moluccas[80]; whether they traded to Borneo; whether it were true that the best camphor came from that island; what odoriferous woods the Dutch had in their country; and other similar questions, to which they replied through their interpreter. After they had taken their leave, Kōzukedono and Gotō Shōzaburō reconducted them out of the hall, at the same time felicitating them on their favorable audience. It was very unusual, they said, for the emperor to make himself so familiar; he did not bestow such a favor even on the greatest lords of the empire, who brought him presents of the value of ten, twenty, and thirty thousand taels; nor had he said a single word to the Portuguese and Spanish ambassadors. To Adams, who was called back to the royal apartments, the emperor expressed[Pg 201] himself greatly delighted with the presents, as showing that the Dutch were “past masters” in arts as well as in arms.

The Dutchmen, having caused their propositions to be written out in Japanese, placed them in the hands of Kōzukedono, and on the 18th they were furnished with an order for ten horses, and a letter to the hereditary prince at Yedo. Adams, who was in as great favor at this court as at Suruga, lodged them in a house of his own, and undertook to give notice of their arrival to Sadono-Kami, president of the prince’s council and father of Kōzukedono, who sent an officer in return to make his compliments to the Dutchmen.

They made him a visit the next day, with a present, which, as a great favor, he condescended to accept. He inquired of them particularly the cause of the war which had lasted so long between the Spaniards and the Dutch, and the history of the negotiations which had brought about the recent truce. The Dutch did not conceal the small extent of their country, and the Japanese minister expressed great astonishment that so feeble a state should have resisted with such success so powerful a king. Finally, he treated them to a collation of fruit. Though very old and infirm, he conducted them to the passage, and promised to accompany them the next day to the palace. Admitted to the imperial palace, the prince thanked them for the journey they had undertaken to see him; but when (pretending orders from Holland to that effect) they besought his favor and protection, he dismissed them with a nod. An officer, however, conducted them over the palace, and the prince sent them some presents, though not very magnificent ones. They themselves made many presents, principally[Pg 202] cloth and glass bottles, to many lords of the court, among whom they found, in high favor, a brother of the young king of Hirado.

From Yedo they proceeded to a port eighteen leagues distant (probably Uraga), where Adams had another house, and where they found the Spanish ship which had brought the ambassador from New Spain. The ambassador himself was also there. He sent them a very civil message, to which they responded with equal civility. Pressing invitations for a visit passed between them, but neither party would be the first to call on the other. By some Flemings, however, attached to the ambassador’s suite, they were assured that the ambassador had no authority to demand the exclusion of the Dutch, which he had done on his own authority. The embassy, they said, had been fitted out at an expense of fifty thousand dollars.

Upon their return to Suruga, October 1, Adams brought them the patent which the emperor had granted for their commerce, and which, being translated, proved to be in the following words:

“All Dutch ships that come into my empire of Japan, whatever place or port they put into, we do hereby expressly command all and every one of our subjects not to molest the same in any way, nor to be a hindrance to them; but, on the contrary, to show them all manner of help, favor, and assistance. Every one shall beware to maintain the friendship in assurance of which we have been pleased to give our imperial word to these people; and every one shall take care that our commands and promises be inviolably kept.

“Dated (according to the Japanese calendar equivalent to) August 30, 1611.”[81]

[Pg 203]

The Dutch were very much troubled to find that the clause guaranteeing freedom from the visits of inspectors and guards, and interference with their trade by the government, which had been the great object of their mission, was omitted. They made representations on the subject to Kōzukeno-Suke, who advised them not to press it. But as they conceived it of the greatest importance, they drew up a Japanese memorial, which Adams presented to the emperor and the request of which Kōzukedono seconded with such effect that the emperor ordered an edict granting the wishes of the Dutch to be drawn up, which he immediately proceeded to sign. Such is the statement of Spex’s narrative; but no such document appears to be preserved in the archives of the Dutch factory, the short one already given being everywhere cited and relied upon as the charter of the Dutch trade to Japan, without any mention anywhere else of any such supplement to it.

The return of the Dutchmen, by way of Miyako, to Hirado, does not offer anything remarkable, except their meeting at Sakai (whither they went to learn the price of goods and the course of trade there), with Melichor von Santvoort, one of the Dutchmen who had reached Japan at the same time with Adams. After selecting factors to stay behind, ordering the erection of warehouses, and making such presents as their small means admitted to their Japanese friends, their vessel set sail on her return the 28th of September.

The Dutch, as we have seen, had been greatly assisted by Adams. The Spanish envoy, in his negotiations, relied chiefly, as Don Rodrigo had done before him, on the advice and assistance of Father Louis Sotelo, a[Pg 204] Franciscan friar of noble descent[82], established at Miyako, who entered with great zeal into the project of a regular trade between Japan and Mexico. But the old jealousy which the Japanese had long entertained of the Spaniards soon broke out afresh. Some soundings made along the coast by the vessel which brought out the Spanish ambassador were looked upon with great suspicion and jealousy, which Adams is said to have aggravated. Sotelo, despairing of success with the emperor, though at first he had seemed to favor his projects, subsequently proposed the same scheme to Date Masamune, who ruled over a part, or the whole, of the kingdom of Ōshū, or Mutsu, in the north of Japan, hitherto almost unknown, but to which a few missionaries had lately made their way. The prince of Ōshū adopted Sotelo’s project with zeal, affecting also quite a leaning towards the new faith, and, at Sotelo’s suggestion, he sent an ambassador to the Pope and the king of Spain[83].

After many disappointments, Sotelo with this ambassador set sail at length for New Spain, about the end of the year 1613, in a vessel belonging to Masamune; and, by way of the city of Mexico, proceeded to Seville and Madrid, where they arrived in October, 1614. Thence they proceeded to Rome, and had an audience of the Pope, November 30, 1615, by whom Sotelo was nominated bishop for the north and east parts of Japan, and his legate for the whole of it[84]. Having reached New Spain[Pg 205] on his return, he found in the port of Acapulco a Japanese vessel belonging to Masamune, which, having disposed of a cargo of Japanese goods, took on freight for Manila a part of the suite of a new Spanish governor of the Philippines, intending to purchase at Manila a cargo of Chinese silks. But the Council of the Indies, under the influence of the Jesuits, and on the plea that the nomination of all Eastern bishops belonged to the king, opposed Sotelo’s consecration; and the merchants of Manila, alarmed at the rivalry of New Spain for the Japanese trade, made such representations that, on his arrival there, his papers were seized, and he himself was sent back to the superiors of his order in New Mexico.

But long before the occurrence of these events—in fact, previous to the departure of Sotelo from Japan—the Catholic faith there had received a blow from which it never recovered, and which brought it to speedy ruin.

[Pg 206]


Origin and Commencement of English Intercourse with Japan—Captain Saris’ Voyage thither, and Travels and Observations there—New Spanish Embassy from the Philippines—Commercial Rivalry of the Dutch and English—Richard Cocks, Head of the English Factory—A. D. 1611-1613.

The pilot, Adams, having heard from Spex that certain English merchants had established themselves in the island of Java, he wrote to them, under date of October 22, 1611, giving an account of himself, and enclosing a letter to his wife, which he besought these unknown countrymen of his to convey to his friends at Limehouse or in Kent, so that his wife, “in a manner a widow,” and his fatherless children, might hear of him, and he of them, before his death. “You shall understand,” wrote Adams, “that the Hollanders have here an Indies of money, so that they need not to bring silver out of Holland to the East Indies, for in Japan there is much gold and silver to serve their turn in other places where need requireth.” He enumerated as vendible in Japan for ready money, raw silk, damask, black taffetas, black and red cloth of the best kinds, lead, etc. To a somewhat exaggerated, and otherwise not very correct account of the extent and the geography of the Japanese dominions, he added the following description of the inhabitants: “The people of this island of Japan are good of nature, courteous above measure, and valiant in war. Their justice is severely executed, and without partiality, upon transgressors. They are[Pg 207] governed in great civility. I think no land in the world better governed by civil policy. The people are very superstitious in their religion, and are of diverse opinions. There are many Jesuit and Franciscan friars in this land, and they have converted many to be Christians, and have many churches in the island.”

This letter, which was given in charge to the master’s mate of the Dutch vessel, must have reached the English East India Company’s factory at Bantam, in Java, previous to the first of June, 1612, for on that day an answer to it was despatched by the “Globe,” which had just arrived from England, and which, sailing from Bantam to Patania, met there the same master’s mate who had brought Adams’ letter, and who, being just about to return to Japan in a Dutch pinnace, promised to deliver the answer.

Already, however, independently of Adams’ letter, a project had been started in England for opening a trade with Japan, founded upon a knowledge of Adams’ being there, derived from the crew of the Dutch ship, the “Red Lion.” The “Globe,” which left England January 5, 1611, carried letters to Adams to that effect, and she was followed in April by the “Clove,” the “Thomas,” and the “Hector,” under the command of Captain John Saris, an old adventurer in the East, and a former resident of Bantam, with letters from the king of England to the emperor of Japan[85].

After touching, trading, negotiating and fighting, at Socotra, Mocha, and other ports of the Red Sea, Saris arrived at Bantam in October, 1612. Soon after his arrival the letter of Adams was re-read in presence of[Pg 208] the assembled merchants; and doubtless it encouraged Saris in his project of visiting Japan. Having taken in seven hundred sacks of pepper, in addition to the broadcloths, gunpowder, and other goods brought from England, Saris sailed on the 14th of January, 1618, in the “Clove,” his crew consisting of seventy-four English, one Spaniard, one Japanese, to serve as an interpreter, he speaking also the Malay language, which Captain Saris understood, and five Swarts, probably Malays.

Passing in sight of the south coast of Celebes, Saris touched at several of the ports in the group of the Moluccas, occupied at that time, some of them by Dutch and others by Spanish factories,—the Spaniards from Manila having come to the rescue of the Portuguese, whom the Dutch had driven out. Regarding all new comers (if of any other nation than their own) with scarcely less suspicion and hostility than they did each other, and both of them joining to oppress and plunder the unhappy natives, “who were wrought upon,” so Saris says, “to spoil one another in civil war,” the Dutch and Spaniards, secure in strong forts, sat by and looked on, “prepared to take the bone from him that would wrest it from his fellow.” The Dutch fort at Buchian had a garrison of thirty Dutch soldiers, and eleven Dutch women, “able to withstand the fury of the Spaniard, or other nation whatsoever, being of a very lusty, large breed.”

The Dutch commander would not allow the natives to trade with the English, even to the extent of a single katty of cloves, threatening with death those who did so, and claiming all the Spice Islands held by them as “their country, conquered by the sword they having, with much loss of blood and money, delivered the inhabitants[Pg 209] from the tyranny of the Portuguese, and having made a perpetual contract with them for the purchase of all their spices at a fixed rate,” in the case of cloves at about eight cents the pound. This claim of exclusive right of trade Captain Saris declined to acknowledge; at the same time he professed his readiness to give the Dutch, “as neighbors and brethren in Christ,” a preference in purchasing any part of his cargo of which they might happen to stand in need.

The English and Dutch had been ready enough to join together in breaking up the Portuguese and Spanish monopoly, and in forcing a trade in the Indian seas; but it was already apparent that the Dutch East India Company, which in the amount of capital at its command very far surpassed the English Company, was bent on establishing a monopoly of its own, not less close than that formerly maintained by the Portuguese. The Spaniards, on the other hand, professed friendship, and made some offers of trade; but Captain Saris, suspecting treachery, did not choose to trust them.

On the 14th of April, he left the Moluccas, and stood on his course for Japan. On the 10th of June, having been in sight of land for a day or two, his ships were boarded by four great fishing-boats, fitted with both sails and oars, from whose crews they learned that they were off the harbor of Nagasaki. In fact, one of these boats belonged to the Portuguese, and was manned by “new Christians,” who had mistaken the ships of Captain Saris for the annual Portuguese carac. Finding their mistake, no entreaty could prevail upon them to stay; but two of the other boats, for thirty dollars each in money, and rice for food, agreed to pilot the ship to Hirado, by the pilot’s reckoning some thirty leagues to the north, and the[Pg 210] boatmen coming on board began to assist in working the vessel, showing themselves not less handy than the English sailors.

No sooner had the ship anchored off Hirado, than she was visited by the king or hereditary governor of that island, by name Hōin Sama,—the same who had shown so much favor to the Dutch,—upward of seventy years old, attended by his nephew or grandchild, a young man of two-and-twenty, who governed under him. They came with forty boats or galleys, with from ten to fifteen oars a side; but on approaching the vessel, all fell back, except the two which carried the princes, who came on board unattended, except by a single person each. They were bareheaded and barelegged, wearing shoes, but no stockings; the fore-part of their heads shaven to the crown, and their hair behind, which was very long, gathered up into a knot. They were clad in shirts and breeches, over which was a silk gown girt to them, with two swords of the country at their side, one half a yard in length, the other half as long. Their manner of salutation was to put off their shoes, and then stooping, with their right hand in their left, and both against their knees, to approach with small sidling steps, slightly moving their hands at the same time, and crying Augh! Augh!

Captain Saris conducted them to his cabin, where he had a banquet spread, and a concert of music, with which they seemed much delighted. The old king received with much joy a letter from the king of England, but put off reading it till “Ange” (or, according to Adams’ way of writing it, Angin [Anjin[86]]) should come[Pg 211] —that word being the Japanese for pilot, and the name by which Adams was known, to whom, then at Yedo, letters were sent the same night, as also to the emperor.

As soon as the king had gone on shore, all his principal people, attended by a multitude of soldiers, entered the ship, each man of consequence bringing a present of venison, wild boar, large and fat wild fowl, fruits, fish, etc.; but as the crowd proved troublesome, King Hōin sent an officer on board to keep order and prevent mischief. The next day came some threescore great boats or galleys, very well manned, which towed the vessel into the harbor, of which the entrance was narrow and dangerous. Here they anchored in five fathoms, so close to the shore that they could talk with the people in the houses, saluting the town with nine pieces of ordnance—a compliment which the inhabitants were unable to return, having no cannon, only pieces for small shot. The ship was speedily surrounded with boats full of people, who seemed much to admire her head and stern, and the decks were so crowded with men, women, and children, that it was impossible to move about. The captain took several of the better sort of women into his cabin, where a picture of Venus and Cupid “did hang somewhat wantonly, set out in a large frame, which, mistaking it for the Virgin and her Son, some of those women kneeled to and worshipped with great devotion,” at the same time whispering in a low tone, that they might not be overheard by their companions, that they were Christianos; by which it was understood that they were converts of the Portuguese Jesuits.

Soon after, King Hōin came again on board, and brought with him four women of his family. They were barelegged, except that a pair of half-buskins were[Pg 212] bound by a silk ribbon about their insteps, and were clad in a number of silk gowns, one skirt over another, bound about their waists by a girdle, their hair very black and long, and tied in a comely knot on the crown of the head, no part of which was shaven, like the men’s. They had good faces, hands, and feet, clear-skinned and white, but wanting color; which, however, they supplied by art. They were low in stature and very fat, courteous in behavior, of which they well understood the ceremonials according to the Japanese fashion. At first they seemed a little bashful; but the king “willing them to be frolic,” and all other company being excluded except Captain Saris and the interpreter, they sang several songs, playing on an instrument much like a guitar, but with four strings only, which they fingered very nimbly with the left hand, holding in the other a piece of ivory, with which they touched the strings, playing and singing by book, the tunes being noted on lines and spaces, much the same as European music.

Not long after, desirous to be “frolic,” the king brought on board a company of female actors—such as were common in Japan, little better, it would seem, than slaves and courtesans, being under the control of a master, who carried them from place to place, selling their favors, and “exhibiting comedies of war, love, and such like, with several shifts of apparel for the better grace of the matter acted.”

Performers on the Koto and the Samisen

It appeared, however, on a subsequent occasion, on which several of the English were present, that, besides these professional actors, the king and his principal courtiers were accustomed, on certain great festivals, at which the whole country was present, to present a[Pg 213] play, of which the matter was the valiant deeds of their ancestors, from the beginning of their kingdom or commonwealth, intermixed, however, with much mirth, “to give the common people content.” On that occasion they had as musical instruments, to assist their voices, little tabors or stringed instruments, small in the middle and large at both ends, like an hour-glass; also fifes; but though they kept exact time, the whole performance was very harsh to English ears.

While waiting for Adams, who presently arrived, after being seventeen days on his way, a house on shore for a factory was hired, furnished with mats, according to the custom of the country, for a rent of about ninety-five dollars for six months. Not long after, leaving Mr. Richard Cocks in charge of the factory and the trade, Captain Saris set out on a visit to the emperor, attended by Adams and seventeen persons of his own company, including several mercantile gentlemen, a tailor, a cook, the surgeon’s mate, the Japanese interpreter, the coxswain, and one sailor. He was liberally furnished by old King Hōin with a conductor for the journey, a large galley, of twenty-five oars a side, manned with sixty men, and also with a hundred taels in Japanese money (equal to one hundred and twenty-five dollars), to pay his expenses, which, however, Captain Saris directed Cocks to place to King Hōin’s credit as so much money lent.

The galley being handsomely fitted up with waist-cloths and ensigns, they coasted along the western and northern shores of the great island of Shimo (or Kiūshiū), off the northwest coast of which the small island of Hirado lay. As they coasted along, they passed a number of handsome towns. Hakata, distant two days’ rowing from Hirado, had a very strong castle[Pg 214] of freestone, with a wide and deep ditch and drawbridge, kept in good repair, but without cannon or garrison. Here, finding the current too strong, they stopped to dine. The town seemed as large as London within the walls, very well built, with straight streets. As they landed, they had experience, repeated almost wherever they went, of that antipathy to foreigners, so characteristic a trait of the country; for the boys, children, and worser sort of idle people, would gather about them, crying out Coré, Coré, Cocoré, Waré[87], taunting them by these words as Coreans with false hearts, whooping, hallowing, and making such a noise, that the English could hardly hear each other speak, and even in some places throwing stones at them—all which went on without any interference on the part of the public officers. In general, however, the police was very strict, and punishments very prompt and bloody. Saris saw several executions in the streets, after which, every passer-by was allowed to try his sword on the dead bodies, which thus are chopped into small pieces, and left for the birds of prey to devour. All along the coast they noticed many families living in boats upon the water, as in Holland, the women being very expert fishers, not only with lines and nets, but by diving, which gave them, however, blood-shot eyes.

Coasting through the Strait of Shimonoseki, and the channel which separates Nippon from the two more southern islands, on the twentieth day after leaving Hirado they reached the entrance of a river, a short distance up which lay the town of Ōsaka, which, however, they could only reach in a small boat. This town,[Pg 215] which seemed as large as Hakata, had many handsome timber bridges across a river as wide as the Thames at London. It had, also, a great and very strong castle of freestone, in which, as they were told, the son of the late emperor, left an infant at his father’s decease, was kept a close prisoner. Some nine miles from Ōsaka, on the other side of the river, lay the town of Sakai, not so large, but accessible to ships, and a place of great trade.

Leaving their galley at Ōsaka, Captain Saris and his company passed in boats up a river or canal, one day’s journey, to Fushimi, where they found a garrison of three thousand soldiers, maintained by the emperor to keep in subjection Ōsaka and the still larger neighboring city of Miyako [Kyōto]. The garrison being changed at that time, the old troops marching out, and new ones marching in, a good opportunity was afforded to see their array. They were armed with a species of fire-arms, pikes, swords, and targets, bows and arrows, and wakizashi, described as like a Welsh hook. They marched five abreast, with an officer to every ten files, without colors or musical instruments, in regiments of from a hundred and fifty to five hundred men, of which one followed the other at the distance of a league or two, and were met for two or three days on the road. Captain Saris was very favorably impressed with the discipline and martial bearing of these troops. The captain-general, whom they met in the rear, marched in very great state, hunting and hawking all the way, the hawks being managed exactly after the European fashion. The horses were of middle size, small-headed, and very full of mettle.

At Fushimi, Captain Saris and his company quitted their bark, and were furnished each man with a horse to[Pg 216] travel overland to Suruga, where the emperor held his court. For Captain Saris a palanquin was also provided, with bearers to carry it, two at a time, six in number where the way was level, but increased to ten when it became hilly. A spare horse was led beside the palanquin for him to ride when he pleased, and, according to the custom of the country with persons of importance, a slave was appointed to run before him, bearing a pike.

Thus they travelled, at the rate of some forty-five miles a day, over a highway for the most part very level, but in some places cut through mountains; the distances being marked, in divisions of about three miles, by two little hillocks on each side of the way, planted at the top with a fair pine-tree, “trimmed round in fashion of an arbor.” This road, which was full of travellers, led by a succession of farms, country-houses, villages, and great towns. It passed many fresh rivers by ferries, and near many hotoke[88], or temples, situated in groves, “the most pleasantest places for delight in the whole country.”

Every town and village was well furnished with taverns, where meals could be had at a moment’s warning. Here, too, lodgings were obtained, and horses and men for the palanquin were taken up by the director of the journey, like post-horses in England. The general food was observed to be rice. The people ate also fish, wild fowl of various kinds, fresh and salted, and various picked herbs and roots. They ploughed with horses and oxen, as in Europe, and raised good red wheat. Besides sake, made from rice, they drank with their food warm water[89].

[Pg 217]

The entrance of the travellers into Suruga, where the emperor held his court, and which they reached on the seventh day, was not very savory, as they were obliged to pass several crosses, with the dead and decaying bodies of the malefactors still nailed to them. This city they judged to be as large as London with all the suburbs[90]. The handicraftsmen dwelt in the outskirts of the town, so as not to disturb with their pounding and hammering the richer and more leisurely sort.

After a day or two spent in preparations, Saris, accompanied by the merchants and others, went in his palanquin to the palace, bearing his presents, according to the custom of the country, on little tables, or rather salvers, of a sweet-smelling wood. Having entered the castle, he passed three drawbridges, each with its guard, and, ascending a handsome stone staircase, he was met by two grave, comely men, Kōzuke-no-Suke, the emperor’s secretary, and Hyōgo-no-Kami, the admiral, who led him into a matted antechamber. Here they all sat down on the mats, but the two officers soon rose again, and took him into the presence-chamber, to bestow due reverence on the emperor’s empty chair of state. It was about five feet high, the sides and back richly ornamented with cloth of gold, but without any canopy. The presents given in the name of the king, and others by Captain Saris in his own name (as the custom of the country required), were arranged about this room.

After waiting a little while longer in the antechamber,[Pg 218] it was announced that the emperor had come, when the officers motioned Saris into the room, but without entering themselves. Approaching the emperor, he presented, with English compliments (on his knee, it may be presumed), the king’s letter, which the emperor took and raised toward his forehead, telling the interpreter to bid them welcome after their wearisome journey, and that in a day or two his answer would be ready. He invited them in the mean time to visit his son, who resided at Yedo.

The country between Suruga and Yedo, which were two days’ journey apart, was found to be well inhabited. They saw many temples on the way, one of which contained a gigantic image of Buddha[91], made of copper, hollow within, but of very substantial thickness. It was, as they guessed, twenty-two feet high, in likeness of a man kneeling on the ground, and seated on his heels, clothed in a gown, his arms of wonderful size, and the whole body in proportion. The echo of the shouts of some of the company, who went into the body of it, was very loud. Some of the English left their names written upon it, as they saw was customary.

Yedo was found to be a city much larger than Suruga, and with much handsomer buildings, making a very glorious appearance as they approached, the ridge tiles and corner tiles, and the posts of the doors, being richly gilded and varnished. There were, however, no glass windows, but window-shutters instead, opening in leaves, and handsomely painted.

From Yedo, where our travellers were received much as they had been at Suruga, they proceeded some forty miles, by boats, to Uraga, an excellent harbor on the[Pg 219] sea-side, whence, in eight days, they coasted round a projecting point of land back to Suruga, where they received the emperor’s answer to the king’s letter, also an engrossed and official copy of certain privileges of trade, a draught of which they had furnished to the emperor’s secretary, and which, having been condensed as much as possible, to suit the Japanese taste for brevity, and thus reduced from fourteen articles to eight, were expressed in the following terms[92]:

“1. Imprimis. We give free license to the subjects of the king of Great Britain, namely, Sir Thomas Smith, governor, and the company of the East India merchants and adventurers, forever, safely to come into any of the ports of our empire of Japan, with their ships and merchandises, without any hindrance to them or their goods, and to abide, buy, sell and barter, according to their own manner, with all nations: to tarry here as long as they think good, and to depart at their pleasures.

“2. Item. We grant unto them freedom of custom for all such merchandises as either now they have brought or hereafter they shall bring into our kingdoms, or shall from hence transport to any foreign part; and do authorize those ships that hereafter shall arrive and come from England, to proceed to present sale of their commodities, without further coming or sending up to our court.

“3. Item. If any of their ships shall happen to be in danger of shipwreck, we will our subjects not only to assist them, but that such part of ship and goods as shall be saved be returned to their captain or cape-merchant[93], or their assigns:[Pg 220] and that they shall or may build one house or more for themselves, in any part of our empire where they shall think fittest, and at their departure to make sale thereof at their pleasure.

“4. Item. If any of the English, merchants or other, shall depart this life within our dominions, the goods of the deceased shall remain at the dispose of the cape-merchant: and all offenses committed by them shall be punished by the said cape-merchant, according to his discretion; our laws to take no hold of their persons or goods.

“5. Item. We will that ye our subjects, trading with them for any of their commodities, pay them for the same according to agreement, without delay, or return of their wares again unto them.

“6. Item. For such commodities as they have now brought, or shall hereafter bring fitting for our service and proper use, we will that no arrest be made thereof, but that the price be made with the cape-merchant, according as they may sell to others, and present payment upon the delivery of the goods.

“7. Item. If, in discovery of other countries for trade, and return of their ships, they should need men or victuals, we will that ye our subjects furnish them for their money as their need shall require.

“8. And that, without further passport, they shall and may set out upon the discovery of Yezo[94], or any other part in and about our empire[95].”

[Pg 221]

The letter from the emperor to the king of England did not differ very materially from that to the prince of Orange, already given. [See Appendix, Note 1.]

In the original draught of the Privileges, there had been an additional article, to the effect that, as the Chinese had refused to trade with the English, in case the English should capture any Chinese ships, they might be allowed the privilege of selling such prizes in the Japanese ports; but this article, upon consideration, the emperor refused to grant.

While these documents were under consideration, a Spanish ambassador from the Philippines had arrived at Suruga with the request that such Portuguese and Spaniards as were in the emperor’s territories without authority from the king of Spain might be delivered up to be transported to the Philippines—a request occasioned by the great want of men to defend the Spanish posts in the Moluccas against the Dutch, who were then preparing to make an absolute conquest of the whole of those islands. But to this demand the emperor replied that his country was a free country, and nobody should be forced out of it; but if the ambassador could persuade any of his countrymen to go, they should not be prevented; whereupon the ambassador departed, not a little discontented.

The day after receiving the emperor’s letter and the Privileges, being the 9th of October, Captain Saris and his company set out by land for Miyako, where the[Pg 222] presents were to be delivered to him, over the same road by which they had travelled from Ōsaka to Suruga; but, owing to the heavy rains and the rising of the river, their progress was much delayed.

Miyako they found to be the greatest and most commercial city of Japan. Here, too, was the largest hotoke, or temple, in the whole country, built of freestone, begun by the late emperor, and just finished by the present one, as long, they estimated, as the part of St. Paul’s, in London, westerly from the choir, being as high-arched, and borne upon pillars like that[96]. This temple was attended upon by a great many bonzes or priests, who thus obtained their living, being supported by the produce of an altar, on which the worshippers offered rice and small pieces of money, and near which was a colossal copper image, like that already described, but much larger, reaching to the very arch of the temple, which itself stood on the top of a hill, having an avenue of approach on either side of fifty stone pillars, ten paces apart, on each of which was suspended a lantern, lighted every night[97].

Here, also, the Jesuits had a very stately college, in which many of them reside, both Portuguese and natives, and in which many children were trained up in the Christian religion according to the Romish church. In this city alone there were not less than five or six thousand professing Christians[98].

But already that persecution was commenced which[Pg 223] ended in the banishment of the Jesuits from Japan, and, indeed, in the exclusion of all Europeans, with a slight exception in favor of the Dutch. Following up an edict of the previous year, against the Franciscans, the emperor had issued a proclamation, about a month before Captain Saris’ arrival at Suruga, that no church should stand, nor mass be sung, within ten leagues of his court, upon pain of death.

Having at length received the emperor’s presents for the king of England, being ten byōbu [screen] or “large pictures to hang a chamber with,” they proceeded the same day to Fushimi and the next to Ōsaka, where they reëmbarked in the galley which had been waiting for them, and returned to Hirado, having spent just three months on the tour.

Captain Saris found that, during his absence, seven of his crew had run away to Nagasaki, where they had complained to the Portuguese of having been used more like dogs than men. Others, seduced by drink and women, and sailor boarding-house keepers,—just the same in Japan as elsewhere,—had committed great irregularities, quarrelling with the natives and among themselves, even to wounding, and maiming, and death. What with these troubles, added to a “tuffon,” [typhoon]—a violent storm,—which did a good deal of damage (though the ship rode it out with five anchors down), and alarms of conflagration, founded on oracles of the bonzes, and numerous festivals and entertainments, at which Cocks had been called upon to assist,—one of which was a great feast, lasting three[Pg 224] days and three nights, to which the Japanese invited their dead kindred, banqueting and making merry all night at their graves[99],—but little progress had been made in trade. The cargo consisted largely of broadcloths, which the Dutch had been selling, before the English came, at seventeen dollars the yard. Captain Saris wished to arrange with them to keep up the price, but the head of their factory immediately sent off to the principal places of sale large quantities, which he disposed of at very low prices, in order to spoil the market. The natives, also, were the more backward to buy, because they saw that the English, though very forward to recommend their cloth, did not much wear it themselves, the officers being clothed in silks, and the men in fustians. So the goods were left in charge of the factory, which was appointed to consist of eight English, including Cocks and Adams (who was taken into the service of the East India Company on a salary of one hundred pounds a year), three Japanese interpreters, and two servants, with charge, against the coming of the next ships, to search all the neighboring coasts to see what trade might be had with any of them.

[Pg 225]

The matter arranged, and having supplied the place of those of his crew who had died or deserted, by fifteen Japanese, and paid up a good many boarding-house and liquor-shop claims against his men, to be deducted out of their wages, Captain Saris sailed on the 5th of December for Bantam, where he arrived the 3d of January, 1614. Having taken in a cargo of pepper, he sailed for home on the 13th of February, anchored off the Cape of Good Hope on the 16th of May, and, on the 27th of September, arrived at Plymouth, having in the preceding six weeks experienced worse weather and encountered more danger than in the whole voyage beside[100].

[Pg 227]


Ecclesiastical Retrospect—New Persecution—Edict of Banishment against the Missionaries—Civil War between Hideyori and Ōgosho-Sama—Triumph of Ōgosho-Sama—His death—Persecution more Violent than ever—Mutual Rancor of the Jesuits and the Friars—Progress of Martyrdom—The English and Dutch, A. D. 1613-1620.

Between the edict of Taikō-Sama against the Catholics, and those the issue of which by Ōgosho-Sama is briefly alluded to in the preceding chapter, sixteen years had elapsed, during the whole of which time the missionaries and the Catholic Japanese had been kept in a state of painful uncertainty.

It is true that the new emperor had greatly relaxed from the hostility of his predecessor, and seemed at times decidedly favorable. In many parts of Japan the Catholic worship was carried on as openly as ever. Many new laborers, both Jesuits and other, had come into the field, and conversion still continued to be made among persons of the highest rank. There was scarcely any part of the empire in which converts were not to be found, and the missionaries occasionally penetrated into the most remote provinces. The general of the Jesuits had been encouraged to raise Japan to the dignity of a province, of which China and the neighboring regions had been made a part, and of which Father Valentine Carvilho was made provincial. Japan had also a resident bishop, or at least coadjutor, in the person of Father Louis Serqueyra, himself taken from the order of the Jesuits; and under the bishop, as we have[Pg 228] seen, were a few secular clergy. By a brief of Pope Paul V., just published in Japan, that empire had been opened to the members of all the religious orders of the church, with liberty to proceed thither by way of Manila as well as of Macao.

Yet, during these sixteen years, the Catholics of the different subordinate kingdoms had been more or less exposed to persecution, especially in the island of Shimo, where they were most numerous, and which, from being mainly ruled by converted princes, was now chiefly governed by apostates or infidels; nor could the favor of the emperor be at any time certainly relied upon.

The new Dutch and English visitors were prompted no less by religious than by mercantile jealousies and hatreds to do all they could to diminish the credit of the Catholic missionaries; and it is by no means improbable that, as the Portuguese asserted, their suggestions had considerable weight in producing the new persecuting edicts of Ōgosho-Sama. Indeed, they had only to confirm the truth of what the Portuguese and Spanish said of each other to excite in the minds of the Japanese rulers the gravest distrust as to the designs of the priests of both nations.

The edicts already mentioned were followed by another, about the beginning of the year 1614, of which the substance was that all priests and missionaries of the Catholic faith should forthwith depart the empire, that all their houses and churches should be destroyed, and that all the Japanese converts should renounce the foreign faith.

There were in Japan when this edict was issued about a hundred and thirty Jesuits, in possession of some fifty schools, colleges, and convents, or houses of residence,[Pg 229] also some thirty friars of the three orders of St. Augustin, St. Dominic and St. Francis, besides a few secular ecclesiastics, or parish priests. Most of them were shipped off at once. Some found means to return in disguise; but the new persecution speedily assumed a character far more alarming than any of the former ones. Severe measures were now taken against the native converts. Those who refused to renounce their faith were stripped of their property, those of the most illustrious rank, among whom was Ukondono [Kōyama Ukon], being shipped off to Manila and Macao, and others sent into a frightful sort of Siberian banishment among the mountains of Northern Japan, now first described in the letters of some of the missionaries who found their way thither to console and strengthen these exiles. Many, also, were put to death, most of whom exhibited in the midst of torments all the firmness of the national character.

The violence of this persecution was interrupted for a moment by an attempt on the part of Hideyori now grown to man’s estate, to recover his father’s authority—a rebellion in which many of the converts joined in hopes of gaining something by the change.

On the 10th of December, 1614, Cocks, the English resident at Hirado, wrote to Saris that, since his departure, the emperor had banished all Jesuits, priests, friars, and nuns out of Japan, and had pulled down and burned all their churches and monasteries, shipping them away, some for Macao and others for Manila; that old King Hōin was dead, on which occasion three of his servants had cut themselves open to bear him company, according to a common Japanese fashion of expressing attachment and gratitude; that a civil war had broken out[Pg 230] between the emperor and his imprisoned son-in-law; and that all Ōsaka, except the castle, where the rebels were entrenched and besieged, had been burned to the ground. Yedo had also suffered exceedingly by a terrible “tuffon” or hurricane, which the Christians ascribed to the judgment of God, and the pagan Japanese to the conjurations of the Jesuits. Sayer, another of the English Company, wrote, December 5, 1615, that the emperor had got the victory, with the loss—doubtless exaggerated—of four hundred thousand men on both sides.

The death of Ōgosho-Sama,[101] in 1616, left his son Shōgun-Sama sole emperor. He continued to reside at Yedo, which, thenceforth, became the capital. He diligently followed up the policy of his three predecessors,—that of weakening the particular kings and princes so as to reduce them to political insignificance; nor does it appear that, from that time to this, the empire, formerly so turbulent, has ever been disturbed by civil wars, or internal commotions. He also began that system of foreign policy since pushed to such extremes. The English, by a new version of their privileges,[102] were restricted to the single port of Hirado, while the new emperor positively refused to receive a present from the viceroy of New Spain, or to see the persons who brought it.

The Tomb of Iyeyasu, Nikkō

[Pg 231]

At the commencement of the new reign, there were yet concealed within the empire thirty-three Jesuits, sixteen friars of the three orders, and seven secular priests, who still continued to minister to the faithful with the aid of a great number of native catechists. Seven Jesuits and all the friars but one were in Nagasaki and its environs. Of the other Jesuits, several resided in the other imperial cities where they still found protectors, while the rest travelled from place to place, as their services were needed. Those at Nagasaki were disguised as Portuguese merchants, who were still allowed full liberty to trade; while those in the provinces adopted the shaven crowns and long robes, the ordinary guise of the native bonzes. After a while some of them even ventured to resume the habits of their order, and to preach in public; but this only drew out from the emperor a new and more formal and precise edict. It was accompanied with terrible menaces, such as frightened into apostasy many converts who had hitherto stood out, and even drove some of them, in order to secure favor for themselves, to betray the missionaries, who knew no longer whom to trust.

The missionaries sent home lamentable accounts of their own sufferings and those of their converts, and all Catholic Europe resounded with lamentations over this sudden destruction of what had long been considered one of the most flourishing and encouraging provinces of missionary labor, not unmingled, however, with exultations over the courage and firmness of the martyrs.[103]

[Pg 232]

Such, indeed, was the zeal for martyrdom on the part of the Japanese, in which they were encouraged by the friars, and which the Jesuits strove in vain to keep within some reasonable limits, as to lead to many acts of imprudence, by which the individual was glorified, but[Pg 233] the church damnified. Henceforth, the missionary letters, which still found their way to Rome, though in diminishing numbers and with decreasing regularity, contain little but horrible accounts of tortures and martyrdoms, mingled, indeed, with abundant exultations over the firmness and even the jubilant spirit with which the victims met their fate, now by crucifixion, now by the axe, and now by fire. Infinite were the prayers, the austerities, the fasts, the penitential exercises, to which the converts resorted in hopes to appease the wrath of Heaven. Even infants at the breast were made to bear their share in them, being allowed to nurse but once a day, in the hope that God would be moved by the cries of these innocents to grant peace to his church. But, though many miraculous things are told of the martyrs, many of them, it is said, distinctly pronouncing the name of Jesus and Mary after their heads were cut off, the persecution continued to rage with unabated fury.

While the persecution of the Catholics was thus fiercely pursued in Japan, the Dutch, not in those islands only, but throughout the eastern seas, were zealously pushing their mercantile enterprises; and in Japan, as elsewhere, they got decidedly the advantage of the English, their companions and rivals, in these inroads upon the Portuguese and Spaniards.

