One brush & ink illus. in the text. 7.5 leaves of text. 8vo (240 x 168 mm.), orig. wrappers (the inside of the lower wrapper is used for text), stitched as issued. Probably Edo: letters dated 1853-54.
After Perry presented his letters of demands during his first visit to Japan in 1853, copies were made and distributed by Masahiro Abe (1819-57), the chief senior councillor to the shogunate, to daimyo and senior bakufu officials throughout the country, seeking opinions regarding the proper response to the Americans.
The first four pages of this most fascinating manuscript contain the response of Toshiyasu Maeda (1800-59), retired daimyo of the Toyama domain (signed “Matsudaira Ecchu no kami” and dated 13 August 1853). The next two pages have the answer of Naomasa (or Narimasa) Nabeshima (1815-71), daimyo of the Hizen Saga domain (signed “Matsudaira Hizen no kami,” dated 14 August ). The following two pages contain the response of Nariyasu Maeda (1811-84), daimyo of Kaga fiefdom (signed “Matsudaira Kaga no kami,” dated 14 August ). The final contribution is the two responses of Nariakira Shimazu (1809-58), the daimyo of the Satsuma fiefdom (signed “Matsudaira Satsuma no kami,” dated 27 July and 29 August 1853).
The responses are so extremely formal, it is rather difficult to fully understand what the officials’ views are. Clearly, they were perplexed, and their answers reflect this, ranging from total rejection of American demands to making some concessions (but with discussions of which to make).
The illustration depicts one of the envelopes, which contained a response of Nariakira Shimazu.
The final page contains a summary, dated 11 February 1854, of Perry’s second visit.
Fine and fresh condition.
Item ID: 8061