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William Adams and Europeans’ Arrival to Japan

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In Japan’s early culture, including language and art, Confucianism and Buddhism was derived by China and, over the years, has become Japanese. During a period of civil wars in the fifteenth and sixteenth a feudal system, there were many medieval Europe developed in these wars. Every lord had its samurai, or knights, who were bound to them by oaths of fealty. But it wasn’t until the middle of the sixteenth century that the western world became interested in this island nation.

In 1542, Fernando Mendez Pinto was wrecked there and brought back the Portugal established’s glowing reports at Nagasaki. European and Soon Dutch merchants followed the missionaries. In 1600 the victory over the western lords won by Tokugawa Ievasu and in 1603 became the Shogus, founding a dynasty which effectively ruled Japan until 1867. An Englishman, William Adams, who served under Sir Francis Drake. William Adams had been a pilot for the Barbary merchants. He joined a Dutch fleet which sailed for Japan. The Shogun, Tokugawa, took a liking to William Adams after a troubled beginning there and given a house to him. Japanese and Jesuits missionaries Christians acted as interpreters. The emperor sent William Adams and asked him to build a ship. Even though William knew nothing about shipbuilding, he was so successful that the Emperor gave him two swords. William also taught the emperor some mathematics. The emperor declared that William Adams was dead and reborn as Miura Anjin, free to marry again although Adams had a wife in England. William Adams married a high-born Japanese woman, but eventually he wished to go home. Permissioin was refused by the emperor, he built another, larger ship and had over 80 retainers.

In 1620, William Adams dead. Soon the Exclusion Decrees were published, Japan was closed to the west country. After it was reopened in 1854, the Western world became fascinated with the things that made by Japanese. Commodore Perry had opened to view the Japanese culture and society that had been hidden for hundreds years. Soon exhibitions of Japanese art opened throughout the Europe and United States. Japanese art became the rage as chinoiserie had been a century before. Japanese motifs such as bamboo, fans, bridges, cranes, and butterflies were incorporated into Western furnishings and arts. The influx of new themes also responded by the literature. Poets such as Yeats, Whitman, and Longfellow incorporated Japanese images into their works.

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