The English at Hirado brought junks and attempted a trade with Siam, where they already had a factory, one of their first establishments in the East; and with Cochin China and Corea; but without much advantage. In 1616, two small vessels arrived from England, one of which was employed in trading between Japan and Java. The operations of the Dutch were on a much larger scale. Not content with driving the Spaniards from the[Pg 234] Moluccas, they threatened the Philippines, and sent to blockade Manila a fleet, which had several engagements with the Spaniards. Five great Dutch ships arrived at Hirado in 1616, of which one of nine hundred tons sailed for Bantam, fully laden with raw silk and other rich China stuffs; and another, of eight hundred tons, for the Moluccas, with money and provisions. Several others remained on the coast to watch the Spanish and Portuguese traders, and to carry on a piratical war against the Chinese junks, of which they captured, in 1616, according to Cocks’ letters, not less than twenty or thirty, pretending to be English vessels, and thus greatly damaging the English name and the chance of a trade with China.[104]

On a visit to Miyako, in 1620, Cocks, as appears by his letters, saw fifty-five Japanese martyred, because they would not renounce the Christian faith; among them little children of five or six years old, burned in their mother’s arms, and crying to Jesus to receive their souls. Sixteen others had been put to death for the same cause at Nagasaki, five of whom were burned, and the rest beheaded, cut in pieces, and cast into the sea in sacks; but the priests had secretly fished up their bodies and preserved them for relics. There were many more in prison, expecting hourly to die; for, as Cocks wrote, very few turned pagans.

Nagasaki had been from its foundation a Catholic city. Hitherto, notwithstanding former edicts for their destruction, one or two churches and monasteries had[Pg 235] escaped; but, in 1621, all that were left, including the hospital of Misericordia, were destroyed. The very graves and sepulchres, so Cocks wrote, had been dug up: and, as if to root out all memory of Christianity, heathen temples were built on their sites.

One of the Jesuits wrote home that there was not now any question as to the number of Jesuit residences in Japan, but only as to the number of prisons. Even those who had not yet fallen into the hands of the persecutors had only caves and holes in the rocks for their dwellings, in which they suffered more than in the darkest dungeons.

It is not necessary to give implicit credit to all which the contemporary letters and memoirs related, and which the Catholic historians and martyrologists have repeated, of the ferocity of the persecutors, the heroism of the sufferers, and especially of the miracles said to be wrought by their relics. Yet there can be no question, either of the fury of the persecution, or of the lofty spirit of martyrdom in which it was unavailingly met. Catholicism lingered on for a few years longer in Japan, yet it must be considered as having already received its death-blow in that same year in which a few Puritan pilgrims landed at Plymouth, to plant the obscure seeds of a new and still growing Protestant empire.

[Pg 236]


Collisions of the Dutch and English in the Eastern Seas—The English retire from Japan—The Spaniards repelled—Progress of the Persecution—Japanese Ports, except Hirado and Nagasaki, closed to Foreigners—Charges in Europe against the Jesuits—Fathers Sotelo and Collado—Torment of the Fosse—Apostasies—The Portuguese confined to Deshima—Rebellion of Shimabara—The Portuguese excluded—Ambassadors put to Death—A. D. 1621-1640.

Already the relation of the Dutch and English in the East had assumed the character of open hostility. A letter from Cocks, of March 10, 1620,[105] complains that the Hollanders, having seven ships, great and small, in the harbor of Hirado, had, with sound of trumpet, proclaimed open war against the English, both by sea and land, to take their ships and goods, and kill their persons as mortal enemies; that they had seized his boat, fired at his barks, and had beset the door of his factory,—a hundred Dutchmen to one Englishman,—and would have entered and cut all their throats but for the interference of the Japanese: all because Cocks had refused to give up six Englishmen who had escaped from two English ships[106] which the Dutch had captured, and whom they claimed to have back, representing them to the Japanese as their “slaves.”

To sustain the English interest in the eastern seas, the English East India Company, by great efforts, had fitted[Pg 237] out, in 1617, the largest expedition yet sent from England to the East Indies. It consisted of the “Royal James,” of one thousand tons; the “Royal Anne,” of nine hundred; the “Gift,” of eight hundred; the “Bull,” of four hundred; and the “Bee,” of one hundred and fifty tons; and sailed from London under the command of Martin Pring, who, twelve years before, following up the discoveries of Gosnold, had entered and explored—the first Englishman to do so—Penobscot bay and river, on the coast of what had since begun to be known as New England. Pring sailed first for Surat, where the Company had a factory, and where he assisted the native prince against the Portuguese, with whom he was at war. On the 17th of June, 1618, he arrived at Bantam, whence he proceeded, in September, to Jacatra, a city of the natives, the site of the present Batavia. There he received news that the Dutch in the Moluccas, not content with driving out the Spaniards, had attacked the English also, making prisoners of the merchants, whom they had treated with great harshness. News had also reached England of these Dutch outrages, and to make head against them, the Company, not long after Pring’s departure, despatched Sir Thomas Dale—also well known to readers of American history as high-marshal of the colony of Virginia, one of its first legislators, and for three or four years its deputy governor—with a fleet of six large ships, with five of which he joined Pring in November, 1618, in the Bay of Bantam, assuming the command of the whole, including others which he found there.

Both fleets were in a very leaky condition, and after some skirmishing with the Dutch, and the capture of a[Pg 238] richly laden Dutch ship from Japan, the English sailed for the coast of Coromandel, to refit and to obtain provision, which could not be had on the coast of Java. Having arrived at Musilapatam, Dale died there August 9, 1619. Toward the end of the year, Pring, who succeeded in the command, returned again towards the Straits of Sunda, and on the 25th of January, 1620, met, off the coast of Sumatra, three English ships of a new fleet, from which he learned that four others of the squadron to which they belonged had been surprised while at anchor off the coast of Java, and taken by the Dutch; that another had been wrecked in the Straits of Sunda; and that the Dutch were in pursuit of two others, with every prospect of taking them.

As the Dutch at Jacatra were three times as strong as the three squadrons now united under Pring, and as three of his largest ships were very leaky, and the whole fleet short of provisions, it was resolved to send part of the vessels to a place at the north end of Sumatra, in hopes to meet with the Company’s ships on their way with rice from Surat, while Pring himself, with his leaky vessels, should proceed to Japan,—reported to be a good place for repairs as well as for obtaining provisions. Just at this time the happy news arrived, brought by two vessels despatched for that purpose from Europe, of an arrangement of the pending dispute, and of the union of the Dutch and English East India Companies into one body.

Shortly after this welcome information, Pring sailed for Japan with two of his leaky vessels, having made an arrangement to be followed in a month by a united fleet of five English and five Dutch ships. These ships were intended partly, indeed, for trade, but their principal[Pg 239] object appears to have been attacks upon Manila and Macao.

All these vessels, the “Unicorn” excepted, arrived safely at Hirado. She was stranded on the coast of China, and her crew were the first Englishmen known to have landed there. A joint embassy was sent to the emperor with presents, which, notwithstanding the privileges of trade, were expected from every vessel that came. Having completed his repairs, and leaving the other vessels behind him, Pring sailed on the 7th of December, 1620, in the “Royal James,” for Jacatra, carrying with him the news of the death of Adams, who, having remained in the service of the Company, had never again visited England.[107]

[Pg 240]

The arrangement with the Dutch was but of short duration. Fresh quarrels broke out. In 1623 occurred the famous massacre of Amboyna, followed by the expulsion of the English from the Spice Islands; and about the same time the Company abandoned the trade to Japan, after having lost forty thousand pounds in the adventure.[108] This massacre of Amboyna consisted in[Pg 241] the execution, by the Dutch, of ten or twelve factors of the English East India Company, on the charge of having conspired with some thirty Japanese residents to seize the Dutch fort. One of these Japanese having put some questions to a Dutch sentinel about the strength of the fort, he and others of his countrymen were arrested on suspicion, and by torture were compelled to accuse the English, who were then tortured in their turn into accusing each other. The residence of these Japanese at Amboyna is a proof, in addition to those already mentioned, of the adventurous spirit of the Japanese of that day, who had indeed a reputation for desperate daring, such as might give some color to the suspicions of the Dutch.[109]

Meanwhile the persecution continued as violently as ever. In the year 1622 fourteen Jesuits were burnt at the stake, including Spinola, a missionary of illustrious birth, who had been twenty years in Japan. Two friars were also burnt, who had been found on board a Japanese vessel from the Philippines, captured in 1620, by one of the English ships, the Elizabeth, employed in the blockade of Macao, and by her commander carried to Hirado. The master and crew of the Japanese vessel and many other native converts were executed at the same time. The Spaniards were suspected of smuggling in missionaries, and were wholly forbidden the islands. As a greater security against this danger, by an edict, issued in 1624,[110]—shortly previous to which there had been a very severe inquisition in Yedo and its neighborhood for concealed priests,—all the ports of Japan were closed against foreigners, except Hirado and Nagasaki,[Pg 242] of which Hirado remained open to the Dutch and English, Nagasaki to the Portuguese, and both to the Chinese. At the same time was introduced the custom of requiring an exact muster roll, and making a strict inspection of the crews of all foreign vessels. By the same edict all the subjects of the Catholic king, whether Portuguese or Spaniards, were banished the country, however long they might have been settled there, and even though they might have families by Japanese wives.

What aggravated the misfortunes of the Japanese church, and greatly diminished the dignity of its fall, was the still hot jealousy and mutual hatred of the Jesuits and of the friars, inflamed rather than quenched by all this common danger and suffering. The bishop of Japan having died (it was said of grief, at the peril of his flock) just as the persecution broke out, a most unseemly quarrel arose, which was carried on for several years with great virulence, as to the administration of the bishopric. It was claimed, on the one hand, by Father Corvailho, the provincial of the Jesuits, under an authority from the Pope; and, on the other, by Father Pierre Baptiste, a Franciscan, as vicar-general of the archbishop of Manila, to whose jurisdiction it was pretended the bishopric of Japan appertained. This quarrel about the administration of the bishopric was finally settled by the Pope in favor of the Jesuits.

Facsimile of an Anti-Christian Edict

The Jesuit seminaries in Japan being broken up, they had organized one at Macao for the education of Japanese ecclesiastics; but the severe penalties denounced against all priests coming into Japan, and against all, whether natives or foreigners, who should shelter them after their arrival, made the existence of the church and the celebration of divine service every day more[Pg 243] precarious. From year to year it grew more and more difficult for new missionaries to get landed, great as was the zeal for that service. Of those who did land, the greater part were immediately seized and put to death. Large rewards were offered to any person who would betray or take a missionary. Those already in the country lived in hourly danger of arrest, forced to conceal themselves in cellars, holes and caverns and the huts of lepers, exposing to tortures and death all who might bring them food, or in any way assist in concealing them. The greatness of their sufferings does not depend merely upon the testimony of their own letters. Roger Gysbert, a Dutch Protestant and a resident in Japan, between the years 1622 and 1629, wrote an affecting narrative of it, and the general fact is strongly stated in Caron’s account of Japan, written a few years later.

Gysbert, in his narrative[111], relates the martyrdom of more than five hundred persons; but there was a still larger amount of suffering which terminated not in martyrdom, but in recantation. The Japanese officers seldom exhibited any personal malice against the Catholics. Their sole object was the extinction of that faith. They made it a study to deny the crown of martyrdom so enthusiastically sought, and by a series of protracted and ingenious tortures to force a renunciation. For this purpose the prisoners were sprinkled with water from the boiling sulphur springs, not far from Nagasaki, and exposed to breathe their stifling odor. The modesty of the women was barbarously assailed, and numerous means of protracted torture were resorted to, such as in[Pg 244] general proved sooner or later successful. Other means were employed still more efficacious. All natives engaged in foreign trade were required to give in an exact statement of their property, which, unless the proprietors would conform to the national faith, was declared forfeited. It was even forbidden that European merchants should lodge in the houses of any who were or had been Catholics. At Hirado and Nagasaki all heads of families were obliged to swear, in the presence of an idol, that there were no Catholics in their houses, and, according to the Japanese usage, to sign this declaration with their blood. From Melchior Santvoort, an old Dutchman, one of the companions of Adams in the first Dutch voyage to Japan, and a resident at Nagasaki, the authorities were indeed satisfied to take instead a declaration that he was a Hollander,—a circumstance which gave occasion to the scandal at which Kämpfer is so indignant, that the Hollanders were accustomed to report themselves to the Japanese authorities as not Christians, but Dutchmen. All who refused to conform to the national worship were deprived of their employments, and driven out to live as they could among the barren mountains. The seafaring people had been mostly Catholics, but no Catholic was henceforth to be permitted to sail on board any ship. So successful were these means, that although when Gysbert first visited Nagasaki, in 1626, it was said to contain forty thousand native Christians, when he left it, in 1629, there was not one who admitted himself to be such.

In the midst of these martyrdoms the Jesuits were called upon to suffer still severer torments, in new attacks upon their policy and conduct in Japan, published throughout Europe. Father Collado, a Dominican, for[Pg 245] some time resident at Nagasaki, who returned to Europe in 1622, was known to have gone home charged with accusations against the Jesuits; by way of answer to which a memorial was transmitted, prepared by the provincial Father Pacheco, who, four years after, himself suffered martyrdom at the stake. Nor was Collado their only assailant. Among those arrested in 1622 was Father Sotelo, that same enterprising Franciscan of whom already we have had occasion to make mention. Insisting upon his character of legate from the Pope, he had disobeyed the orders of his superiors, had sailed from New Spain to Manila, and had contrived to get a passage thence to Nagasaki, in a Chinese vessel, under the character of a merchant. But the captain detected and betrayed him; he was immediately arrested and thrown into prison, and in 1624 was put to death.

In 1628 there was published at Madrid what purported to be a letter from Sotelo to Pope Urban VIII, written in Latin, dated just before his martyrdom, and containing, under the form of a narrative of his own proceedings, a violent attack upon the Jesuits, and their conduct in Japan. Not liking to be thus attacked as it were by a martyr from his grave, they denied its authenticity. A memorial of Collado, printed in 1633, reiterated the same charges, to most of which it must be admitted that the replies made on behalf of the Jesuits are entirely satisfactory[112].

[Pg 246]

Finding that the means as yet employed had little effect upon the missionaries and their native assistants, a new and more effectual, because more protracted, torture was resorted to, known in the relations of the missionaries as the Torment of the Fosse. A hole was dug in the ground, over which a gallows was erected. From this gallows the sufferer, swathed in bandages, was suspended by his feet, being lowered for half his length, head downward, into the hole, which was then closed by two boards which fitted together around the victim so as to exclude the light and air. One hand was bound behind the back, the other was left loose, with which to make the prescribed signal of recantation and renunciation of the foreign creed; in which case the sufferer was at once released.

[Pg 247]

This was a most terrible trial, indeed. The victim suffered under a continual sense of suffocation, the blood burst from the mouth, nose and ears, with a twitching of the nerves and muscles, attended by the most intolerable pains. Yet the sufferer, it was said, lived sometimes for nine or ten days. The year 1633, in which this punishment was first introduced, the second year of a new emperor, son of Shōgun Sama[113], proved more fatal than any previous one to the new religion. In the month of August of that year forty-two persons were burnt alive in various parts of Japan, eleven decapitated, and sixteen suspended in the fosse. The Dutchman Hagenaar, who was at Hirado in 1634, states, in his printed voyages, that during the time of his visit thirty-seven persons lost their lives at that place on the charge of being Catholics. Five of these perished by the torment of the fosse, others were beheaded, others cut to pieces, and others burnt.

What at last struck the deepest horror to the souls of the few surviving Jesuits, and was greatly improved in Europe to the damage of the Company, by its enemies, was the apostasy of Father Christopher Ferreyra, a Portuguese, an old missionary, the provincial of the order, and the administrator of the bishopric. He was taken in 1633 at Nagasaki, and being suspended in the fosse, after five hours he gave the fatal signal of renunciation. After having been kept some time in prison, and given what information he could for the detection of those of his late brethren still concealed in Japan, he was set at liberty; and, having assumed the Japanese dress and a Japanese name, he lived for several years at[Pg 248] Nagasaki. He had been compelled to marry a Japanese woman, who was very rich, being the widow of a Chinese goldsmith, who had been executed for some offence; but the Jesuits comforted themselves with the idea that the marriage was never consummated; and they even got up a report that in his old age this renegade brother recovered his courage, and having, on his death-bed, confessed himself a Christian, was immediately hurried off to perish a martyr by that very torment of the fosse, the terror of which had first made and had so long kept him an apostate. But for this fine story there seems to have been no foundation except the wishes and hopes of those who circulated it.

As a further security against the surreptitious introduction of missionaries, the policy was adopted, in 1635, of confining the Portuguese sailors and merchants to the little artificial island of Deshima, in the harbor of Nagasaki, a spot but just large enough to hold the necessary residences and warehouses. Shortly after the issue of this edict, the people of the kingdom of Arima, all of them still Catholic except the king and the nobility, seeing no other hope, broke out into open revolt. They were headed by a descendant of their ancient kings, and mustering, it is said, to the number of thirty-seven thousand, took possession of the fortress of Shimabara, situated about due east from Nagasaki, on the gulf of the same name. Here they were besieged; and the place being taken in 1638, those who held it were cut off to a man.

The Portuguese were accused of having encouraged this revolt; in consequence of which an edict was issued, in 1638, not only banishing all the Portuguese, but forbidding also any Japanese to go out of the[Pg 249] country. That edict, as given by Kämpfer, was as follows:

“No Japanese ship or boat whatever, nor any native of Japan, shall presume to go out of the country: who acts contrary to this shall die, and the ship with the crew and goods aboard shall be sequestered till further order.

“All Japanese who return from abroad shall be put to death.

“Whoever discovers a priest shall have a reward of 400 to 500 shuets of silver, and for every Christian in proportion[114].

“All persons who propagate the doctrine of the Christians, or bear this scandalous name, shall be imprisoned in the Ombra, or common jail of the town.

“The whole race of the Portuguese, with their mothers, nurses, and whatever belongs to them, shall be banished to Macao.

“Whoever presumes to bring a letter from abroad, or to return after he hath been banished, shall die with all his family; also whoever presumes to intercede for them shall be put to death.

“No nobleman nor any soldier shall be suffered to purchase anything of a foreigner.”

The Portuguese ships of 1639 were sent back with a copy of this edict, without being suffered to discharge their cargoes. The corporation of the city of Macao, greatly alarmed at the loss of a lucrative traffic, on which their prosperity mainly depended, sent deputies to solicit some modification of this edict. But the only reply made by the emperor was to cause these deputies themselves, with their attendants, to the number of sixty-one persons, to be seized and put to death, as[Pg 250] violators of the very edict against which they had been sent to remonstrate. Thirteen only, of the lowest rank, were sent back to Macao, August, 1640, with this account of the fate of their company[115].

[Pg 251]


Policy of the Dutch—Affair of Nuyts—Haganaar’s Visits to Japan—Caron’s Account of Japan—Income of the Emperor and the Nobles—Military Force—Social and Political Position of the Nobles—Justice—Relation of the Dutch to the Persecution of the Catholics—The Dutch removed from Hirado and confined in Deshima—Attempts of the English, Portuguese, and French at Intercourse with Japan—Final Extinction of the Catholic Faith—A. D. 1620-1707.

Throughout the whole of the long and cruel persecution of the Catholics, the Dutch had striven by extreme subserviency to recommend themselves to the favor of the Japanese, in hopes of exclusively engrossing a trade which appears at this time to have been more extensive and more lucrative than at any former period. The Japanese, however, seem not to have been insensible to the advantages of competition; and, so long as the Portuguese commerce continued, they extended to the vessels of that nation a certain protection against the Dutch, and even preference over them. The danger from Dutch cruisers appears to have caused the substitution, for the single great carac of Macao, of a number of smaller vessels; nor were the Dutch, however urgent their solicitations, allowed to leave Hirado till such a number of days after the departure of the Portuguese from Nagasaki as would prevent all danger of collision.

Yet, however cringing the general policy of the Dutch East India Company, their trade, through the folly of a single individual, was near being exposed to a violent[Pg 252] interruption. In the year 1626, Conrad Kramer, the head of the Dutch factory, was extremely well received on his visit to Yedo, and was allowed to be present at Miyako during the visit of the emperor to the Dairi,—an occasion which drew together an immense concourse, and which, according to the account that Kramer has left of it, was attended with vast confusion[116]. The annual visit to Yedo was made the next year by Peter de Nuyts, who gave himself out as ambassador from the king of Holland, and at first was treated as such; but the Japanese having discovered that he had no commission except from the council of Batavia, sent him away in disgrace.

Shortly after, Nuyts was appointed governor of Formosa. The Dutch, following in the footsteps of some Japanese adventurers, had formed an establishment on that island, about the year 1620, with a view to a smuggling trade with China; and, by erecting a fort at the mouth of the harbor, had speedily obtained the exclusive control of it. Not long after Nuyts’ appointment as governor, there arrived two Japanese vessels, on a voyage to China. They merely touched at Formosa for water, but Nuyts, to gratify the spite he had conceived against the Japanese nation, contrived to detain them so long that they missed the monsoon; and having required them, as the sole condition on which he would allow their entrance, to give up their sails and rudders, upon one pretence and another, he refused to return them, till at length the patience of the Japanese was entirely exhausted. They numbered five hundred men; and at last, all their reiterated and urgent applications for leave[Pg 253] to depart being refused, they attacked the governor by surprise, overpowered his household, and made him prisoner; nor did the garrison of the neighboring fort dare to fire upon them for fear of killing their own people. Thus the brave Japanese extorted liberty to depart and indemnity for their losses, to which the Dutch assented, notwithstanding their superior force, for fear of reprisals in Japan. These, however, they did not avoid, for, as soon as the Japanese reached home, the emperor put under sequestration nine vessels with their cargoes, then at Hirado, belonging to the Dutch East India Company, and forbade any further trade with their agents. Things remained in this state for three years, the Japanese, however, receiving as usual Dutch vessels which came from Batavia, under the assumed character of belonging not to the East India Company, but to private merchants. At last it was resolved to seek an accommodation by surrendering up Nuyts to the mercy of the Japanese, which was done in 1634.

Having obtained his unconditional surrender, they treated him with great clemency; for, though detained in custody, he was not kept a close prisoner; and, in return for this concession, the Company’s ships were released and their trade reëstablished. The liberation of Nuyts was granted two years afterwards as a mark of the emperor’s satisfaction, with a splendid chandelier among the annual presents of the Company, and which was used as an ornament for the temple-mausoleum of the emperors of the race of Gongen-Sama [at Nikkō], completed about that time.

In the solicitation for the release of Nuyts both Haganaar and Caron were employed, to each of whom we are indebted for some curious memoirs of the state of Japan[Pg 254] in their time. Haganaar made three visits thither. The first included the last four months of 1634. The second extended from September, 1635, to November, 1636; during which he made a visit to Yedo, and was at the head of the factory. The third was limited to three months in the autumn of 1637. Of each of these visits he has given brief notes in his printed travels[117], besides adding some observations of his own to Caron’s account of Japan. Hirado, which he describes as a town of thirty-six streets, had grown up suddenly, in consequence of the Dutch trade,—a single street producing more revenue to the lord than the whole town formerly had done; yet there were hardly any merchants in the place, except those who lodged at the factory, and who were drawn thither from all parts by the Dutch trade.

During Haganaar’s second visit, the Dutch were called sharply to account for having presumed to sell their silk at a higher rate than that asked by the Portuguese, and a price was prescribed, which they were not to exceed. Being deputed to visit Yedo, on the business of Nuyts’ release, Haganaar proceeded thither by sea, and took lodgings at the house of a Japanese bonze, who was the usual host of the Dutch. The agency of the lord of Hirado and of his secretary was employed with several of the imperial counsellors, but owing, as it would seem, to a deficiency of presents, without success. Caron arranged this matter more successfully the next year. From Yedo to Ōsaka Haganaar travelled by land, and from Ōsaka by water to Hirado, where, during his absence, thirteen or fourteen persons had suffered death[Pg 255] because they belonged to Catholic families. He notes that the Japanese whale fishery for the season of 1636 resulted in the capture of two hundred and seventy-four whales; which, however, were much smaller and less fat than the Greenland whales, and were taken more for food than oil. Shortly after his return to Hirado, news came of an order from court that all the Portuguese half-castes—that is, descendants of Portuguese by Japanese women—should be shipped off with their wives and children to Macao.

Returning to Japan a third time, in 1637,—in the seventh Dutch ship which arrived that year,—Haganaar heard that Admiral Weddell was at Nagasaki with four richly laden English ships. They had been refused entrance into Macao, and had come thence to Japan, but could not obtain permission to trade, nor even to land. Six Portuguese galliots had also arrived from Macao with full cargoes of rich silks, which were sold, however, at little profit. Yet they were reported to have carried back, in return, two thousand six hundred chests of silver, or more than three millions of dollars.

To relieve the necessities of the Dutch governor of Formosa, who was engaged in hostilities with the natives, and had been obliged to borrow of Chinese traders, at the rate of three per cent a month, Haganaar was despatched thither with four ships and four hundred and fifty chests of silver, of which two hundred had been borrowed at Miyako of Japanese capitalists, at twenty-four per cent per annum. The following year he returned to Holland, where he soon after printed his voyages, and along with them the answers made by Francis Caron to a series of questions which had been submitted to him by the director of the Company, and[Pg 256] which throw not a little light upon the condition of Japan at this time.

Caron, born in Holland of French parents, had originally gone to Japan quite young, Kämpfer says, as cook of a Dutch ship. Bad treatment caused him to quit the ship in Japan, where he was presently taken into the service of the Dutch factory, and taught reading, writing, and accounts. He gave evidence of remarkable abilities, and rose in time to the head of the establishment. He spoke the language fluently, had married a Japanese wife, and from the liberty of intercourse then allowed, and his long residence in the country, enjoyed means of information which no European has since possessed.

In describing the political state of Japan, Caron gives the names, residences, and revenues of thirty-two princes, that is, rulers of one or more provinces (spoken of in the earlier relations as kings), of whom the prince of Kaga, who was also ruler of two other provinces, had a revenue of one hundred and nineteen mankoku, and the others revenues varying from seventy to eighteen mankoku. He adds the mimes, residences, and incomes of one hundred and seven other lords, twenty of whom had revenues of from fifteen to seven mankoku, and the others of from six to two mankoku. Another list contains the names of forty-one lords, with revenues of from one to two mankoku; and in a fourth list he enumerates sixteen lords attached to the imperial court, of whom the first four had from fifteen to nine mankoku, and the others from six to one mankoku. The total revenues of these one hundred and ninety-six great nobles amounted to nineteen thousand three hundred and forty-five mankoku, exclusive of nine thousand mankoku of imperial revenue, of which four thousand

Dutch Candelabrum at Nikkō

[Pg 257]

were employed in the maintenance of the court, and the remainder in the support of the imperial guard, all of whom were nobles, many of them children of the concubines of the emperors and great princes, and excluded on that account from the prospect of succession[118]. Thus the total annual revenues of the great landed proprietors of Japan amounted to twenty-eight million three hundred and forty-five thousand koku of rice, equal to about ninety million cwt., or one hundred and thirty-three million five hundred thousand bushels; nor is it probable that in this respect there has been much change from that time to this[119]. Caron gives as the current value of the koku, or, as he calls it, cokien, ten guilders (or four dollars), which would make the mankoku equal to one hundred thousand florins (forty thousand dollars), or what the Dutch called a ton of gold. The prince of Satsuma, who was lord also of four other provinces, is put down in the above lists at sixty-four mankoku, the prince of Hizen at thirty-six, and the lord of Hirado at six[120].

These revenues arose in part from mines of gold,[Pg 258] silver, copper, iron, tin, and lead, from timber, hemp, cotton, and silk, and from fisheries; but chiefly from the rice and other crops. There were no taxes or duties in Japan, except ground rents for lands and houses, payable in produce or money and in personal services. All these nobles had residences at Yedo, in the precinct of the imperial palace, in which their children resided as hostages for their fidelity. For each thousand koku of revenue these lords furnished on demand twenty foot-soldiers and two horsemen, and maintained them during the campaign, exclusive of the necessary servants and camp followers. The whole of their quotas, or of the feudal militia of Japan, thus amounted to three hundred and sixty-eight thousand foot and thirty-eight thousand eight hundred horse, in addition to a standing army of one hundred thousand foot and twenty thousand horse, maintained by the emperor from his own revenues, as garrisons and guards. The princes, however, prided themselves on keeping up many more troops than their regular quotas. To every five men there was an officer. Five of these sections composed a platoon, which had its commander. Two platoons made a company, which had its captain. Five of these companies, of fifty privates and thirteen officers, composed a battalion of two hundred and fifty rank and file, with its special officer; and ten battalions, a division of two thousand five hundred men. The civil division was much the same. Every five houses had an inspector, who kept a register of all births and deaths, and every street its magistrate and watch.

Though the revenues of the nobles were great, their expenses were still more so. They were obliged to pass six months at the imperial court; those of the northern and eastern provinces during one half the year, those of[Pg 259] the southern and western provinces during the other half. They travelled in great state, some of them with not less than four or five thousand men in their suite, and, on their arrival and departure, gave great entertainments. The prince of Hirado, though one of the lesser class, was always attended in his journeys by at least three hundred men, and entertained in his two houses at Yedo more than a thousand persons. What with their households, the clothing of their followers, their women, of whom they entertained a great number, their children,—the prince of Mito, the emperor’s uncle, had fifty-four boys, and daughters still more numerous,—presents and festivals, their expenses generally exceeded their incomes; and, besides, they were often required to furnish workmen, at the demand of the emperor, for building new castles, temples, or anything he might undertake. The honor of a visit from the emperor was very highly esteemed. He seldom paid more than one to the same house. No expense was spared, and years were spent in preparations, which often ruined those who enjoyed this honor. The visit made by the emperor to the Dairi at Miyako, once in seven years, was a still more magnificent affair.

The emperor maintained on the estate of each noble a secretary, in fact a spy, sent nominally to assist and advise him in the management of his affairs. Those selected for this service were generally persons educated at court, and of known fidelity, who, before their departure, signed with their blood a promise to keep the emperor fully informed of the affairs and actions of the prince to whom they were sent.

The marriages of the nobles were arranged by the emperor. The wife thus given was entitled to great[Pg 260] respect. Her sons alone succeeded to the lordship, which, in case she had none, was generally transferred to some other family. The children by the numerous concubines of the nobles had no share in the inheritance, and were often reduced to beggary. Besides concubines, free indulgence was allowed with the courtesans maintained by the lords of each district for public use. The lawful wives lived in splendid seclusion, attended by troops of female servants. Of women’s rights the Japanese nobles had no very high idea. Not only the strictest chastity was expected from them, but entire devotion to their husbands, and abstinence from any intermeddling with business or politics; the Japanese opinion being—in which Caron seems fully to coincide—that women are only made for the pleasure of the men and to bring up children. The children, though treated with great indulgence, were exceedingly respectful to their parents.

The emperor had in every city and village officers for the administration of justice; but every householder had the right to dispense punishments in his own family. Justice was very strict and severe, especially in cases of theft; and for crimes against the state the punishment extended to the whole family of the offender. The nobles and military, in case they were convicted of crimes, enjoyed the privilege of cutting themselves open. Merchants and mechanics were held in mean esteem,—the former as cheats and tricksters, the latter as public servants. The cultivators were little better than slaves.

The account which Caron gives of domestic manners corresponds sufficiently well with the more extended observations to be quoted hereafter from subsequent[Pg 261] observers. He did not regard the Japanese as very devout. The persecution against the Catholics he describes as equal to anything in ecclesiastical history. He particularly admired the steadiness and constancy of many young children of ten or twelve years. All the inhabitants were required once a year to sign a declaration that they were good Japanese, and that the Catholic religion was false. The Catholics had amounted to four hundred thousand; and their number was still considerable[121].

The Dutch had all along stimulated the Japanese against the Portuguese. All missionaries bound for Japan, found on board of Portuguese and Spanish prizes taken in the neighboring seas, had been delivered into the hands of the Japanese authorities. The Dutch had even assisted at the siege of Shimabara, for which they had furnished a train of artillery, conducted thither by Kockebecker, the head, at that time, of the Dutch factory. But they were far from realizing all the advantages which they had expected from the expulsion of their rivals. They, too, had excited suspicions by replacing their dilapidated wooden factory at Hirado by a strong stone warehouse, which had something of the aspect of a fortress. In spite of their submissiveness in pulling down[122] this erection, their establishment at that place[Pg 262] was suddenly closed, and in 1641 the Dutch factors were transferred to Nagasaki, where they were shut up in the same little artificial island of Deshima, which had been constructed to be the prison-house of the Portuguese. And to this narrow island they have ever since been confined, with the exception of some occasional visits to Nagasaki and its environs, and an annual journey, by the chief officers of the factory, to pay their homage to the emperor at Yedo,—a ceremony which seems to have been coeval with the first arrival of the Dutch. Hitherto the Portuguese and the Dutch also had freely intermarried with the Japanese; but this intimacy now came wholly to an end, and even the Dutch were thenceforth regarded rather as prisoners than as friends.

What contributed to increase this jealousy of the Dutch was the peace between Holland and the Portuguese, which followed the assumption of the crown of Portugal by the house of Braganza, and the separation of Portugal from Spain, in the year 1640.

Evidence of this very soon appeared. In the year 1643 the Dutch sent two ships from Batavia, the “Castricoom” and the “Breskens,” to explore the yet little-known northern coast of Japan, the island of Yezo, and the adjacent continent, and especially to search out certain fabled islands of gold and silver, whence the Japanese were said to derive large supplies of those metals. These vessels, when off Yedo, were separated in a storm, and the “Breskens,” in need of supplies, touched at a fishing village in about forty degrees of north latitude. The[Pg 263] lord of the village, and a principal person of the neighboring district, visited the ship with great show of friendship, and having enticed the captain, Shaëp, and his chief officers on shore, made them prisoners, bound them, and sent them off to Nambu, near by. They were permitted to communicate with the ship, and to obtain their baggage, but at first were treated with much rigor on suspicion of being Spaniards or Portuguese. It being found, however, that they paid no respect to the sign of the cross or to pictures of the Virgin, it was concluded that they were Hollanders, and they were treated with less severity. At Nambu they were splendidly entertained, and in their twenty days’ journey thence to Yedo, in which they passed through a hundred well-built villages, they had nothing to complain of except the inconvenience of the crowds that flocked to see them. In every village they saw rewards posted up for the discovery of Christians. Not being willing to reveal the true object of their voyage, they stated themselves to have been driven to the north in an attempt to reach Nagasaki. It was plain, however, that their story about having come from Batavia, and being in the service of the East India Company, was not believed. It was suspected that they had come from Macao or Manila for the purpose of landing missionaries, and they were subjected in consequence to numerous fatiguing cross-examinations, in which a bonze assisted, who spoke Spanish, Portuguese, English, and Flemish, and whom they conjectured to be some apostate European. What increased the suspicions of Japanese was, that five Jesuits from Manila had recently, in an attempt to reach Japan, been arrested at the Lew Chew Islands, and sent thence to Yedo. The Dutchmen were confronted with these Jesuits, to their great alarm.[Pg 264] They also feared, if the true object of the voyage came out, being exposed to punishment not only for undertaking unauthorized explorations, but for falsehood in concealing and misrepresenting their object; but when the Japanese had learned from Nagasaki that two Dutch ships had been sent on a voyage for the exploration of Tartary, of which the factors represented theirs as probably one, they excused their silence on that subject on the ground of not having been properly understood and interpreted. The factors at Nagasaki had been not less careful than themselves to say nothing about the search for mines.

New interpreters were brought from Nagasaki, among them another apostate, whom there are grounds for supposing was the ex-provincial Ferreyra, between whom and the Jesuit prisoners they witnessed a bitter scene of mutual reproaches. A great many rigorous cross-examinations followed. The Dutchmen were required to sign a paper by which all the Company’s property was pledged for their reappearance before the imperial tribunals at any time that it might be discovered that they had landed missionaries. Their having discharged some pieces of artillery from the ship was insisted upon as a crime; also their ship having sailed off without waiting for them. The recent peace between Holland and Portugal was pointedly alluded to, and even the search for mines seems to have been suspected. The appearance of a ship on the east coast of Japan, which proved to be the “Castricoom,” some of whose people who landed were seized and sent to Yedo, gave rise to many new interrogations. Elserak, the director, at length arrived, and, after a separate examination, was confronted with them and signed the paper above described, when the Dutch were finally[Pg 265] released, after an imprisonment of upwards of four months[123].

The “Castricoom,” more successful, discovered the Kurile Islands, Yetorofu and Uruppu, to which were given the names of State’s Islands and Company’s Islands, and made some explorations of the east coast of Yezo, and of Sakhalin, taken to be a part of it. The information thus obtained, together with the two relations of Father de Angelis, written in 1616 and 1621, was all that was known of these regions till the explorations of Broughton and La Perouse, towards the close of the last century. Golownin’s adventures and experience there, as related in a subsequent chapter, bear a very remarkable and curious resemblance to those of Captain Schaëp and his companions. Their release was acknowledged in a solemn embassy from the Company,—that of Frisius. About the same time, in 1647, a Portuguese embassy arrived in Japan, in hopes, since the separation from Spain, of reviving the ancient commercial intercourse; but, though the ambassador was treated with respect, his request was peremptorily declined.

A new emperor, a minor, having succeeded in 1651, the Dutch Company sent Waganaar to congratulate him. Among other presents he brought a Casuar, a strange bird of the ostrich kind, from Banda, but the officers at Nagasaki would not suffer it to be forwarded. During this visit there happened a terrible fire at Yedo, by which two-thirds of that city were laid in ruins. Some violent[Pg 266] disputes having arisen, and the Japanese having gone so far as to take away the rudders of the Dutch ships, Waganaar went on a second embassy to Yedo, in 1659[124].

The establishment of the French East India Company by Colbert led to some projects for a French trade with Japan, especially as Caron in some disgust had quitted the Dutch service, and enlisted into that of France. A letter from Louis XIV to the emperor of Japan, dated in 1666, was prepared, and instructions for Caron, who was to be the bearer of it; but the project does not appear to have been prosecuted[125]. [See Appendix, Note 1.]

