18 March 2020

First Contact Between Europeans and Japan in the 16th Century

When studying New France, it is important to remember that the French experience in North America was not unique: other European merchants created new commercial links throughout the world as well. The following clashes of cultures, some more violent than others, had many parallels with the creation of the French Atlantic World. Though there does exist Indigenous Oral history of first contact with French, English, and Spanish explorers, among others, first hand accounts are excessively rare. That is why it is important to broaden our scope and see what other cultures have experienced with their contact with Europeans, particularly with cultures that had a written language. Their writings offer a first hand account from the perspective of the people being "discovered" by Europeans and offer their impressions of these newcomers. I've stumbled on this wonderful narration of such a meeting in Japan taken directly from a translated primary source. The text itself is an excerpt from Olaf G. Liden's Tanegashima: The Arrival of Europe in Japan (Copenhagen, Nordic Institute of Asian Studies Press, 2002, 304 pages). Enjoy!

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