Pictures of foreigners from 17th/18th century Japan

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    Dutch Ship

    In 1635, Japan closed its borders to foreigners and began a 200 year period of seclusion, but that hardly meant that the Japanese stopped obtaining information about the rest of the world. Limited trade continued with the Dutch, Chinese, and Koreans, and through these contacts the Japanese authorities were able to learn quite a bit about what things were like in other countries.

    The Dutch traders based in Nagasaki were a particularly useful source of information, so the city became a hub for Japanese scholars who studied foreign countries. Many European books and maps were translated into Japanese, creating a steady (although limited) flow of foreign technology and ideas into Japan.

    Kyushu University now maintains a digital archive of many such old books and artwork relating to the outside world. Below is an interesting selection of pretty color images [via ] from a 1714 guide to the world, followed by some scans of a guide published in 1688.

    Images from 1714

    England / Russia

    England / Russia

    Netherlands / Spain

    The Netherlands / Spain


    Africa / Siam (Thailand)

    Portugal Brazil

    Portugal / Brazil

    Turkey / Italy

    Turkey / Italy

    Images from 1688


    England / Moscow

    Netherlands / Spain

    The Netherlands / Luzon (a Spanish Colony)

    Africa / Persia

    Africa / Persia

    Turkey / Italy 2

    Turkey / Bologna

    portugal america

    Portugal / America

    Germania France

    Germania / France

    And last -but not least- dwarves! (from both 1714/1688)


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