Maritime Monday for March 19, 2012: Whaling, Commodore Perry, and the Opening of Japan

Monkey Fist
Total Views: 167
March 18, 2012


Classic Comics: Cutaway of the Pequod – Boston Globe

Found: The Pequod! (Almost)

Marine archaeologists at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration have found the sunken wreck of the Two Brothers – the second whaling ship helmed by George Pollard, Jr. Pollard had previously been the captain of the Essex, which sunk after being attacked by a sperm whale. The sinking of the Essex was the inspiration for Melville’s Moby-Dick…

keep reading


from The wreck of the Nantucket Whaler, “Two Brothers”


Tea Chest from CPR Empress Steamer

right: Built in England, RMS Empress of India (1891), Empress of China and Empress of Japan were near sisters. Empress of India was the first to arrive in the Pacific, steaming around the world by way of the Suez Canal, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Nagasaki and Kobe. She arrived in Vancouver on April 28, 1891, with 1,810 tons of tea, silk, rice and opium and 486 passengers. — more on Vancouver Maritime Museum

left: Best quality roasted green tea
Advertisement from 1930s (click thru to see full size)

Japanese Postcard Advertising Formosa Oolong Tea 1910
Images of Canadian Pacific ocean liners


In 1561, Juan Fernández, a lay member of the Society of Jesus, recorded the adoption of tea at the Jesuit residence where Damien, a young Japanese convert, “has the task of always having a kettle of hot water ready, which he gives to all the visitors and to those in the residence who want it.

imageTrained by the Jesuits in Japan and fluent in Japanese, his function as translator facilitated his entry into the rarified levels of Japanese society where he met many of the most influential political figures of the day. Well versed in both Western and Eastern cultures, he was a sympathetic and knowledgeable bridge between the two.

Rodrigues wrote extensively about chanoyu in his treatise on Japanese tea, Arte del Cha. He identified tea with extremely high production standards, quality, and great cost, describing in detail the annual harvest from Uji, which produced the finest tea.

As for chanoyu, the practice of drinking tea came under Western criticism, the barbs aimed at the excessive worth of the art objects used in its preparation and service.  In his biography of Francis Xavier of 1600, the Portuguese Jesuit João de Lucena produced a slight against connoisseurship and chanoyu: “The Japanese attach a value to the most trifling and ridiculous things, as are the stuffs used in preparing a decoction from the herb which is called cha.”

Tea and Jesuits ITea and Jesuits IITea and Jesuits III


THE TEA PICKERS — Child Labor in Old Japan photo

In 1894, Japan exported fifty million pounds of tea, three-fourths of which came to the United States. The labor of picking of this immense crop is performed largely by children”

TEA set by Okinawa Soba –


Whaling Grounds of the Pacific in the Nineteenth Century (larger)

Shipping Routes in the Pacific Showing National Interests
Density of Traffic on Pacific Shipping Routes


The Whaleship Manhattan, anonymous Japanese artist; 1845

postcard published by Old Dartmouth Historical Society
collection: New Bedford Whaling Museum


imageZoomable reproduction of Matthew Fontaine Maury’s Whale Chart ; 1851

Lieutenant Matthew Fontaine Maury(1806–1873) was the chief the U.S. Naval Observatory and one of the most important nautical thinkers of his day. He conceived of the Whale Chart in the 1840s to aid the whaling community.

see also: The Father of Modern Oceanography on


Kawahara Keiga (1786-after 1860); Dutch Ship Entering the Harbor
early 19th century – water color on paper
Peabody Essex & Edo-Tokyo Museums, eds. Worlds Revealed: The Dawn of Japanese & American Exchange – Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Visualizing Cultures

View on Dejima. Chromolithograph by C.W. Mieling after a painting by J.M. van Lijnden

Deshima Nagasaki, Japan 1641-1857: 216 years trade monopoly
Holland & Japan: 400 Years of Trade


Engelbert Kaempfer’s map of Nagasaki harbor, 1727

Dejima (literally “exit island”) was a small fan-shaped artificial island built in the bay of Nagasaki in 1634. This island, which was formed by digging a canal through a small peninsula, remained as the single place of direct trade and exchange between Japan and the outside world during the Edo period. Dejima was built to constrain foreign traders as part of sakoku, the self-imposed isolationist policy. Originally built to house Portuguese traders, it was used by the Chinese and Dutch as a trading post from 1641 until 1853.

