Visit Nagasaki-Dejima and Siebold Memorial Museum (part 1)
♣ Memories of Visit Nagasaki “Dejima”
Recently I visited the Nagasaki-Dejima to be interest ed in the Japan’s foreign relation with Europe in the Edo period and its impact to Japanese modernization. It is known that Japan had closed diplomatic relationship with the Western countries over 200 years since 1600s with only exception of Nagasaki-Dejima.
However, the Western information and advanced science knowledge were unceasingly flowing into Japan through the route of this small island. That has given a profound influence to the modernization of Japan afterwards. In recent years, this fact was widely recognized, and the restoration project of Dejima was started by the Nagasaki city government. .
When I visited the Dejima, the restoration project was looked like at the final stage. Then the Dejima was already going as a tourist spot to indicate the way of interaction of European countries and former Japan. So there it has become appearing the original figures of foreign trade and culture of Japan before the modern era.
In addition, the “Memorial Hall of Siebold” located nearby is exhibiting many memorial goods and vestiges which Dr. Siebold had given to the Japanese leading figures during staying in Dejima.
Article below is the current state of Dejima and my impression of visit.
As for the Dejima, the homepages are provide by bilingual way, so the further details are available by the following address:
¶ Home Page “Dejima” http://nagasakidejima.jp/
¶ Home Page of Restration “Dejima” http://www.city.nagasaki.lg.jp/dejima/en/index.html
♣ What’s Dejima ? – A historic theater of old Japanese foreign relation
The “Dejima” is a special island zone that was built by Edo government to give special license to the Netherland engaging trade with Japan. It looked like something similar to the ‘Special Economic Zone’ if we say in the present term. In the beginning, the Netherlands had set the business outlet in Hirado, Nagasaki. However, they were forced to transfer to ‘Dejima’ of Nagasaki in 1641 and designated to run their trade under the strict boarder control and severe surveillance..
On the other hand, this Dejima was a base of the “Dutch East India Company” that had been trading throughout Asia at the time.
However, what was importance of “Dejima” beyond the trade is that Western science and technology, especially medical science, has spread in Japan by the so called “Rangaku” (Dutch studies) learning. The Netherland doctors staying at “Dejima” have brought various medical knowledge to young Japanese, and disseminated them to the all over the country. In addition, many Western books were imported through “Dejima”, and the new knowledge of Europe was also absorbed widely in Japan by “Rangaku” scholars who learned from these books.
But we shouldn’t forget that many “Tsuji” (Dutch interpreter) members of “Dejima” have played an important role in this dissemination process. This Dejima “Tsuji” was not only interpreters, but also functioned as catalysts to bring in the fresh knowledge among Japanese “Rangaku” scholars.
Then, the Dejima was uninterruptedly giving huge precious information and knowledge to Japan as the “A window to the Western world” for more than 200 years until Japan officially opened the country in 1859. Furthermore, the Dejima had created the “learning” and “exchange” place to advance the modernization of Japan in terms of human resources too. Particularly the intellectual scholars and political leaders who learned “Rngaku” emanated from Dejima have later become driving forces to widen the knowledge of Western medicines, astronomical geography, military technology, and to lead the social revolution in the Meiji Restoration.
In this sense, the historical position of the Dejima is quite outstanding..
♣ Restoration Movement of Dejima
With the appreciation of historical meaning of Nagasaki and Dejima, the restoration movement started after the Word War II. Particularly after the request coming from the Netherlands, the restoration project of Dejima was masterminded in the 1950s. However, as the original form of Dejima had already disappeared at that time caused by the urbanization and landfill
works of Nagasaki city, and the movement faced many difficulties to proceed to the real restoration.
The movement have started in 1952 first to seek the original concept of restoration, and then gradually proceeded to realization of reappearance of the former style of Dejima after the thorough investigation.