[Pg 267]

In 1673, the English East India Company made an attempt at the renewal of the trade with Japan, by despatching a ship thither. The Japanese, through the medium of the Dutch, kept themselves informed, as they still do, of the affairs of Europe; and the first question put to the new-comers was, how long since the English king (Charles II) had married a daughter of the king of Portugal. Though otherwise courteously enough received and entertained, the vessel was not allowed to sell her cargo. This refusal of intercourse the English ascribed to Dutch jealousy; but it probably was a step, as will be seen in the next chapter, to which the Japanese did not need any urging.[126]

Though the Catholics of Japan were effectually cut off from all intercourse with Europe, the Catholic faith still lingered for a good while in those parts of Shimo in which it had taken the deepest root. So late as 1690, there were, according to Kämpfer, fifty persons, men, women, and children (of whom three had been arrested in 1683), imprisoned at Nagasaki for life, or until they should renounce the Catholic faith and conform to the religious usages of the country. These were peasants who knew little more of the faith which they professed except the name of the Saviour and the Virgin Mary, which, indeed, according to the Dutch accounts, was all[Pg 268] that the greater part of the Japanese converts had ever known.

To land in Japan, to strengthen and comfort the faithful there, or at least to secure the crown of martyrdom in the attempt, long continued an attractive enterprise to the more romantic spirits among the religious orders of the Catholic church. Most of those who undertook this adventure were known to have been seized and executed soon after landing. The last effort of this sort appears to have been made in 1707. From that time, and notwithstanding the great revival, within fifty or sixty years past, of the missionary spirit, Japan has remained even less attempted by missionary than by mercantile enterprise.

[Pg 269]


Portuguese Trade to Japan—Dutch Trade—Silver, Gold, and Copper the Chief Articles of Export—Export of Silver prohibited—Chinese Trade—Its Increase after the Accession of the Manchu Dynasty—Chinese Temples at Nagasaki—A Buddhist Doctor from China—Edict on the Subject of Household Worship—Restrictions on the Dutch Trade—Increase in the Number of Chinese Visitors to Nagasaki—Their Objects—Restrictions on the Chinese Trade—The Chinese shut up in a Factory—Trade with Lew Chew [Riūkiū]—A. D. 1542-1690.

Of the real value and extent of the trade which for some ninety years the Portuguese carried on with Japan, and which was brought to a final close in the year 1638, we have no means of forming any very exact estimate. When we read in writers of two or three centuries ago glowing accounts of immense commercial profits, we must also recollect that, compared with the commerce of the present day, the trade upon which these great profits were made was exceedingly limited in amount.

For more than half of the above period of ninety years the intercourse of the Portuguese with Japan seems to have been reduced, or nearly so, to a single annual ship, known as the great carac of Macao, sent annually from that city, and laden chiefly with China silks, every Portuguese citizen of Macao having the right, if he chose to exercise it, of putting on board a certain number of packages, as did also the Society of Jesus, which had a college and a commercial agency in that city. Of this traffic the following account is given by Ralph Fitch, an[Pg 270] intelligent Englishman, who was in Malacca in the year 1588[127]: “When the Portuguese go from Macao in China to Japan, they carry much white silk, gold, musk, and porcelains, and they bring from thence nothing but silver. They have a great carac, which goeth thither every year, and she bringeth from thence every year about six hundred thousand crusados (not far from as many dollars); and all this silver of Japan, and two hundred thousand crusados more in silver, which they bring yearly out of India, they employ to their advantage in China; and they bring from thence gold, musk, silk, porcelains, and many other things very costly and gilded.”[128]

[Pg 271]

If we allow to the Portuguese an annual average export of half a million of dollars, that will make in ninety years forty-five millions of dollars of silver carried away by the Portuguese; for, according to all accounts, they brought away nothing else.

Though the Spaniards were never allowed to trade to Japan, at one period, as we have seen, a considerable number of Japanese junks frequented Manila for the purchase of Chinese goods; but this trade was brought to an end in 1624, in consequence of the facilities which it afforded for the introduction of Catholic priests into Japan.

Map of Feudal Japan

The Dutch trade began in 1609. We have seen that in a short time it gained a very considerable extent; and it increased, as the trading establishment which the Dutch gradually obtained in India and Persia, and that on the island of Formosa, whence they had access to China, furnishing them with a supply of rich silks, the great article of import into Japan. As the Portuguese trade was carried on from Macao, so the Dutch trade was carried on, not from Holland, but from Batavia. The year preceding the shutting up of the Dutch in Deshima is stated to have been the most profitable of any. The previous average sales in Japan had been about sixty tons of gold; but that year the Dutch had imported and disposed of goods to the value of eighty tons of gold (that is, three million two hundred thousand dollars, a[Pg 272] Dutch ton of gold being one hundred thousand florins, or forty thousand dollars). Among the exports were fourteen hundred chests of silver, each chest containing one thousand taels, or near two million dollars in silver alone[129]. About this time, however, owing to the[Pg 273] comparative exhaustion of the silver, or the comparative increase of gold, that metal became a leading, as, indeed, it seems to have been before a considerable article of export with the Dutch. The gold koban, the national coin of the Japanese, weighed at this time forty-seven kanderins, that is, two hundred and seventy-four grains troy, which is sixteen grains more than our present eagle. But, if superior in weight, the koban was inferior in fineness, containing of pure gold only two hundred and twenty-four grains, whereas the eagle contains two hundred and thirty-two grains. It passed in Japan and was purchased by the Dutch for six taels or less in silver, which enabled them to dispose of it to good advantage on the coast of Coromandel, where the relative value of gold was much higher. In the two years, 1670, 1671, more than one hundred thousand koban were exported, at a profit of a million florins; and down to that time the Dutch sent annually to Japan five or six ships a year. In 1644, the export of copper began, and went on gradually increasing. In 1671, an edict was issued, prohibiting the further export of silver; but this gave no concern to the Dutch, who had already ceased to export it. Its principal operation was against the Chinese, who at this time carried on a great trade to Japan.

Of the early commercial relations of China and Japan our knowledge is very limited. As the Japanese at an early era, according to their own annals (constructed, it is probable, by Buddhist priests), as early as A. D. 600,[Pg 274] had received from China Buddhist missionaries, and through them the language, graphic characters, science, etc., of the Chinese, it would seem probable that some commercial intercourse must have early existed between these two nations. If so, however, the threatened Mongol invasion, towards the end of the thirteenth century, would have been likely to have interrupted it. The native Chinese dynasty, which succeeded after the expulsion of the Mongols, was exceedingly jealous of all strangers and hostile to intercourse with them. No foreign trade was allowed, and every Chinese who left his country incurred a sentence of perpetual banishment. It is true that the Chinese colonists, that had emigrated, perhaps on the invasion of the Mongols, and had settled in the neighboring maritime countries (as others did afterwards on the invasion of the present Manchu dynasty), still contrived to keep up some intercourse with China, while they carried on a vigorous trade with the adjacent islands and countries; but, at the time of the Portuguese discovery, no such trade would seem to have existed with Japan.

The Manchu dynasty (the same now reigning), which mounted the throne in 1644, was much less hostile to foreigners; and under their rule the Chinese trade to Japan appears to have rapidly increased. This was partly by vessels direct from China, and partly by the commercial enterprise of the Chinese fugitives who possessed themselves of Formosa, from which, in 1662, they drove out the Dutch, or who had settled elsewhere on the islands and coasts of southeastern Asia.

“They come over,” says Kämpfer, “when and with what numbers of people, junks, and goods they pleased. So extensive and advantageous a liberty could not[Pg 275] but be very pleasing to them, and put them upon thoughts of a surer establishment, in order to which, and for the free exercise of their religion, they built three temples at Nagasaki, according to the three chief languages spoken by them (those of the northern, middle, and southern provinces), each to be attended by priests of their own nation, to be sent over from China.”[130]

These temples, called, each in the special dialect of its frequenters, “Temples of Riches,”—the god which the Chinese chiefly worship,—are described by Kämpfer, from his own observation, as remarkable for their handsome structure and the number of monks or Buddhist clergy attached to them. As soon as any Chinese ships arrived in the harbor, the crews immediately took on shore the idols which formed a part of the ship’s outfit, and placed them in some small chapels, built for that purpose, near by the large temples, or convents as in fact they rather were. This was done with uncommon respect and particular ceremonies, playing upon cymbals and beating of drums, which same ceremonies were repeated when, upon the departure of the junks, the idols were carried on board again.

Encouraged by this favorable reception of his countrymen, Ingen, who was at that time at the head of the Buddhist priesthood of China, claiming to be the twenty-eighth in succession from the founder of the Chinese Buddhist patriarchate, surrendered to a successor his high dignity at home, and in the year 1653 came over[Pg 276] to Japan, there to establish a sort of caliphate or archiepiscopal see, as Kämpfer expresses it, of the particular branch or sect of the Buddhist faith to which he belonged. “The princes and lords of several provinces came to compliment him, clad in their kamishimo,[131] or garments of ceremony. The emperor offered him for his residence a mountain in the neighborhood of the holy city of Miyako, which he called Ōbaku, the name of his former papal residence in China. An incident which happened soon after his arrival contributed very much to forward his designs, and raised an uncommon respect for his person, and a great opinion of his holiness. After a very great drought, the country people, his neighbors, desired him to say a kitō, or extraordinary solemn prayer, in order to obtain rain. He answered that it was not in his power to make rain, and that he could not assure them that his kitō would obtain it. However, at their pressing instances, he promised to do his utmost. Accordingly, he went up to the top of the mountain and made his kitō. The next day there fell such profuse showers as even to wash away the smaller bridges in the city of Miyako, which made both the city and country believe that his kitō had been rather too strong. His companions, who came over with him from China, had likewise very great respect paid them, as more immediate partakers of his glory; so that even a cook, who came over with this learned and sanctified company, was raised to the dignity of superior of one of[Pg 277] the three convents of Nagasaki, where, by his sublime understanding and reputed great knowledge, he obtained,” and in Kämpfer’s time still held, “the name and repute of a Godō, that is, a person blessed with divine and most acute understanding, whom they suppose to be able to find out by his Satori, or Enthusiastic Speculations, such mysterious truths as are far beyond the reach of common knowledge.”

What tended to favor Ingen’s design was an edict lately issued by the emperor, aimed at the few remaining Catholics, and also at the sect of the Judō, or Moralists, requiring everybody to belong to some sect of the recognized religions of Japan, and to have a Zushi in their houses,—that is, a corner or altar consecrated to some idol. Nevertheless, in spite of his favorable reception and eminent learning and sanctity, Ingen failed to gain the submission of the various Buddhist sects in Japan; nor was his spiritual headship acknowledged, except by the three Chinese convents.

Though the prohibition of the export of silver, mentioned as having taken place in 1671, did not affect the Dutch, the very next year the Japanese commenced a system of measures which, within a quarter of a century, reduced the Dutch commerce to the very narrow limit at which it has ever since remained. The first step was to raise the value of the koban to six tael eight maas of silver; nor was this by any means the worst of it. The Dutch were no longer allowed to sell to the native merchants. The government appointed appraisers, who set a certain value on the goods, much less than the old prices, at which valuation the Dutch must sell, or else take the goods away. Anything which the goods[Pg 278] sold for to the Japanese merchants, over the appraisement, went into the town treasury of Nagasaki.[132] These appraisements grew lower and lower every year, till at last the Dutch, threatening, if things went on in this way, to abandon the trade altogether, petitioned the emperor to be restored to their ancient privileges, assured to them by the concession of Gongen-Sama [Iyeyasu]. After waiting three years, they got a gracious answer. The appraisements were abolished, but at the same time, in 1685, an order was suddenly issued, limiting the amount which the Dutch might sell in any one year to the value of a hundred thousand taels, or in[Pg 279] Dutch money to ten tons and a half of gold, equal to four hundred and twenty thousand dollars. All the goods of any one year’s importation, remaining after that amount had been realized, were to lie over till the next annual sale. At the same time, the annual export of copper was limited to twenty-five thousand piculs; and so matters stood at the time of Kämpfer’s visit.

The Chinese trade had meanwhile gone on increasing “to that degree”—we quote again from Kämpfer—“as to make the suspicious and circumspect Japanese extremely jealous of them. In the years 1683 and 1684 there arrived at Nagasaki, in each year, at least two hundred junks, every junk with not less than fifty people on board, making for each year more than ten thousand Chinese visitors.” Nor was it trade alone that drew the Chinese thither. In China, the women, except those of servile condition, are kept in perfect seclusion. No man sees even the woman he is to marry till she has actually become his wife; and courtesanship is strictly forbidden and punished. The case, as we have seen, is widely different in Japan, and numerous young and wealthy Chinese were attracted to Nagasaki, “purely for their pleasure,” as Kämpfer observes, “and to spend some part of their money with Japanese wenches, which proved very beneficial to that town,”—truly a very mercantile view of the matter!

“Not only did this increasing number of Chinese visitors excite jealousy, but what still more aroused the suspicion of the Japanese was, that the Jesuits, having gained the favor of the then reigning monarch of China, (the celebrated Kanghi), with the liberty of preaching and propagating their religion in all parts of the empire,[Pg 280] some tracts and books, which the Jesuit fathers had found the means to print in China, in Chinese characters, were brought over to Japan among other Chinese books, and sold privately, which made the Japanese apprehensive that by this means the Catholic religion, which had been exterminated with so much trouble and the loss of so many thousand persons, might be revived again in the country.” And they even suspected that the importers of these books, if not actual converts, were at least favorers of the Catholic doctrine.

These reasons combined to produce, in 1684, at the same time with the restrictions placed upon the Dutch, an edict, by which the Chinese were limited to an annual importation, double the value of that allowed the Dutch; namely, six hundred thousand taels, equivalent to eight hundred and forty thousand dollars, the annual number of junks not to exceed seventy, of which a specific number was assigned to each province and colony, and each to bring not more than thirty persons. Chinese books were, at the same time, subjected to a censorship, two censors being appointed, one for theological, the other for historical and scientific works, none to be imported without their approval.

This was followed up, in the year 1688, by another order, by which the Chinese were, like the Dutch, shut up in a sort of prison, for which, like the Dutch, they were compelled to pay a heavy rent. The site chosen for this spot was a garden, pleasantly situated, just outside of the town, on the side of the harbor opposite Deshima. It was covered with several rows of small houses, each row having a common roof, and the whole was surrounded with a ditch and a strong palisade, from which the only exit was through well-guarded double[Pg 281] gates[133]. Even here the Chinese had no permanent residence, like the Dutch. They arrived in detachments, twenty junks in spring, thirty in summer, and twenty in autumn; and, after selling their goods, went away, leaving the houses empty.

Besides the trade with the Dutch and the Chinese, the Lew Chew Islands [Riūkiū] were also permitted to carry on a particular trade with the province of Satsuma, the prince of which they acknowledged as in some respects their sovereign. The import and sale of their goods was limited to the annual amount of one hundred and twenty-five thousand taels, though, in Kämpfer’s time, a much larger amount was smuggled in, large quantities of Chinese goods being thus introduced.

[Pg 282]


Engelbert Kämpfer—His Visit to Japan—Deshima and its Inhabitants as described by him—A. D. 1690.

Engelbert Kämpfer was the first scientific and systematic observer who visited Japan. Of those who have since followed him, but one or two had either his zeal, his assiduity, or his qualifications, and it is to him that we remain indebted for no inconsiderable part of what we yet know of that country, especially of its natural history, and its social, religious, and political institutions. Subsequent visitors, correcting him in some few particulars, have generally confirmed him. The Japanese, according to the most recent observations, appear to have changed very little since his time.

Kämpfer was born September, 1651, in the northwest of Germany, in the county of Lippe, at Lemgow, a small town of which his father was minister. He was early destined for the profession of physic, and, after the best school education his father could give him, spent three years at the university of Cracow, in Poland, and four years more at that of Koningsburg, in Prussia. Thence he passed to Sweden, where, inspired with a desire of seeing foreign countries, he obtained the place of secretary to an embassy about to be sent to the king of Persia. That country he reached by way of Moscow, Astracan, and the Caspian Sea, arriving at Ispahan in[Pg 283] 1684. During his residence there, he employed himself chiefly in researches into the natural history of the country; and for the sake of continuing those researches, when the embassy was the next year about to return home, he obtained, through the recommendation of the Swedish ambassador, the place of chief surgeon to the Dutch East India Company’s fleet, then cruising in the Persian Gulf. “It agreed best with my inclination,” so he says in the preface to his work on Japan, “to undertake a further journey, and I chose rather to lead the restless and troublesome life of a traveller, than by coming home to subject myself to a share in that train of calamities my native country was then involved in. Therefore, I took my leave of the ambassador and his retinue (who did me the honor to attend me a mile out of Ispahan) with a firm resolution to spend some years longer in seeing other Eastern courts, countries, and nations. I was never used to receive large supplies of money from home. ’T was by my own industry I had till then supported myself, and the very same means maintained me afterwards, as long as I stayed abroad, and enabled me to serve the Dutch East India Company, though in a less honorable employment.

“This offspring of Japhet enjoys, more than any other European nation, the blessing of Noah to live in the tents of Shem, and to have Canaan for their servant. God hath so blessed their valor and conduct, that they have enlarged their trade, conquests and possessions, throughout Asia, to the very extremities of the East, and there hath never been wanting among them a succession of prudent and able men, who have promoted their interests and welfare to the utmost of their capacity. But to come to the point. It was by the gracious leave,[Pg 284] and under the protection of this honorable Company, that I have often obtained my end in the Indies, and have had the satisfaction at last to see the remote empire of Japan, and the court of its powerful monarch.”

Kämpfer remained at Gamroon, on the Persian Gulf, for near three years, employing his leisure in scientific researches. Leaving that unhealthy station in June, 1688, he proceeded in the fleet along the coasts of Persia and India to Ceylon, and thence by Sumatra to Batavia, where he arrived in September, 1689. Having obtained the appointment of physician to the factory in Japan, he left Batavia in May, 1690, and having touched at Siam, of which he has given an account in his book, on the 22d of September, about noon, he came in sight of the high mountainous country about Nagasaki. As soon as the land was seen, all on board were required, as the usage was, to give up their prayer-books and other books of divinity, as also all the European money they had about them, to the captain, who, having taken a memorandum of them, packed away all these surrendered articles in an old cask, to be hid away from the Japanese, but to be surrendered to the owners on leaving Japan. At sunset, Nagasaki was six or seven leagues distant. At midnight they reached the entrance of the bay, in which they found fifty fathoms of water. This entrance was full of rocks and islands, which obliged them to wait till morning; and then, being becalmed, they fired cannon to notify their arrival. These were heard at the Dutch factory, six miles distant, and in the afternoon four small vessels came out with some persons from the factory, accompanied by swarms of Japanese officers, clerks and soldiers, and the chief interpreter, who, on boarding the ship, demanded all writings and letters, in the hands of[Pg 285] whomsoever they might be. They soon left, and the ship followed slowly, making her way by kedging, till by ten at night she dropped anchor within half a league of the city. The next morning she was towed in still further by a fleet of Japanese boats.

The harbor was found to be well protected, and completely enclosed by rocks, islands and mountains, on the tops of which were guard-houses, from which those on the look-out, by means of their spy-glasses, detected the ship shortly after she had made the land, and had given notice of her arrival to the authorities. Along the shore several bastions were seen, with palisades painted red, but no cannon; and on the hills several fortifications, screened by cloths, so as to prevent what was in them from being visible.

Having dropped anchor within three hundred yards of the island of Deshima, they were again boarded by two Japanese officers, with a host of attendants, who made a careful examination of all on board, according to a list given them, writing down their names and business. Five or six of the number were then subjected to a strict cross-examination as to all the particulars of the voyage. It so happened that the steward had died, the day before their arrival, of a fit of apoplexy, consequent upon his being denied any more arrack, or brandy—apart from his drinking, an able man, and, as Kämpfer tells us, the son of a noted divine at the Hague, but who, by early indulgence, had fallen into debaucheries and a dissolute life. Many questions were asked about the dead man, and his breast and other parts of the corpse were carefully examined to see if there were any cross or other mark of the popish religion upon it. After much urging, the Japanese consented to the immediate removal of[Pg 286] the body; but none of the ship’s company were allowed to attend, or to see what was done with it.

As soon as this roll-calling and examination were over, Japanese soldiers and revenue officers were put into every corner, and the ship was, as it were, completely taken out of the hands of the Dutch. For that day only, they were left in possession of the boats to look after the anchor; but all their arms and gunpowder were taken away. “In short,” says Kämpfer, “had I not been beforehand acquainted with their usual proceedings, I could not have helped thinking that we had got into a hostile country, and had been taken for spies.” That evening was received from the factory a supply of fowls, eggs, fish, shell-fish, turnips, radishes [daikon],—which, as Kämpfer afterwards observed, were largely cultivated, and formed a great part of the food of the country people,—onions, fresh ginger, pumpkins, watermelons, white bread, and a barrel of sake, or Japanese rice-beer.

On the twenty-ninth the officers of the factory came on board, and calling the ship’s company together, read to them the orders of the Dutch East India Company, and of the governor of Nagasaki, to the effect that every one was to behave soberly and discreetly with respect to the natives and to the laws and customs of the country. A paper containing these orders, written in Dutch, was, according to the Japanese custom, left on board for everybody to read. No one, except the captain of the ship and the director, or head officer (in Dutch, Opperhoofd), of the factory, could leave the ship for Deshima, or return on board again, without a written passport, in the one case granted by the Japanese officers on board, in the other by those upon the island. On the[Pg 287] twenty-sixth Kämpfer took his goods and landed for his two years’ residence on the island. It was his object to get all the knowledge he possibly could of the present state and past history of Japan; but in this he encountered many difficulties. The Japanese officers, with whom the Dutch came in contact, were all bound by an oath, renewed every year, not to talk with the Dutch, nor to make any disclosures to them, respecting the domestic affairs of the country, its religion, or its politics; and not only that, they were also bound by oath to watch and report each other—which fear of being informed against was indeed their chief dread and restraint. “Naturally the Japanese were,” in Kämpfer’s opinion, “their pride of warlike humor being set aside, as civil, as polite and curious a nation as any in the world, naturally inclined to commerce and familiarity with foreigners, and desirous to excess to be informed of their histories, arts and sciences. But,” he adds, “as we are only merchants, whom they place in the lowest class of mankind, and as the narrow inspection we are kept under must naturally lead them to some jealousy and mistrust, so there is no other way to gain their friendship, and to win them over to our interest, but a willingness to comply with their desire, a liberality to please their avaricious inclinations, and a submissive conduct to flatter their vanity. ’Twas by this means I worked myself into such a friendship and familiarity with my interpreters, and the officers of our island, who daily came over to us, as I believe none before me could boast of, ever since we have been put under such narrow regulations. Liberally assisting them as I did with my advice and medicines, with what information I was able to give them in astronomy and mathematics, and with a cordial[Pg 288] and plentiful supply of European liquors, I could also in my turn freely put to them what questions I pleased about the affairs of their country, whether relating to the government in civil or ecclesiastical affairs, to the customs of the natives, to the natural and political history; and there was none that ever refused to give me all the information he could, when we were alone, even of things which they are strictly charged to keep secret. The private informations thus procured from those who came to visit me were of great use to me in collecting materials for my intended history of this country; but yet they fell far short of being altogether satisfactory, and I should not, perhaps, have been able to compass that design, if I had not by good luck met with other opportunities, and in particular the assistance of a discreet young man, by whose means I was richly supplied with whatever information I wanted concerning the affairs of Japan. He was about twenty-four years of age, well versed in the Chinese and Japanese languages, and very desirous of improving himself. Upon my arrival, he was appointed to wait upon me as my servant, and at the same time to be by me instructed in physic and surgery. The Otona, who is the chief officer of our island (of Deshima), having been attended by him under my inspection in a serious illness, suffered him to continue in my service during the whole time of my abode in the country, which was two years, and to attend me in our two journeys to court, consequently four times, almost from one end of the empire to the other—a favor seldom granted to young men of his age, and never for so long a time. As I could not well have obtained my end without giving him a competent knowledge of the Dutch language, I instructed him therein with so much success[Pg 289] that in a year’s time he could write and read it better than any of our interpreters. I also gave him all the information I could in anatomy and physic, and further allowed him a handsome yearly salary to the best of my ability. In return I employed him to procure me as ample accounts as possible of the then state and condition of the country, its government, the imperial court, the religions established in the empire, the history of former ages, and remarkable daily occurrences. There was not a book I desired to see on these and other subjects, which he did not bring to me, and explain to me out of it whatever I wanted to know. And because he was obliged, in several things, to inquire, or to borrow, or to buy of other people, I never dismissed him without providing him with money for such purposes, besides his yearly allowance. So expensive, so difficult a thing is it to foreigners, ever since the shutting up of the Japanese empire, to procure any information about it.”

After two years thus spent, Kämpfer left Japan in November, 1692, and reached Amsterdam, by way of Batavia, the October following, bringing with him a very rare collection of Japanese books, maps, coins, etc. It had been his intention immediately on his return to prepare his notes and memoirs for publication; but being appointed physician to the count of Lippe, his native prince, and speedily obtaining a large private practice, and assuming also the responsibility and cares of a family, this purpose was long delayed. His “Amoenitates Exoticae,” notes of his eastern travels, did not appear till 1712, and he died in 1716, leaving his “History of Japan” still unpublished. It first appeared in 1727, translated from the German into English, and[Pg 290] published in two folios, with numerous engravings[134], under the patronage of Sir Hans Sloane and the Royal Society. There was prefixed to it by the translator, Dr. I. G. Scheuchzer, a valuable introduction, containing a catalogue of works upon Japan which Charlevoix, in the similar catalogue at the end of his History of Japan, has mainly copied; as was done also by his publishers, as to most of Kämpfer’s engravings.

Kämpfer’s work is divided into five books[135]. The first book contains, first, a general and particular geographical description of the empire, derived mainly from Japanese writers; second, a disquisition on the origin of the Japanese,—whom Kämpfer thinks, from the evidence as well of language as of character, not to be a Chinese colony, nor even to belong to the same stock; third, the stories, evidently mythical, which the Japanese give of their own origin; and fourth, an account of the climate of Japan, its minerals and metals, plants, animals, reptiles, fish and shells.

The second book devoted to the political state of Japan contains, first, their mythological history; second, the annals of the Dairi, with a description of their court and residence; and third, a list of the Kubō-Sama. This part of the work, at least the annals, is sufficiently dry; but it contains the substance of all that the Japanese know or believe as to the chronology of their own history.

[Pg 291]

The third book describes the religious state of Japan, giving an analytical view of the different creeds prevailing there, such as throws great light upon the confused and mixed up view taken in the letters of the Jesuit missionaries.

The fourth book treats of foreign relations and trade. The rise and fall of the Portuguese missions, although the most interesting portion of the history of Japan, is very slightly touched upon, as it seems to have been no part of Kämpfer’s plan to revamp old materials, but to collect new ones.

The fifth book, and much the largest, is devoted, to his two journeys from Nagasaki to Yedo and back—those journeys having furnished him with the principal opportunity he enjoyed of seeing Japan as it was.

“The place where the Dutch live,” says Kämpfer, “is called Deshima, that is, the Fore Island, the island situated before the town; also, Deshimamachi, or the Fore Island Street, it being reckoned as one of the streets of Nagasaki. It has been raised from the bottom, which is rocky and sandy, lying bare at low water. The foundation is of freestone, and it rises about half a fathom above high water mark. In shape it nearly resembles a fan without a handle, being of an oblong square figure, the two longer sides segments of a circle. It is joined to the town by a small stone bridge, a few paces long, at the end of which is a guard-house, where there are soldiers constantly upon duty. On the north, or seaward side, are two strong gates, never opened but for lading and unlading the Dutch ships. The island is enclosed with pretty high deal boards, covered with small roofs, on the top of which is planted a double row[Pg 292] of pikes, like a Cheval de Frise but the whole very weak, and unable to hold out against any force.

“Some few paces off, in the water, are thirteen posts, standing at proper distances, with small wooden tablets at the top, upon which is written, in large Japanese characters, an order from the governors, strictly forbidding all boats or vessels, under severe penalties, to come within these posts, or to approach the island.

“Just by the bridge, towards the town, is a place where they put up the imperial mandates and proclamations, and the orders of the governors.

“Besides this, the Otona, or chief officer of the street, chiefly at the time of the sale, causes orders of his own, much to the same purpose with those of the governors, to be put up on the other side of the bridge, just by the entry into the island[136].

[Pg 293]

“By my own measuring I found the breadth to be eighty-two common paces, and the longest side two hundred and thirty-six. The surface is commonly estimated at a stadium (about three acres). There is a narrow walk to go round along the deal boards which enclose it. The houses are on both sides of a broad street that runs across the island. These houses, and the whole island, were built at the expense of some of the inhabitants of Nagasaki, to whom, or their heirs, the Dutch pay a yearly rent of six thousand five hundred taels—a price far beyond the real value. The houses, built of wood, and very sorry and poor, are two stories high, the lower stories serving as warehouses, and the uppermost to live in.

“The other buildings are three guard-houses, one at each end and one in the middle of the island, and a place by the entrance, where are kept all the necessary instruments to extinguish fires. Water for the kitchen and for common use, which is a separate charge in addition to the rent, comes from the river which runs through the town, being brought over in pipes made of bamboos, into a reservoir within the island.

“Behind the street is a convenient house for the sale of goods, and two warehouses, strong enough to hold out against fire, built by the Company at their own expense; also, a large kitchen; a house for the deputies of the governors of Nagasaki, who have the regulation of the trade; a house for the interpreters, made use of only at the time of the sale; a kitchen and pleasure-garden; a place to wash linen and other things; some small private gardens, and a bath. The Otona, or chief officer of the street, has also a house and garden of his own.

“Such,” says Kämpfer, “is the state of island,” and[Pg 294] such it continues to the present time, “to that small compass of which the Dutch have been confined by the Japanese; and as things now stand, we must be so far satisfied with it, there being no hopes that we shall ever be better accommodated or allowed more liberty by so jealous and circumspect a nation.

“Our ships, which put into this harbor once a year, after they have been thoroughly visited by the Japanese, and proper lists taken of all the goods on board, have leave to put their men on shore on this island to refresh them, and to keep them there so long as they lie in the harbor, commonly two or three months. After they have left, the director of our trade remains in the island, with a small number of people, about seven, or more if he thinks proper.

“Thus we live all the year round little better than prisoners, confined within the compass of a small island, under the perpetual and narrow inspection of our keepers. ’Tis true, indeed, we are now and then allowed a small escape, an indulgence which, without flattering ourselves, we can by no means suppose to be an effect of their love and friendship, for as much as it is never granted to us, unless it be to pay our respects to some great men, or for some other business, necessary on our side and advantageous for the natives. Nor doth the coming out, even upon these occasions, give us any greater liberty than we enjoy on our island, as will appear, first, by the great expenses of our journeys and visits, great or small, and by the number of guards and inspectors who constantly attend us, as if we were traitors and professed enemies of the empire.

“After the departure of our ships, the director of our trade, or resident of the Dutch East India Company,[Pg 295] sets out with a numerous retinue on his journey to court, to pay his respects to the emperor, and to make the usual yearly presents. This journey must be made once a year, not only by the Dutch, but, also, by all the lords and princes of the empire, as being the emperor’s vassals; and our own embassy is looked upon at court as an homage paid by the Dutch nation to the emperor of Japan, as their sovereign lord. Upon the journey we are not allowed any more liberty than even close prisoners could reasonably claim. We are not suffered to speak to anybody, not even (except by special leave) to the domestics and servants of the inns we lodge at. As soon as we come to an inn, we are without delay carried up stairs, if possible, or into the back apartments, which have no other view but into the yard, which, for a still greater security, and to prevent any thoughts of escape, is immediately shut and nailed up. Our retinue, which, by special command from the governors of Nagasaki, guards, attends, and assists us in our journey, is composed of the interpreters and cooks of our island, and of a good number of soldiers, servants, bailiffs, porters, and people, to look after our horses and baggage, which must be conveyed on horseback. All these people, though never so needless, must be maintained at the Company’s expense[137].

“Before our departure from Yedo, and again upon our return, our director, with one of his Company, goes to make a visit to the governors of Nagasaki, at their palace, to return them thanks for their protection, and to entreat its continuance. Nor can even this visit be made without a numerous train of guards, soldiers, and bailiffs.

[Pg 296]

“Another visit, and with the like numerous attendants, is made to the governors by the director of our factory, upon the first day of the eighth month, when it is usual to make them a present.

“The few Dutchmen who remain at Deshima, after the departure of our ships, are permitted, once or twice a year, to take a walk into the adjacent country, and in particular to view the temples about Nagasaki. This liberty is oftener granted to physicians and surgeons, under pretence of going to search for medicinal plants. However, this pleasure-walk falls very expensive to us, for it must be made in company of the Otona, of our ordinary interpreters, and other officers in our service, who are handsomely treated by us at dinner in one of the temples of the Ikkoshiu sect; and we must on this occasion, and that with seeming satisfaction, see our purses strongly squeezed for the most common civilities shown us by the priests of the temple.

“The festival of Suwa, the patron and protector of Nagasaki, falling just upon the time when our ships lie in the harbor, our people are permitted to view this solemnity from a scaffold, built at our own expense, our presence being not only thought honorable to their saint, but, what they value still more, advantageous to many of his worshippers. It may be easily imagined that our train and guards are not lessened upon such an occasion. On the contrary, we are examined and searched four times before we come to the place where the solemnity is performed, and again afterwards counted over several times with all possible accuracy, when we go up and when we come down from the scaffold, as if it were possible for some of us to slip out between their fingers.[Pg 297] Our slaves, also, are admitted to this solemnity, as black Dutchmen[138].

“Another day is set apart for viewing five large boats, which must be constantly kept, at the expense of the Dutch East India Company, for the lading and unlading of our ships. This is again done with the same numerous retinue, which we afterwards entertain at dinner at one of the neighboring temples.

“When one of our ships hath been discovered to steer towards the harbor, some of the Dutchmen left at Deshima are sent to meet her, in order to get a preliminary information of her cargo and condition. The Company for this purpose constantly keeps two barges in readiness, large enough to take on board our usual numerous attendants, which, together with the commissioners for victualling, attending in their own barge, with a good provision of victuals and refreshments, must be treated in the neighboring small island, Iwō-ga-shima, the whole again at the Company’s expense.

“These are the days allowed us for our recreation, if it may be called a recreation to be led about, like prisoners, under the narrow inspection of so many attentive eyes; for, as to the several officers concerned in the management of our island and trade, and permitted on that account to converse with us, no sincere friendship, good understanding, or familiarity, can be by any means expected of them; for, before they are admitted into our service, they must oblige themselves, by a solemn oath, to deny us all manner of communication, credit, or friendship, any ways tending to support or promote our interest.

“The person who takes this oath prays the vengeance[Pg 298] of the supreme gods of the heavens and the chief magistrates of the country upon him, his family, his domestics, his friends and near relatives, in case he doth not sincerely fulfil and satisfy to all and every article, as they are read and specified to him after the form of the oath, which, together with these articles, must be signed by him, and sealed with his seal[139], dipped in black ink, pouring, for a still stronger confirmation, some drops of his own blood upon it, which he fetches by pricking one of his fingers behind the nail. This must be repeated twice a year, at least: first, about the beginning of the year, at the time when they perform the solemn act of theirs of trampling upon the image of our blessed Saviour, pendent from the cross, of the Virgin Mary, and of other holy persons, as a public and unquestionable proof that they forever renounce the Christian religion[140]; and again, after the arrival of our ships in the harbor, in order to remind them of the solemn obligation they lay under, and to renew their hatred towards us. The persons who are to attend us in our journey to court must, immediately after their departure, take a third oath, promising that they will have a strict hand and watchful eye over us and our conduct all along the road, and that they will not show us any particular acts of friendship, or enter into any kind of familiarity with us.

“This oath, however, though never so terrible and binding, would be but little regarded by this nation, were it not for the severe punishment put by the civil[Pg 299] magistrate upon the least transgression thereof,—a crime that is not to be expiated but by shedding the very same blood the oath hath been confirmed by.

“Thus much I cannot forbear owning, in justice to the natives, that, even amidst all the troubles and hardships we are exposed to in this country, we have at least this comfort, that we are treated by our numerous guardians and overseers with apparent civility, with caresses, compliments, presents of victuals, and other marks of deference, so far as it is not inconsistent with their reasons of state. But this, their gentle and reasonable behavior on our behalf, is owing more to the custom of the country, and to the innate civility and good manners of the natives, than to any particular esteem they have for us, or any favor they are willing to show us.

“No Japanese, who seems to have any regard or friendship for the Dutch, is looked upon as an honest man and true lover of his country. This maxim is grounded upon the principle that it is absolutely contrary to the interests of the country, against the pleasure of their sovereign,—nay, by virtue of the oath they have taken, even against the supreme will of the gods, and the dictates of their conscience,—to show any favor to foreigners. Nay, they pursue this false reasoning still further, and pretend that a friend of foreigners must of necessity be an enemy to his country, and a rebel to his sovereign; for, they say, if the country should happen to be attacked or invaded by these foreigners, the laws and ties of friendship would oblige him to stand by them, and, consequently, to become a traitor to his country and sovereign.

“Hence, to overreach a Dutchman; to ask extravagant prices of him; to cheat and defraud him (so much[Pg 300] as they think will not prove prejudicial to their reputation, which they have a very tender regard for); to lessen the liberties and advantages of the Dutch; to propose new projects for making their servitude and condition still worse, and the like, are looked upon as good, handsome, and lawful things in themselves, and unquestionable proofs of a good patriot.

“If anybody steals anything of the Dutch, and it be found upon him (which the kuri[141], or porters, we employ at the time of our sale are very dexterous at), there is seldom any other punishment inflicted upon him but restitution of the stolen goods, and a few lashes from soldiers upon duty at our gate. Sometimes he is banished from the island for a short time, or, if the crime be very notorious, from the town, though that is done but seldom. But the penalty inflicted upon smugglers is no less than an unavoidable death, either by beheading or the cross, according to the nature of the crime, and the degree of guilt.

“The lading and unlading of our ships, and other business of this kind, must not be done by our own people, but by the natives, who are well paid for their work, whilst our people stand idle, and have nothing to do but to look at them. But this is not the only grievance, for they always hire at least twice as many people as there is occasion for, and, if they work but one hour, we must, nevertheless, pay them a whole day’s wages.

“All the people who have anything to do for or with us, though never so numerous, and mere meddlers, must be maintained by us, either directly by appointed[Pg 301] salaries, or indirectly by the money which the governors of the town detain from the price of our commodities.

“No Dutchman can send a letter out of the country, unless the contents be first entered into a register-book kept for this purpose, and a copy of it left with the governors. As to letters from abroad, all the public ones must be sent directly to the governors, before they are opened. As to the private ones, there are ways and means secretly to convey them to us, which the government connives at, though it be contrary to law.

