Manuscript on paper, entitled on upper wrapper: “Kaei rokunen, Oranda betsudan fusetsu gaki” [“1853 Holland Reported Rumors”]. RUMORS OF FOREIGNERS.
Manuscript on paper, entitled on upper wrapper: “Kaei rokunen, Oranda betsudan fusetsu gaki” [“1853 Holland Reported Rumors”].
Manuscript on paper, entitled on upper wrapper: “Kaei rokunen, Oranda betsudan fusetsu gaki” [“1853 Holland Reported Rumors”].
Manuscript on paper, entitled on upper wrapper: “Kaei rokunen, Oranda betsudan fusetsu gaki” [“1853 Holland Reported Rumors”].
Manuscript on paper, entitled on upper wrapper: “Kaei rokunen, Oranda betsudan fusetsu gaki” [“1853 Holland Reported Rumors”].

The Americans & Russians Are Coming!

Manuscript on paper, entitled on upper wrapper: “Kaei rokunen, Oranda betsudan fusetsu gaki” [“1853 Holland Reported Rumors”].

[27] folding leaves & ms. on inside of lower wrapper. 8vo (246 x 167 mm.), orig. paper wrappers, stab-stitched. [Japan]: dated “1853.”

For a period of more than two centuries, Dutch traders, based on the artificial island Dejima just off Nagasaki, enjoyed a near-exclusive trading concession with the Japanese. In return, the bakufu required the Dutch to operate as spies, gathering intelligence on the outside world and any efforts to invade Japan. To this effect, the head of the Dutch trading mission at Dejima prepared annual reports called fusetsu gaki. Beginning in 1842, the Dutch were also forced to provide an additional compendium, a betsudan fusetsu gaki — of which the present volume is an example. The report was first prepared in Batavia, and then sent through Dejima to the bakufu. Our manuscript is the Japanese translation of the original Dutch intelligence report. It is the first manuscript of this type we have encountered.

During its two centuries of isolationism, the Japanese state was wholly reliant on the Dutch for updates concerning the rest of the world. One of Japan’s priorities was to learn about China, India, and European expansion. Of particular interest were the colonial empires of Spain and Portugal, with whom the Japanese had traded until the 1630s.

This fascinating manuscript contains contemporaneous reports and warnings of the impending arrival of American and Russian expeditions, both seeking to end Japanese isolationism. Much of the manuscript is concerned with the alarming news that these foreign powers were headed to Japan with sizable and powerful fleets. It provides further precious and highly confidential information on the outside world. This is a most interesting example of the means by which information trickled into Japan. The news actually reported here was highly selective and preferential to the Dutch.

Among the reports we find passages on numerous international developments:
–the coronation of Napoleon III
–a territorial dispute between Montenegro and Turkey
–early mentions of a canal in Panama to facilitate trade
–a chart detailing the population of the United States, categorized by race
–updates on the Crimean War
–a popular uprising in Mexico
–a long list with the names and sizes of ships seen off the coast of China, divided by country (Russian, French, British, American, etc.)
–American preparations to negotiate a trade agreement with Japan
–a list of the American ships that had recently departed China for Japan – e.g., Powhatan, Susquehanna, Mississippi, Saratoga, etc.
–Russian preparations for an expedition to Japan, with names of the ships and their captains

At the end, we find appended Japanese and Chinese translations of two letters from Tsar Nicholas I, delivered by Vice-Admiral Putiatin, leader of the Russian expedition, dated 1853. The manuscript concludes with the official Japanese response and a listing of those authorized to compose this response.

In fine condition.

❧ For helpful recapitulations of accounts from each country, W. McOmie, The Opening of Japan, 1853-1855: A Comparative Study of the American, British, Dutch and Russian Naval Expeditions to Compel the Tokugawa Shogunate to Conclude Treaties and Open Ports to Their Ships (2006).

Price: $5,000.00

Item ID: 7594