Firstly the restoration was pursued the restoration of basic buildings and houses and rebirth of landscape of Dejima as the short term target. And in the long term, it planned to construct complete Dejima by full emulation of historical appearance. And the major facilities were restored in the first stage construction by 2006 and could make emerging rough style of Dejima. Then the Dejima was opened to the public as the historical heritage site on that day. When I visited in 2016, the restoration project was advancing to the final stage and becoming visible of the original figures of old Dejima.
♣ Dejima as a historic theater
Let’s see the appearance of this restored “Dejima”.
Firstly the “Water Gate” was observed when we entered the Dejima compound. This gate was praised as a symbolic monument describing the history of Dejima. It showed how
the trading goods were transported into this enclosed area and the way of in-and- out of foreign sailors to the area. And on the left side the unloading hut was found along the water way. It looked remind us the scene of Dejima’s practical trade activity.
A comparatively big building was positioned near there. It was a living site of the “Capitan” (Dutch Trade Director) house. Currently, many memorial goods were exhibited there to emulate the living circumstance of them at that time. And the ornaments were beautifully decorated in its residential hall with gorgeous banquet table which was provided for the honored guests in the Edo period.
And there was a small building next to the Capitan house. That was allocated for business office for Japanese commercial officers called “Dejima Otona” who control the Dejima trade. Currently we could see many exhibits illustrating their work in this this building. So we could easily trace the trading activities of Japanese officials in Dejima there.
Next building was the commercial hall known as “Bettle”
room for the Dutch-side’s executives. It was now used as a museum shop and the on-spot exhibition.
On the left side across the central road several warehouses called “Kura” were lined up. Among them, the first ” Kura” with white plaster wall was believed to store a valuable imported items like sugar, deer leather and others. In the second “Kura” was said to stock dyes and their materials. This second “Kura” is now used as an exhibition room which is introducing unique trade patterns at that time titled the “Exchange of trade and culture” of Dejima.
In addition, near the “Kura” warehouses, there was an office style building where the Dutch trade secretary was working. It is called “Rangaku-Kan”（Dutch Studies House）now which shows how “Rangaku” was disseminated in Japan, and how it has given profound impact to the modernization of Japanese society. There, we could observe a number of instruments and machineries used for geographic survey, navigation techniques, medicine and other sciences at the time
Going further backside we could see a stone warehouse. This was a stone-made warehouse built in 1865 and now it is called “Koko-Kan” (Archaeological Museum). In this building, video movies displayed the function of “Dutch Language Interpreter” (Tsuji) “ in Dejima. As mentioned earlier, they were famous for playing important roles to convey the Western science and technology to Japanese.
Besides, in the Dejima compound, there were some monumental
buildings, such as the “Nagasaki Oversea Social Club” which set up as a socialization place between foreign residents in Nagasaki and Japanese in Meiji era, the Japan’s oldest “Protestant Theological Seminary” built in 1878, and others. There also found a botanical garden that Dr. Siebold had built in the park with seasonal colorful flowers in Dejima.
Also, near the east side exit, the 1/15 outdoor model “Mini Dejima” was made for showing the exactly emulated figure of the old Dejima. We could imagine the whole pictures of Dejima well by this miniature model.
♣ Remark before end
Thus, in looking around the whole area of Dejima, we felt that were invited to the historic theater world which mesmerized us to bring back to the scene of 200 years ago. So in this theater, we would acknowledge how economic, trade and cultural relationships of Japan and Netherlands have been formed based in Dejima, and remind us how the modern Japanese society has transformed by the advanced Western knowledge which brought in through this Dejima and “Rangaku” schools originated Nagasaki.
I would pray that the restoration project will progress well further and hope the “Dejima” will be recognized as a more attractive historical monument in future.
(part 1 end)
(Next script : Visit Siebold memorial hall and “Rangaku”
- 「出島」長崎市経済文化観光出島復元整備室 2016
- 「長崎遊学９ 出島ヒストリア」長崎文献社 2013
- 長崎・出島ホームページ http://nagasakidejima.jp/en/