Jean Mary

Japanese Connections.

Those of you who were familiar with our old site will be delighted to find a page  for a connection to Japan and to Jean's brother, Geoffrey Tudor, who has been resident there since 1970.   Geoff worked for Japan Air Lines and is now retired and lives
with his wife, Naoko,
 in Tokyo and Chichibu.  Jean has visited  twice and very  much enjoys this link with the Eastern side of the world.

Geoff has always been interested in the historical links between Japan and the West and here is an article he has just written for

Go to the Article on Roast beef at the bottom of the page for an update …



For students of the historical links between Japan and the outside world, the year 2013 provides good opportunities for study, with two significant commemorations of early links between Japan and Europe, both dating back 400 years.


In June falls the anniversary of the 1613 arrival of the first English ship in Japan in Hirado, Nagasaki prefecture, and in October marks the anniversary of the departure, also in 1613, of a Japanese mission to Europe from Sendai, Miyagi prefecture.


So I expect that there will be a series of ceremonies and events this year to celebrate these epic events.


Aboard the English ship, the Clove, was a group of merchants from the East India Company, who sought trade with Japan. Led by a hot-headed gentleman, Sir John Saris, they sought rich pickings in the fabled Orient, and were tempted by the China silk trade.


Their arrival was the result of messages recommending trade with Japan, sent from Japan by William Adams, another Englishman, who had arrived in Japan in 1600 as the pilot of a Dutch ship. Amazingly, some of Adams’ letters made it to London and the East India Company’s board of directors. With the convenience of e-mail, we sometimes forget the hazards of sea-mail.


The outcome was the dispatch of the Clove, with instructions to look out for Adams, seek his advice and – if he wanted – passage home to England. 


Adams by this time had become established in Japan as a confidant of Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the dynasty that bore his name until the 19th century. Thanks to Adams’ position in the pro-foreign trade shogun’s favor, Saris and his merchant band were offered the rights to set up a trading post at Uraga, close to the entrance of Tokyo Bay and the huge and expanding market of Edo, now Tokyo.


To Adams’ disgust, Saris rejected the offer, instead deciding that Hirado – with its proximity to China – was a better bet. So a great opportunity was lost.


Saris left Japan towards the end of the year and eventually reached England with a cargo of Japanese goods, including suits of samurai armor now on display in the Tower of London. He also brought back some pornographic ‘art’ which was confiscated and publicly burned. Saris retired in disgrace to live on his Japan-gained wealth.


In Hirado, far from the mighty market of Edo, he left a group of squabbling English merchants led by a kindly but ineffectual trader, Richard Cocks, who managed their commercial affairs with incompetence but his amorous affairs with great enthusiasm. The unhappy band eventually went bankrupt and left the country in 1623.


While the English were arguing over trade talks, in northeastern Japan the great daimyo Date Masamune was seeking advancement. Like Tokugawa, he sought a solution in foreign trade and by enlisting the help of Spanish Christian missionaries, dispatched a mission to Rome.


The leader was Hasekura Tsunenaga, who led his group of samurai to Acapulco, Mexico, in a galleon built in Sendai to Spanish design. After trekking through Mexico the party sailed to Spain, eventually reaching Rome via various stopovers, where some of the party left significant traces in the form of Japan-Iberian offspring, notably at Coria del Rio, near Seville. The children were given the family name of ‘Japon’.


There are now hundreds of Spaniards with this historical name. They have formed an association and there have been visits between groups of Japons from Spain and citizens of Sendai. A descendant of Hasekura visited Coria del Rio only recently and there will be more exchanges in 2013.


Another memorable stopover happened on the party’s voyage between Spain and Italy in 1615.  A storm forced their ships to shelter in St. Tropez.


A French eye-witness reported that, “The Japanese never touch food with their fingers, but instead use two small sticks that they hold with three fingers.


The witness noted that the samurai ‘blew their noses in soft silky papers the size of a hand’, which must be first reference made to tissues in Europe

This visit in 1615 is the first recorded instance of Franco-Japanese relations, so in two years time, there could be scope for a commemoration.

