Ito Hirobumi's Handwritten Diary of His Foreign Journey


In December 1871 (lunar November, Meiji 4), the Iwakura mission departed Japan, led by Iwakura Tomomi serving as ambassador plenipotentiary, and including Kido Takayoshi, Ōkubo Toshimichi, and Itō Hirobumi as deputy ambassadors. The mission lasted approximately two years, and its members made a circuit of the United States, Britain, France, Russia, and other European countries. One of its purposes was to promote international recognition of the Meiji Restoration, which returned Japan to imperial government in 1868 after the Tokugawa shogunate. The others were investigation of the institutions and cultures of different countries with a view to adopting parts potentially suited to Japan, and possible revisions to the “unequal treaties” forced on Japan by foreign powers. This diary, by Itō (1841–1909), was written in March 1873 (Meiji 6) during his stay in Prussia (Germany). It includes detailed notes about the parliamentary and electoral systems of different European countries. Itō, who four times served as Japan’s prime minister, later began work on a draft of Japan’s first constitution, which became law in 1890 and bore striking similarities to that of Prussia.

Date Created

Subject Date


Title in Original Language

[伊藤博文手記 外遊日記]

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 book, 22.7 × 15.7 centimeters

Last updated: November 7, 2011