By Dr Chozo Muto

Professor Emeritus of the History of Economics, Commercial History and Transportation in the Nagasaki Higher Commercial College, Nagasaki, Japan

This article was originally published in Pela Patria, a Magazine of the Portuguese community in Shanghai, Vol I No5, May 1940, pp19, 20 and No6, Jun 1940, pp29,30.

Pela Patria Editor's Note: This monograph, sent to the Pela Patria through the courtesy of Mr FX da Silva e SousaClick on the SEARCH icon and enter his ID number (6337) to be taken to his personal page, Portuguese Consul at Kobe, was originally written in Japanese and only translated into English for publication in this monthly. Professor Muto's works dealing with the first contacts of the Portuguese with his own country constitute a standard Vade Mecum for the students in Japan who are interested in ancient historical researches. Needless to say, the Pela Patria is most grateful for this article.

There is a Manuscript entitled Entrance Of A Portuguese Ship in 1685. This is one of the Omura Manuscripts owned by Baron Omura and kept in his villa. I have troubled the custodian of the Villa, Mr. Soji Fukuda, for a copy of the record which is reproduced at the end of this article for purpose of reference.

The Portuguese were the first Europeans to come to Japan, their first visit being in the Tenbun Era. This was in the first half of the 16th century, about the year 1540. The Portuguese were frequently in Japan from the Tenbun Era to the Kwanei Era, but following the Edict of National Isolation, relations between the two countries were severed.

The Tokugawa Shogunate tightened the control over foreign bound vessels and established the policy that no vessel unless specially sanctioned was to be permitted to make ocean voyages. The Shogunate issued orders to the Governor of Nagasaki to that effect, on February 28th in the 10th year of Kwanei, the Shogunate prohibited foreign voyages of vessels other than those bearing the official red seal, and also promulgated laws controlling the return of Japanese who had resided abroad. It was decreed that only those who returned less than 5 years after their departure and who had no intention of going abroad again would be permitted to come back to Japan and all others not conforming to these conditions would be put to death. Two years later the foreign voyages of Japanese vessels were strictly forbidden and the Governor of Nagasaki was ordered to put to death all those who attempted to go abroad, as well as those who endeavoured to return from foreign parts. In May 1636 the mixed dwelling of the Portuguese with the Japanese in Nagasaki was forbidden, and a number of Portuguese were removed to Deshima, a fan-shaped island inhabited by 25 merchants of Nagasaki since 1634. In this isiand the Portuguese were permitted intercourse and trade with the outside world under strict supervision. Some 280 Spaniards and Portuguese with their families who were not interned in this island were deported. The entrance of Portuguese other than those residing in Deshima was prohibited. This restriction was planned to prevent the entrance of disguised missionaries with a view to the extermination, or prevention of the spread, of Christianity.

On 8th August, 1636, 4 Portuguese vessels entered Nagasaki from Macao and the officers and men, led by Captain Gonzalves, stayed at Deshima. However, when these vessels sailed in September, 287 wives and children of the Portuguese residents were sent back to Macao.

In 1637, the Shimabara Revolt (the so called Christian Rebellion) broke out and continued until the next year. To quell this revolt, Koeckebacker, a Dutchman and head of the foreign traders of Hirado, assisted the Shogun's army in compliance with the Shogun's request.

After the Shimabara Revolt the Shogun's fear of Christianity became more accentuated and it was that incident that gave rise to the expulsion of the Portuguese and also prohibition to trade with a Portuguese vessel which entered port in Aug. 1639. The Edict of National Isolation issued in the same year was the final measure taken to prevent the entry of the Portuguese. In the following year (1640), special Ambassadors came from the City of Macao to Nagasaki but this mission proved disastrous to them. The Ambassadors and some important members of the crew numbering 61 were killed and the ship burnt. To report on the fate of the Embassy, 13 seamen were put on board a small ship and made to leave Nagasaki on July 15th for Macao. The policy of the Shogun's government against the Portuguese became more aggressive.

