Dejima History – 【公式】出島〜dejima〜

History of Dejima

The artificial island of Dejima served as Japan’s only open window to Europe from the time of construction in 1636 to the closing of the Dutch Factory in 1859, and during that time it played a vital role in the modernization of Japan. The following is the story of Dejima from beginning to end.

Muromachi Period (14th-16th century)

YearEvents in NagasakiEvents in Japan and Abroad
1543A Portuguese ship drifts ashore at Tanegashima. Guns are introduced to Japan.
1549Francis Xavier arrives in Kagoshima and introduces Christianity.
1550Portuguese ships arrive in Hirado.
1562Omura Sumitada opens the port of Yokoseura.
1565Portuguese ships arrive in the port of Fukuda.
1567Portuguese ships arrive in the port of Kuchinotsu.
Luis d’Almeida begins missionary work in Nagasaki.
1570Nagasaki is opened for foreign trade.
1571Portuguese ships arrive in the port of Nagasaki.
The construction of six town blocks commences.
1573The Muromachi regime collapses.

Azuchi-Momoyama Period (1568-1600)

YearEvents in NagasakiEvents in Japan and Abroad
1580Omura Sumitada cedes Nagasaki and Mogi to the Society of Jesus.Spain gains control of Portugal.
1581The Netherlands declares independence.
1582The Tenshō Boys Delegation leaves Nagasaki.Honnōji Incident. Oda Nobunaga dies.
1585Toyotomi Hideyoshi comes to power.
1587Toyotomi Hideyoshi issues an order for the expulsion of European priests.
1588Toyotomi Hideyoshi seizes Nagasaki, Mogi and Urakami from the Society of Jesus.
1590The Tenshō Boys Delegation returns. Hideyoshi unifies Japan.
1592A magistrate and town elder system is adopted in Nagasaki.Hideyoshi grants permission for Japanese merchants to trade abroad.
1597The Twenty-Six Saints are martyred in Nagasaki.
1600Tokugawa Ieyasu emerges victorious at the Battle of Sekigahara.
The Dutch ship De Liefde drifts ashore in Bungo (Oita)
The English East India Company is founded.
1602The Dutch East India Company is founded.

Edo Period (1603-1868)

YearEvents in NagasakiEvents in Japan and Abroad
1603Tokugawa Ieyasu establishes a Shogunate in Edo.
1604Raw silk import allotment system is adopted.
1605Nagasaki is placed under the direct jurisdiction of the Shogunate.
1609The Dutch East India Company establishes a factory (trading post) at Hirado.The Netherlands wins independence from Spain.
1612Christianity is banned in Nagasaki.
1613The English East India Company establishes a factory (trading post) at Hirado.A national ban on Christianity is enforced.
1614Silk Allotment Center is established in Nagasaki.Winter siege of Osaka.
1615Summer siege of Osaka.
1616Trade with countries other than China is confined to Hirado and Nagasaki.
1623The English East India Company Hirado Factory closes.
1633Unauthorized overseas travel is banned
(first national seclusion edict).
1634Construction of Dejima commenced. Spectacles Bridge is built.All overseas travel is banned
(second national seclusion edict).
1635Chinese ships are confined to Nagasaki. Complete ban on exit and entry of Japanese from Japan.
Complete ban on exit and entry of Japanese from Japan.
The construction of large ships is banned
(third national seclusion edict).
1636Dejima reaches completion.Portuguese are confined to Dejima
(fourth national seclusion edict).
1637The Shimabara-Amakusa Uprising erupts and is quashed the following year.
1639Portuguese are expelled from Japan
(fifth national seclusion edict)
1641The Dutch East India Company Hirado Factory is moved to Dejima.Policy of national seclusion is completed.
1649German surgeon Casper Schamberger arrives at Dejima.
1650Dutch envoy participates in the journey of tribute to Edo.
1662A shop selling Imari porcelain opens on Dejima.
1673British ship Return enters Nagasaki Harbor seeking trade but is repulsed.
1678A new bridge is built to connect Dejima to the town of Nagasaki.
1689Chinese Quarter reaches completion.
1690German physician Engelbert Kaempfer arrives at Dejima.
1696Merchandise warehouses are constructed.
1698Nagasaki Trade Guild is established.
1699Sea gate is constructed on the western side of Dejima.
1707Water pipes are installed at Dejima.
1715The New Shōtoku Edict is promulgated.
1716Kyōhō Reforms are introduced by the Tokugawa Shogunate.
1720Tokugawa Shogunate lifts the ban on Western studies.
1774Kaitai Shinsho (New Book on Anatomy) is published.
1776United States of America declares independence.
1789French Revolution.
1790The Dutch journey of tribute to Edo is changed to once every four years.
1798Fire ravages Dejima
1804Russian envoy N.P. Lezanov visits Nagasaki.
1808British ship Phaeton visits Nagasaki disguised as a Dutch ship.
1809Chief Factor’s Quarters reach completion.
1810France annexes the Netherlands.
1815Kingdom of the Netherlands declares independence.
1823German physician P.F. von Siebold arrives at Dejima.
1824Siebold establishes the Narutaki Medical School.
1826Siebold erects a monument to Kaempfer and Thunberg in the Dejima herb garden.
1828Siebold is charged with attempting export banned items (Siebold Incident).
1840First Opium War (until 1842).
1841Tenpo Reforms are introduced by the Tokugawa Shogunate (until 1843).
1850The last Dutch journey of tribute to Edo is conducted.
1853Russian envoy Efimi Putiatin visits Nagasaki.American Commodore Matthew Perry enters Uraga Bay.
1854Japanese-British Treaty of Amity is signed in Nagasaki.
Ports of Nagasaki and Hakodate are opened to British ships.
1855Japanese-Dutch Treaty of Amity is signed in Nagasaki.
Naval Training Institute is founded.
1857Dutch physician J.L.C.Pompe van Meerdervoort arrives in Nagasaki.
Medical Training Institute is founded.
1858the Ansei Five-Power Treaties
1859The Dejima Dutch Factory is abolished and converted into a consulate.
1860Sakuradamon Incident.
1861Parts of the Dejima periphery are reclaimed from the harbor.American Civil War.
1862Nagasaki Foreign Settlement reaches completion.
1864Part of the western side of Dejima is reclaimed from the harbor.
1866Dejima is absorbed into the Nagasaki Foreign Settlement.
1867Southern side of Dejima is reclaimed from the harbor to make a promenade.Tokugawa Shogunate collapses.

