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Episode 11 - Making Sushi of the Shogunate - America's Opening of Japan

Uploaded: 10 March 2018

Today’s episode takes us eastwards during the turbulent 1850s as two nations - indeed civlisations - clash.

During the mid Victorian period, newly industrialised powers steamed towards the Orient, drawn by a triumvirate of forces, including gold, the missionary’s salvation and the mystery of a society closed to the world for well over a hundred years. Traders had tried in vain to offer up goods for Japanese gold, but to no avail – the Tokugawa Shogunate (the de facto rulers) kept Japan firmly locked down.

That is, until Perry arrived and effectively forced the Shogunate to sign a deal – one of many “deals” that the East would be subjected to by warlike western nations during the nineteenth century – a new style of imperialism that did not subjugate nations to rule them directly as in Africa and India – but rather to have their governments act as impotent middlemen to the real power.

Perry's visit as recorded in Japanese script - note the steam funnels on the ship bottom right, which would have been astonishing to Japanese observers at the time

Further sources:

F. Hawks, Commodore Perry's Expedition to Japan, found at: <https://www.amazon.co.uk/Commodore-Perrys-Expedition-Japan-Francis/dp/1490474145>
​​​​​​​(Original published in 1856)

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