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Maiden Voyage

Maiden Voyage: The Senzaimaru and the Creation of Modern Sino-Japanese Relations

Joshua A. Fogel
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Maiden Voyage
    Book Description:

    After centuries of virtual isolation, during which time international sea travel was forbidden outside of Japan's immediate fishing shores, Japanese shogunal authorities in 1862 made the unprecedented decision to launch an official delegation to China by sea. Concerned by the fast-changing global environment, they had witnessed the ever-increasing number of incursions into Asia by European powers-not the least of which was Commodore Perry's arrival in Japan in 1853-54 and the forced opening of a handful of Japanese ports at the end of the decade. The Japanese reasoned that it was only a matter of time before they too encountered the same unfortunate fate as China; their hope was to learn from the Chinese experience and to keep foreign powers at bay. They dispatched theSenzaimaruto Shanghai with the purpose of investigating contemporary conditions of trade and diplomacy in the international city. Japanese from varied domains, as well as shogunal officials, Nagasaki merchants, and an assortment of deck hands, made the voyage along with a British crew, spending a total of ten weeks observing and interacting with the Chinese and with a handful of Westerners. Roughly a dozen Japanese narratives of the voyage were produced at the time, recounting personal impressions and experiences in Shanghai. The Japanese emissaries had the distinct advantage of being able to communicate with their Chinese hosts by means of the "brush conversation" (written exchanges in literary Chinese). For their part, the Chinese authorities also created a paper trail of reports and memorials concerning the Japanese visitors, which worked its way up and down the bureaucratic chain of command.This was the first official meeting of Chinese and Japanese in several centuries. Although the Chinese authorities agreed to few of the Japanese requests for trade relations and a consulate, nine years later China and Japan would sign the first bilateral treaty of amity in their history, a completely equal treaty. East Asia-and the diplomatic and trade relations between the region's two major players in the modern era-would never be the same.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95917-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-ix)
  4. [Illustration]
    (pp. x-x)
  5. Introduction: SITUATING 1862 IN HISTORY AND SHANGHAI IN 1862
    (pp. 1-9)

    This book is focused primarily on the year 1862 and the events in that year leading up to the first official meeting of Chinese and Japanese in over three centuries.¹ The year 1862 was much like any other year, only different, as most years are. The previous year is probably more famous now with the first inaugural of President Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865), followed soon by the commencement of the American Civil War after the South’s attack on Fort Sumter (South Carolina) on April 12, while across the globe Tsar Alexander II (1818–1881) freed the Russian serfs from centuries...

  6. ONE The Armistice, Shanghai, and the Facilitator
    (pp. 10-30)

    Because of the tokugawa shogunate’s ban on sea travel on pain of execution for over two centuries, by the 1860s Japanese had little training available for building or sailing ocean-worthy vessels. Fishing boats along the coastal waters of the archipelago and along inland rivers were certainly present, but these boats could never sail far on the ocean and their size was restricted. Those that lost their mainsails or were for some other reason castaway from shore were lucky to be picked up at sea by foreign sailors; they, then, often found it difficult or, indeed, impossible to return to Japan...

  7. TWO Japanese Plans and the Scene in Nagasaki
    (pp. 31-50)

    We turn now to the japanese side of the planning for this seminal voyage out into the modern world of international commerce and diplomacy. Although there were certainly countervailing domestic forces inhibiting the Tokugawa shogunate’s efforts to engage the outside world, forces that were ready to lay down their own and many others’ lives in a vigorous effort to resist such a move, the shogunate through the good offices of the Nagasaki and Hakodatebugyōor Magistrates began investigating such possibilities from the late 1850s. Few Westerners have paid theSenzaimarumuch attention, but in addition to the report in...

  8. THREE Getting to Nagasaki, Loading Cargo, and the Voyage to Shanghai
    (pp. 51-68)

    The distance from nagasaki to Shanghai is, perhaps surprisingly, shorter than to Edo (Tokyo)—516 versus 625 miles. In addition, one can more or less travel straight across water in this instance, while traveling overland in mid-nineteenth-century Japan was a whole other story. There were mountains to traverse or avoid; there were inns and restaurants to locate and book; there were domainal borders (sekisho) to negotiate with the necessary documents; and there were additional expenses incurred due to the greater length of time overland travel entailed.

    The five shogunal officials would not have handled any of the day-to-day worries encountered...