Dejima Island (Nagasaki) Overview

– article: Nagasaki 1890s: View on City and Bay (a history)


A Japanese Nanban byōbu detail depicting a Portuguese
carrack arriving at Nagasaki, c. 1571


US Japan Fleet, Com. Perry Carrying the Gospel of God to the Heathen, 1853
by James G. Evans


Japanese woodblock print of Perry (center) and other high-ranking American seamen


The Arrival of Perry

On March 31, 1854, the Convention of Kanagawa (Japan-US Treaty of Amity and Friendship) was concluded between Commodore Matthew C. Perry of the U.S. Navy and the Tokugawa shogunate.

The treaty opened the Japanese ports of Shimoda and Hakodate to United States trade and guaranteed the safety of shipwrecked U.S. sailors; however, the treaty did not create a basis for establishing a permanent residence in these locations. The treaty did establish a foundation for the Americans to maintain a permanent consul in Shimoda. The arrival of the fleet would trigger the end of Japan’s 200 year policy of seclusion.

more on wiki
article: Commodore Perry: Glorified Postman

No One Expects the Steam Navy!


Com. Perry left Norfolk, Virginia in 1852 to embark on his trip to Japan. He left port with his
black-hulled ship and with the Mississippi, Plymouth, Saratoga, and the Susquehanna
The Imperialism wiki

Black Ships and Samurai:
Commodore Perry and the Opening of Japan c.1853

imageOn July 8, 1853, residents of Uraga on the outskirts of Edo, the sprawling capital of feudal Japan, beheld an astonishing sight. Four foreign warships had entered their harbor under a cloud of black smoke, not a sail visible among them.

They were, startled observers quickly learned, two coal-burning steamships towing two sloops under the command of a dour and imperious American. Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry had arrived to force the long-secluded country to open its doors to the outside world.

This was a time that Americans can still picture today through Herman Melville’s great novel Moby Dick, published in 1851 — a time when whale-oil lamps illuminated homes, baleen whale bones gave women’s skirts their copious form, and much industrial machinery was lubricated with the leviathan’s oil.

For several decades, whaling ships departing from New England ports had plied the rich fishery around Japan, particularly the waters near the northern island of Hokkaido. They were prohibited from putting in to shore even temporarily for supplies, however, and shipwrecked sailors who fell into Japanese hands were commonly subjected to harsh treatment.


American Navy Commodore Matthew Perry arrives in Japan, August 7, 1853
Woodblock Print


USS Susquehanna steam frigate, one of the “Black Ships” — (see full size)
article: Trade, but Not with Japan

imageNicknamed “Old Bruin”
by one of his early crews (and “Old Hog” and other disparaging epithets by crewman with the Japan squadron), Matthew Perry was the younger brother of the famous Oliver Hazard Perry. His sailors perceived him as a strict disciplinarian.

In fact, he regretted the decision by the US Navy to ban flogging as the traditional form of punishment on board ship. He said that flogging was the only way to keep order among the older crewmen.

He was a master of amateur theatricals, who insisted his ship’s company played musical instruments and made up a band. (source)

articles: Stokes on the Commodore and God Bless Old Bruin

1859: Bullocks, Japanese Ambassadors, Cholera in Northern Japan
and European Ladies in Japan


William Merritt Chase (1849 – 1916) Japanese Print 1898

Take that, classical antiquity! This here style is something new…


right: James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903)

In 1854, under pressure from Commodore Matthew Perry, Japan opened its borders to the West for the first time in more than 200 years. The concisely named “International Exhibition of Arts, Manufactures and Products of the Soil and Mine” in Philadelphia in 1876 was America’s first world fair, where pavilions from thirty-odd countries—including Japan—exposed 9 million westerners to the wonders of the “Orient.” European avant-gardes like Toulouse-Latrec and Van Gogh began combining the clarity of line and flatness of picture plane from Japanese woodcuts with European techniques like oil painting.

