Letter from Akamatsu Noriyoshi to Yoshizawa Genjiro


Akamatsu Noriyoshi (1841‒1920) was born in Edo (present-day Tokyo), the son of Yoshizawa Yunoshin, a vassal of the shogun, and adopted into the Akamatsu family. One of the first Japanese students sent to Europe to learn Western ways, he studied shipbuilding and science in the Netherlands from 1862 to 1868. Presented here is a letter written by Akamatsu to his elder brother, Yoshizawa Genjiro. The letter was posted from Leiden and dated June 5, 1863. In it Akamatsu confirms that he has arrived safely in Leiden. He also offers descriptions of affairs in Europe and America and writes about European reports of the Namamugi Incident of September 1862, in which samurai had attacked and killed a British merchant and injured others in his party. Akamatsu had studied the Dutch language and later surveying and navigation at the Navy Officer Training School in Nagasaki established in 1855 by the Edo bakufu (shogunate) for the purpose of introducing a European-style navy to Japan. During the Meiji era he rose to the rank of vice admiral in the Japanese navy. He became a member of the House of Peers in 1904.

Last updated: January 9, 2018