Meiji, Taishō and Shōwa Periods (1868-1989)

YearEvents in NagasakiEvents in Japan and Abroad
1869A new bridge is constructed between Dejima and Tsuki-machi.
1885Nakashima River diversion works begin under government supervision.
1893First harbor reclamation project is completed. North side of Dejima is reduced.
1904Second harbor reclamation project is completed. Dejima’s fan shape is lost. Russo-Japanese War breaks out.
1920Construction is started on the Dejima Wharf.
1922Dejima is designated a National Historic Site by the Japanese government.
1939World War II breaks out (until 1945).
1941Pearl Harbor attack and beginning of war in the Pacific.
1951Dejima Restoration Project is launched (return of property to public ownership).
1954Part of the former Dejima precincts is converted into a garden.
1957Dejima Dutch Factory Renovation Project is completed.
1974Former Nagasaki International Club building is converted into a museum.
1978Dejima Historic Site Renovation Council is launched.
1980Former Dejima Protestant Seminary is restored.
1982Dejima Historic Site Renovation Council proposes a seven-part restoration project.
1987Compendium Illustrations of Dejima is published.

Heisei Period (1989-2018)

YearEvents in NagasakiEvents in Japan and Abroad
1990Dejima Front Gate building is restored as part of the Nagasaki City Centennial.
1993Dejima Historic Site Renovation Council submits basic restoration plan.
Board of Education opens Dejima Restoration Office.
City plan earmarks Dejima as an educational and cultural facility.
1994Dejima restoration is recognized as a city planning project.
Dejima Historic Site Renovation Council (second phase) is established.
1996Restoration project is launched on the basis of council recommendations.
2000 First five buildings are recreated (Head Clerk’s Quarters, etc.).
Parts of the south and west embankment walls are restored.
2006Five more buildings are recreated (Chief Factor’s Residence, etc.).
South embankment wall is restored.
2016Six more buildings are recreated (Japanese Officials' Office, etc.).
2017Dejima Main Gate Bridge is unveiled.

