List of Westerners who visited Japan before 1868

This list contains notable Europeans and Americans who visited Japan before the Meiji Restoration. The name of each individual is followed by the year of the first visit, the country of origin, and a brief explanation.

16th centuryEdit

17th centuryEdit

  • William Adams (1600, England) – The first Englishman to reach Japan. Among the first Westerners to become a samurai, under Shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu.[10][11]
  • Jan Joosten van Lodensteyn (1600, Dutch Republic) – Adams' shipmate, also among the first Westeners to become a samurai, who became an advisor for the shōgun. He is remembered in Japan (based on their variation of his name) in the Yaesu area of Tokyo and as Yaesu on one exit of the Tokyo Station.[10][11]
  • Cristóvão Ferreira (1609, Portugal) – A Jesuit missionary who committed apostasy after being tortured in the anti-Christian purges of Japan. His apostasy is the main theme of the novel Silence by Shūsaku Endō.[12]
  • Luis Sotelo (1609, Spain) – A Franciscan friar who proselytized in the Tōhoku region of Japan with the help of Daimyo Date Masamune. He was executed after re-entering Japan illegally in 1624.
  • John Saris (1613, England, U.K.) – Captain of the English ship Clove, who met with shōgun Tokugawa Ieyasu to establish a trading post in Japan.
  • Nicolaes Couckebacker (1633, Dutch Republic) – VOC Opperhoofd (chief Dutch trader/agent) in Hirado, who assisted the government in 1638 to suppress Japanese Christian rebels led by Amakusa Shirō.[13]
  • Giuseppe Chiara (1643, Italian) – He entered Japan at a time when Christianity was strictly forbidden in an attempt to locate fellow priest Cristóvão Ferreira who had apostatized his Christian faith at the hands of torture by the Japanese authorities in 1633. Di Chiara was also tortured and eventually became an apostate as well.
  • Engelbert Kaempfer (1690, Dutch Republic) – A German naturalist and physician. His descriptions in History of Japan (posthumously published in English in 1727) became the chief source of Western knowledge about the country for nearly two centuries.[14]

(Note: In 1639, the Japanese government promulgated the Sakoku policy, which prohibited foreigners from entering Japanese territory. The only exceptions were Dutch traders and associated workers permitted to live on Dejima Island. This policy lasted until 1854.)

18th centuryEdit

  • Giovanni Battista Sidotti (1700, Italy) An Italian Jesuit priest who entered Japan illegally and was arrested. His communication with the scholar Arai Hakuseki resulted in the book Seiyō Kibun.[15]
  • Robert Janson (1704, Ireland), a native of Waterford seized off the coast of Kyushu and brought to Dejima Island.[16]
  • Martin Spangberg (Denmark) visited the island of Honshu in 1738, being in command of the first Russian naval squadron specifically sent to seek for a diplomatic encounter with the Japanese. The Russians landed in a scenic area which is now part of the Rikuchu Kaigan National Park. Despite the prevalent policy of sakoku, the sailors were treated with politeness if not friendliness.[17]
  • Isaac Titsingh (1779–1784) A Dutch East India Company ("VOC") Opperhoofd at Dejima in Nagasaki Bay.[18]
  • Adam Laxman (1792, Finnish-Swede) A Finnish-Swedish national working for Russia as a navigator who stayed in Hokkaido briefly. He was sent by Catherine the Great to return Daikokuya Kōdayū to Japan.[19]
  • Carl Peter Thunberg (1775, Sweden) A Swedish naturalist who came as a surgeon on a Dutch East India Company ("VOC") ship. He was a follower of Carl Linnaeus whose scientific activities resulted in the first detailed description of the flora and fauna of Japan.[20]
  • Hendrik Doeff (1799, Dutch Republic) former Dutch East India Company ("VOC") Opperhoofd (Chief Officer) who maintained the Dutch nationality of Dejima even after Napoleon conquered the Netherlands. He presided over the Dutch East India Company ("VOC") during the Phaeton incident.[21]

