Japanese Gallery (Honkan) Room 16
August 18, 2009 (Tue) - October 12, 2009 (Mon)
Throughout history, Japan has developed through close relationships with China, Korea, and other East Asian countries. Even after official missions to Tang-dynasty China ended in the 9th century at the proposal of scholar-courtier Sugawara no Michizane, economic and cultural exchange with Song and Ming-dynasty China, as well as Korea, continued mainly through trade.
From the 16th century, academic knowledge from the West was introduced to Japan with the arrival of Europeans. In the 17th century, the country closed its gates to other countries for political, economical and ideological reasons, initiating a ban on Christianity and seeking to strengthen the feudal system of government. Despite its policy of closure, however, the Tokugawa shogunate established a diplomatic trade management system between China and the Netherlands, specifying Nagasaki as the permitted port. In addition, relations continued with two "communicating" countries that sent delegations regularly to the Tokugawa shogunate: Korea, with the mediation of the So clan of Tsushima domain, and the kingdom of Ryukyu (present-day Okinawa), a tributary state of China. Information from abroad entered Japan through these relationships.
The Tokugawa shogunate's diplomatic policies are essential to the understanding of Japan's network with the Netherlands and East Asian countries at the time. The policies had a considerable effect not only politically and economically, but also in terms of culture. This exhibition introduces historical materials including paintings and diplomatic documents which provide an overview of Japan's international relations in and around the Edo period.