The time has come for my first collaboration with a fellow podcaster. Please welcome Garret McCorkle from the “No Country for History” podcast. And we have a great topic to discuss.
In 1853 Commodore Perry came to the shores of Japan and “opened” it to the world. Or did he?
Let’s see what
Part 1 – The Kurofune incident
- Before the Black Ships: Japan
- Before the Black Ships: The USA
- Perry leaves America
- The four Black Ships in Uraga: The fateful day of the 8th of July
- Songs and portraits: first Japanese impressions of Americans
- Te never ending dialogue: – Please go to Nagasaki. – No, we won’t.
- Chaos, rumours and the unevitable
- Japan meets the US: the meeting at Kurihama
- Goodbye, Perry! Hope we’ll never see you again.
Part 2 – Second visit and the Treaty of Kanagawa
- Analysing the first visit.
- John Manjiro and pro-American Propaganda
- Abe Masahiro and unconventional problem solving
- Vice-admiral Putyatin in Nagasaki or Perry in panic mode
- The return of Black Ships
- Threats and cannons or are all means good to get attention?
- The second meeting
- The present display: toy train and telegraph
- The present display: rice, silk, lacqer and sumo matches
- The Treaty of Kanagawa
- Exploring Shimoda and Hakodate. The apealing and the appalling Japan
- The aftermath
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Things to read
While usually, I have to rely on historians to do their job and write about something so I can read it and later tell you about that, this time we are presented with multiple first-hand records of the events. The benefits of literate 19th century.
So here they are. I found the difference of opinions and views on the same events quite enjoyable.
- Francis Hawks “Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to China & Japan” (a.k.a. the official report of the expedition)
- Matthew C. Perry “The Japan Expedition, 1852—1854, The Personal Journal of Commodore Matthew C. Perry” (a.k.a. Perry’s careful notes in preparation for the report)
- Samuel Wells Williams “Journal of the Perry Expedition to Japan” (a.k.a. the truthful notes)
- George Henry Preble “The Opening of Japan: A Diary of Discovery in the Far East, 1853—1856” (a.k.a. the “party pooper’s notes”)
- Edward McCauley “With Perry in Japan: The Diary of Edward York McCauley”
- Bayard Taylor “Visit to India, China, Japan in the year 1853” (chapters 33-35) (a.k.a. the notes of admiration)
I was not as lucky with books this time.
- Rhoda Blumberg “Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun”
While the book is dedicated to two Perry’s visits to Japan and probably is a good starting point for somebody completely unfamiliar with the topic, it is very short and tends to oversimplify. But I’m fine with that, as it’s a short work with many pictures. Again, a great introduction to the topic. What I didn’t like about the book though, is an exaggeration for the sole purpose of making the read more entertaining and constant attention to the weirdness of the Japanese.
- George Feifer “Breaking open Japan”
This book is informative yet very difficult to read. The only way I managed to read it is via word search (did I tell you how much I love e-books already?)
- De-min Tao “Negotiating Language in the Opening of Japan”
Translation and interpretation was a big part of negotiations. Especially because none of the countries used their native tongue. This witty and well-written article discovers how the need for constant interpretation affected the communication between America and Japan and looks at curious moments related to it. See you soon! Bye!