Regarding the Portuguese Embassy which arrived at Nagasaki seven years later in 1647, I have written under the title The Hosekawa Manuscript relating to the Portuguese Embassy of 1647. This has been translated and incorporated in the Souvenir Book recording the Past and Present Associations between Japan and Portugal, compiled by Mr FX da Silva e SousaClick on the SEARCH icon and enter his ID number (6337) to be taken to his personal page, Kobe, for the Historical Exhibition to be held in Lisbon in 1940.

Again, in Tsuko-Ichiran the following is written:

18th June 1685. On the 2nd of this month a Portuguese ship arrived at Nagasaki. Investigation by the Authorities revealed the fact that it had come to return twelve persons from Ise who had been driven from their course by strong winds and found drifting near Macao. The ship had a crew of 47 Portuguese on board but had no arms nor merchandise for sale.

The Nagasaki Mushimegane also narrates the episode as follows:

In the records of the House of Tokugawa, reference is made to the entrance of the vessel, under the title The arrival of a vessel from Amakawa (Macao) bearing Japanese Castaways.

Sir Andrew Ljungstedt writes as follows in An Historical Sketch of the Portuguese Settlements in China:

The last attempt refers to 1685. Twelve Japanese trading from one island to another, were, by a furious storm driven out of their course and lost on an island near Macao. These unfortunate wretches were saved. Informed by the aid of an old woman born in Japan, that the people were her countrymen, the Senate, regarding the incident as a hint of providence that religion and trade should once more be restored to Japan, determined to fit out the ship St.Paul,in ballast, for the purpose of sending the poor Japanese home. This vessel sailed with permission of the Mandarins of Canton to Nagasaki. She came back unhurt, but brought a reinforced mandate that no Portuguese would be allowed entry into Japan under any pretext whatsoever. (An Historical Sketch of the Portuguese Settlements in China and of the Roman Catholic Church and Mission in China, by Sir Andrew Ljungsted, Boston 1836 pp 12L-121)

Further, C. A. Montalto de Jesus writes as follows in Historic Macao, p 104:

The shipwreck of a Japanese vessel near Macao in 1685 afforded the Colony an auspicious opportunity for another effort to resume the intercourse with Japan. The crew having been saved, the Senate took them under its protection and a ship in ballast conveyed them back to Nagasaki. The ship was allowed to return unmolested but with the express injunction that under no pretence should any Portuguese vessels call again. No more they called since then. For over two centuries Japan stood isolated from the outside world. Thus did the anti-Christian feeling for ever ruin the Portuguese interests in Japan, transforming the hearty friendship of yore into an inveterate hatred, past all hope of mitigation.

But the best account of this incident. written from historical material from both the Japanese and Portuguese sources, is that of Naojiro Murakami, in his History of Nagasaki. I cite an excerpt from this book to make clear the actual facts cf this incident and help in the explanation of the Omura Manuscript.

Even after the special Embassy of 1647 had returned without accomplishing its mission, hope of trade with the Japanese was not given up in Macao and a favourable occasion for its resumption was awaited. Opportunely, an incident unprecedented in the history of Macao occurred, and the citizens of Macao were overjoyed, believing that Providence had given them that opportunity to revive Christianity in Japan.

Tabei and eleven others of Fujiwara-mura, Wataraigori, Ise Province, had sailed in a ship of 18-ton, fully loaded with fire-wood, in the latter part of September, 1684, and reached Yedo. After doing business there they turned back on their homeward voyage but met a storm off Oyama, Ise Province, on January 30, 1685, and drifted for 32 days towards a point off Macao. where they sighted a Chinese junk which extended them aid. On March 9, 1685, they reached Bojio, a small island near Macao. The following day the news reached Macao and the municipality dispatched some officials to inspect the vessel. Several of those on board were taken to Macao, where they were examined through Padre Bartolomeo da Costa who had learned some Japanese at the Seminary of the Society. Their ship was then brought into Macao and the entire crew was landed and a house and daily necessities placed at their disposal. They were soon invited to and feted at various places and at the Society's quarters they were entertained in a Japanese room the floor laid with "Tataini'" which greatly pleased them. The person who acted as interpreter for this group was an old woman of 70 who was eventually discovered after a combing of the city of Macao. This lady had drifted there from Japan but she had forgotten a great part of her language end could only make herself understood.