“No Japanese is permitted to send any letters or presents to their relatives abroad (there being still some left from former marriages with the Dutch), or to receive any from them, unless they be first carried to the governors, to be by them opened, and left entirely at their disposal.

“Formerly, when a Dutchman died at Nagasaki, his body, deemed unworthy of their ground, was thrown into the sea, somewhere without the harbor. But, of late, an empty spot of waste ground was assigned us, and leave given us decently to bury our dead there.

“It is an easy matter for anybody, whether native or foreigner, to make his claims upon the Dutch; but we find it very difficult to obtain justice from others. In the first case, the government is always willing to give the complaining party damages, without so much as considering whether the claim be upon the whole Company, or some of its officers and servants, and whether it be just to make the former suffer for the misdemeanors of the latter. But, if we have any complaint to make, we generally meet with so many difficulties and tedious delays as would deter anybody from pressing even the most righteous cause. One instance out of[Pg 302] many will be sufficient. The famous Chinese pirate, Koxinga [Kokusenya], having made himself master of the island of Formosa, and of our fortress, Tayouan or Zelandia thereon, we took an opportunity, by way of reprisals, to attack a large junk of his, bound for that island, with about three hundred men on board, and to disable her with our fire, so that, although she drove for about thirteen days after the attack, yet not above nine of the whole company saved their lives. Upon this, heavy complaints were made by the Chinese to the government of Nagasaki, and with so good an effect that the same year twenty-seven thousand taels damages were assigned to them out of our treasury. Some time after, about the year 1672, one of our ships having unfortunately stranded upon the coast of Formosa, the ship’s company was barbarously murdered, and the whole cargo taken possession of by the Chinese subjects of Koxinga; whereupon we made our complaints, before the very same court, against this act of hostility, but with so little success that, far from having any damages assigned us, we could not obtain the restitution of so much as one farthing[142].

“The chief and most extensive company or corporation of the officers of our island, is that of the Interpreters, or, in the literal sense, through-mouths. Those of the first order, called true Interpreters, are eight in number. By virtue of their office they are obliged to assist and attend us whenever there is occasion; and so far, indeed, they execute their duty with great preciseness, that we can scarce ever one moment get rid of their importunate presence; for as they are made answerable for our conduct, so they spare no pains nor trouble to have a watchful eye over us.

Attack on Fort Zeelandia in Formosa
From Verwaerloosde Formosa

“Four of these are high interpreters, of whom one is Nemban, signifying a yearly guardian, or person appointed to report upon another. This officer is only annual, and to him all petitions and complaints, and whatever else relates to us and to our commerce, must be delivered, and by him, with the consent of his brethren, to the commanding governor or his deputy. He hath the greatest share in the management of our island, in the direction of our trade, and in all our affairs in general. The four other interpreters, though of the same order, are called inferior interpreters. They have not near the authority of the first four, whom they are to assist in the performance of their duties. They, too, have a Nemban, or president of their own, who is a sort of deputy to the chief Nemban. Both Nembans attend us in our journey to the court, their year of office terminating with their return.

“They are paid by fees and presents (to buy their favor), and by profits on the hire of laborers for the Company, and horses for the journey to court. The whole income of a chief interpreter may amount to three thousand taels and upwards, and that of an inferior interpreter is seldom less than one thousand five hundred taels; and yet, with all this income, they live but sparingly, because they must maintain out of this money numerous families, and sometimes poor relations, whom, according to the innate pride of this nation, they won’t suffer to appear necessitous. Some part, also, of their revenue is spent in presents to the governors of Nagasaki and their deputies.

“Next to the chief interpreters, must be mentioned[Pg 304] the learning interpreters, or apprentices. They are never less than eight, but sometimes more, all sons to the chief interpreters, by birth or adoption. They come over to us every day, in order to learn the Dutch and Portuguese languages, as well as the art and mystery of dealing with foreigners. They are employed as spies upon several occasions, as also to inspect the lading and unlading of our ships, to search the sailors, and such others as go on board or leave the vessels. They also examine the goods imported, and exported, and are allowed for these services a salary of forty taels a year, besides a share in the boarding wages and other perquisites.

“After these come the house interpreters, employed by private Dutchmen within their own houses. They have nothing to do on our island, unless it be at the time of our yearly fair, or sale, when, after having taken a solemn oath to avoid all communication, intimacy, and familiarity with us, they are by the Otona admitted into our service. From two to six are assigned to every Dutchman, during the whole time of our fair, nominally as interpreters, but in fact as spies to watch his actions; for there is scarce one in ten of them that understands a Dutch word, excepting some few who have been servants to the Dutch formerly.

“There are upwards of a hundred of these house interpreters, who all stand under the command of the chief interpreters, and particularly the Nemban, or president for the time being. Their salaries, an uncertain sum, taken out of the taxes laid upon the Dutch trade, are supposed, one year with another, to amount about six thousand taels, which they divide among themselves, according to their rank and office, and as it is computed that the twelve chiefs among them get at furthest two[Pg 305] hundred taels apiece, the rest must take up with half that money, and sometimes with less. This company of interpreters have four treasurers and two clerks to keep their cash and an account of what is paid in and out.

“Two fundamental maxims they go upon: to do what lies in their power, insensibly to increase the yearly expenses of the Dutch, to the advantage of their countrymen, as becomes true patriots; to conceal as much as possible all the tricks and cheats they perpetually play us, lest the natives should come to know them. Both these ends they endeavor to obtain by confining us still more and more, looking upon this as the surest means to keep us ignorant of the language of the country, and to prevent all conversation and familiarity with the natives. If there be any of our people that hath made any considerable progress in the Japanese language, they are sure, under some pretext or other, to obtain an order from the governors to expel him from the country.

“The only thing wherein the captains, as they are here called, or directors of our trade (a province the Japanese will suffer them to have very little to do with), can be useful to the Company and show their zeal for their master’s service, is to act contrary to these principles, and to find out ways and means civilly to refuse what new requests are from time to time made to them. For if any one of these demands be granted but once, or any new charge, though never so small, be suffered to be laid upon us, they make it a precedent forever after. And herein they particularly endeavor to deceive new directors, who never have been in the country before, and whom they suppose to be not fully apprised of their ways of proceeding. On this account they will often, on the first year of their presence help them to a very[Pg 306] profitable trade, knowing, in case their demands be not admitted, how to balance it the next with a more chargeable and less profitable one.

“The officer next in rank to the president of the interpreters, and having jurisdiction over everybody on the island except the interpreters, is the Otona, or magistrate of the street. He has the inspection of our trade, and of the yearly sale of our goods, jointly with the company of interpreters. He keeps a particular list of those of our goods that belong to private persons, keeps those goods in his custody, and gives orders when and how they are to be disposed of. He takes care that our street, houses and other buildings, be kept in good repair, and likewise, as much as lies in his power, that they be not injured by thieves, fire, or other accidents. He protects our servants, cooks, daily laborers, and all persons who are within his jurisdiction, composes the difference arising between them, admits and swears them into their respective employments, and dismisses them as he pleases. He gives passports and tickets to come to Deshima, nobody being permitted to enter this island without them. He is obliged, by virtue of his office and by the oath he hath taken, narrowly to examine into the conduct, life and behavior, not only of our servants and officers, but also of ourselves, and to keep us to a strict obedience to the imperial orders, though he is very cautious of laying any commands upon us of his own sole authority, knowing that we would refuse to obey them.

“However, he hath so much power over us that in case any considerable crime be committed, or any disregard shown to the imperial orders, by any one of us, he can arrest him, and lay him in irons, of which there are many and almost daily instances.

[Pg 307]

“Our present Otona, Yoshikawa Gibuyemon, as on one side he worked himself into no small esteem and favor with the government by his great severity in the execution of his office, but chiefly by having betrayed us and our interest in a late affair[143], so much is he, on the other side, hated by us. I will not take upon me to examine what reasons he hath to allege for his conduct in that affair, though I have been credibly informed he had very good ones. Thus far I must do justice to his character, and own that he shows a great deal of prudence in his conduct, that he is no ways given to covetousness or falsehood, as, also, that he is an enemy to ignorance and brutality, and so well versed in the moral doctrine of Kōshi (or Confucius), and in the history, laws, and religion of his country, that he hath been desired to write the history of the province of Hizen.

“The Otona has under him a Nichigyōshi, or messenger, whose business it is daily to examine into the condition and safety of the locks at the water-gates, to look into the state of our warehouses and other buildings, and to give his master notice of what he finds out of repair; also several clerks, who are to make lists of all the movable goods belonging to private persons, which may be disposed of, to seal them up in the Otona’s name, and to take them into safe custody.

“The Otona hath the same salary allowed him by the Dutch East India Company as the chief interpreter, and the same share in the money detained by the order of the government from the price of our goods, besides several other advantages, as, for instance, his salary as Otona of another street in the town, many presents and gratifications made him by the proprietors of our island, and a[Pg 308] considerable part of the yearly rents we pay for the same, he having already purchased about a third of our houses. His greatest profits arise from the Dutch goods bought up for him at a cheap rate in other people’s names, and afterwards sold by him for much more than their prime cost.

“Next to the Otona are our twenty-four landlords, or proprietors of our island. They visit us but seldom, except at the time of our sale, when they make their appearance daily, to look after the condition of our houses, to be present and lend a helping hand in making a list of all our commodities, household goods, and other things, and, what is more, to have a watchful eye over us, their tenants, and to examine into our behavior and conduct, as being, by virtue of the laws and customs of the country, answerable for the same, and, in case of accidents and misdemeanors, sentenced to bear a share either in the loss or punishment.

“Next come the five secretaries of the island, a sort of deputies to the chief interpreters. Their business is to keep an account of the presents made by the Dutch, of their ordinary expenses, the expenses of their journey to court, and other things of this kind, which are thought beneath the dignity of the chief interpreters. Nay, they themselves being not always willing to despatch their business in person, keep also their deputies. The Company allows a constant salary only to two, and these are to attend us in our journey to court. The others are rewarded by handsome gratuities at the time of our sale.

“The inspectors of our kuri[144], or workmen, consist of[Pg 309] fifteen persons. One of the fifteen is quartermaster, who must be present in person to encourage and look after them when there is any work to be done. The whole company is to take care that we be not robbed by these kulis, they being very dexterous at it, whenever a favorable opportunity occurs. For this reason our East India Company allows them a constant salary.

“The kulis, who are employed in lading and unlading of our ships, are people unknown to us, and taken out of the town. All we know of them is, that we must pay them well for their trouble. In order to make it beneficial to the whole town, the Otona of each street keeps a list of what people in his street are willing or able to serve as kulis, that in their turn they may be sent over to Deshima.

“The treasury officers are a company of thirty-six persons, superior and inferior, who receive the money for the goods we have disposed of, change it into kobans of gold, and deliver them to our interpreters, who count them before us. These treasurers retain one per cent, for their trouble, and fifteen per cent or more for the benefit of the town, according to the yearly value of the koban, which varies from fifty-five to fifty-nine mas in silver, besides which, the director of this Company receives a hundred taels a year salary from the Dutch, and the rest of the number fifty taels.

“Our commissioners for victualling are a company of about seventeen house-keepers of Nagasaki with their families. Their business is to provide our island with victuals, drink, household goods, and what else we want, or have leave to buy, of this kind. Nobody but the members of this corporation is permitted to sell us any victuals or goods, though they exact so much upon us[Pg 310] that they make us pay at least twice or thrice as much as things are sold for at the market. They also furnish our people, on demand, with courtesans; and, truly, our young sailors, unacquainted as they commonly are with the virtue of temperance, are not ashamed to spend five rix dollars for one night’s pleasure, and with such wenches, too, as a native of Nagasaki might have for two or three mas, they being none of the best and handsomest; nor do the masters of the women get more than a tael. The rest is laid up in the cash of this Company for their own private use, or, as they pretend, to hire proper servants to conduct the damsels over to our island.

“The officers of the kitchen consist of three cooks, who serve by turns, each a month, of two grooms of the kitchen, an apprentice or two, who are generally the cook’s own sons, likely to succeed their fathers in time, lastly of some laborers to carry water. This is the reason that our table is so very expensive, since the best part of the year, the time of our sale only excepted, there are actually more cooks than people to provide victuals for. And yet we have strict commands from the governors of the town, not in the least to alter this number, nor to get our victuals dressed by our own people. We are obliged to allow one hundred and fifty taels a year to the first, one hundred and thirty to the second, and one hundred to the third. There are, besides, some other people who now and then do some little service in and for our kitchen, such as a man to look after our cattle,—though but very few in number, and of very little use to us, the males being generally secretly poisoned, or their legs broken in the night, to prevent their multiplying too much, which, ’tis apprehended would turn to the disadvantage of the commissioners of[Pg 311] victualling,—a gardener and some other menial servants. This being looked upon by the meaner sort of people at Nagasaki as a perquisite, which every one is glad to have a share of in his turn, these servants are relieved once a month, and others sent in their stead, to do their business, out of every street of Nagasaki. But the chief reason why they relieve them so often is because they apprehend a longer stay might make them too familiar with us, and perhaps too favorable for our interest.

“The Dutch, out of a particular favor, are permitted to have some young boys to wait upon them in the daytime. They are entered in the Otona’s book in quality of messengers. They are commonly sons of the inferior interpreters and other officers of our island, who, by this opportunity of learning the Dutch language, qualify themselves in time to succeed their fathers. However, care is taken that they stay in our service only so long as they are looked upon as simple, and ignorant of the state and interest of their country, or else so long as the Otona pleases to give them leave; but never without sufficient security, given upon oath, by a respectable inhabitant of Nagasaki, who obliges himself to be answerable for their misbehavior. Thus much must be owned in justice to these young boys, that more readiness to do what they are commanded, and a greater fidelity in the custody of the goods they are entrusted with by their masters, is hardly to be met with in any other nation.

“Some tradesmen and artificers of several companies in Nagasaki, are also permitted to come over to our island, when sent for, provided they have leave of the governors, which must be obtained every time they are wanted.

[Pg 312]

“The guards employed to watch us are two within the island, and three without. Six of the poorer inhabitants of Nagasaki, furnished by turns from all the streets, and relieved once a month, have their appropriate stations within the island, whence they go over to one another all night, and indicate, according to the custom of the country, both their vigilance and the hours, by beating two wooden cylinders, one against the other. They are also to watch thieves, accidents of fire, and the like.

“During the sale, another guard, on purpose to watch accidents of fire, is kept by our Otona, his clerks, our landlords, the officers of our exchequer, and the cooks. In their first round they knock at every door, to ask whether there be no Japanese hid within, and to recommend to the occupants to take care of the fire. The Otona must be present at least once in the night, when, according to the custom of the country, his fire-staff, hung about with iron rings, as the badge of his authority, is carried rattling after him. The Dutch also keep, at the same time, a watch of their own people, to take care that their masters be not robbed by their Japanese guards.

Nagasaki Harbor

“The Ship and Harbor Guard, appointed to have a general inspection over all foreigners, Chinese as well as Dutch, goes the round of the harbor all night, particularly about our island. The Spy Guard watches from the mountains back of the town the approach of foreign ships. The Gate Guard keeps the gate towards the town, that being the only passage in and out. It is mounted daily by five persons, their servants not computed. At the time of the sale of our goods there are never less than ten, but sometimes twelve or more, and to these, its regular members, are added at that time two[Pg 313] persons from the ship and harbor guard, two from the spy guard, four furnished by the town of Nagasaki, four by the silk merchants, and two on the part of the two chief magistrates or burgomasters of the lower town of Nagasaki, one of whom keeps the journal of the guard, wherein (for the information of the governors of the town, who, at least once a month, call for this record and look it over) is entered what passes from hour to hour, and what persons and things go in or out. Yet, without express orders from the governors, or leave given by the Otona, nothing is suffered to pass through but what is sent in by those appointed to provide us with necessaries and unprohibited goods. For a still greater security, three sworn searchers are added to this guard, one or two of whom attend constantly hard by the gate, to search whoever goes in or out. Nor is anybody exempted from being searched but the governors, their deputies or commissioners, with their retinues, and our ordinary interpreters and their sons, who are entered as apprentices.

“Such a variety of people of different ranks and characters being to do duty upon one guard, it obliges on the one side everybody to discharge their duty to the utmost of their power, and on the other it puts the government out of all apprehensions of their plotting or conspiring together; for, in fact, they are not only to watch us, and the people who have business with us, and, on this account, go in and out of our island, but each other also. Among the things which stand by, or are hung upon the walls of the guard-house, are irons to put on criminals, ropes to bind them, heavy staffs to beat them, and a particular sort of an instrument, a kind of hook or rake, which they make use of to catch thieves and deserters,[Pg 314] and which is commonly carried about at their public execution.

“All these people, although they maintain themselves and their families entirely by what they get by us and our service, yet from their conduct one would think them to be our sworn enemies, always intent to do us what mischief they can, and so much the more to be feared, as their hatred and enmity is hid under the specious color of friendship, deference, and good-will.

“Considering that there are so very few Dutchmen left in the island, one would imagine that the Japanese had no reason to be uneasy, or anyways apprehensive of our conduct. Surely such a small number of people, and those, too, deprived of arms and ammunition (the very first thing which the Japanese take into their custody upon the arrival of our ships), would never take it into their heads to make any attempt against the peace and tranquillity of the empire. As to smuggling, they have too well prevented any attempts of that kind, by taking not only an exact inventory of all our goods and commodities, but by locking them up under their own locks and seals. Even the cloth and stuffs which are brought over for our own use must be delivered into the custody of the Otona, till one of their own tailors, sworn for this purpose, cuts them, allowing each of us just so much as will make him a good suit. But what they have still less reason to be apprehensive of, is the subversion of their pagan doctrine and religion, so little conspicuous are the principles of Christianity in our lives and actions. Nevertheless, so many guards, corporations, societies, with their numerous attendants, all upon oath, and themselves jealous and mistrustful one of another, are set to guard and narrowly to watch us,[Pg 315] as if we were the greatest malefactors, traitors, spies—in a word, the worst and most dangerous set of people; or, to make use of a very significant expression of the Japanese, as if we were, what I think we really are, Hitodichi, that is, the emperor’s hostages.”

It is to be observed that in different parts of his book Kämpfer appears in two distinct characters. Sometimes he seems to be the mere surgeon of the Dutch factory, fully sharing and giving voice to all the feelings and prejudices of that establishment, bringing before us, in a very lively manner, the angry Dutch factors grumbling over the new restrictions lately put upon the Dutch trade, and especially the new precaution against smuggling. Elsewhere he shows himself perfectly able to enter into all the views and feelings of the Japanese; and however angry he may occasionally get at the obstacles encountered by himself, especially on the part of the old chief interpreter, in his efforts to obtain a full knowledge of Japanese affairs, he had evidently conceived a strong liking for the Japanese people, and never fails to do them justice, whether as individuals or as a nation. He composed, indeed, a formal dissertation, originally published in his “Amœnitates,” in which he enters into an elaborate defence of the policy of the Japanese in their jealous exclusion of foreigners; nor can any one who calls to mind the consequences of that intercourse to the natives of Eastern Asia and America, and especially the history of the late Anglo-Chinese opium war, deny the plausibility at least of the argument.

[Pg 316]


Particular Statement as to the Dutch Trade as it existed in Kämpfer’s Time—Arrival of the Ships—Unlading—Passes—Imports—Company and Private Goods—Kambans, or Public Sales—Duties—Profits—Exports—Departure of the Ships—Smuggling—Execution of Smugglers.

“The Dutch ships,” says Kämpfer, “are expected some time in September, towards the latter end of the southwest monsoon, that being the only time proper for this navigation.[145] As soon as the spy guards with their glasses discover a ship steering towards the harbor, and send notice of her approach to the governors of Nagasaki, three persons of our factory are sent with the usual attendance to meet her about two miles without the harbor, and to deliver to the captain the necessary instructions, from the director of our trade, with regard to his behavior.

“The interpreter and the deputies of the governors demand forthwith the list of the cargo and crew, as also the letters on board, which are carried to Nagasaki, where the governors first examine and then deliver them to our director.

“The ship follows as soon as possible, and, having entered the harbor, salutes both imperial guards with all[Pg 317] her guns, and casts anchor opposite to the town, about a musket-shot from our island. If the wind be contrary, rowing-boats (kept for this purpose by the common people of the town) are sent at our expense, but not at our desire, to tow her in by force. In still weather they send about ten of these boats; if it be stormy, and the wind contrary, they increase the number to fifty, and sometimes to a hundred—so many as they think necessary—that is, at least twice the number there is occasion for.

“When the ship has entered the harbor, two guard-boats, with a good number of soldiers, are put one on each side of her, and continued, being mounted with fresh troops every day, till she leaves. As soon as the ship drops anchor, great numbers of officers come on board to demand our guns, cutlasses, swords and other arms, as also the gunpowder packed up in barrels, which are taken into their custody, and kept in a store-house, built for this purpose, till her departure. They attempted, also, in former times, to take out the rudder, but, having found it impracticable, they now leave it in.

“The next day after her arrival, the commissioners of the governor come on board, with their usual attendance of soldiers, interpreters, and subordinate officers, to make an exact review, in presence of our director, of all the people on board, according to the list which hath been given them, and wherein is set down every one’s name, age, birth, place of residence, and office, examining them from top to toe. Many questions are asked, as to those who died on the voyage, when and of what distemper they died. Even now and then a dead monkey or parrot may occasion a strict inquiry to be made after the cause[Pg 318] and manner of their death, and they are so scrupulous that they will not give their verdict, without sitting upon the body itself, and carefully examining it.

“After this, the orders of our director, and likewise of the governors of Nagasaki, relating to our behavior with regard to the natives, are read in Low Dutch, and afterwards, for every one’s inspection, stuck up in several places on board the ship, and at Deshima. The same rules are observed with all our ships, of which there are two, three, or four, sent from Batavia to Japan every year, according to the quantity of copper they have occasion for; one of which goes first to Siam, to make up part of her cargo with the commodities of that country. Formerly, when the Dutch as yet enjoyed a free trade, they sent seldom less than six or seven ships, and sometimes more.

“The review being over, they proceed to unlade the ships, during which, several of the governors’ officers, a chief interpreter, a deputy interpreter, and an apprentice, besides several clerks and inferior officers, remain on board, taking possession of every corner, to see that nothing be carried away privately. The water gates of our island, through which the cargo is to be brought in, are opened in presence of the karō, that is, high commissioners of the governors, and their retinue. So long as the gates are kept open, the karō, with their deputies and other assistants, stay in a room built for this purpose, not far off. The whole body of interpreters, as also our landlords, clerks, and other officers of our island, give their attendance, and also their assistance, at that time. They fall to work with three hundred or more kuri, or workmen—always at least twice the number there is occasion for. The unlading of every[Pg 319] ship ought to be performed in two days, but notwithstanding the number of men they employ, they generally make a three days’ work of it, in order to make it so much the more beneficial to the town.

“The goods are brought from the ship in boats, kept for this purpose only, at the Company’s expense. Being brought within the water gates, they are laid before the commissioners, who set them down in writing, count them, compare them with the list that hath been given in (opening a bale or two of each sort, picked out from among the rest), and then order them to be locked up, under their seal, in the Company’s warehouse, until the day of sale. The trunks belonging to private persons are set down at the entry of the island, and there opened and examined. If the owner doth not forthwith appear with the key, they proceed, without any further ceremony, to open them with axes. All vendible goods are taken out and locked up under their seals. Some other things, also, which they do not approve of, as, for instance, arms, stuff, and cloth wrought with gold and silver, as also all contraband goods, are taken into custody by the Otona, who returns them to the owner upon his departure.

“No European, nor any other foreign money, and, in general, nothing that hath the figure of a cross, saint, or beads, upon it, is suffered to pass. If any such thing should be found upon any of our people, it would occasion such a confusion and fright among the Japanese as if the whole empire had been betrayed. I have already taken notice that, upon our drawing near the harbor, every one is obliged to deliver his prayer-books, and other books of divinity, as also all European money, to the captain, who packs them all up in an old cask, and hides them.

[Pg 320]

“Those who are newly arrived must suffer themselves, in going in or coming out of our island, to be searched, whether or no they have any contraband goods about them. Every one who wishes to go on board, whether it be for his own private business, or in the Company’s service, is obliged to take out a pass-board from the commissioners at the water gates, and, in like manner, when he returns on shore, he must take out another from those on the ship.

“At night, when the commissioners sent on board the ship return with their retinue to Nagasaki, the cabin is sealed up in their presence, and all the Dutchmen accurately counted over, to see that there be none wanting, which would occasion a very great confusion. During my stay in Japan it happened that a common sailor unfortunately was drowned in the night, nobody perceiving his falling into the water. At the review made the next morning (for it is constantly made every morning and night) the fellow was missed. This unlucky accident suddenly stopped all proceedings, and the fear lest it should be a Roman Catholic priest, who had made his escape into the country, occasioned such a consternation among the Japanese, that all the officers ran about, scratching their heads, and behaving as if they had lost their senses, and some of the soldiers in the guard-ships were already preparing to rip themselves open, when at last the unlucky fellow’s body being taken up from the bottom of the harbor put an end to their fears.

“At all other times, that for lading and unlading our ships excepted, the water gates are shut, by which means all communication is cut off between those that stay on board and those that remain on shore. The ship’s cargo having been placed in the warehouses, the goods lie there[Pg 321] till they are pleased, in two or three days of sale, which they call Kamban, to sell them. What remains unsold is carried back to the warehouses, and kept there against the next year’s sale.

“The following goods are imported by us: raw silk, from China, Tonquin, Bengal, and Persia; all sorts of silks, woollen, and other stuffs (provided they be not wrought with gold and silver); Brazil wood; buffalo, and other hides; raw skins, wax, and buffalo horns from Siam; tanned hides from Persia, Bengal, and other places, but none from Spain and Manila, under pain of incurring their utmost displeasure; pepper; sugar, in powder and candied; cloves; nutmegs; camphor, from Borneo and Sumatra; quicksilver; cinnabar; saffron; lead; saltpetre; borax; alum; musk; gum benzoin; gum lac; rosmal, or storax liquida; catechu, commonly called Terra Japonica; fustic; corals; amber; right antimony (which they use to color their china ware); looking-glasses, which they cut up to make spy-glasses, magnifying glasses, and spectacles, out of them. Other things of less note are snakewood; mangoes, and other unripe East India fruits, pickled with Turkish pepper, garlic, and vinegar; black lead and red pencils; sublimate of mercury (but no calomel); fine files; needles; spectacles; large drinking-glasses of the finest sort; counterfeit corals; strange birds, and other foreign curiosities, both natural and artificial. Some of these are often sold in private, by sailors and others, without being produced upon the Kamban, and in this case the Dutch make no scruple to get as much for them beyond their real value as possibly they can.

“Of all the imported goods, raw silk is the best liked, though it yields the least profit of any. All sorts of stuffs[Pg 322] and cloths yield a considerable and sure profit, and should there be never so much imported, the consumption in so populous a country would be still greater. Brazil wood and hides are also to be disposed of to very good advantage. The most profitable commodities are sugar, catechu, storax liquida, camphor of Borneo (which they covet above all other sorts), looking-glasses, etc., but only when they have occasion for them, and when the Chinese have imported in small quantities. Corals and amber are two of the most valuable commodities in these eastern parts; but Japan hath been so thoroughly provided by smugglers, that at present there is scarce fifty per cent to be got upon them, whereas formerly we could sell them, ten, nay, a hundred times dearer. The price of these things, and of all natural and artificial curiosities, varies very much, according to the number and disposition of the buyers, who may be sure to get cent per cent clear profit by them, at what price soever they buy them.

“The yearly sum to the value of which the Dutch are permitted to sell goods imported by them is, by Japanese reckoning, three hundred chests of silver, each of a thousand taels, or in gold fifty thousand kobans; the highest value of the koban, as current in Japan, being sixty mas, or six taels. But the Japanese having obliged the Dutch East India Company to accept payment in gold kobans, each reckoned at sixty-eight mas, the sales of the Company, though made to the amount of three hundred thousand taels in silver, produced only forty-four thousand one hundred and eighteen kobans.”

A chance was thus afforded, as Kämpfer expresses it “to make the officers concerned in carrying on the Dutch trade some amends for their trouble and hard usage, by allowing them to dispose of goods on their own[Pg 323] private account,” to the value of five thousand six hundred and eighty-two kobans, equivalent, at the reckoning of fifty-eight mas, to forty thousand taels, thus making up the fifty thousand kobans, to the amount of which the annual sale of Dutch goods was limited; and as this arrangement for private trade had been made by the Japanese, the East India Company did not venture to interfere with it.

At the head of these officers stands the Director, or, as he is called by the Japanese, Captain of the Dutch (Hollanda Capitan), who has the command, inspection, and care of the trade. The same person is the head of the embassy sent to court once every year; and, according to the custom of the country, he must be relieved after the year is expired. The ships from Batavia bring over his successor, with some few merchants and clerks, to assist during the sale, after which, the old director goes on board, to return to Batavia. The privilege of private trade was, in Kämpfer’s time, divided as follows: The acting director could sell to the extent of ten thousand taels; the new director to the extent of seven thousand; his deputy, or the next person after him, to the extent of six thousand. The captains of the ships, the merchants, clerks, &c., shared the remainder, as they happened to be in favor with the chief managers, and the Japanese interpreters.

“The day of the Kamban (as they call our sale), which must be determined by the court, drawing near, a list of all the goods is hung up at the gates without our island, written in very large characters, that everybody may read it at a due distance. Meanwhile, the government signifies to the several Otonas of the town, and these to the merchants, who are come hither from diverse[Pg 324] parts of the empire, what duty per cent will be laid for the benefit of the inhabitants of Nagasaki, upon each description of our goods, in order to enable them to determine what price they can afford to offer. The day before the Kamban, papers are put up at all the gates of the streets, to invite the merchants to make their appearance the next morning at Deshima, where, for their further information, they find before every house a list of the goods laid up in it. As the direction of our trade is entirely in the hands of the government of Nagasaki, so, particularly, the Kamban cannot be held but in presence of two Stewards of the governors, authorized by them to assist at it. The chief officers of our island must likewise be present. The first interpreter presides, and directs everything, while our own triumvirs—I mean the two directors, the old and new—and the deputy director, have little or nothing to say.

“All persons who must be present at the sale having met together, our directors order samples of all our goods to be exposed to view, and then give a signal with a gum-gum, a sort of flat bell, not unlike a basin, for the merchants to come in. The house where the sale is kept is a very neat building, built at the Company’s expense, and is then, by removing the shutters, laid open towards the street for people to look in. There is a small gallery round it, and it is divided within into several partitions, very commodiously contrived for this act.

“The sale itself is performed in the following manner. Only one sort of goods is put up at a time. Those who have a mind to buy them give in some tickets, each signed by feigned names, and signifying how much they intend to give for a piece, or a katti, of the article on sale. I took notice that every merchant gives in several tickets.[Pg 325] This is done in order to see how matters are like to go, and to keep to a less price in case he repents of the greater, for which purpose they are signed only by feigned names; and, because of the great number and subdivision of the small coin, it seldom happens that two tickets exactly agree. After all the bidders have given in their tickets, our directors proceed to open and assort them. They are then delivered to the presiding chief interpreter, who reads them aloud, one after another, beginning with the highest. He asks after the bidder three times, and, if there is no answer made, he lays that ticket aside and takes the next to it. So he goes on, taking always a less, till the bidder cries out, ‘Here I am,’and then draws near to sign the note, and to put his true name to it with black ink, which the Japanese always carry about them. The goods first put up being sold, they proceed to others, which they sell in the same manner; and so they go on till the sum determined by the emperor hath been raised, which is commonly done in two or three, seldom in four, days of sale. The day after each Kamban the goods are delivered to the buyer, and carried off. A company of merchants of the five imperial cities have obtained the monopoly for buying and selling raw silks, of which they would fain oblige us to make up at least one-third of our cargoes.

“The duty or custom levied upon goods has been introduced at Nagasaki, merely with an intent to take off part of the vast profits which foreigners get upon their commodities, and to assign them for the use and maintenance of the poorer inhabitants of the town, among whom it is distributed in proportion to the trouble they must be at, on account of the public offices they must serve by turns. They commonly receive in this[Pg 326] distribution from three to fifteen taels each. The duty laid upon the goods belonging to the Company is fifteen per cent, producing forty-five thousand taels. The goods belonging to private persons, which are commonly sold at the end of the Kamban, pay much more—no less than sixty-five per cent upon goods sold by the piece, and sixty-seven per cent on goods sold by weight. Rating each sort at half the whole amount, and the whole produce is twenty-seven thousand taels. The reason they give for the difference in the rate of duty is, because private goods are brought over in the Company’s ships, at the Company’s expense, and, consequently, deserve less profit. The Chinese, for the like reason,—that is, because they are not at the expense of such long and hazardous voyages as the Dutch, but are nearer at hand,—pay a duty of sixty per cent for all their goods, which brings in a sum of three hundred and sixty thousand taels duty. If to this be added the yearly rent for our houses and factories, which is five thousand five hundred and eighty taels, and that of the Chinese factory, which is sixteen thousand taels, it makes up in all a sum of four hundred and fifty-three thousand five hundred and eighty taels (upwards of half a million of dollars) which the foreign commerce produces annually to the magistrates and inhabitants of Nagasaki.

“The profits our goods produce may be computed to amount, one year with another, to sixty per cent, though, if all the charges and expenses of our sale be taken into consideration, we cannot well get above forty or forty-five per cent clear gain. Considering so small a profit, it would scarcely be worth the Company’s while to continue this branch of our trade any longer, were it not that the goods we export from thence, and[Pg 327] particularly the refined copper, yield much the same profit, so that the whole profit may be computed to amount to eighty or ninety per cent.

“The goods belonging to private persons being brought over and sold without any expense to the owner, the gain therefrom, notwithstanding the great duty laid upon them, is no ways inferior to that of the Company. The two chief directors have the greater share of it. They cannot hold their offices longer than three years, and that not successively, being obliged, after they have served one year, to return with the homeward-bound ships to Batavia, whence they are sent back again, either by the next ships, or two years after. If the directors stand upon good terms with the chief interpreter, and have found ways and means to secure his favor, by making him large presents at the Company’s expense, he can contrive things so that some of their goods be put up and sold upon the first or second Kamban, among the Company’s goods, and so, by reason of the small duty, produce sixty-five to seventy per cent profit. This, too, may be done without any prejudice to the Company; for, in casting up the sums paid in for goods, these articles are slipped over. If they have any goods beyond the amount they are legally entitled to, chiefly red coral, amber, and the like, it is an easy matter to dispose of them in private, by the assistance of the officers of the island, who will generally themselves take them off their hands. The Otona himself is very often concerned in such bargains, they being very advantageous. Formerly, we could sell them by a deputy to the persons who came over to our island at the time of our Kamban, and that way was far the most profitable for us. But one of our directors, in 1686, played his[Pg 328] cards so awkwardly that ten Japanese were beheaded for smuggling, and he himself banished the country forever.

“The residing director, who goes also as ambassador to the emperor’s court, hath, besides, another very considerable advantage, in that such presents as the governors of Nagasaki desire to be made to the emperor, not to be found in the Company’s warehouses, and therefore to be bought, can be furnished by him out of his own stock, if it so happens that he hath them, in which case he takes all the profit to himself, without doing any prejudice to the Company. Nay, they might possibly go still further in pursuit of their own private advantages, were it not that they endeavor to pass for men of conscience and honor, or, at least, aim to appear fearful lest they should be thought too notoriously to injure both the confidence and interest of their masters. I do not pretend hereby to charge them with any indirect practices as to the annual expenses, though perhaps even those are sometimes run up to an unnecessary height; nor is it in the least my intention to detract from the reputation and character of probity of so many worthy gentlemen, who have filled this station with honor, and discharged their duty with the utmost faithfulness to their masters. Thus much I can say without exaggeration, that the directorship of the Dutch trade in Japan is a place which the possessor would not easily part with for thirty thousand guilders (twelve thousand dollars). ’Tis true, it would be a great disadvantage to the director, and considerably lessen his profits, if he hath not a good cash in hand to provide himself, before his departure from Batavia, with a sufficient stock of goods, but must take them upon credit, and upon his[Pg 329] return share the profits with his creditors. Besides, he must not presume to leave Batavia, much less to return thither, without valuable consideration to his benefactors, unless he intends to be excused for the future the honor of any such employment. The goods he brings back to Batavia are silk gowns, which he receives as presents from the emperor and his ministers, and whereof he makes presents again to his friends and patrons, victuals, china ware, lackered or japanned things, and other manufactures of the country, which he can dispose of at Batavia at fifty per cent profits; and besides some kobans in gold; though if he have any left it is much more profitable to buy ambergris,[146] or refined copper, and to send the latter, if possible, on board the Company’s ships to Malacca. I say if possible, because there are strict orders from the Company against it.

“But it is time at last to send our ships on their return. To make up their cargoes we buy from twelve thousand to twenty thousand piculs of refined copper, cast in small cylinders, a span long and an inch thick, each picul packed in a fir box. We buy, likewise a small quantity of coarse copper, delivered to us in broad flattish round cakes, and sometimes we take in some hundred piculs or chests of copper kasies or farthings, but not unless they be asked for at Tonquin and other places. All the copper is sold to us by a company of united merchants, who, by virtue of a privilege from the emperor, have the sole refining and selling of it to foreigners.

[Pg 330]

“The other part of our cargo is made up of Japanese camphor, from six thousand to twelve thousand, and sometimes more, pounds a year, packed up in wooden barrels; of some hundred bales of china ware packed up in straw; of a box or two of gold thread, of an hundred rolls to the box; of all sorts of japanned cabinet-boxes, chests of drawers, and the like, all of the very best workmanship we can meet with; of umbrellas, screens, and several other manufactures, made of canes, wood, buffalo and other horns, hard skins of fishes, which they work with uncommon neatness and dexterity, stone, copper, gold and Sowas (?), which is an artificial metal, composed of copper, silver and gold, and esteemed at least equal in value to silver. To these may be added paper made transparent with oil and varnish; paper printed and colored with false gold and silver for hanging of rooms; rice, the best to be had in Asia; sake, a strong liquor brewed from rice; soy, a sort of pickle, fit to be eat at table with roasted meat; pickled fruits packed in barrels; indented tobacco; tea and marmalades; besides some thousand kobans of gold in specie. The exportation of the following articles is strictly forbidden. All prints, pictures, goods or stuffs, bearing the emperor’s coat of arms. Pictures and representations, printed and others, of soldiers and military people, of any person belonging to the court of the Dairi, or of Japanese ships; maps of the empire or any part of it; plans of towns, castles, temples, and the like; all sorts of silk, cotton, and hempen stuffs; all sorts of arms, including those made in Japan after European patterns; carpenters’ knives; silver.