The resulting bi-racial baby was named Japonisme, and it was awesome. No surprise there: when previously isolated cultures cross paths, cultural upheaval and fertility results.

more: Europeans Can’t Get Enough of That Sweet, Sweet Classicism –

Off to Japan – American Artists & Japonisme

A Final Dose of Japonisme for the New Year

a blog named for and about Japonisme


Looking Out to Sea from Honmoku Shrine, Yokahama
(Views of Old Japan on Flickriver)


Commodore Matthew Perry Entertaining Japanese Commissioners on Ship
article: A change of heart on Commodore Perry


USS Powhatan carrying the First Japanese Embassy to America, circa 1860. Woodblock print, ink and colors on paper. Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, CA

see also: Commodore Perry’s Flagship Powhatan 1854-1870 watercolor and ink on paper


Delegation of Japanese government officials and their US Naval escorts
at the Washington Navy Yard, 1860

article: Samurai in Washington DC 


article: The Rev. Mr. Goble Goes to Japan

article: John Chinaman, and his Japanese cousins, are not ignoramuses…

– article: Commodore Perry brought the word back to Japan

1858-1859: Kanagawa was specified as one of the
five open ports by The
US-Japan Treaty of Amity and Commerce.
Port of Yokohama is opened on 2 June 1859.

Japan Mail Steamship Co. (NYK), 1909

History of the Port of YokohamaThe Opening of the Port: West Meets East


Nautical Chart: Yokohama in 1874


Complete Picture of the Newly Opened Port of Yokohama by Sadahide, 1859-60
see also: “Complete Detailed View of Yokohama Honchō and the Miyozaki Quarter” c. 1860


c. 1850: Japanese Whispers: Mapping the Forbidden Outside World
Japanese Historical World Maps


left: A nineteenth century steamship arrives in Japan, as depicted in
this 1861 print, “Gaikokujin sen no uchi: jōkisen”
article: BIGGER, BETTER, FASTER, MORE: Around the World at Superhuman Speed

right: Japanese Woodblock Print; Steamship, 1863, by Sadahide (1807-1873) on Fuji Arts

Fantastic depiction of a Japanese steamship underway, sailing past Uraga, the site of Commodore Perry’s 1853 landing. Just ten years later, a Japanese crew dressed in kimono and armed with samurai swords sails its own modern Western style ship. The sails are furled and a large anchor hangs at the side of the ship as white capped waves crash against the bow. A terrific image showing Japan’s rapid modernization.


Japanese Junks Under Sail — A Classic Image from Meiji-era Japan in 3-D (Hand Tinted)

Out of millions of the world’s greatest photographs to choose from, the combined editorial staff of both the CORCORAN GALLERY OF ART and the NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY unanimously chose a black & white print version of this image by T. ENAMI to be used as the sole inset photograph on the First Edition cover of their 100th Anniversary exhibition book and catalog, the monumental ODYSSEY – THE ART OF PHOTOGRAPHY AT NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC. (1988).


article: Globetrotter’s Japan: Foreigners on the Tourist Circuit in Meiji Japan


“The Kanrinmaru in Rough Seas,” depicts the first Japanese ship ever to cross the Pacific

150 years ago, a sailing ship flying a flag never seen in North America before entered the Golden Gate. It was the Kanrin Maru, the first Japanese ship ever to cross the Pacific, and its arrival in San Francisco made history.

The Kanrin Maru had a difficult and stormy 37-day voyage from Japan in the late winter of 1860. During its time of isolation, the Japanese had no oceangoing ships. Only one of the Japanese crew had ever been beyond the sight of land. It was an epic voyage.