The Municipal assembly of Macao held a meeting and after deliberation decided to fit out a ship specially to return the castaways to their homeland. They believed that if they did so the Japanese Government, appreciating the friendly act of the Portuguese, would permit the resumption of trade. The City, however, being poor was only able to fit out the ship but unable to bear the other expenses of the voyage. So that all the remaining ex-penses were borne by the Society, Pedro Vaz de Sequeira and two other wealthy persons.

At that time there was only one ship in port, called the Sao Paulo, which had already made preparations for a voyage to Manila, and although efforts were made to purchase the ship the owner refused. It was discovered he was planning to send 30 slaves of Macao whose escape he had secretly instigated.

And so Captain Joao Baptista, leading a group of soldiers, boarded the Sao Paulo and captured it. The Chinese owner, however, regarding this as the first step of Portuguese aggression against China reported the capture to the Canton Government and this Government in retaliation prohibited the exportation of Chinese merchandise destined for Manila. Vas Sequeira, thus unable to sail his ship to Manila decided to send it to Japan, and proposed to pay three-quarters of the expenses to the municipality. The Municipality accepted the offer and appointed Joao Baptista de Aguilar captain, entrusting the mission to Manuel de Aguilar who gathered volunteers to join the other members of the crew. The crew totalling 47 in number were promised increased pay in recompense for their services.

The above measures were decided upon but it was feared that the use of a captured ship would increase the anger of the Canton Government. However, just at this time Padre Felipe Grimaldi, who had been appointed by the Chinese Emperor to succeed Padre Fernando Belbeste as professor of Mathematics in Peking, was on a visit to Padre Antonio Thomas who was then at Macao. Padre Grimaldi stopped at Canton and on his way from Peking took the opportunity to explain the incident to the Canton Government with the result that the Government decided to let the matter of the captured ship drop. This relieved Macao from its anxiety.

When the preparations for the voyage of San Paolo were complete, the remaining cargo in the Japanese junk was sold together with the vessel and the proceeds passed on to the owner. The sails and nets which nobody would buy were given to him to bring back to his country. On June 13 the ship San Paolo sailed reaching Nagasaki on 13th July.

There is a book entitled The Voyage of the Portuguese from Macao to Japan in 1685 in the library of Ajuda in Lisbon, and particulars from the landing to the repatriation of the castaways are recorded in the Proceedings June 4th. 1630 to March 10, 1685 in the Macao Archives.

Extracts from the Omura Manuscripts

On June Genzaemon inrformed me as follows:

The Portuguese ship is not suspicious, and has come to return twelve Japanese who had drifted to Macao, to manifest their appreciation of the friendship of Japanese nation. It has made no request to permit them to do business or anything else. Although the vessel has been searched no firearms were found on board and is therefore no object for alarm. The inspectors returned at 4 p.m. and reported that the number of Portuguese and Japanese on board was as previously stated. Further with regard to the lodging for the 47 Portuguese orders dealing with this matter will be issued as soon as ready. The vessel has been disarmed today, and the twelve men who sailed back to their native land were called to the Magistrate Office and detained. I understand that a great many people have come from Saga and believe many more will come to witness the event.

Sukezaemon Ishibashi to Jingoemon Ozasa, dated 3rd June:

Memorandum on the arms found in the Portuguese ship: 9 pieces flintlocks, 6 barrels powder for same, 361 bullets for same, 1 barrel and 1 bag small shots, 19 guns large and small, 11 lances, and 19 swords.

