William Adams Commemorative Park
William Adams came to Japan from England in 1600.
He was ordered by the shogun at the time,
Ieyasu TOKUGAWA to build a ship.
This was the first western style ship to have been built in Japan.
This park and it's monument have been restored
to mark the 400th anniversary of this great place of historic work.
23rd December 2004,
Worked by Sculptor Kenji Shigeoka
William Adams, the Englishman known to the Japanese as Miura Anjin,
was born in the Borough of Gillingham, Kent. As chief pilot (navigator)
for a Dutch expedition to the Far East. He suffered great hardships during
the voyage until at last his ship, "de Liefde", arrived at the
province of Bungo, Kyushu, on 19 April 1600. He was the first Englishman
to come to Japan.
Adams was interrogated at Osaka Castle by Ieyasu Tokugawa. After
Ieyasu became Shogun in 1603, Adams was granted a house at Nihonbashi and
served as a diplomatic adviser to the Shogun. In 1964 or 1605, he collaborated
with Mukai Shogen, the commander of the Uraga Fleet, in building Japan's
first Western sailing ships, one 80 tons and the other 120 tons. This was
accomplished with the skilful assistance of excellent local shipwrights
at the estuary of the River Matsukawa into Ito. (This is recorded in the
"Annals of the Keicho Period.")
Ieyasu rewarded Adams for this distinguished service with a fief of 250 koku at Hemi (present-day Yokosuka). Later the larger of the two ships crossed the Pacific to Mexico and was used for trade with Manila. After working for English Factory at Hirado, Adams started to trade with the southern countries on his own account. He died at Hirado on 16 May 1620, at the age of 56.
Ito City, wishing to promote international friendship, erected this
memorial on 28 July 1948, to commemorate the deeds of this Englishman.
It was unveiled by Lieut. General Sir HCH Robertson, the commander
in chief of the british Commonwealth Occupation Force.
Here then, while Shakespeare yet was with us, came
An Englishman to win a different fame;
And with his different skill, to find a place
In the long chronicles of Nippon's race;
How gladly I, after three hundred, years,
Come where Will Adams led the pioneers
Of ship-design in ITO; still you praise,
You men of ITO; his laborious days,
And still, though Time has borne him so far hence,
Name him the Pilot in pre-eminence.
I know his home in England and I know
At last his home by the Pacific's flow,
And am most happy, thinking of that man
Who first united England and Japan;
Happy, to find that spirit flowering still
Which set your garland on the brow of Kentish Will.
8 July, 1948 Edmund Blunden