Hasekura’s mission made it to Rome but failed to get the trade deals they wanted. A handful made it back to Japan in 1621, to find that the country had changed and that Christianity was now savagely condemned. In Japan, memory of their epic journey was soon lost.


But they had left their mark in Europe and it will be entirely appropriate to commemorate their mission, along with that of the English traders, 400 years on.


MONDAY  16th September 
was a big day for our small family, my nephew, James and Mayu his wife made their wedding vows with us in England having accomplished the legal bit in Japan.  

Here are a few photographs taken by Sara Reeve of Brighton, a charming and very accomplished photographer


by Julian Ryall

Meal served to mark first tasting of UK fare in Japan

• Hirado chief in 1613 had affinity for traditional English dish

Of all the extraordinary culinary experiences for which Britain is famous, roast beef must be very high on the list—if not at the very top.

Served with roast potatoes and parsnips, carrots, Yorkshire pudding, horseradish sauce and a thick gravy, there is nothing more quintessentially English for a Sunday lunch.

Matsura Hoin, the 26th daimyo (feudal ruler) of Hirado, was in complete agreement when the dish was first presented to him on 13 October 1613, from the kitchens of the English trading station set up in the coastal Kyushu town by the East India Company.

So impressed was the daimyo with the unusual and exotic tastes that he requested the same dish be served once more exactly one month later.

And while the meal clearly appealed to Matsura Hoin, Timon Screech, a professor of history of art at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, admitted that the dish “would have been cooked with turnips and onions and would probably have been inedible by today’s standards”.

Screech is the joint chair of the Japan400 organising committee. The group has been setting up a wide range of events throughout 2013 and will continue doing so into next year, to mark four centuries of close diplomatic and trade ties between Britain and Japan.

“The beef would have been stewed and given the unfortunate name of ‘sod’”, Screech told an audience at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (FCCJ) on 5 November, 400 years and just a couple of weeks after one of Britain’s trademark national dishes was tested on a Japanese audience for the very first time.

Appropriately, guests at the FCCJ were served roast beef with vegetables, followed by apple pie.

Accounts from 1613 relate that Matsura Hoin “had the generosity to compliment” his visitors from across the world on their cuisine, Screech said, but added that the daimyo may have been demonstrating the politeness for which Japan was already becoming renowned.

“Whether he really did enjoy it, we will never know”.

The FCCJ event was also attended by Akira Matsura, who would have been the 41st daimyo of Hirado and is a direct descendent of the first Japanese to taste a traditional roast beef.

“Matsura Hoin was reportedly very inquisitive about British food and wanted to try turnips and other vegetables cooked in a broth with pieces of meat”, Matsura said.

He added that his ancestor’s comments had been recorded in the diary of John Saris, who headed the first diplomatic mission to Japan that departed from London in April 1611.

“Saris wrote how [Matsura Hoin] enjoyed the meal of beef with vegetables and wine very much”, he said. “I also suffer from gout and I believe that is in my DNA from my ancestors due to their love of British food”.

Screech then recounted the long and arduous journey the British delegation had undertaken before coming ashore at Hirado.

Three ships had initially set out from London, the Clove the newest of the trio and built specifically to undertake the long journey.

The ship’s name was significant in that it signaled the intent of the owners—the East India Company, with the backing of King James—to discover new sources of spices and set up lucrative trading routes back to the markets of Europe.

And unlike the fleets that had previously been dispatched to the Far East by Portugal and Spain, the British sailors were under instructions not to build fortifications wherever they came ashore—a tactic that had immediately alienated locals when the Spanish or Portuguese dropped anchor.

“They were traders”, Screech said. “And they were already aware that Japan was a sophisticated country and they knew that they would need to make contact with the ruler of the country in order to ask permission to trade”.

That was achieved with the assistance of William Adams, an English seaman who had arrived aboard a Dutch ship a dozen years prior and had since won the ear of Tokugawa Ieyasu—who had officially retired but still guided the hand of his son Hidetada—and Hidetada himself, the titular shogun in Edo.

Four hundred years later, trade, as well as diplomatic and cultural ties, are flourishing between two island nations many thousands of miles apart. This is thanks in no small part to a daimyo with a taste for roast beef.

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