Japanese frigate Kaiyō Maru

Kaiyō Maru (開陽丸) was one of Japan's first modern warships, a frigate powered by both sails and steam. She was built in the Netherlands, and served in the Boshin War as part of the navy of the Tokugawa shogunate, and later as part of the navy of the Republic of Ezo. She was wrecked on 15 November 1868, off Esashi, Hokkaido, Japan.

Warship Kaiyo Maru in Dordrecht August 1866.png
Kaiyō Maru in 1867–1868
Flag of the Tokugawa Shogunate.svgTokugawa Shogunate
NameKaiyō Maru
BuilderC.Gips and Sons, Dordrecht, Netherlands
Laid downAugust 1863
Launched3 November 1865
Commissioned10 September 1866
FateBecame part of navy of Ezo Republic 1868
Seal of Ezo.svgEzo Republic
NameKaiyō Maru
FateWrecked 15 November 1868
General characteristics
Displacement2,590 long tons (2,632 t)
Length72.2 m (236 ft 11 in) o/a
Beam13.04 m (42 ft 9 in)
Draught6.4 m (21 ft 0 in)
PropulsionCoal-fired auxiliary steam engine, 400 hp
Sail plan
  • Ship-rigged 3-masted sailboat
  • Sail area 20,970 m2 (225,700 sq ft)
Speed10 knots (12 mph; 19 km/h)
  • 18 × 16 cm (6 in) guns
  • 8 × 30-pounder guns
  • 5 more cannons later

Construction and designEdit

Launch of Kaiyō Maru in Dordrecht, 1865

Kaiyō Maru was ordered in 1863, and built by Cornelis Gips and Sons, at Dordrecht, Netherlands, for a sum of 831,200 guilders.[1] Her construction was overseen by a Japanese military mission under Uchida Masao and Akamatsu Noriyoshi.[2] She was launched in October 1866,[3] and anchored before Vlissingen on 23 October.[4] Kaiyō Maru arrived in Japan in November of the same year.[5] She was the largest wooden warship ever built by a Dutch shipyard at the time.[6] She was 240 feet (73 m) long.[1]


Part of the fleet of Enomoto Takeaki off Shinagawa in 1868. Kaiyō Maru is second from right.
Kaiyō Maru replica in Esashi

In January 1868 Kaiyō Maru was engaged in the naval battle of Awa off Awaji Island, where she, Banryū Maru and Hazuru Maru battled against the Satsuma Navy's Kasuga Maru, Hōō Maru, and Heiun Maru. During the battle, Hōō Maru was sunk off the coast of Awa.[7]

In late January 1868, Kaiyō Maru, Kanrin Maru, Hōō Maru, and five other modern ships fled to Hokkaido, under Admiral Enomoto Takeaki. They carried a handful of French military advisors, and their leader Jules Brunet. While in Hokkaido, they became a part of the navy of the short-lived Ezo Republic, founded by Enomoto Takeaki.[8] Kaiyō Maru became the flagship of the navy of the Ezo Republic, but she soon was wrecked off Esashi, Hokkaido, Japan, during a storm on 15 November 1868. The steamship Shinsoku made a rescue attempt, but it too sank.[9]


The guns and ship chandlery of Kaiyō Maru were discovered on the seafloor on 14 August 1968 by the submarine Yomiuri-Gō (読売号). Further remains were discovered but project financing prevented the salvage at that time however several items were recovered in 1969. Dives were conducted in August 1974 that confirmed a need for excavation of the extensive remains. Full scale excavation of the wreck from a depth of 15 m (49 ft) began in June 1975. The salvage of portions of the wreck located in the open sea were completed in seven years. The inland portions of the wreck were slowed by poor visibility. Costs for the salvage totaled over 3 million yen by 1985.[10] Desalinization of the recovered artifacts began upon recovery.[11] A replica of Kaiyō Maru was constructed in 1990. She is now on display at the docks in Esashi and has become a tourist attraction showing the salvaged remains of the original ship.[12]



  1. ^ a b Fogel, Reischauer & Rapoport 1979, p. 6.
  2. ^ Otterspeer 1989, p. 367.
  3. ^ Catharinus et al. 1970, p. 62.
  4. ^ "Marine en leger". Middelburgsche Courant. 25 October 1866.
  5. ^ Torimoto 2016, p. 27.
  6. ^ Blussé, Remmelink & Smits 2000, p. 183.
  7. ^ Morris 1906, p. 89.
  8. ^ Keene 2010, pp. 126–127.
  9. ^ Black 1881, pp. 238–239.
  10. ^ Ruins on the ocean floor.
  11. ^ Marr 1970, p. 39.
  12. ^ Irish 2009, p. 102.


  • Black, John Reddie (1881). Young Japan: Yokohama and Yedo. Trubner & Company. ISBN 9781354805008.
  • Blussé, Leonard; Remmelink, Willem; Smits, Ivo (2000). Bridging the Divide: 400 Years, the Netherlands–Japan. Leiden: Hotei Publishing. ISBN 978-9074822244.
  • Catharinus, Johannes Lijdius; Meerdervoort, Pompe van; Pino, E.; Bowers, John Z. (1970). Doctor on Desima: Selected Chapters from J.L.C. Pompe van Meerdervoort's Vijf Jaren in Japan [Five Years in Japan] (41st ed.). Sophia University. p. 62. OCLC 1287231.
  • Fogel, Joshua; Reischauer, Edwin O.; Rapoport, Mitchell (1979). Japan '79: A New York Times Survey. New York: Arno Press. ISBN 9780405117534.
  • Irish, Ann B. (2009). Hokkaido: A History of Ethnic Transition and Development on Japan's Northern Island. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co. ISBN 9780786454655.
  • Keene, Donald (2010). Emperor of Japan Meiji and His World, 1852–1912. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 9780231518116.
  • Morris, J. (1906). Makers of Japan. Methuen & Company. p. 89. ISBN 9781290943482.
  • Marr, John C. (1970). The Kuroshio: A Symposium on the Japan Current. Honolulu: East-West Center Press. ISBN 9780824800901.
  • Otterspeer, Willem (1989). Leiden Oriental Connections 1850–1940. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-09022-4.
  • Torimoto, Ikuko (2016). Okina Kyuin and the Politics of Early Japanese Immigration to the United States, 1868–1924. McFarland. ISBN 9781476627342.


External linksEdit

Coordinates: 41°51′57″N 140°07′02″E / 41.8658°N 140.1172°E / 41.8658; 140.1172