The Japanese were the toast of the town: They attended receptions in their honor and a civic banquet, where they were treated to Champagne, cold turkey and wild game – an exotic repast to Japanese tastes. Capt. Kaishu Katsu, skipper of the Kanrin Maru, was served ice cream after one banquet. “I have never tasted such a wonderful thing in my life,” he said, diplomatically…

article: 150th anniversary of Kanrin Maru’s epic voyage

article: Modern Replica of the Original Kanrin Maru

article: New York Times: Candinamarrah (Kanrin Maru) Arrives in San Francisco:
part onepart two


Brown McFarlane was founded in 1889 by Captain A.R. Brown, a former P & O Chief Officer. Captain Brown had worked in the Far East since 1868 charting and surveying the coastline of Japan for the Japanese government of the time.

At the end of the 19th century Captain Brown joined forces with George McFarlane, a naval architect, to establish A R Brown McFarlane & Co Ltd based in Glasgow.

The company was initially involved in building ships for the Japanese and in the export of machinery and other capital equipment to Japan. It evolved as a trader to supplying a wider market and opened a London office in 1915 followed by more offices in Antwerp, New York, and Tokyo all supported by a worldwide agent network. In the meantime its business became more centred on the supply of steel products.



Looking North-East from “The Bluff” Over Old 1890s Yokohama

This is a ca.1892-95 Large “Yokohama Album” print from an old souvenir photo album. Photographed by T. ENAMI and sold directly to tourists visiting his T.ENAMI PHOTOGRAPHIC STUDIO at No.9 Benten Street in Yokohama.

The paper was coated with egg-whites from regular chicken eggs, then painted with silver nitrate. Sandwiched together with a large glass negative, it was slowly printed out under the sun on a nice day — then fixed and washed in water. When dry, it was hand-tinted as you see above. Customers could buy them loose like that, or pasted into beautiful albums. Enami’s albums were usually lacquered Cherry Wood with an inlaid work of art.

see a 20-set collection of T. Enami’s photos of old Japan

August 23, 1872:
A load of tea arrives in San Francisco aboard the first Japanese commercial ship to visit the US.

1872: Baseball is introduced in Japan.

images & articles: Throwing Off Asia:
Woodblock Prints of Domestic Westernization in Japan (1868-1912)
part onepart two

– article: The Response to the West; Preserving Tradition in Modernity


“Kanagawa, Noge, and Yokohama” by Hiroshige II, 1861 (see full size) –

article: Boomtown, the Story: The New Treaty Port
Yokohama became a boomtown when it was designated as the first
Japanese city open to foreigners after 200 years of isolation.


Front View of Nagasaki City – postcard


– Children and Boats on the Evening Sea –

One of several examples of a largely ignored facet of Old Japanese Photography — a genre called “TAISHO ART” or “TAISHO PICTORIAL PHOTOGRAPHY”. The pictorialism movement in Japan reached its peak during the reign of Emperor Taishō (1912-26)



Ship Ghost at the Japan Sea Coast Japanese 1904–05


Yokohama Maritime Museum / sailing ship Nipponmaru

The Hikawa Maru, a retired passanger liner that connected Yokohama to Seattle, is visited each day by a lot of students. In the photo you see a class of schoolboys in the typical uniform. Between the skyscrapers is anchored the historical sail training ship Nippon Maru that sailed between 1930 and 1984 the equivalent of 45 times round the world.

– above photo by ARCHiPhone (see larger) –


Yokohama Port Museum
– photo by JapanDish

Maritime Monday for March 26, 2012:
Whaling, Commodore Perry, and the Opening of Japan; pt. 2

Special Thanks and Further Reading:


Okinawa Soba’s photostream
– blog:


Old Photos of Japan

1860: Japanese Embassy to America Visits Hawaii

Monkey Fist

Monkey Fist is a smack-talking, potty mouthed, Yankee hating, Red Sox fan in Baltimore, Maryland. In addition to compiling Maritime Monday, she blogs about nautical art, history, and marine science on Adventures of the Blackgang.

Submit story ideas, news links, photographs, or items of interest to her at [email protected]. She can also out-belch any man.

Mar 16, 2012GPS Tracking Disaster: Japanese Tourists Drive Straight into the Pacific


Back to Main