“Our ships cannot be laden, nor set sail, till special leave has been given, and the day of their departure[Pg 331] determined by the court. When they are laden, all our private goods and what else we have to bring on board, must be again narrowly searched. For this purpose, two of our landlords, two apprentices of the interpreters, and two clerks, with some kuri, or workmen, about two or three days before the departure of the ships, call upon every one in his room, as well those who stay at Deshima as those who are to return, and who, during the time of sale, have been lodged in our empty houses. These people visit every corner, and examine all our things piece by piece, taking an exact memorandum of what they find; then they bind them together with straw ropes, and put their seals to them, along with a list of what the parcel contains, for the information of the gate-guard, who would else open them again. All contraband goods are seized at this search. Should any of these be found upon any Dutchman, the possessor would be at least banished the country for life, and the interpreters and servants appointed for his service and all other suspected persons would be put to the rack, till the seller and all his accomplices were discovered, by whose blood only is such crime to be expiated. Of this we had a late instance in the imperial steward’s own secretary, who, having endeavored to send over some scymitar blades to China, was executed for it, with his only son, not above eight years old. Upon my own departure, although my things, for good reasons, were visited but slightly, and over a bottle, yet they seized upon an old Japanese razor and a few other things, just because they happened to see them.

“The day determined for the departure of our ships drawing near, they proceed to lade their cargoes one after another. Last of all, the arms and powder are[Pg 332] brought on board, followed by the ship’s company, who must again pass in review according to the list which was given in upon ship’s arrival. The ship being ready, she must weigh her anchors that instant and retire two leagues off the town towards the entrance of the harbor, where she rides till the other ships are laden in the same manner. When all the homeward-bound ships are joined, they proceed on their voyage and after they have gotten to the main sea, to a pretty considerable distance from the harbor, the Japanese ship-guard, which never quitted them from their first arrival till then, leave them and return home. If the wind proves contrary to the ship’s going out, a good number of Japanese rowing boats, fastened to a rope, tow them out by force one after another. For the emperor’s orders must be executed in spite of wind and weather, should even afterwards all the ships run the hazard of being wrecked.

“All these several strict orders and regulations of the Japanese have been made chiefly with an intent to prevent smuggling. The penalty put upon this crime is death without hope of reprieve; but it extends only to the person convicted and his accomplices, and not to their families, as the punishment of some other crimes does. And yet the Japanese are so addicted to it, that, according to computation, no less than three hundred persons have been executed in six or seven years’ time for smuggling with the Chinese, whose departing junks they follow to the main sea, and buy of them at a low price what goods they could not dispose of at their sale at Nagasaki. But these unhappy wretches are almost as frequently caught by the Japanese boats particularly appointed for that purpose, and delivered up to justice[Pg 333] at Nagasaki, which constantly proves severe and unmerciful enough.”

Not long after Kämpfer’s arrival in Japan, eleven smugglers were caught in one boat, and brought to Nagasaki, where they were executed a few days after. On the 28th of December, 1691, twenty-three persons suffered death for smuggling, ten of whom were beheaded, and the others crucified. Among the latter were five who, upon being taken, made away with themselves, to avoid the shame of an unavoidable public execution; but their bodies were nevertheless preserved in salt, on purpose to be afterwards fixed to the cross. During Kämpfer’s stay in Japan, which was not above two years, upwards of fifty smugglers lost their lives.

“Though there are not many instances of people executed for smuggling with the Dutch, yet such a case occurred in 1691, when,” says Kämpfer, “two Japanese were executed on our island for having smuggled from a Dutchman one pound of camphor of Borneo, which was found upon the buyer just as he endeavored to carry it off from our island. Early in the morning on the day of execution the acting governor of Nagasaki sent notice by the Otona to our director to keep himself with the rest of the Dutchmen in readiness to see the criminals executed. About an hour after came over the numerous flocks of our interpreters, landlords, cooks and all the train of Deshima, with the sheriffs and other officers of justice, in all to the number of at least two hundred people. Before the company was carried a pike with a tablet, whereupon the crime for which the criminals were to suffer was specified in large characters. Then followed the two criminals, surrounded with bailiffs. The first was the buyer, a[Pg 334] young man of twenty-three years of age, very meanly clad, upon whom the camphor was found. The second was a well-looking man, well clad, about forty years of age, who suffered only for having lent the other, formerly a servant of his, the money to buy it with.

“One of the bailiffs carried an instrument upright, formed like a rake, but with iron hooks instead of teeth, proper to be made use of if any of the malefactors should attempt to make his escape, because it easily catches hold of one’s clothes. Another carried another instrument proper to cut, to stab, and to pin one fast to a wall. Then followed two officers of the governor’s court, with their retinues, as commissioners to preside at this act, and at some distance came two clerks. In this order they marched across our island to the place designed for this execution.

“We Dutchmen, only seven in number (our ship being already gone), resolved not to come near. But our director advised us to go, as he had heard that on our refusal we would be compelled by force. I followed this advice, and went without delay to see the execution done. I found the two criminals in the middle of the place, one behind the other, kneeling, their shoulders uncovered, and their hands tied to their backs. Each had his executioner standing by him, the one a tanner (for tanners in this country do the office of executioners), the other his best friend and comrade, whom he earnestly desired, as the custom is in this country, by doing him this piece of service, to confirm the friendship he had always had for him. At about twenty paces from the criminals sat the two commissioners upon one bench, and the two clerks upon another. A third was left empty for our director, who, however, did not[Pg 335] appear. The rest of the people stood promiscuously where they pleased. I myself crowded with my Japanese servant as near one of the malefactors as possibly we could. While they were waiting for the rest of the Dutchmen I overheard a very extraordinary discourse between the two criminals; for as the elderly man was grumbling between his teeth his Kwannongyō, or short prayer to the hundred-hand idol Kwannon, the other, to whom I stood nearest, rebuked him for it. ‘Fy!’said he. ‘For shame, to appear thus frightened out of your wits!’‘Ah, ah!’ says the other, ‘I only pray a little.’‘You have had time enough to pray,’ replied the first; ‘it serves no purpose now, but to expose yourself and to show the Dutch what a coward you are!’and this discourse so wrought upon the other that he actually left off praying.

“The minute that the Dutch were all assembled at the place of execution, a signal was given, and that instant both executioners cut off each his criminal’s head, with a short scymitar, in such a manner that their bodies fell forward to the ground. The bodies were wrapped up, each in a coarse rush mat, and both their heads together in a third, and so carried away from Deshima to the ordinary place of execution, a field not far from Nagasaki, where, it was said, young people tried their strength and the sharpness of their scymitars upon the dead bodies, by hacking them into small pieces. Both heads were fixed upon a pole, according to custom, and exposed to view for seven days. The execution being over, the company marched off from Deshima without any order. Our director went to meet the two commissioners, and afterwards the two clerks upon the street, as they were returning home, thanked them for[Pg 336] the trouble they had been at on this occasion, and invited them to his house to smoke a pipe; but he had nothing in return for this kind invitation but a sharp reprimand, with an admonition to take care of his people, that no more such accidents should happen for the future. This was the first time criminal blood was shed upon our island.”

The proceedings at the Chinese sales, and the articles imported and exported by them, were according to Kämpfer, much the same as in the case of the Dutch, except that they were not allowed to take away any money, but merchandise only.

[Pg 337]


Nagasaki and its Vicinity as seen by Kämpfer—Imperial Governors—Their Officers and Palaces—Municipal System—Street Government—Mutual Responsibility—Administration of Justice—Taxes—Government of other Towns—Adjacent Country—The God Suwa and his Matsuri—A. D. 1690-1692.

Kämpfer describes Nagasaki as situated upon an indifferent and barren soil, amid rocks and steep hills or mountains. The harbor, which has its head at the north of the city, where it is narrow and shallow with a sandy bottom, soon grows broader and deeper. When about half a mile broad and five or six fathoms deep, it turns to the southwest, and so runs on between high land and mountains for about a mile (narrowing again to a quarter of a mile in breadth), till it reaches an island or rather mountain surrounded by water, which the Dutch call Pappenburg. This, properly speaking, is the entrance of the harbor, and here vessels lie at anchor to watch a favorable opportunity of getting out, which would be easily done in two hours were it not for the many banks, shoals, and cliffs, which make the passage equally difficult and dangerous.

“There are seldom less than fifty Japanese ships in this harbor, besides some hundred fishing-vessels and small boats. Of foreign ships there are seldom, some few months of the winter excepted, less than thirty, most of which are Chinese junks. The Dutch ships never stay longer than three months in autumn; very seldom so long. The anchorage is about a musket-shot[Pg 338] from the town, where ships ride at anchor upon the soft clay, with about six fathom at high tide, and four and a half at low water.

“The town—situated where the harbor is broadest, and where, from the change in its direction, it forms a nearly semi-circular shore—has the shape of a half-moon, somewhat inclining to a triangle. Built along the shore in a narrow valley, formed by the opening of the neighboring mountains, it is about three quarters of a mile long and nearly as broad, the chief and broadest street running nearly that distance up the valley. The mountains which encompass it are not very high, but steep, green to their tops, and of a very agreeable aspect. Just behind the city, in going up the mountains, are many stately temples, beautifully adorned with fine gardens and terrace-walks. Higher up are innumerable burying-places. In the distance appear other high mountains, fruitful and well-cultivated. In short, the whole situation affords to the eye a most delicious and romantic view[147].”

The town is open, as are most other towns in Japan, without either castle, walls, or fortifications. Some bastions are built along the harbor, as it were for defence, but they have no cannon. About two miles from the town, seaward, just beyond the anchorage, are two guard-houses, opposite each other, and enclosed by palisades. They are held each by about seven hundred men, including those who do duty in the harbor guard-boats.

“Three fresh-water rivers come down from the neighboring mountains, and run through the town. For the greater part of the year they have scarce water enough[Pg 339] to irrigate some rice-fields and to drive a few mills, though in rainy weather they are apt to increase so as to wash away whole houses. They are crossed by thirty-five bridges, great and small, twenty of stone and fifteen of wood, very simple in their structure, being made more for strength than show.

“The city is divided into two parts. Uchimachi (the inner town) consists of twenty-six Chō, or streets, all very irregular, as if built in the infancy of the city; Sotomachi (or the outer town) contains sixty-one streets, so that there are eighty-seven in all.

“The streets of Nagasaki and other towns in Japan have borrowed their name, Chō, from that of a Japanese measure of sixty fathoms (three hundred and sixty feet); but, though generally short, they are not all precisely of that length. These streets or divisions of streets, seldom containing more than sixty or less than thirty houses, have gates at each end, which are always closed at night, and often in the day, when there is the least occasion for it. The streets of Nagasaki are neither straight nor broad, but crooked, dirty, and narrow, leading some up and others down hill, on account of the irregularity of the ground upon which the town is built. Some of the steepest have staircases of stone. They are full stocked with inhabitants, as many as ever they will hold.

“The houses of the common people are mean, sorry buildings, small and low, seldom above one story high. If there be two stories, the uppermost is so low that it scarce deserves the name. The roof is covered with shavings of fir wood [shingles?] fastened by other pieces of wood laid across. Indeed, the whole structure is of wood, as are most buildings throughout the empire.[Pg 340] The walls within are wainscoted and hung with painted and variously-colored paper[148]. The floor is covered with mats wove of a considerable thickness, which they take care to keep exceedingly clean and neat. The rooms are separated from each other by movable paper screens. Seats and chairs they have none, and only some few household goods, chiefly such as are absolutely necessary for daily use in the kitchen and at meals. Behind every house is a back yard, which, though never so small, yet contains always some curious and beautiful plants, kept with a great deal of care.

“The houses of eminent merchants and of other rich people, are of a far better structure, commonly two stories high, and built after the Chinese manner, with a large court-yard before them and a garden behind.

“The palaces of the two resident governors take in a large spot of ground, standing something higher than the rest of the town. The buildings are very neat and handsome, and all uniform; strong gates and well guarded lead into the court about which they are arranged.

“Besides the governors’ palaces there are some twenty other houses in Nagasaki belonging to the principal nobility of the island of Kiūshiū, always occupied by some of their vassals, who take care of them, and in which the owners lodge when they come to town.

“The handsomest buildings belonging to townspeople are two streets all occupied by courtesans. The girls in these establishments, which abound throughout Japan, are purchased of their parents when very young. The price varies in proportion to their beauty and the number of years agreed for, which is, generally speaking,[Pg 341] ten or twenty, more or less. They are very commodiously lodged in handsome apartments, and great care is taken to teach them to dance, sing, play upon musical instruments, to write letters, and in all other respects to make them as agreeable as possible. The older ones instruct the young ones, and these in their turn serve the older ones as their waiting-maids. Those who make considerable improvement, and for their beauty and agreeable behavior are oftener sent for, to the great advantage of their masters, are also better accommodated in clothes and lodging, all at the expense of their lovers, who must pay so much the dearer for their favors. The price paid to their landlord or master is from one mas to two ichibu (twelve and a half cents to four dollars), for a night, beyond which they are forbid to ask under severe penalties. One of the sorriest must watch the house over night in a small room near the door, free to all comers upon the payment of one mas. Others are sentenced to keep the watch by way of punishment for their misbehavior.

“After having served their time, if they are married, they pass among the common people for honest women, the guilt of their past lives being by no means laid to their charge, but to that of their parents and relations who sold them in their infancy for so scandalous a way of getting a livelihood, before they were able to choose a more honest one. Besides, as they are generally well bred, that makes it less difficult for them to get husbands. The keepers of these houses, on the contrary, though possessed of never so plentiful estates, are forever denied admittance into honest company.”

Kämpfer enumerates of public buildings three large wooden ship-houses, in which are kept three imperial[Pg 342] junks or men-of-war, equipped and ready for launching; a powder-magazine on a hill opposite the town, and a city prison. There are also sixty-two temples, within and without the town—five for the worship of the Kami, or ancient national gods of Japan, seven of the Yamabushi, or mountain priests, and fifty Tera, temples of four different Buddhist sects or observances, including the three temples erected by the Chinese, as mentioned in a previous chapter.

“These temples are sacred not only to devotion and worship, but serve also for recreation and diversion, being for this purpose curiously adorned with pleasant gardens, elegant walks, and fine apartments, and by much the best buildings of the town. The Buddhist temples are not so much to be commended for their largeness or splendor as for their pleasant and agreeable situations, being moreover adorned within with fine raised altars, gilt images as big as life, lackered columns, gates and pillars, the whole very neat and pretty rather than magnificent.

“Those who attend the service of the Kami temples, though not collected into monasteries, like the Buddhist clergy, but secular and married persons, yet assume to themselves a far higher degree of holiness and respect than they think the common bulk of secular persons deserve. They live with their families in houses built for them in the descent of the mountains. Their way of life, as well as their common dress at home and abroad, is no ways different from that of the other inhabitants, except that they do not shave their heads, but let their hair grow, and tie it together behind. When they go to the temple they dress in an ecclesiastical habit, with various head-dresses, according to every one’s office[Pg 343] and quality. They maintain themselves by the alms and offerings given them by those who come to worship in their temples, or at their appearance in solemn processions.

“The ecclesiastics of the Buddhist religion have no processions nor other public solemnities, like the Shintō clergy. They always keep within the district of their convent, where they mind little else but their prayers in the temple at certain stated hours. Their maintenance arises from the fees given them for prayers to be said in their temples, or at funerals for the relief of departed souls, as also from voluntary and charitable contributions.”

The gardens in and about the city and the neighboring villages abundantly furnish it with all sorts of fruits, vegetables and roots, with firewood, and also with some venison and poultry; but the domestic supply of rice is insufficient, and that capital article has to be imported from the neighboring provinces. The harbor and neighboring coast yield plenty of fish and crabs. The rivers that run through the town provide it with clear and sweet water, “very fit,” says Kämpfer, “for daily drink; the sake, or rice beer, as it is brewed in Japan, being too strong, and that in particular made at Nagasaki of a disagreeable taste[149].”

[Pg 344]

Except articles made of gold, silver and Sawaas (?),—a mixture of gold, silver, and copper,—for the foreign trade, manufactures at Nagasaki are not so good as in other parts of the empire; and yet everything is sold dearer, chiefly to foreigners.

The inhabitants are mostly merchants, shop-keepers, tradesmen, handicraftsmen, artificers, brewers, besides the numerous retinue of the governors, and the people employed in the Dutch and Chinese trade, by which, in fact, the town is mainly supported. There are many poor people and beggars, most of them religious mendicants.

“The town,” says Kämpfer, “is never without a great deal of noise. In the day, victuals and other merchandise are cried up and down the streets. Day-laborers and the seamen in the harbor encourage one another to work with a certain sound. In the night the watchmen and soldiers upon duty, both in the streets and harbor, show their vigilance, and at the same time indicate the hours of the night, by beating two pieces of wood against each other. The Chinese contribute their share chiefly in the evening, when they burn some pieces of gilt paper, and throw them into the sea, as an offering to their idol, or when they carry their idol about its temple; both which they do with beating of drums and cymbals. But all this is little compared with the clamor and bawling of the priests and the relations of dying or dead persons, who, either in the house where the corpse lies, or else upon certain days sacred to the deceased’s memory, sing a Namida [Namu-amida-butsu], that is, a prayer, to their god Amida[150], with a loud voice, for[Pg 345] the relief of his soul. The like is done by certain fraternities or societies of devout neighbors, friends, or relations, who meet by turns in their houses, every day, in the morning or evening, in order to sing the Namida by way of precaution for the future relief of their own souls.”

Nagasaki, down to the year 1688, had, like the other imperial cities, two governors, commanding by turns; the one not in the immediate exercise of authority being resident meanwhile at Yedo. In 1688, the policy was adopted of having three governors; two to be always resident at Nagasaki, to watch each other, and presiding alternately for two months, while the third was to come in each alternate year from Yedo to relieve the senior resident[151]. The resident governors leave their families at Yedo as hostages for their good behavior, and, during the time of their absence from court, are strictly prohibited, so it is stated, to admit any woman within their palaces. The establishments of these imperial governors, as described by Kämpfer, may probably be taken as a specimen of the ordinary way of life with the higher order of Japanese officials. Their salary did not exceed fifteen hundred or two thousand koku of rice (in money, the price of the article being very variable, from seven thousand to ten thousand taels); but the perquisites were so considerable that in a few years they might get vast estates, did not the presents which must be made to the emperor and the grandees of the court consume the greater part of their profits. Out of their[Pg 346] allowance they were obliged to maintain an extensive retinue,—two Karō, or stewards of the household, ten Yoriki, all noblemen of good families, who acted both as civil and military officers, and thirty Dōshin, likewise military and civil officers, but of inferior rank.

The business of the Yoriki was to assist the governor with their advice, if required, and to execute his commands, either as military officers or as magistrates. They had, besides their food and a new suit annually, an allowance of one hundred taels a year; but this hardly sufficed to enable them to keep the servants necessary to their dignity, such as a pike-bearer, a keeper of their great sword, and a shoe or slipper bearer, and much less to maintain a family. The Dōshin were a sort of assistants to the Yoriki. They served as guards, and did duty on board ship, especially in the guard-boats, either as commanding officers or as privates. Sometimes they did the office of bailiffs or constables, and put people under arrest, for which purpose they always carried a halter about them. Their yearly allowance, beside their board, did not exceed fifty taels, out of which they must maintain each a servant.[152] The governors had still other domestics, of inferior rank, to dress and undress them, to introduce visitors, and to bring messages, besides numerous menial servants.

At the entrance of their palaces, within the court-yard, a guard was kept of four or five Dōshin. No domestic could leave the house without taking from its place in the guard-room a square wooden tablet, which he hung[Pg 347] up again on his return, so that it could be known at a glance how many and who were absent. Within the great door or main entrance into the house, another guard was kept by some of the Yoriki, one of whom had charge of a book, in which he entered, as the custom is at the houses of persons of rank, the names of all who go in or out, for the information of the master of the house, who sometimes at night examines the entries.

The governor’s equipage and attendance when going abroad consisted of a led horse, a Norimono, in which he was carried, by the side of which walked four of the gentlemen of his bedchamber, and behind it two pike-bearers, followed by a train of Karō, Yoriki, and Dōshin, with their own servants and attendants.

Kämpfer thus describes the persons who held the office of governors of Nagasaki at his arrival in Japan—“Kawaguchi Settsu-no-Kami is a handsome, well-shaped man, about fifty years of age, cunning and malicious, and a great enemy of the Dutch (who ascribed to him the authorship of the new arrangement for their trade), an unjust and severe judge, but an agreeable, liberal and happy courtier, with an income from his private estates of four thousand seven hundred koku. Yamaoka Tsushima-no-Kami had formerly been a high constable, and had been rewarded with his present office for his services in clearing Yedo of thieves and pickpockets. He had a private revenue of two thousand koku. He is about sixty, short, sincere, humble, and very charitable to the poor, but with so much of his old profession about him, that he often orders his domestics to be put to death without mercy for very trifling faults. Miyagi Tonomo, also about sixty, is a man of great[Pg 348] generosity and many good qualities, with a private estate of four thousand koku of yearly revenue.”

To watch the governors, an imperial officer, called Daikwan, was appointed to reside at Nagasaki, and a like service was required of all the chief lords of the island of Shimo.

To secure the harbor and town these same lords were bound to march with their vassals at the first alarm. The princes of the provinces of Hizen and Chikuzen were obliged to furnish alternately, each for a year, the guard at the entrance of the harbor, which was independent of the governors. The inhabitants of the water-side streets of Nagasaki supplied the Funaban or ship-guard with its guard-boats to watch foreign ships in the harbor. There was another fleet of boats employed ordinarily in whale-fishing but whose business it also was to see all foreign vessels well off the coast, to guard against and to arrest smugglers, and to prevent any foreign vessels from touching elsewhere than at Nagasaki. Finally, there was the spy-guard, stationed on the top of neighboring mountains, to look out for the approach of foreign vessels; and on one of these hills was a beacon, which, being fired, served, in connection with other similar beacons, to telegraph alarms to Yedo.

Next in rank to the governors were four mayors or burgomasters, whose office, like most others, had become hereditary, and two deputy-mayors, principally for the affairs of the new town. They would seem to have once been the actual chief magistrates, but their authority had been greatly eclipsed by that of the imperial governors. There were also four other officers annually appointed to solicit the interests of the town’s people at the court of the governors, and to keep them informed[Pg 349] of the daily proceedings of the mayors, for which purpose they had a small room at the governor’s palace, where they were always in waiting.

There was no town-house nor other public place of assembly. When the magistrates met on business, it was at the presiding mayor’s house. Besides the various bodies of interpreters and others, connected with the foreign trade, there was a particular corporation of constables and bailiffs, consisting of about thirty families, who lived in a street by themselves. Their office was reputed military and noble, and they had the privilege of wearing two swords,—a privilege which the mayors and mercantile people did not possess.

The tanners, obliged to act also as public executioners, were held in execration, yet they also wore two swords. They lived in a separate village near the place of execution, placed as everywhere in Japan at the west end of the town.

But the most remarkable thing in the municipal government of Nagasaki (and the same thing extended to all the other Japanese towns) was the system of street government, mentioned in the narratives of Don Rodrigo, Caron, and others, but which Kämpfer more particularly describes.

The house-owners of every street were arranged in companies, or corporations, of five Goningumi, or sometimes a few more, each street having from ten to fifteen such companies. None but house-owners were admitted into these corporations; mere occupants were looked upon as dependants on their landlords with no voice in the affairs of the street, nor right to claim any share in the public money, though they paid high rents. Each street company had one of its number for a head, who[Pg 350] was responsible for the conduct of his four companions, and obliged, in certain cases at least, to share the punishment of their crimes. The members of these corporations chose from among themselves an Otona, or chief magistrate of the street. The choice was by ballot, and the name of the person having the greatest number was presented to the governor, with a humble petition that he might be appointed to the office, of which the salary in Nagasaki was a ten-fold share of the annual distribution to the inhabitants, derived from the duties on the foreign trade.


The duty of the Otona was to give the necessary orders in case of fire; to have the oversight of the watch; to keep a register of the deaths, births, marriages, arrivals, departures, &c.; to arrest criminals,[Pg 351] and to punish those of smaller magnitude; to compose, if he could, all disputes among the people of his street; and generally to be personally answerable for their good behavior. He had for assistants three lieutenants, the heads of the corporations of house-owners, a secretary, a treasurer, and a messenger. A guard was kept every night, of three or more house-owners, while the street was paced by two sentinels, walking from each gate till they met, and then back. The hours were regularly in the daytime struck on a bell hung for that purpose on the ascent of the mountains, and during the night the street-watch indicated them by beating two sticks together[153].

[Pg 352]

The street officers were held responsible for the offences of the house-owners; the house-owners for the offences of their lodgers, domestics, and families; masters for servants; children for parents, each corporation for its individual members; neighbors for each other[154]. It was naturally a part of this system that no new inhabitant was admitted into any street, except by consent of all the house-owners in it, which thus became necessary to every purchase and sale of a house.

Every year, a list was made out by the street officers of all the inhabitants in each street, with their religion, shortly after which came the ceremony of Yebumi[155], or figure-treading—that is, trampling upon the crucifix, an image of the Virgin Mary, and other saints—a ceremony which appears to be observed, at least at Nagasaki, down even to the present day. The images used in Kämpfer’s time were about a foot long, cast in brass, and kept in a particular box for that purpose. The ceremony took place in the presence of the street officers. Each house was entered by turns, two messengers carrying the box. The images were laid upon the bare floor, and, the list of the household being called[Pg 353] over, they were required, one by one, to tread upon them. Young children, not yet able to walk, were held in their mothers’ arms, so as to touch the images with their feet. It has been asserted that the Dutch were obliged to submit to this ceremony; but the fact was not so.

To prevent smuggling, whenever the foreign ships or junks set sail the street gates of Nagasaki were shut, and kept closed till the ships were out of the harbor, strict searches being made, at uncertain times, on which occasions every inhabitant of the street was obliged to report himself. The same thing took place when criminals were searched for, or other investigations, sometimes very frivolous ones, were made. On these and other occasions of alarm, no one could go from one street into another, except with a written pass, and attended by an officer; nor could an inhabitant of Nagasaki at any time leave the city without a similar pass and an undertaking on the part of his neighbors for his return within a specified time.

Accused persons were often made to confess by torture. Capital punishments were either by beheading or crucifixion. Other punishments—and this class was often inflicted for the misdemeanors of others—were imprisonment, for longer or shorter periods, banishment to certain desolate spots, and islands, and forfeiture of property and office. Punishments were prompt and severe; yet great regard was had to the nature of the offence, the condition of the person who committed it, and the share of guilt to be reasonably laid to the charge of his superiors, relations, or neighbors. The practice of making young children suffer with their parents was possibly intended as much in mercy to them as to[Pg 354] aggravate the punishment of the real offenders[156]. It is by this same motive of humanity, that the Japanese justify their practice of exposing such infants as they have not the means or inclination to support and educate.

Persons sentenced to death could not be executed without a warrant signed by the council of state at Yedo, which must likewise be consulted in all affairs of moment, provided they admit of the delay necessary to send a courier and receive an answer. This, however, did not prevent the governors of Nagasaki, and other high officers, from liberally exercising the right of life and death in the case of their own immediate servants and retainers. All servants, indeed, were so far at the disposal of their masters, that, if they were accidentally killed while undergoing punishment, the master was not answerable. Yet, in general, as in China, homicide, even in self-defence or undesigned, must be expiated by the blood of the offender, and even his neighbors were, in many cases, held to a certain extent responsible.

Examination of a Prisoner by Torture

“Some will observe,” says Kämpfer, “that the Japanese are wanting in a competent knowledge of the law. I could heartily wish, for my part, that we Europeans knew as little of it as they, since there is such an abuse made of a science highly useful in itself, that innocence, instead of being relieved, is often still more oppressed. There is a much shorter way to obtain justice in Japan, and, indeed, all over the East;—no necessity for being at law for many years together, no occasion for so many[Pg 355] writings, answers, briefs, and the like. The case is, without delay, laid before the proper court of judicature, the parties heard, the witnesses examined, the circumstances considered, and judgment given without loss of time. Nor is there any delay to be apprehended from appealing, since no superior court hath the power to mitigate the sentence pronounced in another, though inferior. And, although it cannot be denied but that this short way of proceeding is liable to some errors and mistakes in particular cases, yet I dare affirm that in the main it would be found abundantly less detrimental to the parties concerned than the tedious and expensive law-suits in Europe.”

Certain yearly contributions, under the name of free gifts, were paid by all the house-owners and office-holders of Nagasaki, partly as perquisites to the governor and other officers, and partly for municipal purposes. So far as the house-owners were concerned, it amounted to a regular tax, levied according to the size of the lots; but this sort of levy was said to be unknown in other cities of the empire, and at Nagasaki was much more than made up for by the surplus share of the house-owners in the duty levied on the foreign trade, which, after paying all particular services and municipal expenses, was divided among them. The only other tax was an imperial ground-rent on the house-lots—four mas (fifty cents), in the old town, and six mas (seventy-five cents) in the upper town, for every ken (very nearly six English feet) of frontage, where the depth was not more than fifteen ken. On every lot exceeding that depth the tax was double. This is stated by Kämpfer to be the only town tax levied throughout the empire, whether in the towns of[Pg 356] the imperial domain, or in those belonging to particular lords, and the city of Miyako, by a particular privilege, was exempt even from this.

A municipal police, similar to that of Nagasaki, was established in all the other towns, boroughs, and villages, with this difference only, that the magistrates, though invested with the same power, were, perhaps, known by different names, and that their administration was, in general, much less strict than at Nagasaki.

The adjacent country was under the control of an imperial steward (the same forming a part of the imperial domains), who collected the rent, forming, with the house-tax, the entire imperial revenue. This rent amounted to four parts in ten of the crop; whereas inferior landlords exacted six parts in ten. Grain was delivered in kind; garden grounds, orchards and woods, paid a compensation in money.

We may close this account of Nagasaki with a description of the Matsuri, or public spectacle exhibited on the birthday of the god Suwa, the patron of the city, one of the occasions on which the Dutch were permitted to leave the island of Deshima, for the purpose of witnessing the spectacle. This festival was, and still is, celebrated at the expense of ten or eleven streets uniting each year for that purpose; so that every street is called upon thus to contribute once in seven or eight years, except that in which the courtesans reside, which must pay every year. The celebration consists in processions, plays, dances, etc., and as something new must always be got up, at least in the way of dress, it is attended with heavy expense.

The temple of Suwa, according to Kämpfer’s description, stands not far from the town, upon the mountain[Pg 357] Tutla (?). A fine staircase, of two hundred stone steps, leads up to it. The temple court, somewhat lower than the Miya itself, extends down the declivity of the mountain. At the entry of this court, next the gate, is a long, open room, or gallery, where plays are acted, for the diversion both of Suwa and his worshippers. This room is curiously adorned with many pictures and carved images, placed there by devout worshippers in fulfilment of vows made in some moment of exigency. Further off stand some small chapels of wood, clean and neat, but without ornaments. In the same court stand the temples of Morisaki Gongen, and Sumiyoshi, each of whom has also his Mikoshi, or small eight-angular shrine, curiously adorned, and hanging in beautiful polls, wherein their images or relics are carried about upon festivals. Kämpfer also observed, in the same enclosure, another small chapel, built in honor of the god and lord of thousand legs, hung about with numbers of his clients, that is, with legs of all sorts and sizes, given by his worshippers.

There are several festivals sacred to Suwa, of which the chief is on the seventh, eighth, and ninth days of the ninth month[157]. On the eighth the god is diverted in his temple, at the expense of rich and devout people, with a musical concert, performed by boys beating upon drums and bells—the very same music made use of to appease the supreme kami Tenshō Daijin, when, out of disdain and anger, she hid herself in a cavern, and thereby deprived the world of light and sunshine[158].

[Pg 358]

The great festival of the ninth consists of processions through the principal streets, and spectacles exhibited in a temporary building of bamboo, with a thatched roof, open towards the square on which it is erected. “The whole building,” says Kämpfer, “scarcely deserves to be compared to one of our barns, it is so mean and simple, for it must be purposely built according to the sorry architecture of their indigent ancestors.” A tall fir is planted on each side of the front[Pg 359] of this temple, and three sides of the square are built round with benches and scaffolds for the convenience of spectators.

Festival with Mikoshi

“Everything being ready, the Shintō clergy of the city appear in a body, with a splendid retinue, bringing over in procession the Mikoshi of their great Suwa, as, also, to keep him company, that of Sumiyoshi. Morisaki Gongen is left at home, as there is no instance in the history of his life and actions from which it could be inferred that he delighted in walking and travelling.

[Pg 360]

“The Shintō clergy, upon this occasion, style themselves Ōtomo(?)—that is, the high great retinue—which pompous title notwithstanding, the alms-chest is one of the principal things they carry in the procession, and, indeed,” says Kämpfer, “to very good purpose, for there is such a multitude of things thrown among them by the crowds of superstitious spectators, as if they had a mind out of mere charity to stone them.

“When they come to the place of exhibition, the ecclesiastics seat themselves, according to their quality, which appears in good measure by their dress, upon three benches, built for them before the front of the temple. The two superiors take the uppermost bench, clad in black, with a particular head ornament, and a short staff, as a badge of their authority. Four others, next in rank, sit upon the second bench, dressed in white ecclesiastical gowns, with a black lackered cap, something different from that worn by their superiors. The main body takes possession of the third and lowermost bench, sitting promiscuously, and all clad in white gowns, with a black lackered cap, somewhat like those of the Jesuits. The servants and porters appointed to carry the holy utensils of the temple, and other people who have anything to do at this solemnity, stand next to the ecclesiastics, bareheaded.

“On the other side of the square, opposite to the ecclesiastics, sit the deputies of the governors, under a tent, upon a fine mat, somewhat raised from the ground. For magnificence’ sake, and out of respect for this holy act, they have twenty pikes of state planted before them in the ground.

“The public spectacles on these occasions are a sort of plays, acted by eight, twelve, or more persons. The[Pg 361] subject is taken out of the history of their gods and heroes. Their remarkable adventures, heroic actions, and sometimes their love intrigues, put in verse, are sung by dancing actors, whilst others play upon musical instruments. If the subject be thought too grave and moving, there is now and then a comic actor jumps out unawares upon the stage, to divert the audience with his gestures and merry discourse in prose. Some of their other plays are composed only of ballets, or dances, like the performance of the mimic actors on the Roman stage. For the dancers do not speak, but endeavor to express the contents of the story they are about to represent, as naturally as possible, both by their dress and by their gestures and actions, regulated according to the sound of musical instruments. The chief subjects of the play, such as fountains, bridges, gates, houses, gardens, trees, mountains, animals, and the like, are also represented, some as big as the life, and all in general contrived so as to be removed at pleasure, like the scenes of our European plays[159].

“The actors are commonly girls, taken out of the courtesans’ houses, and boys from those streets at whose expense the solemnity is performed. They are all magnificently clad, in variously colored silken gowns, suitable to the characters they are to present; and it must be owned that, generally speaking, they act their part with an assurance and becoming dexterity, not to be exceeded, nay, scarce to be paralleled, by the best European actors.

“The streets which bear the expense make their appearance in the following order: First of all is carried[Pg 362] a rich canopy, or else an umbrella, made of silk, being the palladium of the street. Over it, in the middle, is placed a shield, whereupon is writ, in large characters, the name of the street. Next to the canopy follow the musicians, masked, and in proper liveries. The music is both vocal and instrumental. The instruments are chiefly flutes of different sorts, and small drums; now and then a large drum, cymbals and bells, are brought in among the rest. The instrumental music is so poor and lamentable that it seems much easier to satisfy their gods than to please a musical ear. Nor is the vocal part much preferable to the instrumental, for although they keep time tolerably, and sing according to some notes, yet they do it in so very slow a manner that the music seems to be rather calculated to regulate their action, and the motions of their body in their ballets and dances, wherein they are very ingenious and dexterous, and little inferior to our European dancers, excepting only that they seem to want a little more action and swiftness in their feet.

“The musicians are followed by the necessary machines and the whole apparatus for the ensuing representations, the largest being carried by laboring people, the lesser—as benches, staffs, flowers, and the like—by the children of the inhabitants, neatly clad. Next follow the actors themselves, and after them all the inhabitants of the street in a body in their holiday clothes and garments of ceremony. To make the appearance so much the greater the procession is closed by a considerable number of people who carry stools and other things, walking two and two.

Two Styles of Drums
A Flute-player
Musical Instruments

“The dances and shows of each street commonly last about three quarters of an hour, and being over, the[Pg 363] company marches off in the same order they came in, to make way for the appearance and shows of another street, which is again followed by another, and so on. All the streets strive to outdo each other in a magnificent retinue and surprising scenes. The processions and shows begin early in the morning, and the whole ends about noon.”

The following were among the presentations by the different streets at the matsuri at which Kämpfer was present.

1. “Eight young girls, clad in colored gowns, interwove with large white flowers, with broad hats, as if to defend them from the heat of the sun, with fans and flowers in their hands, dancing by turns. They were from time to time relieved by a couple of old women dancing in another dress.

2. “A garden, with fine flowers on each side of the place where the act was performed, a thatched house in the middle, out of which jumped eight young girls, dressed in white and red, dancing, with fans, canes, and flower-baskets. They were relieved by a very good actress, who danced by herself.

3. “Eight triumphal chariots, with oxen before them, of different colors, the whole very naturally represented, and drawn by young boys, well clad. Upon them stood a Tsubaki [camellia] tree, in flower; a mountain, covered with trees; a thicket of bamboos, with a tiger lurking; a load of straw, with an entire tree, with its root and branches; a whale, under a rock, half covered with water. Last of all, another mountain appeared, with a real boy, magnificently clad, who stood at the top, under an apricot-tree in full blossom. This mountain was again drawn by boys.

[Pg 364]

4. “Some dancers, acting between six flower-beds, which, and a green tree, were drawn upon the place by boys. Nine other boys, in the same dress, and armed each with two swords and a musket; a peasant, dancing.

