Japan and Britain, 1613: Parallels and Exchanges

Key information

5:00 PM to 9:00 AM
Russell Square: College Buildings

About this event

The conference will address the history of Japan and Britain in and around the year 1613. Both countries were undergoing massive cultural, religious and political transformations at the time, and it is instructive to look at their respective systems of restructuring and recreation in parallel and comparatively.

Moreover, Japan and Britain directly encountered each other for the first time in 1613, with arrival of the English East India Company, bearing letters and gifts from King James for the Shogun. The conference will therefore also address issues of encounter and communication.

The event takes place on the exact 400th anniversary, for it was on 19 September 1613 that the English received reciprocal presents from the Shogun (which are extant), and on 21st that they departed Edo with great rejoicing. This conference is a major element in Japan400, a series of commemorations scheduled for across the UK and Japan to mark this landmark year.


Date/Time Description
Thursday, 19 September, Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS
18.30 – 20.00

Captain John Saris and the First British Voyage to Japan , Richmond Barbour (Oregon State University)

Friday, 20 September, Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS
09.00 – 09.20 Registration
09.20 – 09.30 Welcome: Timon Screech
PANEL ONE: Britain in Motion

Chair: Professor Miles Ogborn (Queen Mary’s, University of London)

  • 9.30 – 10.00 ‘To the Honour of our Nation abroad’: the Merchant as Adventurer in Civic Pageantry , Tracey Hill (Bath Spa University)
  • 10.00 – 10.30 Speaking in Passing: England and Japan before 1613 , Nandini Das (Liverpool)
  • 10.30 – 11.00 The East India Company, Religion and European Overseas Expansion , Derek Massarella (Chûô University)
11.00 – 11.30 Break
11.30 – 12.00 ‘Wonders rudely described’: Richard Cocks, English merchant and intelligencer in Japan , Samuli Kaislaniemi (University of Helsinki)
12.00 – 12.30 The Men of the English Factory at Hirado , Margaret Makepeace (The British Library)
12.30 – 13.00 Discussion
13.00 – 14.00 Break
PANEL TWO: Foreign Relations in Japan

Chair: Richard Bowring (Cambridge University)

  • 14.00 – 14.30 Storms and Foreign Relations in the Japanese Domain of Tosa , Luke Roberts (UC Santa Barbara)
  • 14.30 – 15.00 Hirado and Beyond: British Trade with Japan in the Seventeenth Century , Ryuto Shimada (University of Tokyo)
  • 15.00 – 15.30 Using and Losing the Sinosphere: Japanese Diplomacy and Statecraft circa 1613 , Kiri Paramore (Leiden University)
15.30 – 16.00 Break
16.00 - 16.30
PANEL THREE: Further Encounters

Chair: Alain Strathern (Oxford University)

  • 16.00 – 16.30 The Globalisation of Taste in the New World: Cross-Cultural Exchange and Japanese Art in Seventeenth-Century Mexico City , Sofia Sanabrais (Getty Centre, Los Angeles)
  • 16.30 – 17.00 Competing Diplomacies in 1613: King James’ Embassy to Japan and the Date Masamune Embassy to Spain (1613-1610) , Carla Tronu (Private Scholar)
17.00 – 18.00 Discussion
Saturday 21 September, Conference Centre, The British Library
PANEL FOUR: Openness and Containment

Chair: Tim Clark (The British Museum)

  • 09.30 – 10.00 Speaking Transnationally: Linguistic Worlds in Early English Voyages to Asia , Su Fang Ng (University of Oklahoma)
  • 10.00 – 10.30 1600-1615: Japan’s Cold War Era and its Art , Jin Matsushima (Tama Art University & Tokugawa Memorial Foundation)
  • 10.30 – 11.00 Japanese Narrative Paintings Reloaded: Transcultural Adaptations in the Early Seventeenth-Century , Melanie Trede (Heidelberg University)
11.00 – 11.30 Break
11.30 – 12.00 Vessels of Trade: Porcelain as Commodity in Early 17th-century Japan , Nicole Rousmaniere (The British Museum)
12.00 – 12.30 Culture Wars in Japan's Age of Unification: Collecting, Gift Exchange, and Falconry in the Life of Tokugawa Ieyasu, Morgan Pitelka (UNC, Chapel Hill)
12.30 – 13.30 Discussion

* Please note that small changes may be made to the programme between now and September.


Book of Abstracts

Organiser: Japan Research Centre, Centres & Programmes Office

Contact email: centres@soas.ac.uk

Contact Tel: +44 (0)20 7898 4893/2