Hasekura Tsunenaga - The Voyage of Hasekura Tsunenaga was remarkable in its scope and vision standing in hard contrast to the policies of the Tokugawa in their attempts to control the political climate, foreign trade and impact of the outside world on Japan in the early 17th Century. This journey wrote a remarkable chapter in Japanese History. This voyage of a delegation of men was begun in at the time Jamestown the first English Colony in America was just seven years old and struggling to establish a foothold in Virginia. Hasekura's mission traveled from Japan to Europe crossing both the Pacific and Atlanitc and returned again to Japan arriving back in Japan in , the same year that Plymouth Colony was established by a group of Pilgrims coming to America from England by the way of Holland.
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Tsunenaga Rokuemon Hasekura — 7 August was a Japanese samurai and servant of Date Masamune, the daimyo of Sendai, famous for having led numerous delegations of ambassadors that led him to travel the whole world.
He led a delegation of ambassadors in Mexico and later in Europe between and , after which he returned to Japan. He was the first Japanese officer sent to America and the first to establish relations between France and Japan. Manila became their definitive base for the Asian region in Contacts with Japan began due to the continuous shipwrecks on the Japanese coast, at which point the Spaniards began to hope to expand the Christian faith in Japan.
The attempts to expand their influence in Japan met strong resistance from the Jesuits, who had begun the evangelization of the country in , as well as the Portuguese and the Dutch who did not wish to see Spain trade with the Japanese.
In the Spanish galleon San Francisco shipwrecked on the Japanese coast at Chiba due to bad weather on its way from Manila to Acapulco. The sailors were rescued, and the captain of the ship, Rodrigo de Vivero y Aberrucia, met Tokugawa Ieyasu. A treaty under which the Spaniards could build an industry in the east of Japan was signed on November 29 , so that Spanish ships would be allowed to visit Japan if necessary.
Date Masamune was head of the mission and Hasekura Tsunenaga was appointed one of his attendants. Date Maru was called by the Japanese to build the galleon and later he was joined by San Juan Bautista, called by the Spaniards.
With the participation of technical experts from the Bakufu, naval workers, blacksmiths, and 3, carpenters it took 45 days to build the whole ship. After its completion, the ship sailed on 28 October from Ishinomaki to Acapulco in Mexico, with about crew members, including 10 Shogun samurai, 12 samurai from Sendai, between merchants, sailors and Japanese servants. The ship arrived in Acapulco on 25 January after three months of navigation, and a ceremony welcomed the delegation.
Before the trip to Europe, the delegation spent time in Mexico, visiting Veracruz and then embarking on the fleet of Don Antonio Oquendo. The emissaries left for Europe on the San Jose on 10 June, and Hasekura had to leave most of the group of Asian merchants and sailors in Acapulco. Hasekura handed over a letter from Date Masamune to the sovereign and the offer for a treaty. The king replied that he would do what was in his power to meet the demands. Statue of Hasekura Tsunenaga in Civitavecchia photo credits: tradurreilgiappone.
After travelling through Spain, the delegation sailed into the Mediterranean Sea aboard three Spanish frigates to Italy. Because of the bad weather, the ships was forced to stay in the French bay of Saint Tropez, where they were received by the local nobility, with amazement from the population.
The visit of Hasekura Tsunenaga to Saint Tropez in is the first documented example of relations between France and Japan. The Japanese delegation arrived in Italy, succeeding in obtaining an audience with Pope Paul V in Rome, in November , disembarking in the port of Civitavecchia, reason why even today Civitavecchia is twinned with the Japanese city of Ishinomaki.
Hasekura handed the Pope a letter decorated with gold, with a formal request for a commercial treaty between Japan and Mexico, as well as sending Christian missionaries to Japan. The Pope accepted without delay to dispatch the sending of missionaries but left the decision of a commercial treaty to the King of Spain. The Pope then wrote a letter to Date Masamune, of which a copy is still preserved in the Vatican. The Senate of Rome gave Hasekura the honorary title of Roman Citizen, in a document which he later brought to Japan and which is still visible today and preserved in Sendai.
For the second time in Spain, Hasekura met the king, who declined the offer of a commercial treaty, because he thought that the Japanese people did not seem an official delegation of the sovereign of Japan, Tokugawa Ieyasu.
He, on the contrary, had promulgated an edict in January ordering the expulsion of all the missionaries from Japan and had begun the persecution of the Christian faith in the country. The delegation left Seville for Mexico in June after a two-year period in Europe. The ship was bought by the Spanish government, with the aim of building defences against the Dutch. Because of these persecutions, the trade agreements with Mexico that he had tried to establish were denied, and much of the effort in this direction had been in vain.
What happened to Hasekura after the diplomatic adventure is unknown, and the stories about his last years are numerous. Some argue that he abandoned Christianity, others said he defended his faith so deeply as to become a martyr, and others said he remained a Christian in intimacy, professing his faith in secret.
Hasekura died in , and his tomb is still visible today in the Buddhist temple of Enfukuji in the prefecture of Miyagi. A procession was held in historical costume in the main street of Civitavecchia for a historical re-enactment of the entrance to the city of the delegation led by a Hasekura Tsunenaga.
Japan History: Hasekura Tsunenaga
The Roman Senate made Hasekura a citizen and a patrician of Rome. Hasekura was a retainer of Date Masamune. Date was the daimyo of Sendai. Hasekura headed a diplomatic mission from Japan to the Vatican. Hasekura traveled with a group across the Pacific Ocean to Mexico.
In the years through , Hasekura headed a diplomatic mission to Pope Paul V. Crossing the Pacific aboard the San Juan Bautista , a ship built for the purpose by Masamune , Hasekura transited New Spain arriving in Acapulco and departing from Veracruz and visited Spain and various other ports-of-call in Europe on the way. Although Hasekura's embassy was cordially received in Spain and the Vatican , it happened at a time when Japan was moving toward the suppression of Christianity. European monarchs such as the King of Spain thus refused the trade agreements Hasekura had been seeking.