5. “A mountain, carried upon men’s shoulders; a fountain, with a walk round it; a large cask, and a house, were severally set upon the place. Then two giants, masked, with prodigious great heads representing some Indian deities, began a dance. They were met soon after by a third, of a still more monstrous size, who came forth out of the mountain, armed with a great broadsword. He was followed by seven Chinese, jumping out of the same mountain, though to all appearance quite small, and dancing about in company with the giants. After some time spent in dances, the great monstrous giant beat the cask to pieces, out of which came a young boy, very handsomely clad, who, after a fine long speech, which he delivered in a very graceful manner, danced with the giant alone. Meanwhile, three monkeys, with roe’s heads, crept out of the fountain, and, jumping on the walk round it, performed a dance, mimicking that of the giant and boy. This done, every one returned to his place, and so the scene ended.

6. “The pompous retinue of a prince, travelling with his son, very naturally represented by boys.

7. “Several huge machines, accurately resembling, both in size and color, the things they were to represent, but made of a thin substance, so that one man could easily carry one upon his back. But, besides this load on the back, every one of these men had a very large drum hanging before him, which some others played upon with bells. After this manner they crossed the[Pg 365] stage, dancing, though not very high, because of their load. The things which they carried were, a well, with all the implements for extinguishing fires; a large church-bell, with the timber work belonging to it, and a dragon wound round it for ornament’s sake; a mountain, covered with snow, and shaped like a dragon, with an eagle on the top; a brass gun, weighing twenty-four pounds, with all the tackle belonging to it; a heavy load of traveller’s trunks, packed up in twelve straw balls, according to the country fashion; a whale in a dish; several shell fish and fruits, as big as the life, carried each by one person.”

[Pg 366]


Kämpfer’s Two Journeys to Court—Preparations—Presents—Japanese Attendants—Packing the Baggage and Riding on Horseback—Japanese Love of Botany—Accoutrements—Road-Books—Norimono and Kago—A. D. 1690-1692.

Mention has already been made of the custom established in Japan, that all the governors of imperial cities and of provinces, and, indeed, all the Daimiō and Shōmiō—that is, nobles of the first and second rank—should, once a year, make a journey to court; those of the first rank to pay their respects and make presents to the emperor in person, and those of the second rank to salute his chief ministers, assembled in council.

In this respect the director of the Dutch trade is placed on the same footing with the superior nobility, and his journey to court, accompanied by a physician, a secretary or two, and a flock of Japanese attendants of various ranks, affords the Dutch the only opportunity they have of knowing anything by their own personal observation, beyond the vicinage of Nagasaki.

A Buddhist Priest in a Norimono
Ancient Imperial Carriages
Lady in a Kago
Transportation Methods

Kämpfer made this journey twice—the first time in 1691, and again in 1692—and, notwithstanding the strict surveillance under which the Dutch are kept, his observations were highly curious. Besides a journal of his daily route, he gives a general summary of all that he observed, containing a great deal of curious information, the most interesting part of which is copied in this and the following chapters, nearly in his own words:

[Pg 367]

“The first thing to be done, is to look out proper presents for his imperial majesty, for his privy councillors, and some other great officers at Yedo, Miyako, and Ōsaka, the whole amounting, as near as possible, to a certain sum, to assort them, and particularly to assign to whom they are to be delivered. Afterwards they must be put up into leather bags, which are carefully wrapped up in mats, in order to preserve them from all accidents in so long a journey; and, for a further security, several seals are affixed to them.

“It is the business of the governors of Nagasaki to judge and determine what might prove acceptable to the court. They take out of the goods laid up in our warehouse what they think proper, and give instructions to the departing director about such things as should be sent over from Batavia the next year. Sometimes some of their own goods they have been presented with by the Chinese are put in among these presents, because by this means they can dispose of them to the best advantage, either by obliging us to buy them at an excessive and their own price, or by exchanging them for other goods. Now and then some uncommon curiosities, either of nature or art, are brought over from Europe, and other parts of the world, on purpose to be presented to the emperor; but it often happens that they are not approved of by these rigid censors. Thus, for instance, there were brought over, in my time, two brass fire-engines of the newest invention, but the governors did not think them proper to be presented to the emperor, and so returned them to us, after they had first seen them tried, and taken a pattern of them.[160] Another time[Pg 368] the bird Casuar[161] was sent over from Batavia, but likewise disliked and denied the honor of appearing before the emperor, because they heard he was good for nothing but to devour a large quantity of victuals.

“These presents are placed on board a barge, three or four weeks before our departure, and sent by water to Shimonoseki, a small town at the southwestern extremity of the great island of Nippon, where they wait our arrival by land. Formerly our ambassador, with his whole retinue, embarked at the same time, whereby we saved a great deal of trouble and expense we must now be at in travelling by land; but a violent storm having once put the whole company into eminent danger, and the voyage having been often, by reason of the contrary winds, too long and tedious, the emperor has ordered that for the future we should go by land. The presents for the imperial court, and other heavy baggage, being sent before us, the rest of the time till our departure is spent in preparations for our journey, as if we designed some great expedition into a remote part of the world.

“The first and most essential part consists in nominating, and giving proper instructions to, the several officers, and the whole retinue that is to go with us to court. The governors appoint one of their Yoriki, to be Bugiō, that is, head and commander-in-chief. He is to represent the authority of his masters, as a badge whereof he hath a pike carried after him. A Dōshin is ordered to assist him in quality of his deputy. Both the Yoriki and Dōshin are taken from among the domestics of one of the governors, who stays that year at[Pg 369] Nagasaki. To these are added two beadles, who, as well as the Dōshin, carry, by virtue of their office, a halter about them, to arrest and secure, at command or wink from the Yoriki, any person guilty or suspected of any misdemeanor. All these persons are looked upon as military men, and as such have the privilege of wearing two swords;—all persons that are not either noblemen by birth, or in some military employment, being by a late imperial edict denied this privilege.

“I have already stated that our interpreters are divided into two companies, the upper consisting of the eight chief interpreters, and the inferior including all the rest. The Nemban, or president for the time being, of each of these companies is appointed to attend us in this journey. To these is now added a third, as an apprentice, whom they take along with them to qualify him for the succession. All the chief officers, and all other persons that are able to do it, take some servants along with them, partly to wait upon them, partly for state. The Bugiō and the principal interpreter take as many as they please, the other officers, each two or three, as they are able, or as their office requires. The Dutch captain, or ambassador, may take three, and every Dutchman of his retinue is allowed one. The interpreters commonly recommend their favorites to us, and the more ignorant they are of the Dutch language, the better it answers their intention.

“I omit to mention some other persons, who, by order or by special leave of the governors and interpreters, make the journey in company with us, and at our expense, too, though otherwise they have no manner of business upon our account.

“All these future companions of our voyage have[Pg 370] leave to make us some friendly visits at Deshima, in order to get beforehand a little acquainted with us. There are many among them who would willingly be more free and open, were it not for the solemn oath they must all take before their departure, but much more for the fear of being betrayed by others, since, by virtue of the same oath, they are obliged all and every one of them to have a strict and watchful eye, not only over the Dutch, but also over the conduct of each other, particularly with regard to the Dutch.

“Another branch of preparations for our journey is the hiring of horses and porters. This is the chief interpreter’s business, as keeper of our purse, who is also appointed to take care that whatever is wanted during the whole journey be provided for. ’Tis he, likewise, that gives orders to keep everything in readiness to march the minute the Bugiō is pleased to set out.

“Two days before our departure every one must deliver his cloak, bag, and portmantle, to proper people, to be bound up;—this not after our European manner, but after a particular one of their own, which deserves to be here described.

“A plain wooden saddle, not unlike the pack-saddles of the Swedish post-horses, is girded on the horse with a breast-leather and crupper. Two latchets are laid upon the saddle, which hang down on both sides of the horse, in order to their being conveniently tied about two portmantles, which are put on each side in a due balance; for when once tied together, they are barely laid on the horse’s back, without any other thong or latchet to tie them faster. However, to fasten them in some measure, a small, long box, or trunk, called by the Japanese Atotsuke, is laid over both portmantles upon the horse’s[Pg 371] back, and tied fast to the saddle with thongs; and over the whole is spread the traveller’s covering and bedding, which are tied fast to the Atotsuke and side trunks. The cavity between the two trunks, filled up with some soft stuff, is the traveller’s seat, where he sits, as it were, upon a flat table, commodiously enough, either cross-legged or with his legs extended hanging down by the horse’s neck, as he finds it most convenient. Particular care must be taken to sit in the middle, and not to lean too much on either side, which would either make the horse fall, or else the side trunks and rider. In going up and down hills the footmen and stable grooms hold the two side trunks fast, for fear of such an accident. The traveller mounts the horse, and alights again, not on one side, as we Europeans do, but by the horse’s breast, which is very troublesome for stiff legs. The horses are unsaddled and unladen in an instant; for having taken the bed-clothes away, which they do first of all, they need but untie a latchet or two, which they are very dexterous at, and the whole baggage falls down at once. The latchets, thongs, and girths, made use of for these several purposes, are broad and strong, made of cotton, and withal very neatly worked, with small, oblong, cylindrical pieces of wood at both ends, which are of great use to strain the latchets, and to tie things hard.

“The saddle is made of wood, very plain, with a cushion underneath and a caparison behind, lying upon the horse’s back, with the traveller’s mark, or arms, stitched upon it. Another piece of coarse cloth hangs down on each side as a safeguard to the horse, to keep him from being daubed with dirt. These two pieces are tied together loosely under the horse’s belly. His[Pg 372] head is covered with a net-work of small but strong strings, to defend it, and particularly the eyes, from flies, which are very troublesome. The neck, breast, and other parts are hung with small bells.

“The side portmantles, which are filled only with light stuff, and sometimes only with straw, are a sort of square trunk, made of stiff horse leather, mostly four feet long, a foot and a half broad, and as many deep. The cover is made somewhat larger, and so deep as to cover the lower part down to the bottom. Though they hold out rain very well, yet for a greater security, they are wrapt up in mats, with strong ropes tied about them; for which reason, and because it requires some time to pack them up, they are seldom unpacked till you are come to the journey’s end, and the things which are the most wanted upon the road are kept in the Atotsuke. This is a small, thin trunk or case, about four feet and a half in length, nine inches broad, and as many deep. It contains one single drawer, much of the same length, breadth and depth. It hath a little door or opening on one side, which can be locked up, and by which you can come conveniently at the drawer, without untying the Atotsuke. What things are daily wanted upon the road must be kept in this trunk. It serves likewise to fasten the two portmantles, or side trunks, which would otherwise require a stick. It is made of thick, strong, gray paper, and, further to secure it against all accidents of a long journey, strings are tied about it in form of a net, very neatly.

“To complete our traveller’s equipage, some other things are requisite, which are commonly tied to the portmantles. Such are, 1. A string with Zeni, a brass money with a hole in the middle, they being more[Pg 373] proper to buy what necessaries are wanted on the road than silver money, which must be weighed. People that travel on horseback tie this string behind them to one of the sashes of their seats. Foot travellers carry it in a basket upon their back[162]. 2. A lantern, of varnished and folded paper, with the possessor’s arms painted upon its middle. This is carried before travellers by their footmen, upon their shoulder, in travelling by night. It is tied behind one of the portmantles, put up in a net or bag, which again hath the possessor’s arms, or marks, printed upon it, as have in general the clothes and all other movables travellers of all ranks and qualities carry along with them upon their journeys. 3. A brush made of horse’s hairs, or black cock feathers, to dust your seat and clothes. It is put behind your seat, on one side, more for show than use. 4. A water-pail, which is put on the other side of the seat, opposite to the brush, or anywhere else. 5. Shoes, or slippers, for horses and footmen. These are twisted of straw, with ropes likewise of straw, hanging down from them, whereby they are tied about the horse’s feet, instead of our European iron horse-shoes, which are not used in this country. They are soon worn out in stony, slippery roads, and must be often changed for new ones. For this purpose, the men that look after the horses always carry a competent stock along with them, tied to the portmanteaus, though they are to be met with in every village, and are offered for sale by poor children begging the road.

[Pg 374]

“I must beg leave to observe that, besides the several things hitherto mentioned, which travellers usually carry along with them in their journeys, I had for my own private use a very large Javan box, which I had brought with me from Batavia. In this box I privately kept a large mariner’s compass, in order to measure the directions of the roads, mountains, and coasts; but open and exposed to everybody’s view, was an inkhorn; and I usually filled it with plants, flowers, and branches of trees, which I figured and described (nay, under this pretext whatever occurred to me remarkable). Doing this, as I did it free and unhindered, to everybody’s knowledge, I should be wrongly accused to have done anything which might have proved disadvantageous to the Company’s trade in this country, or to have thereby thrown any ill suspicion upon our conduct from so jealous and circumspect a nation. Nay, far from it, I must own that, from the very first day of our setting out, till our return to Nagasaki, all the Japanese companions of our journey, and particularly the Bugiō or commander-in-chief, were extremely forward to communicate to me what uncommon plants they met with, together with their names, characters, and uses, which they diligently inquired into among the natives. The Japanese, a very reasonable and sensible people, and themselves great lovers of plants, look upon botany as a study both useful and innocent, which, pursuant to the very dictates of reason and the law of nature, ought to be encouraged by everybody. Thus much I know, by my own experience, that of all the nations I saw and conversed with in my long and tedious travels, those the least favored botanical learning who ought to have encouraged it most. Upon my return to Nagasaki,[Pg 375] Tōnemon, secretary and chief counsellor to the governors, being at Deshima, sent for me, and made me, by the chief interpreter, the following compliment: That he had heard with great pleasure from our late Bugiō, how agreeably I had spent my time, and what diversion I had taken upon our journey in that excellent and most commendable study of botany, whereof he, Tōnemon, himself was a great lover and encourager. But I must confess, likewise, that at the beginning of our journey I took what pains and tried what means I could to procure the friendship and assistance of my fellow-travellers, obliging some with a submissive humble conduct and ready assistance, as to physic and physical advice, others with secret rewards for the very meanest services and favors.

“A traveller must not forget to provide himself with a cloak, against rainy weather, made of double-varnished oiled paper, and withal so very large and wide that it covers and shelters at once man, horse, and baggage. It seems the Japanese have learned the use of it, together with the name Kappa, from the Portuguese.

“To keep off the heat of the sun, travellers must be provided with a large hat, which is made of split bamboos or straw, very neatly and artfully twisted, in form of an extended sombrero, or umbrella. It is tied under the chin with broad silk bands, lined with cotton. It is transparent and exceedingly light, and yet, if once wet, will let no rain come through. Not only the men wear such hats upon their journeys, but also the women in cities and villages, at all times, and in all weathers, and it gives them no disagreeable look.

“The Japanese upon their journeys wear very wide breeches, tapering towards the end, to cover the legs,[Pg 376] and slit on both sides to put in the ends of their large, long gowns, which would otherwise be troublesome in walking or riding. Some wear a short coat or cloak over the breeches. Some, instead of stockings, tie a broad ribbon around their legs. Ordinary servants, chiefly Norimono-men and pike-bearers, wear no breeches, and, for expedition’s sake, tuck their gowns quite up to their belt, exposing their naked bodies, which they say they have no reason at all to be ashamed of.

“The Japanese of both sexes never go abroad without fans, as we Europeans seldom do without gloves[163]. Upon their journeys they make use of a fan which hath the roads printed upon it, and tells them how many miles they are to travel, what inns they are to go to, and what price victuals are at. Some, instead of such a fan, make use of a road-book, which are offered them for sale by numbers of poor children, begging along the road. The Dutch are not permitted, at least publicly, to buy any of these fans, or road-books.

“A Japanese on horseback, tucked up after this fashion, makes a very comical figure at a distance; for, besides that they are generally short and thick, their large hat, wide breeches and cloaks, together with their sitting cross-legged, make them appear broader than long.[Pg 377] Upon the road they ride one by one. Merchants have their horses, with the heavy baggage packed up in two or three trunks or bales, led before them. They follow, sitting on horseback, after the manner above described. As to the bridle, the traveller hath nothing to do with that, the horse being led by one of his footmen, who walks at the horse’s right side, next by the head, and together with his companions sings some merry song or other, to divert themselves, and to animate their horses.

“The Japanese look upon our European way of sitting on horseback, and holding the bridle one’s self, as warlike and properly becoming a soldier. For this very reason they seldom or never use it in their journeys. It is more frequent among people of quality in cities, where they go a visiting one another. But even then the rider (who makes but a sorry appearance when sitting after our manner) holds the bridle merely for form, the horse being still led by one, and sometimes by two, footmen, who walk on each side of the head, holding it by the bit. Their saddles come nearer our German saddles than those of any Asiatic nation. The stirrup-leathers are very short. A broad round leather hangs down on both sides, after the fashion of the Tartars, to defend the legs. The stirrup is made of iron, or Sowaas (?), very thick and heavy,—not unlike the sole of a foot, and open on one side, for the rider to get his foot loose with ease, in case of a fall,—commonly of an exceeding neat workmanship, and inlaid with silver. The reins are not of leather, as ours, but silk, and fastened to the bit.

“Besides going on horseback, there is another more stately and expensive way of travelling in this country, and that is to be carried in Norimono, and Kago, or particular sorts of chairs or litters. The same is usual[Pg 378] likewise in cities. People of quality are carried about after this manner for state, others for ease and convenience. There is a wide difference between the litters men of quality go in, and those of ordinary people. The former are sumptuous and magnificent, according to every one’s rank and riches. The latter are plain and simple. The former are commonly called Norimono, the latter Kago. The vulgar (in all nations master of the language) have called them by two different names, though, in fact, they are but one thing. Norimono signifies, properly speaking, a thing to sit in; Kago, a basket. Both sorts rise through such a variety of degrees, from the lowest to the highest, from the plainest to the most curious, that a fine Kago is scarce to be distinguished from a plain and simple Norimono, but by its pole. The pole of a Kago is plain, massy, all of one piece, and smaller than that of a Norimono, which is large, curiously adorned and hollow. The pole of a Norimono is made up of four thin boards, neatly joined together, in form of a wide arch, and much lighter than it appears to be. Princes and great lords show their rank and nobility, amongst other things, particularly by the length and largeness of the poles of their Norimono. People who fancy themselves to be of greater quality than they really are, are apt now and then to get the poles of their Norimono or Kago much larger than they ought to have been. But then, also, they are liable to be obliged by the magistrates, if they come to know of it, to reduce them to their former size, with a severe reprimand, if not a considerable punishment, into the bargain. This regulation, however, doth not concern the women, for they may, if they please, make use of larger poles than their own and their husbands’ quality would entitle them to.”

[Pg 379]

The Norimono itself is a small room, of an oblong square figure, big enough for one person conveniently to sit or lie in, curiously woven of fine, thin, split bamboos, sometimes japanned and finely painted, with a small folding-door on each side, sometimes a small window before and behind. Sometimes it is fitted up for the conveniency of sleeping in it. It has at top a roof, which in rainy weather has a covering of varnished paper. It is carried by two, four, eight, or more men, according to the quality of the person in it, who (if he be a prince or lord of a province) carry the pole on the palms of their hands; otherwise, they lay it upon their shoulders. All these Norimono-men are clad in the same livery, with the coat of arms or mark of their masters. They are every now and then relieved by others, who in the mean time walk by the Norimono’s side.

A Bridge spanning the River Ōigawa
View of Fujikawa

“The Kago are not near so fine nor so well attended. They are much of the same figure, but smaller, with a solid, square or sometimes a round, pole, which is either fastened to the upper part of the roof, or put through it underneath. The Kago commonly made use of for travelling, chiefly for carrying people over mountains, are very poor and plain, and so small, that one cannot sit in them without very great inconveniency, bowing the head and laying the legs across. They are not unlike a basket with a round bottom, and a flat roof, which one reaches with his head. In such Kago we are carried over the rocks and mountains, which are not easily to be passed on horseback. Three men are appointed for every Kago, who, indeed, for the heaviness of their burden, have enough to do.”

[Pg 380]


Highways—Rivers—Fords—Ferries—Bridges—Water Part of the Journey—Coast and Islands—Frail Structure of Japanese Vessels—Description of them—Buildings on the Route—Proclamation Places—Places of Execution—Tera, or Buddhist Temples—Miya, or Shintō Temples—Idols and Amulets.

“The empire of Japan,” says Kämpfer, “is divided into seven great tracts,[164] every one of which is bounded by a highway, and, as these tracts are subdivided into provinces, so there are particular ways leading to and from every one of these provinces, all ending in the great highways, as small rivers lose themselves in great ones. These highways are so broad that two companies, though never so great, can, without hindrance, pass by one another. That company which, according to their way of speaking, goes up, that is, to Miyako, takes the left side of the way, and that which comes from Miyako the right. All the highways are divided into measured miles, which are all marked, and begin from the great bridge at Yedo as the common centre. This bridge is by way of preëminence, called Nihombashi, that is, the bridge of Japan. By this means, a traveller, in whatever part of the empire he be, may know at any time how many Japanese miles it is from thence to Yedo. The miles are marked by two small hills thrown up, one on each side of the way,[Pg 381] opposite each other, and planted at the top with one or more trees. At the end of every tract, province, or smaller district, a wooden or stone pillar is set up in the highway, with characters upon it, showing what provinces or lands they are which here bound upon each other, and to whom they belong. Like pillars are erected at the entry of the sideways which turn off from the great highway, showing what province or dominion they lead to, and the distance in leagues to the next remarkable place. The natives, as they improve every inch of ground, plant firs and cypress-trees in rows along the roads over the ridges of hills, mountains, and other barren places. No firs or cypress can be cut down without leave of the magistrate of the place, and they must always plant young ones instead of those they cut down.

“In our journey to court we pass along two of these chief highways, and go by water from one to the other, so that our whole journey is divided into three parts. We set out from Nagasaki to go by land across the island Kiūshiū to the town of Kokura, where we arrive in five days. From Kokura we pass the straits in small boats to Shimonoseki, a convenient and secure harbor, about two leagues off, where we find our barge, with the baggage, riding at anchor and waiting our arrival. The road from Nagasaki to Kokura is called by the Japanese Saikaidō, that is, the west sea way.[165] At Shimonoseki we go on board our barge for Hyōgo, where[Pg 382] we arrive in eight days, more or less, according to the wind. Ōsaka, a city very famous for the extent of its commerce and the wealth of its inhabitants, lies about thirteen Japanese water-leagues from Hiōgo, which, on account of the shallowness of the water, we make in small boats, leaving our barge at Hiōgo till our return. From Ōsaka we go again by land, over the great island Nippon, as far as Yedo, the emperor’s residence, where we arrive in about fourteen days or more. The road from Ōsaka to Yedo is by the Japanese called Tōkaidō, that is, the east sea or coast way. We stay at Yedo about twenty days, or upwards; and having had an audience of his imperial majesty, and paid our respects to some of his chief ministers and favorites, we return to Nagasaki the same way, completing our whole journey in about three months’ time.[166]

“In most parts of Saikaidō, and everywhere upon Tōkaidō, between the towns and villages, there is a straight row of firs planted on each side of the road, which by their agreeable shade make the journey both pleasant and convenient. The ground is kept clean and neat, convenient ditches and outlets are contrived to carry off the rain-water, and strong dikes are cast up to keep off that which comes down from higher places. This makes the road at all times good and pleasant, unless it be then raining and the ground slimy. The neighboring villages must jointly keep them in repair,[Pg 383] and sweep and clean them every day. People of great quality cause the road to be swept with brooms, just before they pass it; and there lie heaps of sand in readiness, at due distances (brought thither some days before), to spread over the road, in order to dry it, in case it should rain upon their arrival. The lords of the several provinces, and the princes of the imperial blood, in their journeys, find, at every two or three leagues’ distance, huts of green-leaved branches erected for them, with a private apartment, where they may step in for their pleasures or necessities. The inspectors for repairing the highway are at no great trouble to get people to clean them, for whatever makes the roads nasty is of some use to the neighboring country people, so that they rather strive who shall first carry it away. The pine-nuts, branches, and leaves, which fall down daily from the firs, are gathered for fuel to supply the want of wood, which is very scarce in some places. Nor doth horses’ dung lie long upon the ground, but is soon taken up by poor country children, and serves to manure the fields. For the same reason care is taken that the filth of travellers be not lost, and there are in several places, near country people’s houses, or in their fields, houses of office built for them. Old shoes of horses and men, which are thrown away as useless, are gathered in the same houses, burnt to ashes, and added to the mixture. Supplies of this composition are kept in large tubs or tuns, buried even with the ground in their villages and fields, and, being not covered, afford full as ungrateful and putrid a smell of radishes (which is the common food of country people) to tender noses, as the neatness and beauty of the road is agreeable to the eyes.

[Pg 384]

“In several parts of the country the roads go over hills and mountains, which are sometimes so steep and high, that travellers are necessitated to get themselves carried over them in kago, such as I have described in the preceding chapter, because they cannot, without great difficulty and danger, pass them on horseback. But even this part of the road, which may be called bad in comparison to others, is green and pleasant, for the abundance of springs of clear water, and green bushes, and this all the year round, but particularly in the spring, when the flower-bearing trees and shrubs being then in their full blossom, prove an additional beauty, affording to the eye a curious view, and filling the nose with agreeable scent.

“Several of the rivers we are to cross over, chiefly upon Tōkaidō, run with so impetuous a rapidity towards the sea that they will bear no bridge nor boat, and this by reason partly of the neighboring snow-mountains, where they arise, partly of the frequent great rains, which swell them to such a degree as to make them overflow their banks. These must be forded. Men, horses, and baggage, are delivered up to the care of certain people, bred up to this business, who are well acquainted with the bed of the river, and the places which are the most proper for fording. These people, as they are made answerable for their passenger’s lives, and all accidents that might befall them in the passage, exert all their strength, care, and dexterity, to support them with their arms against the impetuosity of the river, and the stones rolling down from the mountains where the rivers arise. Norimono are carried over by the same people.

The River Ōi
From Official History of Japan

“The chief of these rivers is the formidable Ōigawa,[Pg 385] which separates the two provinces Tōtōmi and Suruga. The passage of this river is what all travellers are apprehensive of, not only for its uncommon rapidity and swiftness, but because sometimes, chiefly after rains, it swells so high that they are necessitated to stay several days on either bank, till the fall of the water makes it passable, or till they will venture the passage, and desire to be set over at their own peril. The rivers Fuji-jedagawa and Abegawa, in the last mentioned province, are of the like nature, but not so much dreaded.

“There are many other shallows and rapid rivers, but because they are not near so broad nor impetuous as those above mentioned, passengers are ferried over them in boats, which are built after a particular fashion proper for such a passage, with flat, thin bottoms, which will give way, so that if they run aground, or upon some great stone, they may easily, and without any danger, slide over it and get off again. The chief of these are the river Tenriū, in the province Tōtōmi; Fujigawa, in the province Suruga; Benriū, in the province Musashi, and Asukagawa, which is particularly remarkable, for that its bed continually alters, for which reason inconstant people are compared to it in proverb.

“Strong, broad bridges are laid over all other rivers which do not run with so much rapidity, nor alter their beds. These bridges are built of cedar, and kept in constant repair, so that they look at all times as if they had been but lately finished. They are railed on both sides. As one may travel all over Japan without paying any taxes or customs, so likewise they know nothing of any money to be paid by way of a toll for the repair of highways and bridges. Only in some places the[Pg 386] custom is, in winter-time to give the bridge-keeper, who is to look after the bridge, a zeni for his trouble.

“That part of our journey to court made by water is along the coasts of the great island Nippon, which we have on our left, steering our course so as to continue always in sight of land, and not above one or two leagues off it at farthest, that in case of a storm arising it may be in our power forthwith to put into some harbor. Coming out of the straits of Shimonoseki, we continue for some time in sight of the southeastern coasts of Kiūshiū. Having left these coasts, we come in sight of those of the island Shikoku. We then make the island Awaji, and steering between this island and the main land of the province Izumi, we put into the harbor of Ōsaka, and so end that part of our journey to court which must be made by sea. All these coasts are very much frequented, not only by the princes and lords of the empire, with their retinues, travelling to and from court, but likewise by the merchants of the country, going from one province to another to buy and sell, so that one may chance on some days to see upwards of a hundred ships under sail. The coasts hereabouts are rocky and mountainous; but many of the mountains are cultivated to their very tops; they are well inhabited and stocked with villages, castles, and small towns. There are very good harbors in several places, where ships put in at night to lie at anchor, commonly upon good clean ground, in four to eight fathoms.

Japanese Craft

“In this voyage we pass innumerable small islands, particularly in the straits between Shikoku and Nippon. They are all mountainous, and for the most part barren and uncultivated rocks. Some few have a tolerable good soil and sweet water. These are inhabited, and[Pg 387] the mountains, though never so steep, cultivated up to their tops. These mountains (as also those of the main land of Nippon) have several rows of firs planted for ornament’s sake along their ridges at top, which makes them look at a distance as if they were fringed, and affords a very curious prospect. There is hardly an island, of the inhabited ones, but what hath a convenient harbor, with good anchoring ground, where ships may lie safe. All Japanese pilots know this very well, and will sometimes come to an anchor upon very slight pretences. Nor, indeed, are they much to be blamed for an over-carefulness, or too great a circumspection, which some would be apt to call fear and cowardice. Their ships are not built strong enough to bear the shocks and tossings of huge raging waves. The deck is so loose that it will let the water run through, unless the mast hath been taken down and the ship covered, partly with mats, partly with sails. The stem is laid quite open, and, if the sea runs high, the waves will beat in on all sides. In short, the whole structure is so weak that, a storm approaching, unless anchor be forthwith cast, the sails taken in, and the mast let down, it is in danger every moment to be shattered to pieces.

“All the ships and boats we met with on our voyage by sea were built of fir or cedar, both which grow in great plenty in the country. They are of a different structure, according to the purposes and the waters for which they are built. The pleasure-boats, made use of only for going up and down rivers, or to cross small bays, are widely different in their structure, according to the possessor’s fancy. Commonly they are built for rowing. The first and lowermost deck is flat and low; another, more lofty, with open windows, stands upon it,[Pg 388] and this may be divided, like their houses, by folding screens, as they please, into several apartments. Several parts are curiously adorned with variety of flags and other ornaments.

“The merchant-ships which venture out at sea, though not very far from the coasts, and serve for the transport of men and goods from one island or province to another, deserve a more accurate description. They are commonly eighty-four feet long and twenty-four broad, built for sailing as well as rowing. They run tapering from the middle towards the stern, and both ends of the keel stand out of the water considerably. The body of the ship is not built bulging, as our European ones; but that part which stands below the surface of the water runs almost in a straight line towards the keel. The stern is broad and flat, with a wide opening in the middle for the easier management of the rudder, which reaches down almost to the bottom of the ship, and lays open all the inside to the eye. The deck, somewhat raised towards the stern, consists only of deal boards laid loose, without anything to fasten them together. It rises but little above the surface of the water, when the ship hath its full lading, and is almost covered with a sort of a cabin, full a man’s height, only a small part of it towards the stern being left empty to lay up the anchor and other tackle. This cabin jets beyond the ship about two feet on each side; and there are sliding-windows round it, which may be opened or shut, as occasion requires. In the furthermost parts are the cabins, or rooms for passengers, separate from each other by folding screens and doors, with floors covered with fine neat mats. The furthermost cabin is always reckoned the best and for this reason assigned to the[Pg 389] chief passenger. The roof, or upper deck, is flatfish, and made of neat boards curiously joined together. In rainy weather the mast is let down upon the upper deck, and the sail extended over it, affording to the sailors and the people employed in the ship’s service shelter and a place to sleep at night. Sometimes, and the better to defend the upper deck, it is covered with common straw mats, which for this purpose lie there at hand. The ship hath but one sail, made of hemp, and very large. She hath also but one mast, standing up about a fathom beyond her middle towards the stern. This mast, which is of the same length with the ship, is hoisted up by pulleys, and again, when the ship comes to an anchor, let down upon deck. The anchors are of iron, and cables twisted of straw, and stronger than one would imagine. Ships of this burden have commonly thirty or forty hands apiece to row them if the wind fails. The watermen’s benches are towards the stern. They row according to the air of a song, or other noise, which serves at the same time to direct and regulate their work and to encourage the rowers. They do not row after our European manner, extending their oars straight forwards, and cutting just the surface of the water, but let them fall down into the water almost perpendicularly, and then lift them up again. This way of rowing not only answers all the ends of the other, but is done with less trouble. The benches of the rowers are raised considerably above the surface of the water. Their oars are, besides, made in a particular manner, calculated for this way of rowing, being not straight like our European oars, but somewhat bent, with a movable joint in the middle, which, yielding to the violent pressure of the water, facilitates the taking[Pg 390] them up. The ship’s timbers and planks are fastened together with hooks and bands of copper. The stern is adorned with a knot of fringes made of thin, long, black strings. Men of quality in their voyages have their cabin hung all about with cloth, whereupon is stitched their coats of arms. Their pike of state, as the badge of their authority, is put up upon the stern on one side of the rudder. On the other side there is a weather-flag for the use of the pilot. In small ships, as soon as they come to an anchor, the rudder is hoisted up, and one end of it extended to the shore, so that one may pass through the opening of the stern, as through a back door, and walking over the rudder, as over a bridge, get ashore. Thus much of the ships. I proceed now to other structures and buildings travellers meet with in their journeys by land.

A Merchant Ship
From Official History of Japan

“It may be observed, in general, that the buildings of this country, ecclesiastical or civil, public or private, being commonly low and of wood, are by no means to be compared to ours in Europe, neither in largeness nor magnificence. The houses of private persons never exceed six ken, or thirty-six feet in height. Nay, ’tis but seldom they build their houses so high, unless they design them also for warehouses. Even the palaces of the Dairi, the secular monarch, and of the princes and lords, are not above one story high. And although there be many common houses, chiefly in towns, of two stories, yet the upper story, if it deserves that name, is generally very low, unfit to be inhabited, and good for little else but to lay up some of the least necessary household goods, it being often without a ceiling or any other cover but the bare roof. The reason of their building their houses so low, is the frequency of[Pg 391] earthquakes, which prove much more fatal to lofty and massy buildings of stone, than to low and small houses of wood. But if the houses of the Japanese be not so large, lofty, or so substantially built as ours, they are on the other hand greatly to be admired for their uncommon neatness and cleanliness, and curious furniture. I could not help taking notice that the furniture and the several ornaments of their apartments make a far more graceful and handsome appearance in rooms of a small compass, than they would do in large, lofty halls. They have none, or but few, partition walls to divide their rooms from each other, but instead of them make use of folding screens, made of colored or gilt paper, and laid into wooden frames, which they can put up or remove whenever they please, and by this means enlarge their rooms or make them narrower, as it best suits their fancy or convenience. The floors are somewhat raised above the level of the street, and are all made of boards, neatly covered with fine mats[167], the borders whereof are curiously fringed, embroidered, or otherwise neatly adorned. All mats are of the same size in all parts of the empire, to wit, a ken, or six feet long[168], and half a ken broad. All the lower part of the house, the staircase leading up to the second story, if there be any, the doors, windows[169], posts and passages, are curiously[Pg 392] painted and varnished. The ceilings are neatly covered with gilt or silver colored paper, embellished with flowers, and the screens in several rooms curiously painted. In short, there is not one corner in the whole house but looks handsome and pretty, and this the rather since all their furniture may be bought at an easy rate.

“I must not forget to mention, that it is very healthful to live in these houses, and that in this particular they are far beyond ours in Europe, because of their being built all of cedar wood or fir; and because the windows are generally contrived so that upon opening them, and removing the screens which separate the rooms, a free passage is left for the air through the whole house.

“I took notice that the roof, which is covered with planks[170], or shingles of wood, rests upon thick, strong, heavy beams, as large as they can get them, and that the second story is generally built stronger and more substantial than the first. This they do by reason of the frequent earthquakes which happen in this country, because, they observe, that in case of a violent shock, the pressure of the upper part of the house upon the lower, which is built much lighter, keeps the whole from being overthrown.

“The castles of the Japanese nobility are built, either on great rivers, or upon hills and rising grounds. They take in a vast deal of room, and consist commonly of three different fortresses, or enclosures, which cover and defend, or, if possible, encompass one another. Each enclosure is surrounded and defended by a clean, deep ditch, and a thick, strong wall, built of stone or[Pg 393] earth, with strong gates. Guns they have none. The principal and innermost castle or enclosure is called the Honmaru, that is, the true or chief castle. It is the residence of the prince or lord who is in possession of it, and as such it is distinguished from the others by a square, large, white tower, three or four stories high, with a small roof encompassing each story like a crown or garland. In the second enclosure, called Ni-no-maru, that is, the second castle, are lodged the gentlemen of the prince’s bedchamber, his stewards, secretaries, and other chief officers, who are to give a constant attendance about his person. The empty spaces are cultivated, and turned either into gardens or sown with rice. The third and outwardmost enclosure is called Sotogamaye, that is, the outwardmost defence; as, also, Sannomaru, that is, the third castle. It is the abode of a numerous train of soldiers, courtiers, domestics, and other people, everybody being permitted to come into it. The white walls, bastions, gates, each of which hath two or more stories built over it, and above all the beautiful tower of the innermost castle, are extremely pleasant to behold at a distance. There is commonly a place without the castle designed for a rendezvous and review of troops. Hence it appears, that, considering wars are carried on in this country without the use of great guns, these castles are well enough defended, and of sufficient strength to hold out a long siege. The proprietors are bound to take particular care that they be kept in constant repair. However, if there be any part thereof going to ruin, the same cannot be rebuilt without the knowledge and express leave of the emperor. Much less doth the emperor suffer new ones to be built in any part of his dominions. The castles where the prince[Pg 394] or lords reside are commonly seated at the extremity of some large town, which encompasses them in the form of a half-moon[171].

“Most of the towns are very populous and well built. The streets are generally speaking regular, running straight forward, and crossing each other at right angles, as if they had been laid out at one time, and according to one general ground-plot. The towns are not surrounded with walls and ditches. The two chief gates, where people go in and out, are no better than the ordinary gates which stand at the end of every street, and are shut at night. Sometimes there is part of a wall built contiguous to them on each side, merely for ornament’s sake. In larger towns, where some prince resides, these two gates are a little handsomer, and kept in better repair, and there is commonly a strong guard mounted, all out of respect for the residing prince. The rest of the town generally lies open to the fields, and is but seldom enclosed even with a common hedge or ditch. In our journey to court I counted thirty-three towns and residences of princes of the empire, some whereof we passed through, but saw others only at a distance. Common towns and large villages or boroughs, on our road, I computed at from seventy-seven to eighty or upwards[172].