19th centuryEdit

  • Nikolai Rezanov (1804, Russia) A Russian diplomat who stayed in Nagasaki for 6 months. He was commissioned by Alexander I as Russian ambassador to Japan to conclude a commercial treaty, but his efforts were thwarted by the Japanese government.
  • Vasily Golovnin, Fedor Mur, Andrey Khlebnikov with the crew (1811, Russia) – Russian navigators who were held captive for two years on the island of Hokkaido. Golovnin's book, Captivity in Japan During the Years 1811, 1812, 1813,[22] was widely read by Europeans. Khlebnikov's mémoires left unpublished.
  • Philipp Franz von Siebold (1823, Netherlands/Germany) A German physician, botanist in Dutch service at Dejima who brought Western medicine to Japan. He was expelled from Japan after being accused as a spy (Siebold Incident).[23]
  • Heinrich Bürger (1825..1835, Netherlands/Germany), A German scientist in Dutch service who became a pharmacist and botanist on Dejima.
  • Mercator Cooper (1845, United States) First formal American visit to Edo (now Tokyo), Japan.
  • Ranald MacDonald (1848, Scottish-Canadian), The first native English-speaker to teach English in Japan, who taught Einosuke Moriyama, one of the chief interpreters to handle the negotiations between Commodore Perry and the Tokugawa shogunate.
  • Matthew C. Perry (1853, United States) A Commodore of the U.S. Navy who opened Japan to the West in 1854.[24]
  • Townsend Harris (1855, United States) The first United States Consul-General to Japan.[25]
  • Henry Heusken (1855, United States) A Dutch-American interpreter for the American consulate in Japan who was assassinated by anti-foreigner rōnin. His diary was published as Japan journal, 1855–1861.[26]
  • José Luis Ceacero Inguanzo (1855, Spain) Spanish Captain in Manila, Philippines. He was named samurai by the lord of Chikuzen. Advisor to the Meiji Government.
  • Rutherford Alcock (1859, United Kingdom) The first British diplomatic representative to live in Japan. His book, The Capital of the Tycoon,[27] became one of the first books to describe Edo-period Japan systematically.
  • James Curtis Hepburn (1859, United States) An American physician, educator and Christian missionary who is known for the Hepburn romanization system, enabling westerners to read and write Japanese in Roman script.[28]
  • Thomas Blake Glover (1859, Scotland) A Scottish merchant who supported the anti-Edo government militant Satchō Alliance. His residence in Nagasaki still remains as a museum (Glover Garden).[29]
  • Margaret Tate Kinnear Ballagh (1861, United States) An American missionary who lived in Yokohama. Her account Glimpses Of Old Japan, 1861–1866[30] is the only book written by a Western woman staying in Edo period Japan.
  • Nicholas of Japan (1861, Russia) A Russian Orthodox priest, monk, archbishop and saint who introduced the Eastern Orthodox Church to Japan.[31]
  • Charles Wirgman (1861, United Kingdom) An English artist and cartoonist, the creator of Japan Punch which was the first magazine in Japan.[32]
  • Charles Lennox Richardson (1862, United Kingdom) A British merchant who was murdered by samurai in the Namamugi Incident which later led to the Bombardment of Kagoshima.[33]
  • Ernest Mason Satow (1862, United Kingdom) A British diplomat who assisted the negotiations during the Bombardment of Kagoshima, and kept a diary of his career in Japan.[34]
  • Aimé Humbert (1863, Switzerland) A Swiss politician who established a treaty with Japan and later published Japan and the Japanese Illustrates, which captured many detailed scenes of Edo-period Japan.[35]
  • François Perregaux (1863, Switzerland) The first watchmaker in Japan. [36]
  • James Favre-Brandt (1863, Switzerland) Took part in the first Swiss diplomatic mission to Japan. [37]
  • Felice Beato (1865, United Kingdom) A photographer who recorded many rare views of Edo Period Japan.[38]
  • Heinrich Schliemann (1865, Germany) An archaeologist who stayed in Japan for two months.[39]
  • Frederik Blekman (1839, Amsterdam / Holland) reached Nagasaki on 16 April 1859 via Jakarta. Translator and empresario

