The year 2009 marks the 400th anniversary of the opening of trade between Japan and the Netherlands in 1609. The National Diet Library (NDL) and the National Library of the Netherlands (Koninklijke Bibliotheek) take this opportunity to make digital exhibitions which introduce selected materials from each collection, about the history of the exchanges between Japan and the Netherlands. This exhibition is one of the fruits of the cooperation started when the NDL and the Koninklijke Bibliotheek made an agreement to build a strong relationship in 2005.

On July 1st ,1609 (May 30th in the 14th year of Keicho), two Dutch ships arrived at Hirado. On August 24 th, Tokugawa Ieyasu officially permitted the Dutch to start trading. This original trade permit "Shuin-jo" is now held in the National Archives in The Hague (Nationaal Archief).

From that time, despite the Tokugawa Shogunate's national seclusion Sakoku policy, exchanges between Japan and the Netherlands continued. The Netherlands was almost the only country which could inform Japanese people of western culture. The Japanese took in western products and knowledge, and for their part, the Dutch transmitted Japanese culture to westerners.

It was said Rangaku (Western Studies), which grew out of the knowledge from the Netherlands and developed into a unique discipline, became the linchpin of the modernization from the Meiji Era. The NDL has many collections concerning Rangaku, including the archives transferred from the Tokugawa Shogunate. We have arranged this exhibition so that you can see materials from various points of view. The first part is about an outline of the history, and in the second part we take up six interesting topics.

Please also see the Koninklijke Bibliotheek's exhibition.