Tanegashima: The Arrival of Europe in Japan

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by Olof Lidin

The year 1543 marked the beginning of a new global consciousness in Japan with the arrival of shipwrecked Portuguese merchants on Tanegashima Island in southern Japan. Other Portuguese rapidly followed and Japan became aware of a world beyond India. The Portuguese brought with them the musket, which was quickly copied and began to change Japanese warfare and influence their unification process. After the merchants had opened the way, the first missionary, Francis Xavier, arrived in 1549 and the Christian century began.

This is not a new story but it is the first time that Japanese, Portuguese and other European accounts have been brought together and presented in English. The arrival of the Portuguese was recorded by the Japanese in the Tanegashima Kafu, the Teppoki and the Kunitomo teppoki which are here translated and presented together with European reports. Special attention is given to the role of Tanegashima Island and of Mendes Pinto, author of a famous picaresque account of Japan. An index lists pertinent words and names in roman and Chinese or Japanese script. This story of Japan’s first encounter with the West – augmented with maps and a beautiful blending of Portuguese and Japanese illustrations – will be of interest to a wide audience.

"Tanegashima represents an essential contribution to the study of early European overseas expansion by making key Japanese sources on early contact with the Portuguese available to an English-speaking audience in a broader contextual framework." - Ivana Elbl, Trent University, Itinerario 28:1, 2004

Olof G. Lindin is a widely recognised academic who has received numerous honours and distinctions internationally. These include but are not limited to; the Order of Chivalry from the Queen of Denmark (1983 and 1993) and the Order of the Rising Sun from the Emperor of Japan (1985).

Publication year: 2002
320 pp / 215mm x 130mm
6 maps, 9 figures
ISBN: 978-87-9111-412-0, Paperback
ISBN: 978-87-9111-410-6, Hardback

NIAS Press