The search for Anjin-san

Early in the year 1600, the Dutch merchant ship Liefde set anchor off of the island of Kyushu in south west Japan. Only about twenty of the original hundred crew remained on board, after a nineteen month voyage across the Atlantic, through the Magellan Straits, and a final dart across the Pacific to avoid confrontations with the Spanish settlers in South America. One of the crew on board was an English sailor by the name of William Adams, who is believed to have been the first Englishman in Japan.

Upon reaching land, the crew were faced with the brutal controlling samurai and the scheming Portuguese Jesuit priests who had already been in Japan for some years, and so had their ear of the samurai. The Jesuits had been the only Europeans in Japan for a few decades, and as such had controlled and selected the information given to samurai about the world outside of Japan; these new arrivals were a risk to their control, and they tried to have the crew crucified as pirates. The ship was confiscated and the crew imprisoned in Osaka castle on the orders of Tokugawa Ieyasu the daimyo (head samurai) of the Edo region. Tokugawa met with Adams, and was impressed by his knowledge of ships and shipbuilding, and the crew was spared.

Over time, Adams came into Tokugawa’s confidence, and he taught him about European military tactics and modern weapons and warfare. After learning Japanese, Adams became Tokugawa’s personal adviser on the Western world and later his official translator, and became the first western samurai when he was given the name Miura Anjin. He first came to my attention in the book based upon his arrival in Japan, Shogun by James Clavell, where he was given the name Anjin-san (anjin is Japanese for navigator or pilot), hence the title of this update.

Upon becoming samurai, Adams was given a fief near the entrance of Tokyo Bay, near present day Yokosuka City in Kanagawa prefecture, and it was to Yokosuka that we headed to find a memorial to his life. In Tsukayama park near Anjinzuka station, the memorial is easy to get to from Tokyo by direct trains on the Keikyu line.

Turning left upon leaving the station, the park is at the top of a big hill, but after 20 minutes or so walk we were finally looking out over Tokyo Bay. To tell the truth, the view was great and although the park was lovely, it was quite small, and there didn’t seem to be much else to do in the area so it was quite a niche visit. However, Adam’s memorial was impressive and it leads on the visiting his actual burial site in Nagasaki in the future!

The memorial to Miura Anjin/Anjin-san

The memorial to Miura Anjin/Anjin-san

The view over Tokyo Bay from Tsukayama Park

The view over Tokyo Bay from Tsukayama Park

Tsukayama Park

Tsukayama Park


One thought on “The search for Anjin-san

  1. Pingback: Nikko during Typhoon Wipha | chrisneedham

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