Memorandum of investigation by Inspectors sent on 3rd June:

We of Kamiyashiro-mura, Watarai-gori, Ise Province, sailed our ship of 18-ton sails on August 18th last year to do business in fire-wood and arrived on the same day at a place called Miura near Kumano. On 3rd September we sailed from Miura and arrived at Sasaumi near Ise. We left this place on 13th September and reached Shimoda, Ise Province, where we were examined. On October 13th we reached Shinagawa, Yedo, and on 29th we sailed up river into Yedo directing ourselves to a merchant called Yoheiji in Minato-machi. We did our business there and left Yedo on December 15th and reached Urakawa, Miura, where we stayed four days. We left thence and were examined by the authorities at Shimoda, where we stayed until December 25th. We left Shimoda at 4 o'clock and on the following day (26th) we were blown off our course and for 32 days did not sight any land. We espied a Chinese ship and we lowered our skiff from our ship and rowed it to them. Unexpectedly we received help from the Chinese ship to the extent of three bags of rice and left them after we had received instructions on the course to take. On February 5th while about 2 li from Macao, an inspector came from that place with 5 or 6 sails. On the 6th another 4 or 5 sails came and towed us to Macao. On the 8th and 9th we landed all the riggings from our ship and on the 10th all of us were examined and landed. From this day we were fed and moreover received 12 cram hats, 12 white hats, 12 brocaded single garments, 12 sashes and 2 sayakiri from the Macao Authority. We were unable to understand the reason for this kindness, as both sides could not understand each other's language. But, there appeared a Japanese woman of about 74 or 75 years old who spoke Japanese and Portuguese and who acted as our interpreter. We had 55 bales of Leaf Tobacco on board our ship which we were told to leave in Macao. A man somehow sold this for 825 momme of silver. We tried to sell our ship but could find nobody to buy it, and so we called carpenters from Macao who .dismantled the ship and we sold all the planks for which we received 600 momme silver. From the proceeds we paid 150 momme to the carpenters. For the remaining mast, anchor irons, sails and riggings we could find no buyer, so we have brought them on the Portuguese vessel. We have been questioned as to whether we have listened to any religious talk from the Japanese woman during our stay in Macao: We beg to state that we have heard not a single word on this subject.

Report of Tarobei Nomura and Chozaemon Tachibana of the Nishidomari Office:

We are much honoured to have received a messenger from your Excellency. Regarding the Portuguese vessel that entered port yesterday, we have learned from the Magistrate Office that your Excellency will inspect it by ship, which news, even though it is in accordance with established custom, is yet a great honour to us. Although the ship has been ordered to leave, owing to bad weather, it will not be possible to put it out to sea for a few days. Your Excellency's orders are duly to hand, and we have been instructed also from Genzaemon to keep an eye on the vessel, which instructions we are prepared to obey for any number of days. If the weather becomes better and the watch ship comes, we request you to despatch a messenger to take charge of the matter.

There are many other Reports but these being similar to those we have already reproduced, are consequently omitted here. The following are of especial interest.

From Omura, Governor of Inbs, to the Governor of Okuma. to Marubeimon and to Tosno, dated 3rd June:

After greetings I beg to acknowledge receipt of your letter of the 15th May and wish to congratulate you on your good health. I have had a safe journey reaching the limits of my estate on the last day of the previous month. On the 2nd instant I went to Nagasaki and spoke to Genzaemon Kawaguchi who told me there were no special news in Kyushu to report. At this time a sail was sighted some 15 li from shore and in order to inspect the vessel when it entered port I left for Urakami, a village in the outskirts of Nagasaki where I stayed for the night. In the evening of the 2nd I received reports that the vessel in the offing was Portuguese, as its colours did not agree with our standard signals. If this was a Dutch vessel coming to Japan, its colours would be recognised. It was thought to be somewhat strange when news as to its Portuguese nationality was received. This news was relayed at once to Genzaemon. The Police and interpreters who went at midnight to ascertain the circumstances reported that the vessel had come to return some people from Ise who left Yedo last winter for Shimoda whence they were blown adrift to an island called "Macateiran" near Macao. The chief man of Macao had them returned considering them unfortunate, and in an effort to be of service to Japan. The ship is, therefore, not of a suspicious character but being a prohibited ship I went today to Nagasaki and conferred with Genzaemon from whom I learnt these particulars and also received orders to keep watch on the ship.