Birth of Dejima and Trade with Portugal

  • 01
    Portuguese Ships Arrive in Japan

    After the introduction of guns at Tanegashima in 1543 and the beginning of Christian proselytizing in 1549, the leaders of various domains began to invite Portuguese ships for the purpose of trade. During the Age of Exploration, the Portuguese ships used Goa (India) as a base, traded in Southeast Asian venues such as Malacca, Macao and Nagasaki, and returned to Goa after about three years. Products such as raw silk, silk and cotton fabrics, ivory, coral and sugar were imported into Japan by the Portuguese. The exports from Japan consisted mainly of silver, iron, folding screens, swords and sundry goods. Tigers, peacocks and other exotic animals were among the imported items, such as the elephant given to Toyotomi Hideyoshi by the Governor of Luzon.

  • 02
    Opening of Nagasaki Port

    In 1550, a Portuguese ship sailed into the port of Hirado, the first European trading ship to enter present-day Nagasaki Prefecture. Five more Portuguese ships followed in 1562. The Portuguese later moved their hub of activity to Yokoseura in the Omura domain (present-day Saikai City) and then to Fukuda (Fukuda Honmachi, Nagasaki City). Opened in 1565, Fukuda was hampered by its location directly facing the open sea. The Portuguese moved again to Kuchinotsu on the Shimabara Peninsula, but, preferring to remain in Omura territory, they surveyed the alternative port of Nagasaki. In 1571, a Portuguese ship entered the port accompanied by a Chinese ship chartered by Portuguese traders. Subsequently, Portuguese ships visited Nagasaki every year, and the town developed rapidly into a thriving port for the European trade.

  • 03
    Prohibition on Christianity

    In 1580, Omura Sumitada ceded Nagasaki to the Society of Jesus, but seven years later national leader Toyotomi Hideyoshi issued a missionary expulsion order and placed Nagasaki under his direct jurisdiction. Next, he ordered the arrest of missionaries and Japanese Christians in Kyoto and Osaka and sent them to Nagasaki, where they were executed at Nishizakaon February 5, 1597, an event is remembered as the Martyrdom of the26 Saints of Japan. At first, the Tokugawa Shogunate under Tokugawa Ieyasu took a lenient stance toward Christianity in order to encourage trade. Christianity was widely and deeply worshiped; it is said that about 760,000 people converted during the eight decades between 1549 and 1630. However, the Shogunate began to suppress Christianity and finally issued a ban on the foreign religion in 1612. Many followers, including Takayama Ukon, were exiled to Manila and Macao. Crackdowns increased and Christian persecutions grew in severity, including torture and forced apostacy, intimidation and brutal executions.

  • 04
    Construction of Dejima

    To prevent the spread of Christianity, the Tokugawa Shogunate built an off-shore island called Dejima to intern Portuguese residents living freely in Nagasaki. The island was completed in 1636 through the investment of 25 leading Nagasaki merchants. Dejima was also called "Tsukishima" (erected island) because it was built by reclaiming land from the harbor, as well as "Ogishima" (fan island) because its distinctive shape. The proposal to build the island, the craftsmen who designed and supervised the construction work, and the civil engineering techniques they implemented remain a mystery to this day.

“Dejima” The Dutch Factory

  • 05
    Dutch Ship De Liefde

    In 1600, the Dutch ship De Liefde drifted ashore at Bungo (present-day Oita Prefecture), marking the beginning of exchange between Japan and the Netherlands. The pilot, an English sailor named William Adams, was enlisted by Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasuto serve as a diplomatic adviser. Alerted by Adams, the Dutch East India Company dispatched two trading ships to Japan in 1609 and opened a factory(trading post) in Hirado under official permission. The English East India Company also opened a factory in Hirado, and fierce competition arose among the Portuguese, Dutch, English, Chinese and even Japanese, who operated a fleet of “red-seal ships.”Increasingly wary of Christianity after the Shimabara Rebellion of 1637, the Shogunate expelled the Portuguese from Japan in 1639. The Dutch, who had demonstrated loyalty to the Shogunate by bombarding Hara Castle during the rebellion, eventually won a monopoly on the trade with Japan.

  • 06
    The Dutch Factory Moves from Hirado to Dejima

    In 1639, the Portuguese were banished from Dejima, leaving the island unoccupied. Two years later, however, the Dutch East India Company moved its factory from Hirado to Dejima, and for the following 218 years the island played an important role in the modernization of Japan as the country’s only open window to Europe.

  • 07
    Dutch Report on World Events

    In 1641, the Tokugawa Shogunate ordered the Dutch to provide information about the Portuguese in order to thoroughly enforce the Christian prohibition and expulsion of Portuguese nationals. This was an important condition for the right granted to the Dutch to visit Japan. When a Dutch ship entered the port of Nagasaki, the Japanese interpreters interviewed the chief factor about world events, translated the information, and sent a report to the Tokugawa Shogunate signed by the Nagasaki Magistrate. This document was called the Orandafūsetsugaki, or “List of Rumors from the Dutch.”