“I could not help admiring the great number of shops we met with in all the cities, towns, and villages; whole streets being scarce anything else but continued rows of shops on both sides, and I own, for my part,[Pg 395] that I could not well conceive how the whole country is able to furnish customers enough, only to make the proprietors get a livelihood, much less to enrich them.

“The villages along the highways in the great island Nippon, have among their inhabitants but few farmers, the far greater part being made up by people who resort there to get their livelihood either by selling some odd things to travellers, or by servile daily labor. Most of these villages consist only of one long street, bordering on each side of the highway, which is sometimes extended to such a length as almost to reach the next village.

“The houses of country people and husbandmen consist of four low walls covered with a thatched or shingled roof. In the back part of the house the floor is somewhat raised above the level of the street, and there it is they place the hearth; the rest is covered with neat mats. Behind the street door hang rows of coarse ropes made of straw, not to hinder people from coming in or going out, but to serve instead of a lattice-window to prevent such as are without from looking in and observing what passes within doors. As to household goods they have but few. Many children and great poverty is generally what they are possessed of; and yet with some small provision of rice, plants, and roots, they live content and happy.

“Passing through cities and villages and other inhabited places, we always found, upon one of the chief public streets, a small place, encompassed with grates, for the supreme will, as the usual way of speaking is in this country, that is, for the imperial orders and proclamations. The lord or governor of every province[Pg 396] publishes them in his own name for the instruction of passengers. They are written, article by article, in large, fair characters, upon a square table of a foot or two in length, standing upon a post at least twelve feet high. We saw several of these tables, as we travelled along, of different dates and upon different subjects. The chief, largest, and oldest contain the edict against the Roman Catholic religion, setting forth also proper orders relating to the image-trampling inquisition, and specifying what reward is to be given to any person or persons that discover a Christian or a priest. The lords or governors of provinces put up their own orders and edicts in the same place. This is the reason why there are sometimes so many standing behind or near one another, that it is scarce possible to see and to read them all. Sometimes, also, they have pieces of money, in gold or silver, stuck or nailed to them, to be given as a reward to any one who discovers any fact, person, or criminal therein mentioned. These grated proclamation-cases are commonly placed, in great cities, just at the entrance, and in villages and hamlets in the middle of the chief streets, where there is the most passing. Along the road there are some other orders and instructions for passengers put up in the like manner, but upon lower posts. These come from the sheriffs, surveyors of the roads, and other inferior officers, and although the things therein ordered or intimated be generally very trifling, yet they may involve a transgressor or negligent observer in great troubles and expense.

“Another remarkable thing we met with, as we travelled along, were the places of public execution, easily known by crosses, posts, and other remains of former[Pg 397] executions. They commonly lie without the cities or villages, on the west side.

A Dry-goods Shop

“In this heathen country fewer capital crimes are tried before the courts of justice, and less criminal blood shed by the hands of public executioners, than perhaps in any part of Christendom. So powerfully works the fear of an inevitable, shameful death upon the minds of a nation, otherwise so stubborn as the Japanese, and so regardless of their lives, that nothing else but such strictness would be able to keep them within due bounds. ’Tis true, indeed, Nagasaki cannot boast of that scarcity of executions; for besides that this place hath been in a manner consecrated to cruelty and blood, by being made the common butchery of many thousand Japanese Christians, there have not been since wanting frequent executions, particularly of those people who, contrary to the severe imperial edict, cannot leave off carrying on a smuggling trade with foreigners, and who alone perhaps of the whole nation seem to be more pleased with this unlawful gain, than frightened by the shameful punishment which they must inevitably suffer if caught in the fact or betrayed to the governors.

“Of all the religious buildings to be seen in this country, the Tera, that is, the Buddhist temples, with the adjoining convents, are, doubtless, the most remarkable, as being far superior to all others, by their stately height, curious roofs, and numberless other beautiful ornaments. Such as are built within cities or villages, stand commonly on rising grounds and in the most conspicuous places. Others, which are without, are built on the ascent of hills and mountains. All are most sweetly seated,—a curious view of the adjacent country, a spring or rivulet of clear water, and the[Pg 398] neighborhood of a wood, with pleasant walks, being necessary for the spots on which these holy structures are to be built.

“All these temples are built of the best cedars and firs, and adorned within with many carved images. In the middle of the temple stands a fine altar, with one or more gilt idols upon it, and a beautiful candlestick, with sweet-scented candles burning before it. The whole temple is so neatly and curiously adorned, that one would fancy himself transported into a Roman Catholic church, did not the monstrous shape of the idols, which are therein worshipped, evince the contrary. The whole empire is full of these temples, and their priests are without number. Only in and about Miyako they count three thousand eight hundred and ninety-three temples, and thirty-seven thousand and ninety-three Shukke, or priests, to attend them.

“The sanctity of the Miya, or temples sacred to the gods of old worshipped in the country, requires also that they should be built in some lofty place, or, at least, at some distance from unclean, common grounds. I have elsewhere observed that they are attended only by secular persons[173]. A neat broad walk turns in from the highway towards these temples. At the beginning of the walk is a stately and magnificent gate, built either of stone or of wood, with a square table, about a foot and a half high, on which the name of the god to whom the temple is consecrated is written or engraved in golden characters.

“Of this magnificent entry one may justly say,[Pg 399] Parturiunt Montes; for if you come to the end of the walk, which is sometimes several hundred paces long, instead of a pompous, magnificent building, you find nothing but a low, mean structure of wood, often all hid amidst trees and bushes, with one single grated window to look into it, and within either all empty, or adorned only with a looking-glass of metal, placed in the middle, and hung about with some bundles of straw, or cut white paper, tied to a long string, in form of fringes, as a mark of the purity and sanctity of the place. The most magnificent gates stand before the temples of Tenshō daijin, of Hachiman, and of that Kami, or god, whom particular places choose to worship as their tutelar deity, who takes a more particular care to protect and defend them[174].

“Other religious objects travellers meet with along the roads are the Hotoke, or foreign idols, chiefly those of Amida and Jizō, as also other monstrous images and idols, which we found upon the highways in several places, at the turning in of sideways, near bridges, convents, temples, and other buildings. They are set up partly as an ornament to the place, partly to remind travellers of the devotion and worship due to the gods. For this same purpose, drawings of these idols printed[Pg 400] upon entire or half sheets of paper, are pasted upon the gates of cities and villages, upon wooden posts, near bridges, upon the proclamation-cases above described, and in several other places upon the highway, which stand the most exposed to the traveller’s view. Travellers, however, are not obliged to fall down before them, or to pay them any other mark of worship and respect than they are otherwise willing to do.

“On the doors and houses of ordinary people (for men of quality seldom suffer to have theirs thus disfigured) there is commonly pasted a sorry picture of one of their Lares, or house gods, printed upon a half sheet of paper. The most common is the black-horned Gion, otherwise called Gozutennō,—that is, according to the literal signification of the Chinese characters for this name, the ox-headed prince of heaven,—whom they believe to have the power of keeping the family from distempers, and other unlucky accidents, particularly from the small-pox, which proves fatal to great numbers of their children. Others fancy they thrive extremely well, and live happy, under the protection of a countryman of Yezo, whose monstrous, frightful picture they paste upon their doors, being hairy all over his body, and carrying a large sword with both hands, which they believe he makes use of to keep off, and, as it were, to parry, all sorts of distempers and misfortunes endeavoring to get into the house.

“On the fronts of new and pretty houses I have sometimes seen dragons’ or devils’ heads, painted with a wide open mouth, large teeth, and fiery eyes. The Chinese and other Indian nations—nay, even the Mahometans in Arabia and Persia—have the same placed over the doors of their houses, by the frightful[Pg 401] aspect of this monstrous figure to keep off, as the latter say, the envious from disturbing the peace of families.

“Often, also, they put a branch of the Hanashikimi, or anise-tree, over their doors, which is, in like manner, believed to bring good luck into their houses; or else liverwort, which they fancy hath the particular virtue to keep off evil spirits; or some other plants or branches of trees. In villages they often place their indulgence-boxes[175], which they bring back from their pilgrimage to Ise, over their doors, thinking, also, by this means to bring happiness and prosperity upon their houses. Others paste long strips of paper to their doors, which the adherents of the several religious sects and convents are presented with by their clergy, for some small gratuity. There are odd, unknown characters, and divers forms of prayers, writ upon these papers, which the superstitious firmly believe to have the infallible virtue of conjuring and keeping off all manner of misfortunes. Many more amulets of the like nature are pasted to their doors, against the plague, distempers, and particular misfortunes. There is, also, one against poverty.”




[1] Omitted in this edition.—Edr.

[2] Omitted in this edition.—Edr.

[3] The true distance is about five hundred miles; but, possibly, by miles Marco Polo may have intended Chinese li, of which there are nearly three in our mile.

[4] A name applied to part of China, south of the Hoang-ho, held by the Sung Dynasty till A. D. 1276.—K. M.

[5] Marsden, the English translator and annotator of Marco Polo, supposes that Zaitun was the modern Amoy, and Kinsai either Ningpo or Chusan. The Chinese annalists, on the other hand, seem to make the expedition start from Corea, which is much more probable, as that province is separated from Japan by a strait of only about a hundred miles in breadth. It was by this Corean strait that, three hundred years later, the Japanese retorted this invasion.

[6] Marsden remarks upon this date as evidently wrong. Indeed, it is given quite differently in different early editions of the travels. Marsden thinks it should be 1281. This is the date assigned to the invasion by the Chinese books. The older Japanese annals place it in 1284. In the chapter of Marco Polo which follows the one above quoted, and which is mainly devoted to the islands of southeastern Asia, he seems to ascribe to the Japanese the custom of eating their prisoners of war—a mistake which, as his English translator and commentator observes, might easily arise from transferring to them what he had heard of the savage inhabitants of some of the more southern islands.

The Mongol invasion took place in the fourth year of Kōan [A. D. 1281].—K. M.

[7] As this chronicle, which is the oldest Japanese history, is stated to have been originally published A. D. 720, it must be from a continuation of it that Siebold, or rather his assistant, Hoffman, translates.

[A translation by W. G. Aston is published by the Japan Society, London.—Edr.]

[8] This is the equivalent, it is to be supposed, of the Japanese date mentioned in the chronicle.

[9] Hildreth is here too skeptical. All the events mentioned in the text really took place between A. D. 1268 and 1281.—K. M.

[10] Galvano’s book in the translation, published by Hackluyt, in 1601, may be found in the supplement to Hackluyt’s collection of voyages, London, 1811. The original work was printed by the pious care of Francis de Sousa Tauares, to whom Galvano left it, on his death-bed.

[11] See Appendix, Note D.

[12] A Portuguese coin, as corresponding to which in value the Spanish translator of Pinto gives ducats, which, of silver, were about equal to a dollar of our money.

[13] This Portuguese colony was of no long continuance. It was soon broken up by the Chinese, as Pinto intimates, through the folly of the Portuguese residents.

[14] It is difficult to understand by what mistake Charlevoix, in his “Histoire du Japan,” ascribes this discovery to the same year, 1542, as that of the three Portuguese mentioned by Galvano. Pinto’s chronology is rather confused, but it is impossible to fix this voyage to Japan earlier than 1545.

[15] Probably a corruption of Tenjikujin, or the people of Tenjiku (India).—Edr.

[16] The terms Chengecu and Chenghequu are represented in two letters, one dated in 1651 (“Selectarum Epistolarum ex India,” Lib. i.), addressed to Xavier by a companion of his; the other, dated in 1560, and written by Lawrence, a converted Japanese and a Jesuit (Ibid., Lib. ii), as commonly employed in Japan to designate Europe.

Golownin mentions that at the time of his imprisonment (1812) he found a prophecy in circulation among the Japanese that they should be conquered by a people from the north. Possibly both these prophecies—that mentioned by Pinto and that by Golownin—might be a little colored by the patriotic hopes of the European relaters.

[17] A tael is about an ounce and a third English. The tael is divided into ten mas; the mas into ten kandarins; the kandarin into ten kas; and these denominations (the silver passing by weight) are in general use throughout the far East. Sixteen taels make a katty (about a pound and a third avoirdupois), and one hundred katties a picul,—these being the mercantile weights in common use.

[18] See Appendix, Note C.

[19] The kingdom or province of Bungo is situated on the east coast of the second in size and southernmost in situation of the three larger Japanese islands, off the southeast extremity of which lies the small island of Tanegashima, where Pinto represents himself as having first landed.

The name “Bungo” was frequently extended by the Portuguese to the whole large island of which it formed a part, though among them the more common designation of that island, after they knew it to be such (for they seem at first to have considered it a part of Nippon), was Shimo.[A] This name, Shimo, appears to have been only a modification of the term shima (or, as the Portuguese wrote it, xima), the Japanese word for island, and as such terminating many names of places. On our maps this island is called Kiūshiū, meaning, as Kämpfer tells us, “Country of Nine,” from the circumstance of its being divided into nine provinces, which latter appears to be the correct interpretation. There are in use in Japan Chinese as well as Japanese names of provinces and officers (the Chinese probably a translation of the Japanese); and not only the names Nippon and Kiūshiū, but that of Bungo (to judge from the terminal n of the first syllable), are of Chinese origin.

A: Shimo is not the modification of Shima (Island), but a word meaning “lower”
geographically.—K. M.

[20] The Japanese date by the years of the reign of the Dairi, or Mikado (of whom more hereafter), and they also, for ordinary purposes, employ the Chinese device of nengō. These are periods, or eras, of arbitrary length, from one year to many, appointed at the pleasure of the reigning Dairi, named by him, and lasting till the establishment of a new nengō. For convenience, every new nengō, and also every new reign, begins chronologically with the new year, the old nengō and old reign being protracted to the end of the year in which it closes. [See Notes G and H in Appendix.—Edr.]

The Japanese month is alternately twenty-nine and thirty days, of which every year has twelve, with a repetition of one of the months, in seven years out of every nineteen, so as to bring this reckoning by lunar months into correspondency with the course of the earth round the sun; this method being based on a knowledge of the correspondency of two hundred and thirty-five lunations with nineteen solar years. According to Titsingh, every thirty-third month is repeated, so as to make up the necessary number of intercalary months, the number of days in these intercalary months being fixed by the almanacs issued at Miyako. The commencement of the Japanese year is generally in February. The months are divided into two distinct portions, of fifteen days, each having a distinct name, and the first day of each of which serves as a Sunday, or holiday. This regulation of the Japanese calendar is borrowed from the Chinese, as also the use of the period of sixty years corresponding to our century. [See also paper on “Japanese Calendars,” in vol. xxx of the Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan.—Edr.]

[21] No such province is mentioned in the lists of Japanese provinces by Father Rodriguez, Kämpfer, and Klaproth. [Name of a bay.—Edr.]

[22] Regarding the portrait of the Portuguese, we know not on what authority Siebold based his statement.—K. M.

[23] “They wished to have our portraits taken at full length, and Teisuke, who knew how to draw, was appointed to execute them. He drew them in India ink, but in such a style that each portrait would have passed for that of any other individual as well as of him it was intended for. Except the long beard, we could trace no resemblance in them. The Japanese, however, sent them to the capital, where they were probably hung up in some of their galleries of pictures.”—Golownin’sCaptivity in Japan,” vol. i, ch. 4.

[24] In the Latin version of the Jesuit letters he is called Cosmus Turrianus.

[25] Nippon is the name of the whole country; Kondo, of the main island.—Edr.

[26] It appears from Golownin that there are also smaller packages, of which three make the large one. The price of rice varied, of course; but Kämpfer gives five or six taels of silver as the average value of the koku. Titsingh represents the koku as corresponding to the gold koban, the national coin of the Japanese. The original koban weighed forty-seven kandarins, or rather more than our eagle; but till the year 1672 it passed in Japan as equivalent to about six taels of silver. The present koban contains only half as much gold; and yet, as compared with silver, is rated still higher. The koban is figured by Kämpfer as an oblong coin rounded at the ends, the surface, on one side, marked with four rows of indented lines, and bearing at each end the arms or symbol of the Dairi, and between them a mark showing the value, and the signature of the master of the mint. The other side was smooth, and had only the stamp of the inspector-general of gold and silver money. Kämpfer also figures the ōban, which even in his time had become very rare, similar to the koban, but of ten times the weight and value. A third gold coin was the ichibu, figured by Kämpfer as an oblong square. According to Thunburg, it was of the value of a quarter of the koban. Silver passed by weight. The Japanese do not appear to have had any silver coins, unless lumps of irregular shape and weight, but bearing certain marks and stamps, were to be so considered. In ordinary retail transactions copper zeni, or kas, as the Chinese name was, were employed. They were round, with a square hole in the middle, by which they were strung. Some were of double size and value, and some of iron. For further information on the Japanese monetary system, and on the present state and value of the Japanese circulating medium, see Chapters XXV, XXXVIII, and XLV.

[27] Dairi, in its original sense, is said by Rodriguez, in his Japanese grammar, to signify rather the court than the person of the theocratic chief to whom it is applied; and so of most of the titles mentioned in the text.

[28] According to Rodriguez, there had been also an ancient military nobility, called buke; but in the course of the civil wars many families of it had become extinct, while other humble families, who had risen by way of arms, mostly formed the existing nobility.

[29] According to the Japanese historical legends, the office of Kubō-Sama, originally limited to the infliction of punishments and the suppression of crimes, was shared, for many ages, between the two families of Genji and Heiji, till about 1180, when a civil war broke out between these families, and the latter, having triumphed, assumed such power that the Dairi commissioned Yoritomo, a member of the defeated family of Genji, to inflict punishment upon him. Yoritomo renewed the war, killed Heiji, and was himself appointed Kubō-Sama, but ended with usurping a greater power than any of his predecessors.

[30] See Satow’s papers on “Pure Shintō” and “Japanese Rituals,” in the Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan.—Edr.

[31] The word Kami is also doubly used as a title of honor conferred with the sanction of the Dairi, somewhat equivalent, says Kämpfer, in one case, to the European title of chevalier, and in the other, to that of count. Golownin insists that it implies something spiritual.

[32] The Sun-Goddess, also called Ama-terasu-no-Mikoto.—Edr.

[33] The following system of Japanese cosmogony is given by Klaproth, as contained in an imperfect volume of Chinese and Japanese chronology, printed in Japan, in Chinese characters, without date, but which for more than a hundred years past has been in the Royal Library of Paris: “At first the heaven and the earth were not separated, the perfect principle and the imperfect principle were not disjoined; chaos, under the form of an egg, contained the breath [of life], self-produced, including the germs of all things. Then what was pure and perfect ascended upwards, and formed the heavens (or sky), while what was dense and impure coagulated, was precipitated, and produced the earth. The pure and excellent principles formed whatever is light, whilst whatever was dense and impure descended by its own gravity; consequently the sky was formed prior to the earth. After their completion, a divine being (Kami) was born in the midst of them. Hence, it has been said, that at the reduction of chaos, an island of soft earth emerged, as a fish swims upon the water. At this period a thing resembling a shoot of the plant ashi [Eryanthus Japonicus] was produced between the heavens and the earth. This shoot was metamorphosed and became the god [first of the seven superior gods] who bears the honorific title of Kuni-toko-dachi-no-mikoto, that is to say, the venerable one who constantly supports the empire.”

[34] In reading the accounts of the bonzes, and of the delusions which they practised on the people, contained in the letters of the Catholic missionaries, and the denunciations levelled against them in consequence, in those letters, one might almost suppose himself to be reading a Protestant sermon against Popery, or an indignant leader against the papists in an evangelical newspaper. The missionaries found, however, at least they say so, among other theological absurdities maintained by the bonzes, a number of the “damnable Lutheran tenets.”

[35] Buddha, or the sage (which the Chinese, by the metamorphosis made by their pronunciation of most foreign proper names, have changed first into Fuh-hi, and then into Fuh, or Ho), is not the personal name of the great saint, the first preacher of the religion of the Buddhists, but a title of honor given to him after he had attained to eminent sanctity. According to the concurrent traditions of the Buddhists in various parts of Asia, he was the son of a king of central India, Suddho-dana, meaning in Sanscrit pure-eating king, or eater of pure food, which the Chinese have translated into their language by Zung-fung-wang. His original name was Lêh-ta; after he became a priest he was called Sakia-mouni, that is, devotee of the race of Sakia, whence the appellation Shaka, by which he is commonly known in Japan, and also the name Shaku, applied to the patriarch or head of the Buddhist church. Another Sanscrit patronymic of Buddha is Gautama, which in different Buddhist nations has, in conjunction with other epithets applied to him, been variously changed and corrupted. Thus among the Siamese he is called Summana-kodom.

The Buddhist mythology includes several Buddhas who preceded Sakia-mouni, and the first of whom, Adi-Buddha, or the first Buddha, was, when nothing else was, being in fact the primal deity and origin of all things. It seems to be this first Buddha who is worshipped in Japan under the name of Amida, and whose priests form the most numerous and influential of the Buddhist orders. Siebold seems inclined to regard them as pure monotheists.

The birth of Shaka is fixed by the Japanese annalists, or at least by the book of chronology quoted in a previous note, in the twenty-sixth year of the emperor Chaou-wang, of the Chinese Chew Dynasty, 1027 B. C. 1006 B. C., he fled from his father’s house to become a priest; 998 B. C., he reached the highest step of philosophical knowledge; 949 B. C., being seventy-nine years of age, he entered into Nirvana, that is, died. He was succeeded by a regular succession of Buddhist patriarchs, of whom twenty-eight were natives of Hindustan. The twenty-eighth emigrated to China, A. D. 490, where he had five Chinese successors. Under the second of these, A. D. 552, Buddhism was introduced into Japan. A. D. 713, the sixth and the last Chinese patriarch died, since which the Chinese Buddhists, and those who have received the religion from them, seem not to have acknowledged any general, but only a local, head in each country.

[36] In connection with this chapter, read “The Religions of Japan” (Griffis).—Edr.

[37] For an account of the Japanese language, literature, etc., see “A Handbook of Modern Japan” (Clement).—Edr.

[38] “All military men, the servants of the Shōgun, and persons holding civil offices under the government, are bound, when they have committed any crime, to rip themselves up, but not till they have received an order from the court to that effect; for, if they were to anticipate this order, their heirs would run the risk of being deprived of their places and property. For this reason all the officers of government are provided, in addition to their usual dress, and that which they put on in the case of fire, with a suit necessary on such occasions, which they carry with them whenever they travel from home. It consists of a white robe and a habit of ceremony, made of hempen cloth, and without armorial bearings.

“As soon as the order of the court has been communicated to the culprit, he invites his intimate friends for the appointed day, and regales them with sake. After they have drank together some time, he takes leave of them, and the order of the court is then read to him once more. The person who performs the principal part of this tragic scene then addresses a speech or compliment to the company, after which he inclines his head towards the floor, draws his sabre, and cuts himself with it across the belly, penetrating to the bowels. One of his confidential servants, who takes his place behind him, then strikes off his head. Such as wish to display superior courage, after the cross-cut, inflict a second longitudinally, and then a third in the throat. No disgrace attaches to such a death, and the son succeeds to his father’s place.

“When a person is conscious of having committed some crime, and apprehensive of being thereby disgraced, he puts an end to his own life, to spare his family the ruinous consequences of judicial proceedings. This practice is so common that scarcely any notice is taken of such an event. The sons of all persons of quality exercise themselves in their youth, for five or six years, with a view that they may perform the operation, in case of need, with gracefulness and dexterity; and they take as much pains to acquire this accomplishment, as youth among us to become elegant dancers or skilful horsemen; hence the profound contempt of death which they imbibe in their earliest years. This disregard of death, which they prefer to the slightest disgrace, extends to the very lowest classes among the Japanese.”—Titsingh, “Illustrations of Japan,” p. 147.

[39] His family name was Ōtomo, and his given name was Yoshishige.—Edr.

[40] Pinto gives a long account of this dispute, which has been substantially adopted by Lucina, the Portuguese biographer of Xavier, whose life of the saint was published in 1600, and who, in composing it, had the use of Pinto’s yet unpublished manuscript. Tursellini’s Latin biography of Xavier was published at Rome and Antwerp, 1596. From these was compiled the French life, by Bouhours, which our Dryden translated. Tursellini published also four books of Xavier’s epistles, translated into Latin. Eight books of new epistles afterwards appeared. Charlevoix remarks of them, “that they are memoirs, of which it is not allowable to question the sincerity, but which furnish very little for history, which was not the writer’s object.” They are chiefly homilies.

[41] See Satow’s paper in vol. vii of the Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan.—Edr.

[42] For some further remarks on Pinto and his book, see Appendix, Note D.

[43] Of Father de Torres we have four letters rendered into Latin, and of Vilela, in the same collections, seven, giving, among other things, a pretty full account of his visit to and residence at Miyako. For the description, however, of that capital, and the road to it, I prefer to rely on lay travellers, of whose observations, during a series of visits extending through more than two centuries, a full abstract will be found in subsequent chapters.

[44] The following passage, from Titsingh’s “Memoirs of the Shōguns,” may serve to shed some light upon the civil war raging in Japan when first visited by the Portuguese, and which continued down to the time of Nobunaga: “Takauji was of the family of Yoshiiye, who was descended from Seiwa-tennō, the fifty-sixth Dairi. He divided the supreme power between his two sons, Yoshi-nori and Motouji, giving to each the government of thirty-three provinces. The latter, who ruled over the eastern part, was styled Kamakura-no-Shōgun, and kept his court at Kamakura, in the province of Sagami. Yoshi-nori, to whom were allotted the western provinces, resided at Miyako, with the title of Fuku-Shōgun.

“Takauji, in dividing the empire between his two sons, was influenced by the expectation that, in case either of them should be attacked, his brother would afford him assistance. This partition, on the contrary, only served to arm them one against the other; the country was involved in continual war, and the princes, though brothers, were engaged in frequent hostilities, which terminated only with the destruction of the branch of Miyako.”

[45] See note on page 84.

[46] For a particular description of the dress of Japanese, see Chap. XLI.

[47] His reception of the Japanese and his reformation of the calendar are both recorded together in his epitaph.

[48] The Letters, Briefs, and the Discourse on Obedience, above quoted, may be found at length in Latin, in the very valuable and rich collection, De Rebus Japonicis Indicis and Peruvianis Epistolæ Recentiores, edited by John Hay, of Dalgetty, a Scotch Jesuit, and a sharp controversialist, published in 1605; in Spanish, in Father Luys de Gusman’s Historia de los Missiones, que han hecho los Religioses de la Compania de Jesus, etc., published in 1601, of which the larger part is devoted to the Japanese mission; in Italian, in Father Daniel Batoli’s “Historia de la Compagnia de Gesu”; and in French, in Charlevoix’s “Histoire du Japon.” An Italian history of the mission was printed at Rome, 1585,—the same, I suppose, of which a Latin translation is given in Hay’s collection; and still rarer and more valuable one at Macao, in 1590, of which a further account will be found in a note at the end of the next chapter.

[49] The princes and nobles of Japan, and indeed most private individuals, have certain devices embroidered on their gowns, etc., which the Portuguese and the missionaries compared to the armorial bearings of Europe. [See paper on “Japanese Heraldry” in vol. v of the Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan.—Edr.]

[50] During this residence at Macao the Japanese ambassadors were not idle. They were engaged upon a very remarkable work, printed at Macao in 1590 in Japanese and Latin, purporting to be composed by the ambassadors, and giving, by way of dialogue, an account not only of the embassy, but of Japan and of all the countries, European and Oriental, which they had visited. The Latin title is De Missione Legatorum Japonensium ad Romanam curiam, rebusque in Europa ac toto in itinere animadversis, Dialogus, etc.—“A Dialogue concerning the Japanese Embassy to the Court of Rome, and the things observed in Europe and on the whole journey, collected from the journal of the ambassadors, and rendered into Latin by Ed. de Laude, priest of the Society of Jesus.” It is from this work, though he does not give the title of it, that Hackluyt extracted the “Excellent Treatise of the Kingdom of China and of the Estate and Government thereof,” contained in his second volume, and of which he speaks in his epistle dedicatory to that volume, first published in 1599, as “the most exact account of those parts that is yet come to light.” “It was printed,” he tells us, “in Latin, in Makoa, a city of China, in China paper, in the year 1590, and was intercepted in the great carac Madre de Dios, two years after, enclosed in a case of sweet cedar wood, and lapped up almost a hundred fold in fine Calicut cloth, as though it had been some incomparable jewel.”

[51] This letter, with the reply in the next chapter, is given by Froez, from whom Gusman has copied them.

[52] Letters from the ambassadors to Sixtus V, written at Nagasaki after their arrival there, and giving an account of their voyage home, may be found in Hay’s collection.

[53] Valignani was not the first European to obtain an imperial audience. The same favor had been granted, as already mentioned, by Yoshiteru to Father Vilela in 1559. Louis Froez had also been admitted, in 1565, to an audience of the same emperor, of which he has given a short but interesting account.

[54] See Satow’s paper on “The Origin of Spanish and Portuguese Rivalry in Japan,” in the Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan.—Edr.

[55] We regret that the original of this letter has been lost, and we cannot, therefore, compare the translation with the original. But, at any rate, the date here given is erroneous. Valignani’s departure from Japan being in 1592, as is mentioned at the end of the next chapter, this letter must have been written in 1592 (first year of Bunroku).—K. M.

[56] The number of troops here set down is too small.—K. M.

[57] According to the letters of Louis Froez, the prince of Ōmura joined the army against Corea with one thousand men, the king of Arima with two thousand, and the king of Bungo with ten thousand, besides mariners and mean people to carry the baggage. The entire number of men-at-arms in the empire, at this time, is stated to have been, by a written catalogue, three hundred thousand. The victories mentioned in the text were gained by an advanced body of fifteen thousand men. The Coreans are described by Froez as different from the Chinese in race and language, and superior to them in personal prowess, yet as in a manner tributary to China, whose laws, customs, and arts they had borrowed. They are represented as good bowmen, but scantily provided with other weapons, and therefore not able to encounter the cannon, lances, and swords of the Japanese, who had been, beside, practised by continual wars among themselves. But in nautical affairs Froez reckons the Chinese and Coreans as decidedly superior to the Japanese. Translations from several Jesuit letters relating to the Corean war will be found in Hackluyt, vol. iv, near the end. Siebold, relying upon Japanese authorities, insists that it was through Corea that the arts, knowledge, language, and written characters of China were introduced into Japan.

[58] See Aston’s papers on “Hideyoshi’s Invasion of Korea,” in the Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan.—Edr.

[59] Yet Taikō-Sama was not in general cruel. A curious letter of Father Organtino Brixiano, written in 1594, enumerates, among the reasons of Taikō’s great success, his clemency to the conquered princes, whom he never put to death after having once promised them their lives, and to whom he granted a revenue, small, but sufficient to maintain them, and which served to keep them quiet. Another reason was his having established for his soldiers during war a commissariat, of which he paid the expense, by which they were rendered much more efficient. He also kept them employed, for, besides the army maintained in Corea, he set them to work in building or repairing palaces and fortresses, or in other public works. At this time he had thirty thousand men at work upon one castle near Miyako, one hundred thousand at Fushimi. He also broke the power of the princes by transferring them to distant parts, while he inspired general respect by his strict justice, from which he was swerved by no considerations of relationship, family, or influence, secular or religious. Another reason mentioned by the missionary does not correspond so well with Taikō’s letter to the viceroy of Goa. He is said not only to have disarmed the country people, by whose strength and wealth the petty kingdoms had been sustained, but also to have reduced them to extreme poverty; but this, perhaps, applies rather to the petty lords than to the actual cultivators. This letter is in Hay’s collection, and a part of it, in English, may be found in Hackluyt’s fourth volume.

[Dening’s “New Life of Toyotomi Hideyoshi” is the best work dealing with the career of “the Napoleon of Japan.”—Edr.]

[60] Some curious information respecting the Philippines is contained in a letter dated Mexico, 1590, intercepted on its way to Spain by some English cruiser, and translated and published by Hackluyt in his fourth volume. This letter represents the country as very unhealthy “for us Spaniards,” of whom not more than one thousand were left alive out of fourteen thousand who had gone there in the twenty years preceding. It seems, too, that the Spaniards at Manila, not less than the Portuguese at Macao, had succeeded in opening a trade with China. “There is a place in China, which is an harbor called Macaran, which the king has given to the Spaniards freely; which shall be the place where the ships shall come to traffic. For in this harbor there is a great river, which goeth up into the main land, unto divers towns and cities, which are near to this river.” Where was this Spanish Chinese port?

The annual galleons to New Spain were to Manila what the annual carac to Japan was to Macao,—a main support of the place. The privilege of putting a certain amount of goods on board was distributed among all the resident merchants, offices, and public institutions.

[61] That any Japanese had been in America earlier than 1610 A. D. is not to be found in any Japanese sources.—K. M.

[62] The fathers resident at this college had been by no means idle. They had printed there, in 1593, a Japanese grammar, prepared by Father Alvarez, and, in 1595, in a thick quarto of upwards of nine hundred pages, a Portuguese, Latin, and Japanese Lexicon. A vocabulary entirely Japanese was printed at Nagasaki, 1598.

[63] Yet the Japanese are said to maintain to this day a garrison on the coast (Golownin, vol. iii, ch. 9), and to receive tribute from Corea; but this seems doubtful.

[64] Go-kirai, including Yamashiro, Yamato, Kawachi, Izumi, and Settsu.—Edr.

[65] Father Valignani died in 1606, at Macao, whither he had gone to look after the Chinese missions, a few Jesuits having at length got admission into that empire. Father Rodriguez, in his annual letter of 1606, from Miyako, in noticing Valignani’s death, speaks of him as justly entitled to be called the apostle of the missions of Japan and China,—a title, indeed, which he had already received from the king of Portugal. Purchas, who published a few years later, mentions him as the “great Jesuit.” He enjoyed in his own day, and deservedly, a reputation quite equal to that of our most famous modern missionaries; but these missionary reputations are apt not to be very long-lived. Five of his letters are in the collection of Hay, “De Rebus Japonicis,” etc.

The death of Father Louis Froez has been mentioned in the previous chapter. We have of his letters, in Maffei’s “Select Epistles,” nine, written between the years 1563 and 1573; and in Hay’s collection, eight, written between 1577 and 1596. Many of these are of great length. That of February, 1565, contains a curious account of what he saw at Miyako, on his going thither with Almeida to aid Vilela, who had labored there alone for six years with only Japanese assistants. The translation of it in Hackluyt has an important passage in the beginning, giving a general account of the Japanese, not in the Latin editions that I have seen. Those in Hay’s collection are rather reports than letters. That of 1586 contains an account of Valignani’s first interview with Taikō-Sama, that of 1592 a full account of Valignani’s embassy, the second of 1595 the history of Taikō-Sama’s quarrel with his nephew, and the two of 1596 a full account of the first martyrdoms and of the state of the church at the time.

Almeida had died in 1583, after a missionary life of twenty-eight years. We have five of his letters, which show him a good man, but exceedingly credulous, even for a Portuguese Jesuit.

[66] This chapter, also the twenty-second, is taken, with alterations and additions, from an article (written by the compiler of this work) in “Harper’s Magazine” for January, 1854.

[67] See Appendix, Note E.

[68] An account of Adams’ voyage, in two letters of his from Japan, may be found in Purchas, “His Pilgrimes,” part i, book iii, sect. 5. Purchas also gives, book ii, chap. v, Captain Wert’s adventures and return; and in book iii, chap. i, sect. 4, a narrative by Davis, who acted as chief pilot of the first Dutch voyage to the East Indies, under Houtman. Hackluyt gives, in his second volume, a narrative of Lancaster’s voyage, taken down from the mouth of Edmund Baker, Lancaster’s lieutenant. Henry May’s narrative of the same voyage is given in Hackluyt’s second volume. What is known of the English expedition, fitted out in 1594, will be found in Hackluyt, vol. iv, and “Pilgrimes,” book iii, chap. i, sect. 2. The English East India Company was formed in 1600, and Lancaster was immediately despatched on a second voyage “with four tall ships and a victualler,” and by him the English trade was commenced.—Pilgrimes, book iii, chap. iii, sect. 1. [Ten extant letters of Will Adams may be found in “Letters written by the English Residents in Japan,” edited by K. Murakawn, and published in Tōkyō. See also paper by Dr. L. Riess on the “History of the English Factory at Kirado,” in the Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan.—Edr.]

[69] See Klaproth’s translation (“Nov. Journal Asiatique,” tom. ii), of a curious Japanese tract on the Wealth of Japan, written in 1708.

See note on page 152.—Edr.

[70] This letter is given by Purchas, vol. i, p. 406. It has neither date nor signature, nor does it appear who is responsible for the correctness of the translation.

[71] It must have been in the next year (1609).—K. M.

[72] Most likely this “box” was formed by movable screens. See Chapter XXXVIII.

[73] Iyeyasu was sixty-six years old in 1609.—K. M.

[74] It is customary among the Japanese, on receiving a present from a superior, to touch the top of the head with it. This custom is alluded to in the king of Bungo’s letter to the Pope, pages 107 and 108.

[75] Descriptions of it will be found in Chapter XXXV, and also a census taken in 1690.

[76] This image was first set up in the year 1576 by the Emperor Taikō. The temple in which it was placed was destroyed by the great earthquake of 1596. The rebuilding was commenced in 1602. The colossus, however, was seriously injured by another earthquake in 1662, after which it was melted down, and a substitute prepared of wood covered with gilt paper. For a description of it, see Chapter XXXVII.

[77] The total number of baptisms in Japan, in 1606, according to the annual letter of that year, was almost three thousand. According to the letter of 1603, the number of confessions heard that year was eighty thousand. It appears from these letters that many female converts were made, among the higher classes, by the reputed efficacy of relics and the prayers of the church in cases of difficult labor.

[78] Don Rodrigo published in Spanish a narrative of his residence in Japan. Of this very rare and curious work an abstract, with extracts, is given in the “Asiatic Journal,” vol. ii, new series, 1830. The Spaniard is rather excessive in his estimates of population, but appears to have been sensible and judicious. His accounts are well borne out, as we shall see, by those of Saris, Kämpfer, and others. His whole title was Don Rodrigo de Vivero y Velasco.

[79] There is a narrative of this journey, rather a perplexed one, apparently written by Spex himself, added to the Relation of Verhœven’s voyage in Recueil des Voyages qui out servi a l’establisement de la Compagnie des Indes Oriental dans les Provinces Unies. A full abstract of it is in the great collection, “Hist. Gen. des Voyages,” vol. viii.