From the Diary of Jingcemon Ozasa:

An interpreter was despatched to the Portuguese vessel, advising them to ask for rice' firewood or any other necessities should they require them, but they re- plied that although very grateful for the offer of assis- tance, they were well stocked with provisions and had nothing more to desire. The goods sent today were 30 middle sized- breams, 30 bottle gourds, 150 horse mackerels' 100 cucumbers' 50 hamo (Murenox cinereus) 100 itoyori (kind of sea breams) 100 bundles "hitomoshi," 50 bundles Daikon, 10 bundles potatoes.

To Sabei, dated 6th June: Sanzaemon's Memorandum of the Ship's riggings and equipments:

About 15 sails, a pair of lances, a cross, long sword, spare about 6 sails, one cross, tender about 10 sails, 10 straight lances, one bow and two heads, twelve bows, ten guns, 1 covered boat, 1 skiff with four sails.

On 11th the head retainer sent some policemen to the Portuguese ship and informed the Portuguese to take precaution against fire on board ship, and also to ask for anything they may require. The Portuguese replied that they were grateful to the Magistrate who had sent an interpreter with a supply of fish and vegetables, and regarding your instruction we are taking the utmost care to protect the ship from fire. We are not uncomfortable on board the ship, but our water is stale and we should consider it a great favour if you could supply us with fresh water.

On 13th an emissary of the Governor of Tsushima supplied the Portuguese ship with 2 reams of tissue paper and fresh water was sent on board. At this time a goose that had been kept in the ship dropped overboard. A member of the crew swam to retrieve it. Genzaemon was. asked whether the goose should be returned on board, whereupon he ordered that it should be returned at once. The Portuguese ship was instructed at this time not to drop anything whatever into the sea.

Jingoemon Ozasa advised Yosozaemon Yasuda as follows:

When Uemonza Matsudaira arrived here by boat some days ago the Portuguese ship saw this and informed an interpreter that they believed that the Shogun was very much concerned regarding them. They further stated that although their coming was prohibited they could not but recall the voyages of the Portuguese made in former years and had come on this voyage only to return the Japanese castaways. The interpreter replied that the boats escorting Matsudaira were not going to inspect the Portuguese ship but were on their way to the two posts in the offing and they carried two daimyos on their round of inspection two or three times every year. This should not cause any concern to the Portuguese.

On 16th Jizaemon reported that water and provisions had been supplied to the Portuguese ship recently. The article which was cast into the sea from the Portuguese vessel day before yesterday was an empty pot into which they had kept confectionery and fish for the use of the Japanese castaways at the time of sailing from Macao. The Portuguese said they have 20 pots like this, but they had cast only one overboard. This fact has been ascertained and it is believed that the pot was harmless. Genzaemon advised the Portuguese that from now on they should not drop anything into the sea.

On 17th a crucifix about 4 sun wide and 5 sun long (5" x 6") was discovered in Ise-Cho and brought to the Magistrate Office. This was found while fixing a mud wall which had been damaged by the recent heavy rain. The picture is of bronze and cannot be destroyed. according to official report.

From Inaba, Governor of Tango, to Governor Omura of Inba, dated 22nd August:

After greeting I acknowledge receipt of your letter and note that the Portuguese ship sailed from Nagasaki on the 1st of this month. Thanking you for this information.