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List of Westerners who visited Japan before 1868

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Title: List of Westerners who visited Japan before 1868  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Henry Heusken, Dutch missions to Edo, Nicolaes Couckebacker, Convention of Kanagawa, History of Japan
Collection: Edo Period, History of Japan, History of the Foreign Relations of Japan, Lists of People by Activity, Rangaku
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

List of Westerners who visited Japan before 1868

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


  • 1500s 1
  • 1600s 2
  • 1700s 3
  • 1800s 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6



  • William Adams (sailor) (1600, England) The first Englishman ever to reach Japan. The first Westerner who became Samurai by Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu.[8][9]
  • Jan Joosten van Lodensteijn (1600, Dutch Republic) William Adams's shipmate who became a Samurai and an advisor for Shogun. His name still exists in the name of Yaesu side of 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 Shusaku Endo.[12]
  • Luis Sotelo (1609, Spain) A Franciscan friar who proselytized in Tohoku region of Japan with the help of Daimyo Date Masamune. He was executed after re-entering Japan illegally in 1624.
  • John Saris (1613, England) A captain of the English ship the Clove who met with Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu to establish the trade post in Japan.
  • Nicolaes Couckebacker (1633, Dutch Republic) A VOC Opperhoofd in Hirado who assisted the Japanese government to destroy the Christian rebels led by Amakusa Shiro in 1638.[13]

(Note: In 1639, Japanese government issued the Sakoku policy which prohibited foreigner to enter Japanese territory. The only exception was Dutch who were permitted to reside on Dejima Island. This policy lasted until 1854.)

  • Engelbert Kaempfer (1690, Dutch Republic) A German naturalist and physician whose description of Japan in his book "History of Japan" became the chief source of Western knowledge about the country throughout next two centuries.[14]


  • 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]
  • Adam Laxman (1792, Russia) A Russian navigator who stayed in Hokkaido briefly. He was sent by Catherine the Great to return Daikokuya Kōdayū to Japan. [16]
  • Carl Peter Thunberg (1775, Sweden) A Swedish naturalist who came as a surgeon on VOC ship. He was an apostle of Carl Linnaeus whose scientific activities resulted in the first detailed description of the flora and fauna of Japan.[17]
  • Hendrik Doeff (1799, Dutch Republic) VOC Opperhoofden who kept the Dutch nationality of VOC post in Dejima even after Napoleon took over Netherland. He presided the VOC during the Phaeton incident.[18]


  • Nikolai Rezanov (1804, Russia) A Russian diplomat who stayed in Nagasaki for 6 months. He was commissioned by Aleksander I as Russian ambassador to Japan to conclude a commercial treaty, but his request was denied by Japanese government.
  • Vasily Golovnin (1811, Russia) A Russian navigator who was held captive for two years on the island of Hokkaido. His book, Captivity in Japan During the Years 1811, 1812, 1813, was widely read by Europeans.[19]
  • Philipp Franz von Siebold (1823, Germany) A German physician, botanist who brought Western medicine in Japan. He was expelled from Japan after his spy activity discovered (Siebold Incident). [20]
  • Matthew C. Perry (1853, United States) A Commodore of the U.S. Navy who opened Japan to the West in 1854.[21]
  • Townsend Harris (1855, United States) The first United States Consul General to Japan.[22]
  • 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".[23]
  • Rutherford Alcock (1859, United Kingdom) The first British diplomatic representative to live in Japan. His book, The Capital of the Tycoon, became one of the first book which described the Ero-period Japan systematically.[24]
  • James Curtis Hepburn (1859, United States) An American physician, educator and Christian missionary who is known for the Hepburn romanization system.[25]
  • Thomas Blake Glover(1859, United Kingdom) A Scottish merchant who supported the anti-Edo government militant Satchō Alliance. His residence in Nagasaki still remains as a museum Glover Garden.[26]
  • Margaret Tate Kinnear Ballagh (1861, United States) An American missionary who lived in Yokohama. Her account "Glimpses Of Old Japan, 1861-1866" is the only book written by Western woman staying in the Edo period Japan.[27]
  • Nicholas of Japan (1861, Russia) A Russian Orthodox priest who introduced the Eastern Orthodox Church to Japan.[28]
  • Charles Wirgman (1861, United Kingdom) An English artist and cartoonist, the creator of the Japan Punch which was the first magazine in Japan.[29]
  • Charles Lennox Richardson (1862, United Kingdom) A British merchant who was murdered by Samurai in Namamugi Incident which later lead to Bombardment of Kagoshima.[30]
  • Ernest Mason Satow (1862, United Kingdom) A British diplomat who assisted the negotiation during Bombardment of Kagoshima.[31]
  • Aimé Humbert (1863, Switzerland) A Swiss politician who established the treaty with Japan and later published the "Japan and the Japanese Illustrated" which captured many detailed sceneries of the Edo-period Japan.[32]
  • Felice Beato (1865, United Kingdom) A photographer who recorded the rare view of Edo Period Japan.[33]
  • Heinrich Schliemann (1865, Germany) A archaeologist who stayed in Japan for two months.[34]