[80] They had about four hundred, and the Spaniards about twice as many.

[81] Kämpfer gives this translation, and also a fac-simile of the original Japanese. The same translation is also given by Spex.

[82] The Franciscan martyrology says he was born at Seville of the blood royal.

[83] See paper on “Date Masamune,” in vol. xxi of the Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan.—Edr.

[84] An account in Italian of Sotelo’s embassy, Historia del Regno de Voxu del Giaponi, etc., e del Ambasciata, etc., was published at Rome the same year, 1615. There is no Japanese letter of later date than 1601, in the collection of Hay, or, as perhaps it ought rather to be called, of Martin Nutius (at least so his name was written in Latin), citizen and bookseller of Antwerp, at the sign of the two storks, “a man zealous for the Catholic faith,” so Hay says, and by whom the collection was projected. He applied to the rector of the Jesuit college at Antwerp for an editor, and Hay was appointed. A few of the letters were translated by Hay; the greater part had already appeared as separate pamphlets, translated by others. Hay’s vehement Scotch controversial spirit breaks out hotly in some of the dedicatory letters which he has introduced. Of the Japanese letters subsequent to 1601 there is no collection. They were published separately as they were received, translated into Italian, from which were made French and Spanish translations.

[85] See “Letters written by the English Residents in Japan, 1611-1623.”—Edr.

[86] “I am called in the Japanese tongue Angin Sama. By that name am I known all the coast along.”—Letters of Adams, Jan. 12, 1614.

[87] This is difficult to decipher, except kokoro warui (“heart bad”), and may not refer at all to Coreans.—Edr.

[88] Properly the spirit enshrined in the temple.—Edr.

[89] Saris makes no mention of tea, not yet known to the Europeans, and which, perhaps, he confounded with this hot water. All subsequent travellers have noted this practice of the Japanese of drinking everything warm even to water. Cold drinks might tend too much to check the digestion of their vegetable food; at any rate, they are thought to be frequently the occasion of a violent colic, one of the endemic diseases of Japan.

[90] London had at that time a population of two hundred and fifty thousand.

[91] Probably the one at Kamakura.—Edr.

[92] See “Letters written by the English Residents in Japan, 1611-1623.”—K. M.

[93] This word, though not to be found in any of our dictionaries, was in current use, at this time, in the signification of head merchant of a factory ship, or trading post,—cape being, probably, a contraction of captain.

[94] Yezo, otherwise called Matsumae, the island north of Nippon. There is in Purchas, “Pilgrimes,” vol. i., p. 364, a short account of this island, obtained from a Japanese, who had been there twice. It was visited in 1620 by Jerome de Angelis, who sent home an account of its gold-washings, which reads very much like a California letter. It was also then as now the seat of extensive fisheries. The gold which it produced made the Dutch and English anxious to explore it. The Dutch made some voyages in that direction and discovered some of the southern Kuriles; but the geography of those seas remained very confused till the voyages of La Perouse. Matsumae was the scene of Golownin’s captivity in 1812. [See chap. xliii.] One of the ports granted to the Americans (Hakodate) is on the southern coast of this island.

[95] These privileges are given by Purchas, “Pilgrimes,” vol. i., p. 357, with a fac-simile of the original Japanese.

[96] The old Gothic edifice, afterwards destroyed in the great fire of 1666, is the one here referred to.

[97] This is the same temple and idol seen and described by Don Rodrigo.

[98] Captain Saris states that the New Testament had been translated into Japanese for their use; but this is doubtless a mistake. A number of books of devotion were translated into Japanese, but we hear nowhere else of any New Testament, nor were such translations a part of the Jesuit missionary machinery.

[99] Of another festival, on the 23d of October, Cocks gives the following account: “The kings with all the rest of the nobility, accompanied with divers strangers, met together at a summer-house, set up before the great pagoda, to see a horse-race. Every nobleman went on horseback to the place, accompanied with a rout of slaves, some with pikes, some with small shot, and others with bows and arrows. The pikemen were placed on one side of the street, and the shot and archers on the other, the middest of the street being left void to run the race; and right before the summer-house, where the king and nobles sat, was a round buckler of straw hanging against the wall, at which the archers on horseback, running a full career, discharged their arrows, both in the street and summer-house where the nobles sat.” This, from the date, would seem to be the festival of Tenshō Daijin. See p. 359. Caron, “Relation du Japon,” gives a similar description.

[100] Captain Saris’ account of his voyage and travels in Japan (which agrees remarkably with the contemporaneous observations of Don Rodrigo, and with the subsequent ones of Kämpfer and others), may be found in Purchas, “His Pilgrimes,” part i, book iv, chap. i, sect. 4-8. Cocks’ not less curious observations may be found in chap. iii, sect. 1-3, of the same book and part. There is also a readable summary of what was then known of Japan, in Purchas, “His Pilgrimage,” book v, chap. xv.

Rundall, in his “Memorials of the Empire of Japan,” printed by the Hackluyt Society, 1850, has republished Adams’ first letter, from two MSS. in the archives of the East India Company; but the variations from the text, as given by Purchas, are hardly as important as he represents. He gives also from the same records four other letters from Adams, not before printed. It seems from these letters, and from certain memoranda of Cocks, that there were three reasons why Adams did not return with Saris, notwithstanding the emperor’s free consent to his doing so. Besides his wife and daughter in England, he had also a wife, son, and daughter in Japan. Though he had the estate mentioned as given him by the emperor (called Hemmi, about eight miles from Uraga), on which were near a hundred households, his vassals, over whom he had power of life and death, yet he had little money, and did not like to go home with an empty purse. He had quarrelled with Saris, who had attempted to drive a hard bargain with him. The East India Company had advanced twenty pounds to his wife in England. Saris wanted him to serve the company for that sum and such additional pay as they might see fit to give. But Adams, whom the Dutch, Spanish, and Portuguese, were all anxious to engage in their service, insisted upon a stipulated hire. He asked twelve pounds a month, but consented to take a hundred pounds a year, to be paid at the end of two years.

See “History of the English Factory at Hirado,” in vol. xxvi. of the Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan, and “Diary of Richard Cocks,” edited by Mr. N. Murakami, and published in Tōkyō in 1899.—Edr.

[101] He was deified, and is still worshipped under the name of Gongen-Sama, given to him after his death. It is from him that the reigning emperors of Japan trace their descent. He is buried at the temple of Nikkō, three days’ journey from Yedo, of the splendor of which marvellous stories are told. Caron, who wrote about the time it was built, speaks as if he had seen it. In 1782, M. Titsingh, then Dutch director, solicited permission to visit this temple, but was refused, as there was no precedent for such a favor.

[102] These modified privileges have been printed for the first time by Rundall.

[103] Lopo de Vega, the poet, who held the office of procurator fiscal to the apostolic chamber of the archbishopric of Toledo, celebrated the constancy of the Japanese martyrs, in a pamphlet entitled “Triumpho de la Fe en los Regnos del Japon, pas los annos de 1614 y 1615,” published in 1617. “Take away from this work,” says Charlevoix, “the Latin and Spanish verses, the quotations foreign to the subject, and the flourish of the style, and there will be nothing left of it.” The subject was much more satisfactorily treated by Nicholas Trigault, himself a very distinguished member of the Chinese mission, which he had joined in 1610. He returned to Europe in 1615, travelling on foot through Persia, Arabia, and Egypt, to obtain a fresh supply of laborers. Besides an account of the Jesuit mission to China (from which, next to Marco Polo’s travels, Europe gathered its first distinct notions of that empire), and a summary of the Japanese mission from 1609 to 1612, published during this visit to Europe, just before his departure, in 1618 (taking with him forty-four missionaries, who had volunteered to follow him to China), he completed four books concerning the triumphs of the Christians in the late persecution in Japan, to which, while at Goa, on his way to China, he added a fifth book, bringing down the narrative to 1616. The whole, derived from the annual Japanese letters, was printed in 1623, in a small quarto of five hundred and twenty pages, illustrated by numerous engravings of martyrdoms, and containing also a short addition, bringing down the story to the years 1617-1620, and a list of Japanese martyrs, to the number of two hundred and sixty-eight. There is also added a list of thirty-eight houses and residences (including two colleges, one at Arima, the other at Nagasaki) which the Jesuits had been obliged to abandon; and of five Franciscan, four Dominican, and two Augustinian convents, from which the inmates had been driven. These works of Trigault, published originally in Latin, were translated into French and Spanish. Various other accounts of the same persecution appeared in Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese. “A Brief Relation of the Persecution lately made against the Catholic Christians of Japan” was published at London, 1616. Meanwhile Purchas, in the successive editions of his “Pilgrimage,” gave an account of the Japanese missions, which is the best and almost the only one (though now obsolete and forgotten) in the English language. That contained in the fourth edition (annexed as a fifth part to the “Pilgrimes”), and published in 1625, is the fullest. Captain Saris, according to Purchas, ascribed the persecution to the discovery, by the Japanese, that the Jesuits, under the cloak of religion, were but merchants.

[104] Such was the charge of the English. The Dutch narratives, however, abound with similar charges against the English. Both probably were true enough, as both nations captured all the Chinese junks they met.

[105] The date, as given by Purchas (evidently by a misprint), is 1610.

[106] The “Swan” and the “Attendance.” The number of English runaways was three, not six.—K. M.

[107] From Jacatra Pring proceeded to England with a cargo of pepper. It would seem that he had not forgotten his early voyages to the coast of America, for while his ship lay in the road of Saldanha, near the Cape of Good Hope, a contribution of seventy pounds eight shillings and sixpence was raised among the ship’s company to endow a school, to be called the East India School, in the colony of Virginia. Other contributions were made for this school, and the Virginia Company endowed it with a farm of a thousand acres, which they sent tenants to cultivate; but this, like the Virginia University, and many other public-spirited and promising enterprises, was ruined and annihilated by the fatal Indian massacre of 1622.

The “Royal James” carried also to England a copy in Japanese, still preserved in the archives of the East India Company, of Adams’ will. With commendable impartiality he divided his property, which, by the inventory annexed, amounted to nineteen hundred and seventy-two tael, two mas, four kandarins (two thousand four hundred and sixty-five dollars and twenty-nine cents), equally between his Japanese and his English family,—the English share to go, one half to the wife and the other half to the daughter, it not being his mind, so Cocks wrote, “his wife should have all, in regard she might marry another husband, and carry all from his child.” By the same ship Cocks made a remittance to the English family, having delivered “one hundred pounds sterling to diverse of the ‘Royal James’Company, entered into the purser’s books, to pay in England, two for one,”—a very handsome rate of exchange, which throws some light on the profits of East India trade in those days. Adams’ Japanese estate probably descended to his Japanese son; and who knows but the family survives to this day? The situation of this estate was but a very short distance from the spot where the recent American treaty was made; nor is the distance great from Shimoda, one of the ports granted by that treaty. The command of the fleet left behind, on Pring’s departure, devolved on Captain Robert Adams. According to Cocks’ account, the crews, both Dutch and English, inferior officers as well as men, were a drunken, dissolute, quarrelsome set. Rundall gives a curious record of the trial by jury and execution of an Englishman of this fleet for the murder of a Dutchman; and it seems the Dutch reciprocated by hanging a Dutchman for killing an Englishman. Master Arthur Hatch was chaplain of this fleet. Purchas gives (vol. i, part ii, book x, ch. i) a letter from him, written after his return, containing a brief sketch of his observations in Japan. Purchas also gives a letter from Cocks, which, in reference to the koku of rice, agrees very well with Titsingh’s statement quoted on page fifty-nine. Cocks represents the revenues of the Japanese princes as being estimated in mankoku of rice, each containing ten thousand koku, and each koku containing one hundred gantas (gantings), a ganta being a measure equal to three English ale pints.

Cocks states the revenue of the king of Hirado at six mankoku. He maintained four thousand soldiers, his quota for the emperor’s service being two thousand. The income of Kodzuke-no-Suke, formerly three, had lately been raised to fifteen mankoku. That of the king of Satsuma was one hundred, and that of the prince next in rank to the emperor, two hundred mankoku. The value of the mankoku was calculated at the English factory at nine thousand three hundred and seventy-five pounds, which would make the koku worth eighteen shillings and sixpence sterling, or four dollars and fifty cents, and agrees very well with Caron’s estimates of the koku, which he calls cokien, as worth ten Dutch florins, or four dollars. The estimates of Kämpfer and Titsingh, given on page fifty-nine, are higher.

[108] Dr. Riess estimates the loss at less than ten thousand pounds.—Edr.

[109] See Appendix F.

[110] 1624 ought to be 1616.—K. M.

[111] It may be found in Thevenot’s Collection of Voyages, also in “Voyages des Indes,” tom. v.

[112] A candid and conclusive answer to Sotelo, or the false Sotelo, as the Jesuits persisted in calling him, was published at Madrid immediately after the appearance of his letter, by Don Jean Cevicos, a commissary of the holy office, who was able to speak from personal observation. Cevicos had been captain of the galleon “St. Francis,” the ship in which Don Rodrigo de Vivero had been wrecked on the coast of Japan, as related in a former chapter. After a six months’ stay in Japan, and an acquaintance there with Sotelo, Cevicos sailed for Manila, was captured on the passage by the Dutch, but recaptured by a Spanish fleet. Arrived at Manila, he renounced the seas, commenced the study of theology, was ordained priest, and became provisor of the archbishopric of the Philippines. The business of this office brought him to Spain, and being at Madrid when the letter ascribed to Sotelo appeared, he thought it his duty to reply to it. A full abstract of this answer, as well as of Sotelo’s charges, may be found at the end of Charlevoix’s “Histoire du Japon.” It appears, from documents quoted in it, that the missionaries of the other orders agreed with the Jesuits in ascribing the persecution mainly to the idea, which the Dutch made themselves very busy in insinuating, that the independence of Japan was in danger from the Spaniards and the Pope, who were on the watch to gain, by means of the missionaries, the mastery of Japan, as they had of Portugal and so many other countries.

The charges made in the name of Sotelo against the Jesuits are of more interest from the fact that, at the time of the Jansenist quarrel, they were revived and reurged with a bitterness of hatred little short of that which had prompted their original concoction.

A Spanish history of the Franciscan mission, full of bitter hatred against the Jesuits, was published at Madrid in 1632, written down to 1620, by Father Fray Jacinto Orfanel, who was arrested that year, and burnt two years after, and continued by Collado, who was also the author of a Japanese grammar and dictionary.

[113] Shōgun-Sama seems to be only a title, not a name. This is Lyemitsu, the “third Shōgun.”—Edr.

[114] A shuet of silver weighs about five ounces, so that the reward offered was from $2,000 to $2,500.

[115] A narrative of this transaction was published at Rome in 1643. A short but curious document, purporting to be a translation of a Japanese imperial edict, commanding the destruction of all Portuguese vessels attempting to approach the coasts of Japan, is given in “Voyages au Nord,” tom. iv. Ships of other nations were to be sent under a strong guard to Nagasaki. [See Appendix, Note 1.]

[116] This curious piece may be found in French, in the “Voyages des Indes,” tom. v.

[117] Haganaar’s travels may be found in “Voyages des Indes,” tom. v., and a narrative of Nuyts’ affair in “Voyages au Nord,” tom. iv.

[118] According to Titsingh, they amounted in his time (1780) to eighty thousand in number. Apparently they are the Dōshin, or imperial soldiers, of whom we shall have occasion hereafter to speak.

[119] This quantity of rice would suffice for the support of twelve million persons or more. The cultivators of the imperial domains retained, according to Kämpfer, six-tenths of the produce, and those who cultivated the lands of inferior lords four-tenths. Hence it may be conjectured that the estimate of twenty-five millions of people for Japan is not excessive.

[120] These lists were doubtless copied from the Yedo Kagami (Mirror of Yedo), a kind of Blue Book, still published twice a year, and containing similar lists. See “Annals des Empereurs du Japon” (Titsingh and Klaproth), p. 37, note.

[See paper on Japanese feudalism, in vol. xv of the “Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan.”—Edr.]

[121] There are two versions of Caron’s account of Japan, materially different from each other; one with the original questions, as furnished by Caron himself to Thevenot, the other in the form of a continuous narrative, with large additions by Haganaar. The first may be found in Thevenot’s “Voyages Curieuse,” also in “Voyages au Nord,” tom. iv. The other in “Voyages des Indes,” tom. v, and an English translation of it in Pinkerton’s collection, vol. vii.

[122] A curious contemporary narrative of this affair is given, among other tracts relating to Japan, in “Voyages au Nord,” tom. iv. It is not unlikely that the military operations of the Dutch in the neighboring island of Formosa, and their strong fort of Zelandia, recently erected there, might have aroused the suspicions of the Japanese.

[123] There is an account of the voyage of the “Castricoom” in Thevenot’s collection. It is also contained in “Voyages au Nord,” tom. iii. Charlevoix gives a full and interesting abstract of the adventures of Captain Schaëp and his companions, derived from two different French versions of a Dutch original; but I know not where either the versions or the original can be found.

[124] The journals of these embassies of Waganaar, Frisius, and others, generally pretty dry documents, with extracts from Caron, furnished the basis for the “Memorable Embassies of the Dutch to the Emperors of Japan,” a splendid folio, with more than a hundred copper plates, published at Amsterdam in 1669, purporting to be compiled by Arnold Montanus, of which an English translation, made by Ogilvy, with the same cuts, appeared the next year at London, under the title of Atlas Japonensis, and a French translation, with some additions and alterations, ten years later at Amsterdam.

The materials are thrown together in the most careless and disorderly manner, and are eked out by drawing largely upon the letters of the Jesuit missionaries. The cuts, whence most of the current prints representing Japanese objects are derived, are destitute of any authenticity. Those representing Japanese idols and temples evidently were based on the descriptions of Froez, whose accounts do not seem quite to agree in all respects with the observations of more recent travellers.

The dedication of Ogilvy’s translation outdoes anything Japanese in the way of prostration, nor can the language of it hardly be called English. It is as follows: “To the supreme, most high and mighty prince, Charles II., by the grace of God, of Great Britain, France and Ireland, king, defender of the faith, &c. These strange and novel relations concerning the ancient and present state of the so populous and wealthy empire of Japan, being a book of wonders, dedicated with all humility, lies prostrate at the sacred feet of your most serene majesty, by the humblest of your servants, and most loyal subject, John Ogilvy.”

[125] This letter, with the instructions and a memoir of Caron’s on the subject, may be found in “Voyages au Nord,” tom. iv. Caron, who spent several years in the French service in the East Indies, perished by shipwreck, near Lisbon, on his return to France in 1674. He was president of the Dutch factory at the time of its removal to Deshima; and Kämpfer undertakes to represent his mismanagement as in some degree the cause of that removal. This story was doubtless current at Deshima in Kämpfer’s time, but probably it grew out of disgust of the Dutch at Caron’s having passed into the French service.

[126] A curious narrative of this visit is printed in Pinkerton’s great collection, vol. vii.

[See also “Diary of Richard Cocks.”—K. M.]

[127] For a further account of Fitch and his travels, see Appendix, Note E.

[128] The China trade was shared at this time between the Portuguese of Macao and the Spaniards of the Philippines. On the Spanish trade, and the profits of it, some light is thrown by extracts from letters found on board Spanish prizes taken by the English, which Hackluyt translated and published in his fourth volume. Thus Hieronymo de Nabores writes from Panama (August 24, 1590), where he was waiting for the ship for the Philippines: “My meaning is to carry my commodities thither, for it is constantly reported that for every one hundred ducats a man shall get six hundred ducats clearly.” This, however, was only the talk at Panama; but Sebastian Biscanio had made the voyage, and he writes to his father from Acapulco (June 20, 1590): “In this harbor here are four great ships of Mexico, of six hundred or eight hundred tons apiece, which only serve to carry our commodities to China, and so to return back again. The order is thus. From hence to China is about two thousand leagues further than from hence to Spain; and from hence the two first ships depart together to China, and are thirteen or fourteen months returning back again. And when these ships are returned, then the other twain, two months after, depart from hence. They go now from hence very strong with soldiers. I can certify you of one thing: that two hundred ducats in Spanish commodities, and some Flemish woods which I carried with me thither, I made worth fourteen hundred ducats there in that country. So I make account that with those silks and other commodities with me from thence to Mexico, I got twenty-five hundred ducats by the voyage; and had gotten more, if one pack of fine silks had not been spoiled with salt water. So, as I said, there is great gain to be gotten, if that a man return in safety. But the year 1588, I had great mischance coming in a ship from China to New Spain; which, being laden with rich commodities, was taken by an Englishman [this was Cavendish, then on his voyage round the world], which robbed us and afterwards burnt our ship, wherein I lost a great deal of treasure and commodities.”

[129] The tael, reckoning the picul at one hundred and thirty-three and one-third pounds avoirdupois, contains five hundred and eighty-three grains troy. Our dollar weighs four hundred and twelve and a half grains; and supposing the Japanese silver to be of equal fineness, the tael is worth just about one dollar and forty cents. Kämpfer reckons it as equivalent to three and a half florins, which is precisely one dollar and forty cents, taking the florin at the usual valuation of forty cents. This, however, was rather above the valuation of the Dutch East India Company. There were, it seems, two kinds of Japanese silver, known among the Dutch as heavy and light money, the latter sometimes distinguished as bar-silver. Both kinds were carried to account without distinction down to the year 1635, at the rate of sixty-two and a half silvers, or one dollar and twenty-five cents per tael. After that period the bar-silver was reckoned at fifty-seven stivers, or one dollar and fourteen cents per tael. Reckoning the tael, as the Dutch commonly did, at one dollar and twenty-five cents of our money, and the mas is precisely equivalent to the Spanish eighth of a dollar. This statement is derived from a Dutch memoir by Imhoff, quoted by Raffles (“History of Java,” Appendix B), and found by him, it would seem, among the Dutch records at Batavia. Of the chests of silver and gold, particularly the former, so often mentioned in the old accounts of the Dutch and Portuguese trade, I have met with no description, except in Montanus’ “Memorable Embassies.” Unreliable and worthless as that huge volume generally is, its compilers certainly had access to valuable Dutch papers, and it is apparently from that source that they have drawn what they say of the moneys, weights, and measures of Japan. Of the chests of silver and gold they speak as follows: “Moreover, their paying of money is very strange; for the Japanese, having great store of gold and silver, observe a custom to receive their money without telling or seeing it. The mint-master puts the gold in papers, which contain the value of two hundred pounds sterling; these, sealed up, pass from one to another without being questioned. They also use little wooden boxes, in which they put twenty sealed papers of gold, which is as much as a man can handsomely carry; every box amounts to four thousand pounds sterling; and the like boxes, but of another fashion, they use for their silver, in every one of which is twelve hundred crowns, and is sealed with the coiner’s seal. But doth it not seem strange that never any deceit is found in that blind way of paying money?” “The silver, though weighed and coined, is of no certain value. The coiners put it together into little packs worth sixty crowns,”—I suppose taels. Caron says, however, that these packages contained fifty taels.

[130] These temples, built in Japan by the Chinese merchants, remind one of the temples built in Egypt by the Greek merchants, who first opened a trade with that country. See Grote’s “History of Greece,” chap. xx.

[131] The kamishimo is a state dress, composed of two garments (kami signifies what is above, and shimo what is below), a short cloak, without sleeves, called kataginu, and breeches, called hakama. Both are of a particular form (the breeches being like a petticoat sewed up between the legs), and of colored stuffs. They are used only on days of ceremony and at funerals.—Titsingh.

[132] Unfortunately for the English, their attempt at a revival of intercourse, mentioned in the last chapter, was made the very year of the introduction of this new check on foreign trade. The appraisement extended as well to the Chinese as the Dutch cargoes, as is apparent from the following closing paragraph of the English narrative: “During the time (July and August, 1673) we were in port, there came twelve junks in all, eight from Batavia, two from Siam, one from Canton, one from Cambodia, and six Dutch ships of the Company’s. They had not any from Taiwan (Formosa), by reason the year before they put the price upon their sugar and skins; and so they intend to do for all other people, for whatsoever goods shall be brought to their port; which if they do, few will seek after their commodities on such unequal terms.”

There is strong reason to suppose that these new restrictions on foreign trade grew out of the diminished produce of the mines, which furnished the chief article of export. The working of these mines seems to have greatly increased after the pacification of Japan by its subjection to the imperial authority. Such is the statement in the Japanese tract on the wealth of Japan, already referred to. According to this tract the first gold coins were struck by Taikō-Sama. This increase of metallic product seems to have given, about the time of the commencement of the Dutch trade, a new impulse to foreign commerce. Though the Portuguese trade had been stopped, it had been a good deal more than replaced by the increase of the Chinese traffic, and already the metallic drain appears to have been seriously felt. This is a much more likely reason for the policy now adopted than the mere personal hostility of certain Japanese grandees, to which the Dutch at Deshima, and Kämpfer as their echo, ascribed it.

[133] According to Titsingh, the Chinese factory was removed, in 1780, to a new situation, the site of an ancient temple. He gives a plan of the new factory after a Japanese draft.

[134] Thunberg notices an odd mistake by the engravers, in representing the Japanese as wearing their swords as we do, with the edge downward, whereas their custom is just the reverse, the edge being turned upwards.

[135] See also an “Abstract” of Kämpfer’s History in vol. ii of the “Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan.”—Edr.

[136] A translation of one of these tablets is given by Kämpfer as follows:

“Courtesans only, but no other women, shall be admitted. Only the ecclesiastics of the mountain Kōya shall be admitted. All other priests, and all Yamabushi, shall stand excluded.” (Note by Kämpfer. —Kōyais stated to be a mountain near Miyako, a sanctuary and asylum for criminals, no officers of justice being suffered to come there. Its inhabitants, many thousand in number, lead an ecclesiastical life. All are admitted that desire it, or who fly there for shelter, and are afterwards maintained for life, if they can but bring in thirty taels for the use of the convent, and are otherwise willing to serve the community in their several capacities. These monks are not absolutely confined to this mountain, but many travel up and down the country in what manner or business they please. Very many of them betake themselves to trade and commerce.)

“All beggars, and all persons that live on charity, shall be denied entrance.

“Nobody shall presume with any ship or boat to come within the palisades of Deshima. Nobody shall presume with any ship or boat to pass under the bridge of Deshima.

“No Hollander shall be permitted to come out, but for weighty reasons.”

[137] For a full account of this journey, see Chap. XXXI, etc.

[138] For an account of this festival, see Chap. XXIX.

[139] The custom of using an emblem, or device, instead of a signature, or to certify it, prevails with the Japanese, as with so many other nations.

[140] See further, in relation to this ceremony, Chap. XXIX.

[141] Properly kuriki, but abbreviated to kuri, to approximate “coolie.” See note on page 309.—Edr.

[142] See also “Formosa under the Dutch” (Campbell), and “The Island of Formosa” (Davidson).—Edr.

[143] The smuggling affair mentioned on page 327.

[144] This is, evidently, the word coolie, employed in India and China to designate laborers of the lowest class. [See note on page 300.—Edr.]

[145] Along the east coast of Asia, and as far north as the southern coasts of Japan, the winds, during the six months from April to September inclusive, blow from southwest to northeast This is called the southwest monsoon. During the other six months they blow from northeast to southwest. This is called the northeast monsoon.

[146] Ambergris is a substance thrown up from the stomachs of whales suffering from dyspepsia or some other disease. It is much employed in the East in the preparation of perfumes and sweetmeats, and once had considerable reputation in Europe. Its true nature was for a long time in dispute. The Japanese understood it, as appears from their name of the articles, Kujira-no-fun, that is, whale’s excrements.

[147] This corresponds with Siebold’s description, who goes quite into raptures at the first sight he had, in 1825, of the hills about Nagasaki.

[148] It would seem that Europe had derived the idea of paper-hangings, as a substitute for tapestry, from Japan.

[149] According to Haganaar this sake is flavored with honey or sugar. It is very heating and heavy. Saris describes it as almost as strong as aqua vitæ. It appears to be very various in quality and strength, quite as much so as European ale or beer. The yeast from this sake is largely used for preserving fruit and vegetables. The acid of it penetrates the fruit or vegetable, giving it a peculiar flavor, of which the Japanese are very fond.

The Japanese are very fond of social drinking parties; but, according to Caron, no drunken brawls occur, each person taking himself quietly off as soon as he finds that he has enough or too much.

[150] This prayer, or invocation, unintelligible to the Japanese, is, as our modern Orientalists have discovered, good Sanscrit.

[151] Another change, simultaneous with the restrictions upon Dutch and Chinese trade, was the selection of the governors from the military and noble class, instead of from the mercantile class, as had previously been the case.

[152] These Yoriki and Dōshin seem to be the same officers spoken of in the subsequent Dutch narratives as Gobanjoshu (said to mean government overseeing officers), or by corruption, banjoses, upper and under. The Dōshin seem to be the same with the imperial soldiers.

[153] The Japanese division of time is peculiar. The day, from the beginning of morning twilight to the end of evening twilight (so says Siebold, correcting former statements, which give instead sunrise and sunset), is divided into six hours, and the night, from the beginning to the end of darkness, into six other hours. Of course the length of these hours is constantly varying. Their names (according to Titsingh) are as follows: Kokonotsu [nine], noon, and midnight; Yatsu [eight], about our two o’clock; Nanatsu [seven], from four to five; Mutsu [six], end of the evening and commencement of morning twilight; Itsutsu [five], eight to nine; Yotsu [four], about ten; and then Kokonotsu again. Each of these hours is also subdivided into four parts, thus: Kokonotsu, noon or midnight; Kokonotsu-han [nine and a half], quarter past; Kokonotsu-han-sugi [past nine and a half], half past; Kokonotsu-han-sugi-maye [before past nine and a half], three quarters past; commencement of second hour: Yatsu-han, etc., and so through all the hours.

The hours are struck on bells, Kokonotsu being indicated by nine strokes, preceded (as is the case also with all the hours) by three warning strokes, to call attention, and to indicate that the hour is to be struck, and followed, after a pause of about a minute and a half, by the strokes for the hour, between which there is an interval of about fifteen seconds,—the last, however, following its predecessor still more rapidly, to indicate that the hour is struck. Yatsu is indicated by eight strokes, Nanatsu by seven, Mutsu by six, Itsutsu by five, and Yotsu by four. Much speculation has been resorted to by the Japanese to explain why they do not employ, to indicate hours, one, two, and three strokes. The obvious answer seems to be, that while three strokes have been appropriated as a forewarning, their method of indicating that the striking is finished would not be available, if one and two strokes designated the first and second hours. [See paper on “Japanese Calendars,” in vol. xxx of the Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan.—Edr.]

[154] Caron implies that it was only as to state offences that this mutual responsibility exists. According to Guysbert, in his account of the persecution at Nagasaki, if a converted priest was discovered, not only the householder concealing him was held responsible, but the two nearest householders on either side, though not only ignorant of the fact, but pagans. This strict system was very effectual for the purposes of the persecution.

[155] Better fumiye or fumie.—Edr.

[156] It would seem from Guysbert, that the participation by young children in the death decreed against the parents, was rather the act of those parents who had the power of life and death over their children, and who did not choose to part with them in this extremity.

[157] The Japanese year begins at the new moon nearest to the fifth of February (the middle point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox).

[158] According to Klaproth’s statement of Japanese legend, in his “Histoire Mythologique,” introductory to Titsingh’s “Annals of the Dairi,” the first three of the celestial gods were solitary males. The next three had female companions, yet produced their successors by the force of mutual contemplation only. The seventh pair found out the ordinary method of generation, of which the first result was the successive production of eight islands, those of Japan (the number eight being selected simply because it is esteemed the most perfect), after which they gave birth also to mountains, rivers, plants, and trees. To provide a ruler and governor for these creations, they next produced Tenshō daijin, or, in Japanese (for Tenshō daijin is Chinese), Ama terasu-no-kami (Celestial Spirit of Sunlight); but, thinking her too beautiful for the earth, they placed her in the heavens, as they did, likewise, their second born, a daughter, also, Tsuki-no-kami, goddess of the moon. Their third child, Ebisu saburō, was made god of the sea; their fourth child, Susanoō, also a son, god of the winds and tempest. He was agreeable enough when in good humor, and at times had his eyes filled with tears, but was liable to such sudden outbreaks and caprices of temper as to render him quite unreliable. It was concluded to send him away to the regions of the north; but before going he got leave to pay a visit to his sisters in heaven. At first he had a good understanding with them, but soon committed so many outrages,—in the spring spoiling the flower borders, and in the autumn riding through the ripe corn on a wild horse,—that in disgust Tenshō daijin hid herself in a cavern, at the mouth of which she placed a great stone. Darkness forthwith settled over the heavens. The eight hundred thousand gods, in great alarm, assembled in council, when, among other expedients, one of their number, who was a famous dancer, was set to dance to music at the mouth of the cavern. Tenshō daijin, out of curiosity, moved the stone a little, to get a look at what was going on, when immediately Te chikara o-no kami (god of the strong hand) caught hold of it, rolled it away, and dragged her out, while two others stretched ropes across the mouth so that she could not get in again. Finally, the matter was compromised by clipping the claws and hair of Susanoō, after which he was sent off to the north, though not till he had killed a dragon, married a wife, and become the hero of other notable adventures. This legend makes it clear what Anjirō, the first Japanese convert, meant by speaking of the Japanese as worshippers of the sun and moon. See ante, p. 49. The annual festival of Tenshō daijin falls on the sixteenth day of the ninth month, immediately after that of Suwa, and is celebrated throughout the empire by matsuri much like that described in the text. The sixteenth, twenty-first, and twenty-sixth days of every month are likewise sacred to her, but not celebrated with any great solemnity. [Also see “Kojiki.”—Edr.]

Kämpfer mentions as the gods particularly worshipped by the mercantile class: 1. Yebisu, the Neptune of the country, and the protector of fishermen and seafaring people, said to be able to live two or three days under water. He is represented sitting on a rock, with an angling-rod in one hand, and the delicious fish, Tai, or Steinbrassin (Sparus Aurata, the Japanese name, signifies red lady), in the other. 2. Dai-koku, commonly represented sitting on a bale of rice, with his fortunate hammer in his right hand, and a bag laid by him to put in what he knocks out; for he is said to have the power of knocking out, from whatever he strikes with his hammer, whatever he wants, as rice, clothes, money, etc. Klaproth states him to be of Indian origin, and that this name signifies Great Black. 3. Toshitoku, represented standing, clad in a large gown with long sleeves, with a long beard, a huge forehead, large ears, and a fan in his right hand. Worshipped at the beginning of the new year, in hopes of obtaining, by his assistance, success and prosperity. 4. Hotei, represented with a huge belly, and supposed to have in his gift, health, riches, and children. [These are four of the “Seven Gods of Happiness.” See also paper on that subject, in vol. viii of the Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan.—Edr.]

[159] On the whole, and from the play-bills presently given, the performance would seem to be a good deal like that of Pyramus and Thisbe, in the Midsummer Night’s Dream.

[160] Certainly there is nothing of which the Japanese stood, and still stand, more in need than some contrivance for extinguishing fires. Caron, in his memorial addressed to Colbert, had recommended a present of fire-extinguishers.

[161] See p. 265.

[162] These zeni were of various values, a thousand of them being worth, according to Caron, from eight to twenty-six mas, that is, from a dollar to three dollars and a quarter; the zeni varying, therefore, from a mill to three mills and a quarter. Of the existing copper coinage we shall speak hereafter. See vol. ii, p. 309.

[163] “Though it may sound extraordinary to talk of a soldier with a fan, yet the use of that article is so general in Japan that no respectable man is to be seen without one. These fans are a foot long, and sometimes serve for parasols; at others instead of memorandum books. They are adorned with paintings of landscapes, birds, flowers, or ingenious sentences. The etiquette to be observed in regard to the fan requires profound study and close attention.”—Titsingh. “At feasts and ceremonies the fan is always stuck in the girdle, on the left hand, behind the sabre, with the handle downward.”—Thunberg. [See paper on “Japanese Fans,” in vol. ii of the Transactions and Proceedings of the Japan Society, London.—Edr.]

[164] This is exclusive of the central tract or imperial domain (consisting of five provinces), and also of the two island provinces of Iki and Tsushima. [See also Note A in the Appendix.—Edr.]

[165] For a part of the distance across Kiūshiū (or Shimo), different routes were taken in the first and second of Kämpfer’s journeys. In the first he crossed the gulf of Ōmura; in the second, the gulf of Shimabara, these two gulfs enclosing the peninsula of Ōmura, the one on the north, the other on the east.

[166] The distance is reckoned by the Japanese at three hundred and thirty-two to three hundred and thirty-three leagues; but these Japanese leagues are of unequal length, varying from eighteen thousand to about thirteen thousand feet, and the water-leagues generally shorter than those by land in the proportion of five to three. Kämpfer makes the whole distance two hundred German or about eight hundred English miles.

[167] Three or four inches thick (according to Thunberg), and made of rushes and rice straw.

[168] Japanese feet, that is, for, according to Klaproth (“Annales des Emp. du Japon”) page 404, note, the ken is equal to seven feet four inches and a half, Rhineland (which does not differ much from our English) measure.

[169] These windows are of light frames, which may be taken out, and put in, and slid behind each other at pleasure, divided into parallelograms like our panes of glass, and covered with paper. Glass windows are unknown.

[170] Thunberg says, “tiles of a singular make, very thick and heavy.”

[171] In a Japanese map brought home by Kämpfer the number of castles in the whole empire is set down at a hundred and forty-six.

[172] The whole number of towns in the empire, great and small, is set down in the above-mentioned map at more than thirteen thousand.

[173] Kämpfer’s meaning seems to be only that the Shintō priests were not monks living together in convents, like the Buddhist clergy, but having houses and families of their own.

[174] According to a memorandum annexed to the Japanese map already mentioned, there were in Japan twenty-seven thousand seven hundred Kami temples, one hundred and twenty-two thousand five hundred and eighty Buddhist temples, in all forty-nine thousand two hundred and eighty. By the census of 1850, there were in the United States thirty-eight thousand one hundred and eighty-three buildings used for religious worship.

It would appear that though the Shintō temples did not want worshippers who freely contributed alms to the support of the priests, yet that since the abolition of the Catholic worship, and as a sort of security against it, every Japanese was required to enroll himself as belonging to some Buddhist sect or observance.

[175] These oharai, or indulgence-boxes, are little boxes made of thin boards and filled with small sticks wrapped in bits of white paper. Great virtues are ascribed to them, but a new one is necessary every year. They are manufactured and sold by the Shintō priests.