Rise and Fall of the Dutch East India Company

  • 08
    Birth of the Dutch East India Company

    In 1598, trade fleets organized by the merchants of Amsterdam and Rotterdam set sail for Southeast Asia and engaged in lucrative trade in the spice-producing areas of Bandung and Amboyna in the Moluccas. In 1602, however, the various companies, faced with competition and decreasing profits, joined to establish the United East India Company (V.O.C). The company was granted special protection and government permission to trade exclusively in the region from the Cape of Good Hope to the Strait of Magellan. Various powers were recognized, such as the right to sign treaties and alliances, exercise military power, coin money, and appoint local secretaries and judicial officers. It was only a matter of time before the V.O.C. “east indiamen” sailed into Nagasaki Harbor to trade at Dejima.

  • 09
    Trade at Dejima

    From 1621 to 1847, more than 700 Dutch ships visited Japan. Propelled by seasonal winds, the wooden sailing vessels usually left Batavia (now Jakarta) in early summer, passed through the Straits of Bangka and Taiwan and entered the port of Nagasaki via Nomozaki. When a Dutch ship anchored off Dejima, Japanese officials checked the ship's itinerary and number of crew members and inspected the cargo. Unloading started a few days later, followed by the commotion of bidding and bartering. The main imports and exports in the early Edo Period were raw silk from Bengal and Tonkin and Japanese silver, respectively. From the middle of the Edo Period, the imports came to include cotton fabrics, velvet, pepper, sugar, glassware and books, while the exports extended to copper, camphor, ceramics and lacquerware.

  • 10
    Dismantling of the Dutch East India Company

    The brisk trade conducted to date between the Netherlands and Japan began to decline in the early 18th century. One of the causes was Japan's trade limitation policy. Initially, the Tokugawa Shogunate did not impose any restrictions on trade, but in 1685, the volume of trade with the Netherlands was limited to 3,000kanme of silver. Furthermore, in 1715, the number of Dutch ships entering the port was limited to two per year. Then in 1790, only one ship per year was permitted, and the trade volume was reduced to700kanme of silver. Meanwhile, the management of the Dutch East India Company gradually weakened, the French Revolution of 1789 causing a particularly heavy blow to the Netherlands. In 1795, the French Revolutionary Army occupied the Netherlands, and the Republic of Batavia was born. In 1799, the Dutch East India Company was forced to dissolve.

End of Dejima

  • 11
    Demands for the Opening of Japan and International Treaties

    As a result of defeat in the Opium War, China was forced to cede Hong Kong to Britain and open five ports including Canton (Guangzhou) and Shanghai as terms of the Treaty of Nanjing. News of the Opium War reached Nagasaki via the Dutch, who submitted a letter of to the Tokugawa Shogunate recommending the opening of the country. The first official American envoy visited Japan in 1846, and Commodore Matthew Perry arrived in Uraga in 1853, The first treaty with Japan, the Japanese-American Treaty of Amity, was concluded and soon followed by similar pacts with Britain and the Netherlands. In 1856, American diplomat Townsend Harris came to Japan to negotiate a commercial treaty. Faced with the intimidating backdrop of American military power, the Tokugawa Shogunate acquiesced and signed the US-Japan Treaty of Amity and Commerce in 1858, marking the end of Japan’s isolation policy.

  • 12
    Abolition of the Dutch Factory

    The limitations imposed on the Dutch were lifted by the Japanese-Dutch Treaty of Amity signed in 1856. Japanese and foreign residents were allowed to enter and leave Dejima freely as a result of the Ansei Five-Power Treaties of 1858. A consulate of the Netherlands was established on the island, and business was transferred to the Netherlands Trading Society, bringing an end to the long history of the Dejima Dutch Factory. In 1866, Dejima was absorbed into the Nagasaki Foreign Settlement.

  • 11
    Dejima Disappears

    After the opening of Nagasaki in 1859, Dejima underwent major topographical changes, including the expansion of the western and southern sections of the island to modernize the trade port of Nagasaki. Later, parts of the periphery were reclaimed from the sea, and a slice of about 18 meters was removed from the northern side of the island as part of the Nakashima River Diversion Project started in 1885. Finally, as a result of the port improvement work conducted in 1904, the fan-shaped island completely disappeared.