  9. FOUR Coming to Terms with the City of Shanghai and Its Inhabitants
    (pp. 69-75)

    We have seen the manifold first impressions recorded by the Japanese as they approached the port of Shanghai over water. Certain motifs, such as the resemblance of the masts of so many ships to a forest, were universal; others, such as international comparisons of Shanghai’s prosperity, were unique to individuals. Thus far in the trip, however, none of our visitors had as yet actually touched soil in the city. The reflections had all been made shipside and from a fair distance. To be sure, lack of firsthand information rarely hampers many people from forming opinions or coming to conclusions—and...

  10. FIVE Westerners in Shanghai: The Chinese Malaise
    (pp. 76-95)

    One of the main objectives—if notthemain objective—of the voyage of theSenzaimaruto Shanghai was to observe and assess the international community engaged in international commerce and at a port not too far away. Achieving that goal, which necessitated interactions with and examination of the Westerners in Shanghai, fell primarily to the bureaucrats and merchants, only one of whom, Matsudaya Hankichi, wrote a report. The other information we have from this trip comes from the records left by the attendants to the various officials and to the doctor. They, too, had numerous dealings with Westerners in...

  11. SIX Opium, Christianity, and the Taipings
    (pp. 96-117)

    Although opium had been present in China for centuries before the arrival of British and American traders (we would now do well to eschew euphemisms and call them what they were: drug dealers) in the nineteenth century, it had been used primarily for medicinal purposes. It was no secret then that the scourge tearing at the fabric of Chinese society in the middle of that century was caused by the British victory in the Opium War in 1842—an event which sent shock waves through elite circles in Japan¹—the resultant Treaty of Nanjing, and the trade enforced in this...

  12. SEVEN Dealings with the Chinese Authorities
    (pp. 118-133)

    As much as the japanese aboard theSenzaimaruwho left narratives of their voyage to Shanghai bore distasteful feelings for the shogunal officials with whom they shared the trip over and back, it is considerably more difficult to characterize their feelings for the officials on the Qing side in any uniform manner. Virtually all of their meetings were with Wu Xu, the local circuit intendant (see figure 11), who allowed them a surprisingly wide berth, given the unprecedented circumstances of their sudden appearance in port. Frequently these meetings were mediated by Theodorus Kroes, and it was not until later in...

  13. EIGHT Preparing for the Trip Home
    (pp. 134-141)

    As the weeks wore on and it became clear that the cargo transported to Shanghai by theSenzaimaruwas not all going to be sold in China, the various authorities began to think about getting ready to return to Japan. Although they must have had at least an approximate date for the return voyage worked out prior to departure, none of the extant documents make mention of it. The Japanese were paying storage fees to the Dutch warehousemen, and the Dutch were skimming a 2.5 percent commission on all the goods they did sell and charging for all the necessary...

  14. NINE Subsequent Missions to China in the Late Edo Period
    (pp. 142-169)

    As we have already seen, while the shogunal officials aboard theSenzaimarureadily complied with Circuit Intendant Wu Xu’s instructions not to return hastily to Shanghai and expect to be accepted as a trading partner, the very questions put to him and to Dutch Vice-Consul Theodorus Kroes in their meetings indicate clearly that they were thinking about little else save returning to Shanghai and elsewhere where international trade might be transacted on the China coast. There were simply too many reasons weighing in favor of such a choice: money to be made, international contacts to be forged, and especially (at...

  15. TEN The Senzaimaru in Fiction and Film
    (pp. 170-186)

    Japanese (and chinese) seem to have a far greater appetite for historical fiction than many other cultures. This is meant in no way to underestimate the wealth of historical fiction in the form of books or movies (or their derivatives) anywhere else in the world. As I write, two of the most esteemed movies of the previous year are both “based-on-real-events” movies—ArgoandLincoln—themselves based in part on popular histories. Nonetheless, the Japanese have a seemingly endless fascination with certain periods in their own history, presented from an expansive variety of geographic or personal angles.

    The story of...

    (pp. 187-194)

    This volume has looked at a series of missions sent from Japan to mainland Asia over the course of the 1860s, focusing primarily on the first one, that of theSenzaimaruto Shanghai in 1862. Inasmuch as it is easy to overstate the significance of theSenzaimaru’s voyage, something that has frequently been done, it is important to adopt a less hyperbolic tone when addressing this mission’s nonetheless singular importance historically and diplomatically. So, let us start with what it was not before looking at what it decidedly was.

    The voyage of theSenzaimaruwas not the first meeting in...

  17. APPENDIX: Japanese and Chinese Texts
    (pp. 195-210)
  18. NOTES
    (pp. 211-242)
    (pp. 243-258)
    (pp. 259-284)
  21. INDEX
    (pp. 285-302)