Part 2: View by Topics

1. Study of Japan by Foreigners Coming to Japan (1)

During the 400 years of exchange, many Dutchmen and other Europeans employed by the Dutch resided in Japan. Many of the chiefs of the Dutch factory, physicians and others wrote about their experiences staying in Japan and what they learned through their study of Japan. This section introduces several of these people through their achievements, Japanese translations of their writings and materials written by Japanese people who interacted with them.

F. Caron

Francois Caron(1600-1673)

F. Caron was a Frenchman from Brussels. He was employed by the Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie) and came to the Hirado factory in 1619, .staying until 1641. He was good at the Japanese language and served as an interpreter and was made the chief of the Dutch factory in 1639. During his stay in Japan, there was friction between the countries, such as the Nuyts Affair and the closing of the Hirado factory, but he dealt with matters calmly and worked to establish trade between the Dutch and the Japanese.

Caron, F.: Beschrijvinge van machtigh Koninckrijcke Japan.

Amsterdam: J. Hartgers, 1649. 1 v. <貴-6426>

This book contains F. Caron's answers to the questions of Philips Lucas (Director-General of the V.O.C.) in 1636, making it one of the first sources introducing Japan to Europe. This image is of the part describing a copper candlestick presented to the 3rd shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu by the Dutch East India Company (V.O.C.) and that was made as an offering to the Nikko Toshogu Shrine in 1636, and this candlestick still exists today. It was made by brass worker Joost Gerritszoon (1598-1652). Belonged to diplomat Tsuzuki Keiroku.

Nikko sanshi.

Edited by Ueda Moshin. Ms. 10 v. <ろ-33>

The candlestick presented by the Dutch East India Company (V.O.C.) was also described in this Nikko topography written 200 years later. This image shows the lantern inscription and illustration of the candlestick. Belonged to the Roju (senior councilor) Mizuno Tadakuni, who promoted the Tenpo Reforms.

E. Kaempfer

Engelbert Kaempfer (1651-1716)

E. Kaempfer was a physician and natural history scholar from Lemgo in northern Germany. He came to Japan in 1690 as a physician for the Dutch East India Company (V. O. C.). He attended the chief of the Dutch factory and accompanied the chief on two court journeys to Edo and left Japan in 1692. He collected a variety of information about Japan with the assistance of Dutch interpreter Imamura Eisei.

Portrait of E. Kaempfer
Source: Kaempfer, E.: The history of Japan.

Kaempfer, E.: Amoenitatum exoticarum politico-physico-medicarum.

Lemgoviae: H. W. Meyeri, 1712. 1 v. <別-47>

This book is the only one published during his life. It is written in Latin, and is a record of the natural science of Asia, especially Persia, and Chapter 5 covers flora in Japan as well as Chinese medicine, acupuncture and moxibustion, and other subjects. It also contains papers on which Sakokuron (Discussion of the Closed Country) was written (Refer to Ijin kyofu den). Belonged to the flora classification scholar Makino Tomitaro.

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Kaempfer, E.: The history of Japan.

London: T. Woodward, 1728. 2 v. <WB31-18>

E. Kaempfer's The history of Japan covers Japanese history, geography, fauna and flora, politics, religion, Nagasaki and trade, and records of court journeys to Edo, and was the first systematic introduction about Japan in Europe. First, an English version was published from the German manuscript. E. Kaempfer was in Japan during the reign of the 5th shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi during the Genroku period, and the record of his Edo court appearance journeys describes lively figures of the people who extolled the peacefulness of the country, traveling along the highways. Belonged to diplomat Shioda Saburo.

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Kinmo zui.

Edited by Nakamura Tekisai. S.l.: Yamagataya, n.d. 14 v. <わ031-47>

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This book was written by Kyoto Confucianism scholar Nakamura Tekisai (1629-1701), and is Japan's first illustrated encyclopedia. Large realistic illustrations with Japanese names, Chinese names, and explanations were used to make them easy for children and beginners to understand. This work was enlarged and revised many times after its first publication in 1666. E. Kaempfer brought Kinmo zui back with him, and used it for the illustrations in The history of Japan. The copy belonged to E. Kaempfer and now in the British Library is the same as this edition and has four illustrations per page with an arc for the vertical frame lines of the top explanation.

Kaempfer, E.: De beschryving van Japan.

Amsterdam: A. van Huyssten, 1733. 1 v. <蘭-664>

This is the Dutch language version of E. Kaempfer's The history of Japan. This book had already arrived in Japan by the end of the 18th century, and had been completely translated into Japanese by Mitsukuri Genpo and others at the Shogunate government's Tenmonkata (Astronomy Bureau) during the period 1844-47, but the original no longer exists. Page 476 begins with a paper that became the basis for Sakokuron (Refer to Ijin kyofu den). This copy was belonged to the Shogunate government. The National Diet Library possesses five copies of the Dutch version De beschryving van Japan that were belonged to the Shogunate government.

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Seiyojin Kenperu Nihonshi.

Tr. by Miyake Tomonobu. Autograph. 1 v. <寄別14-26>

Miyake Tomonobu (1806-1886) was the illegitimate son of a lord of the Tahara Domain of Mikawa. Tomonobu was sent into retirement when the poor financial state of the domain forced it to welcome the son of a lord of the wealthy Himeji Domain as the new lord. At the time, his chamberlain Watanabe Kazan suggested that he study Dutch studies, and so he came to possess many Dutch books. This book is a translation of the first part (trip from Batavia to Japan) of E. Kaempfer's De beschryving van Japan, made in 1832. This book was handed down together with the books confiscated from Kazan, so it was thought to have been previously owned by Kazan. Belonged to the Tokugawa shogunate.

Ijin kyofu den.

By Kenperu. Tr. by Shizuki Tadao. Edited by Kurosawa Okinamaro. S.l.: s.n., 1850. 3 v. <121-221>

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E. Kaempfer's paper 'Regnum Japoniae optima ratione, ...' was first published in his Amoenitatum exoticarum ... (1712) and was also published in the appendix of The history of Japan (1728) under title 'An enquiry, whether it be conductive for the good of the Japanese Empire, to keep it shut up, as it now is, and not to suffer its Inhabitants to have any Commerce with foreign nations, either at home or abroad'. This paper was summarily translated from De beschryving van Japan (1733) by Dutch interpreter Shizuki Tadao (1760-1806), and was widely circulated as a transcription under the title Sakoku ron (Discussion of the Closed Country). The intent of E. Kaempfer was to show that Japan had a reason for isolating itself, and that the inhabitants were living in peace and happiness and was thus a favorable account, so in an age of increased external pressure on the Shogunate government to open the country, it was also published under the title Ijin kyofu den (lit. threats of foreigners). The editor, Japanese philosophy scholar Kurosawa Okinamaro (1795-1859), published it because its stated purpose was, "To inform the people of today of the excellence, strength, and venerability of our country (Japan) among the countries of the world."