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Tanegashima: the arrival of Europe in Japan, Olof G. Lidin, Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, NIAS Press, 2002
  2. ^ Pacheco, Diego (Winter 1974). "Xavier and Tanegashima". Monumenta Nipponica. 29 (4): 477–480. doi:10.2307/2383897. JSTOR 2383897.
  3. ^ Diego Pacheco, S. J., El hombre que forjó a Nagasaki. Vida del P. Cosme de Torres, S. J. Madrid, 1973.
  4. ^ Yuuki, Diego R. (1990). "Luís de Almeida: Doctor, Traveller And Priest". Review of Culture. Instituto cultural de Macau. 10: 7–26.
  5. ^ [ No que toca à língua e adaptação na metodologia de trabalho jesuíta no Japão: Gaspar Vilela, Alessandro Valignano e João Rodrigues (1549–1620)
  6. ^ The First European Description of Japan, 1585: A Critical English-Language Edition of Striking Contrasts in the... by Luis Frois SJ, Daniel T. Reff and Richard Danford (Mar 7, 2014)
  7. ^ Biography of Luis Froisルイス・フロイス
  8. ^ 大濱徹也 (2009年7月). "ルイス・フロイスが見た日本". 日本文教出版.
  9. ^ Cooper, Michael. Rodrigues the Interpreter: An Early Jesuit in Japan and China. New York: Weatherhill, 1973
  10. ^ a b Samurai William: The Englishman Who Opened Japan. By Giles Milton
  11. ^ a b Pars Japonica: The First Dutch Expedition to Reach the Shores of Japan. Brought by the English Pilot Will Adams, Hero of Shogun, (2006) by William de Lange.
  12. ^ The making of an enterprise: the Society of Jesus in Portugal, its empire, and beyond, 1540–1750, Dauril Alden, Stanford University Press, 1996
  13. ^ Yasuko Suzuki, Japan-Netherlands Trade 1600–1800: The Dutch East India Company and Beyond
  14. ^ Kaempfer's Japan: Tokugawa Culture Observed by Engelbert Kaempfer, Beatrice Bodart-Bailey and Beatrice M. Bodart-Bailey (1998)
  15. ^ Mikkou Saigo no Bateren Sidotti. By Furui Tomoko. 2010. ISBN 978-4404038562.
  16. ^ Matthew Jones, "The Oriental Irish", History Ireland, Volume 22, Issue 1 (January/February 2014)
  17. ^ Glynn Barratt. Russia in Pacific Waters, 1715–1825. UBC Press, 1981. ISBN 9780774801171. Pages 35–37.
  18. ^ Boxer, C.R. (1950) Jan Compagnie in Japan, 1600–1850. Martinus Nijhoff: The Hague, p. 135.
  19. ^ Kodayu to Rakusuman: Bakumatsu Nichi-Ro koshoshi no ichi sokumen (Tosui rekishi zensho) (Japanese Edition) by Ryohei Kisaki (1992)
  20. ^ Flora Japonica (1784)
  21. ^ "Phaeton Incident and Saga-han." by Saga Castle History Museum "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-07-15. Retrieved 2014-07-06.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  22. ^ Narrative of my Captivity in Japan, etc. To which is added, an account of voyages to the coasts of Japan, and for the release of the author. by Capt. Rikord by Vasily Mikhailovich Golovnin
  23. ^ Siebold and Japan. His Life and Work. by Arlette Kouwenhoven, Matthi Forrer, M. Forrer and A. Kouwenhoven (2000)
  24. ^ The Perry mission to Japan, 1853–1854 by William Gerald Beasley, Aaron Haight Palmer, Henry F. Graff, Yashi Shōzan, Ernest Mason Satow, Shuziro Watanabe
  25. ^ Townsend Harris, First American Envoy in Japan by William Elliot Griffis.
  26. ^ Japan journal, 1855–1861 by Henry Heusken
  27. ^ The Capital of the Tycoon: A Narrative of a Three Years' Residence in Japan. By Rutherford Alcock.
  28. ^ A Japanese and English Dictionary with an English and Japanese Index by James Curtis Hepburn
  29. ^ トーマス・グラバー伝 アレキサンダー マッケイ (著), Alexander McKay (原著), 平岡 緑 (翻訳) ISBN 978-4120026522
  30. ^ Glimpses Of Old Japan, 1861–1866. By Margaret Tate Kinnear Ballagh
  31. ^ 宣教師ニコライと明治日本 中村 健之介 (Senkyōshi Nikorai to Meiji Nihon, by Nakamura Kennosuke) 
  32. ^ Wirgman Drawings collection under (2002) ISBN 4000257528 by Haga Toru
  33. ^ "The Anglo-Japanese War". November 15, 1863, New York Times.
  34. ^ A Diplomat in Japan by Ernest Mason Satow
  35. ^ Japan and the Japanese Illustrated (Google eBook) by Aimé Humbert, Frances Cashel Hoey. R. Bentley & son, 1874 – Japan
  36. ^ [The first watchmaker in Japan.]
  37. ^ Member of the first diplomatic mission to Japan
  38. ^ Felice Beato: A Photographer on the Eastern Road. By Anne Lacoste.
  39. ^ La Chine et le Japon au temps présent (1867)