See also


  1. ^ Tanegashima: the arrival of Europe in Japan, Olof G. Lidin, Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, NIAS Press, 2002
  2. ^ Diego Pacheco. Xavier and Tanegashima. Monumenta Nipponica, Vol. 29, No. 4 (Winter, 1974), pp. 477–480
  3. ^ Diego Pacheco, S. J., El hombre que forjó a Nagasaki. Vida del P. Cosme de Torres, S. J. Madrid, 1973.
  4. ^ 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)
  5. ^ Biography of Luis Froisルイス・フロイス
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Cooper, Michael. Rodrigues the Interpreter: An Early Jesuit in Japan and China. New York: Weatherhill, 1973
  8. ^ Samurai William: The Englishman Who Opened Japan. By Giles Milton
  9. ^ Pars Japonica: The First Dutch Expedition to Reach the Shores of Japan. Brought by the English Pilot Will Adams, Hero of Shogun Hardcover. (2006) by William de Lange.
  10. ^ Samurai William: The Englishman Who Opened Japan. By Giles Milton
  11. ^ Pars Japonica: The First Dutch Expedition to Reach the Shores of Japan. Brought by the English Pilot Will Adams, Hero of Shogun Hardcover. (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. ^ Japan-Netherlands Trade 1600-1800: The Dutch East India Company and Beyond. Yasuko Suzuki
  14. ^ Kaempfer's Japan: Tokugawa Culture Observed by Engelbert Kaempfer, Beatrice Bodart-Bailey and Beatrice M. Bodart-Bailey (Dec 1998)
  15. ^ Mikkou Saigo no Bateren Sidotti. By Furui Tomoko. 2010. ISBN 978-4404038562.
  16. ^ Kodayu to Rakusuman: Bakumatsu Nichi-Ro koshoshi no ichi sokumen (Tosui rekishi zensho) (Japanese Edition) by Ryohei Kisaki (1992)
  17. ^ Flora Japonica (1784)
  18. ^ "Phaeton Incident and Saga-han." by Saga Castle History Museum
  19. ^ 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 (Mar 18, 2010)
  20. ^ Siebold and Japan. His Life and Work. by Arlette Kouwenhoven, Matthi Forrer, M. Forrer and A Kouwenhoven (2000)
  21. ^ The Perry mission to Japan, 1853 - 1854 by William Gerald Beasley, Aaron Haight Palmer, Henry F. Graff, Yashi Shōzan, Ernest Mason Satow, Shuziro Watanabe
  22. ^ Townsend Harris, First American Envoy in Japan by William Elliot Griffis.
  23. ^ Japan journal, 1855-1861 by Henry Heusken
  24. ^ The Capital of the Tycoon: A Narrative of a Three Years' Residence in Japan. By Rutherford Alcock.
  25. ^ A Japanese and English Dictionary with an English and Japanese Index by James Curtis Hepburn
  26. ^ 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
  27. ^ Glimpses Of Old Japan, 1861-1866. By Margaret Tate Kinnear Ballagh
  28. ^ 宣教師ニコライと明治日本 中村 健之介 (Senkyoushi Nikorai to Meiji Nihon, by Nakamura Kennosuke) 
  29. ^ Wirgman Drawings collection under (2002) ISBN 4000257528 [Japanese Import] by Haga Toru
  30. ^ "The Anglo-Japanese War." November 15, 1863, New York Times.
  31. ^ A Diplomat in Japan by Ernest Mason Satow
  32. ^ Japan and the Japanese Illustrated (Google eBook)by Aimé Humbert, Frances Cashel Hoey. R. Bentley & son, 1874 - Japan - 378 pages
  33. ^ Felice Beato: A Photographer on the Eastern Road. By Anne Lacoste.
  34. ^ a Chine et le Japon au temps présent' (1867)
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