Culture: William Adams

文化箱 (ぶんかばこ): イギリスのウイリアム・アダムズ

    How did a British sailor born in Kent, England, become known by the Japanese name - 三浦按針 (みうらあんじん) and a top advisor the shogun?  This man, William Adams is one of the first people Kiara, Ben, Jun, and Tomo meet when they emerge from the time gate in Nagasaki.  The Dutch trading ship Liefde, piloted by Adams, had departed from Rotterdam in the summer of 1598 for South America and nearly two years later, landed on a small island near Kyushu in April 1600.  William Adams and the rest of the sickly, yet surviving crewmembers were taken to a prison in Osaka.  Adams, who was knowledgeable in maritime affairs and shipbuilding, met with the shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, and in 1604 was engaged to help build Japan’s first Western-style ship.  In addition to the favor of the shogun, Adams eventually received a 朱印状 (しゅいんじょう), an official “vermillion seal” that allowed him to engage in foreign trade.  He  also earned the two swords of a samurai, an estate and an income, a Japanese name and a Japanese wife, 雪 (おゆき).  They had two children, Joseph and Susanna.  From Japan, Adams continued his sailing career, engaging in a number of trade missions for the East India Company around East and Southeast Asia.  He died in 1620 and is buried at Nagasaki.  This brief period of flourishing international trade ended when the Tokugawa government closed Japan to almost all foreign trade in 1635.