Point of interest: Welcome to Shizuoka! Part 1

Welcome to Shizuoka! Part 1  How The Treaty Of Kanagawa Modernized Japan
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When Commodore Perry sailed into Shimoda in 1854 in his Black Ships (
, kurofune in Japanese), with bands on deck playing "The Star Spangled Banner", none of the local residents had any idea what was going on, much less did they recognize the words and music to the American anthem. Likewise, most of the Americans, not having the benefit of learning Japanese grammar or the written Japanese kanji, had no idea how to communicate with their hosts. You, on the other hand, have the advantage of learning with the Kanshudo method.

Perry Ends Japan's Isolation

Perry's return visit was initially seen as a cultural humiliation by the Japanese. They had been isolated from the rest of the world (except for China and the Netherlands) for centuries, and were not particularly happy that the upstart Americans had succeeded in forcing them to open trade with the US. However, Japan at that time was ripe for change - England had forced mighty China to open up with military force. Japan had no navy and not much in the way of a military; the mere sight of the Black Ships steaming into their waters made them realize that their isolation policies were ending, one way or the other.

The Treaty of Kanagawa

The Treaty Of Kanagawa, signed at Ryosenji Temple (
) in Shimoda, did not open Japan to trade - rather it simply gave the US the ability to sail into two ports, Shimoda and Hakodate, for supplies and refueling, and would ensure stranded American seamen could seek safe harbor in Japan. The treaty also allowed the US to open consulates in the two cities, and granted the US 'Most Favored Nation' status - meaning the US would benefit from any future concessions Japan granted other nations.

The First Consul - Townsend Harris

The first American consul, Townsend Harris arrived in Shimoda in 1856. Harris negotiated the first genuine trade treaty in 1858, which was ratified by the US in 1860. The Harris Treaty, combined with other treaties Japan negotiated with European countries, gave Japan access to new technologies as well as economic opportunities.
Technology let Japan modernize their military, which helped strengthen the emperor. The Tokugawa Shogunate had held most of the political power since 1600, but the modernization of the national economy helped weaken the Shogunate and gradually brought the Emperor back to real power. The Meiji Restoration of 1868 formalized the Empire's restoration.

Meanwhile in Shimoda ...

But back to Shimoda. The city has made a tourist site at Ryosenji Temple, where several Perry artifacts are on display in the Treasure House. If you're ever in Japan in mid-May, Shimoda hosts Kurofune Matsuri, a festival that commemorates Perry's arrival with the Black Ships.

Kanji used in this point of interest

コク   くろ    くろ black   
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セン   ふね    ふな- ship   
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リョウ    complete   
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セン    hermit   
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ジ   temple   てら Buddhist temple   
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