Kurofune Monaka

- - - Commodore Perry, see below

Black Ship Wafers (Kurofune Monaka)

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: Topic
***** Category: Humanity


Kurofune monaka 黒船最中 wafers

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A handmade type of wafer with white shiroan bean paste.


Monaka 最中 waffles, wafers


The Black Ships (in Japanese, 黒船, kurofune) was the name given to Western vessels arriving in Japan between the 15th and 19th centuries. In particular, it refers to Mississippi, Plymouth, Saratoga, and Susquehanna, that arrived on July 14, 1853 at Uraga Harbor (part of present-day Yokosuka) in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan under the command of United States Commodore Matthew Perry.
The word "black" refers to the black color of the older sailing vessels, and the black smoke from the coal-fired power plants of the American ships.

Commodore Perry's fleet for his second visit to Japan in 1854.

The following year, at the Convention of Kanagawa, Perry returned with eight ships and forced the shogun to sign the "Treaty of Peace and Amity", establishing formal diplomatic relations between Japan and the United States. Within five years, Japan had signed similar treaties with other western countries. The Harris Treaty was signed with the United States on July 29, 1858.

The surprise and confusion these ships inspired are described in this famous kyoka (a humorous poem similar to the 5-line waka):

泰平の . . . Taihei no
眠りを覚ます . . . Nemuri o samasu
上喜撰 . . . Jōkisen
たった四杯で . . . Tatta shihai de
夜も眠れず . . . Yoru mo nemurezu

This poem is a complex set of puns (in Japanese, kakekotoba or "pivot words"). Taihei (泰平) means "tranquil"; Jōkisen (上喜撰) is the name of a costly brand of green tea containing large amounts of caffeine; and shihai (四杯) means "four cups", so a literal translation of the poem is:

Awoken from sleep
of a peaceful quiet world
by Jokisen tea;
with only four cups of it
one can't sleep even at night.

However, there is an alternate translation, based on the pivot words. Taihei can refer to the "Pacific Ocean" (太平); jōkisen also means "steam-powered ships" (蒸気船); and shihai also means "four vessels". The poem, therefore, has a hidden meaning:

The steam-powered ships
break the halcyon slumber
of the Pacific;
a mere four boats are enough
to make us lose sleep at night.

© More in the WIKIPEDIA !


- quote -
Illustration of Foreign Ships from North America
In June 1853 (6th year of Kaei), the American East Indies fleet commanded by Admiral Perry which included four ships two of which were steamships, arrived in Uraga and hastened the Bakufu Administration to open up the country. This work depicts the black ships at that time.
There remain many single sheet paintings and booklets depicting the arrival of the black ships. The shock of such an event must have been truly great to many of the people.
This work depicts Perry's fleet's route and their landing at Kurihama (Yokosuka city, Kanagawa prefecture). Explanations are added to detailed images of the ships painted from the front, behind and the side, including sailboats as well as steamships.
he steamships painted here are known as the "black ships". In Japan at that time only sailboats were used so this was the first time Japanese laid eyes upon steamships. It was for this very reason that people reacted with both a sense of horror and curiosity. After this, the clans of Japan purchased steamboats or otherwise found the means to construct their own as the Satsuma domain did. The arrival of the black ships also brought a large influence on Japan's military preparation.
- source : Tokyo Metropolitan Library -


了仙寺宝物館/黒船美術館 Black Ship Museum
Shimoda 下田市七軒町3-12-12
source : Black Ships in Shimoda

source : facebook - yokai


- quote -
Illustration of Armor from the fifth volume of
"Rakuyoshu" 落葉集 -(Fugu no Zu 武具之図)

This is a picture satirizing the attempts to protect the country against the arrival of Perry's ships. It is an elaborate design, and there is a play on words involving the words armor (bugu) and puffer fish (fugu). The stone wall underneath the helmet represents a fort.
Due to Perry's landing, the shogunate, wishing to pour its power into coastal defense, ordered all the clans to send people to coastal areas and set up forts and batteries. In this picture, three crests are depicted showing the Matsudaira of the Kawagoe clan, Mori of the Choshu clan and Hosokawa of the Kumamoto clan and it is assumed that the feudal lords who guarded the coast of the Miura peninsula were placed side by side. The landing of Perry's fleet did not only impact the Bakufu but it was also for the clans, a serious event that could shake away their foundations.
'Rakuyoshu' in which this picture is printed is an essay compiled by Mokitsu Hachiya, a retainer of Tayasu household, one of the three Lords, and materials such as earthquakes and fires are compiled by theme into nine volumes in total. In the fifth issue, choosing the Perry's landing as a theme the pictures of Black Ship, kyoka (satirical poems) and otoshibanashi (stories ending in a funny pun) etc are gathered and this picture is also filed here.
- source : Tokyo Metropolitan Library -


The Black Ships and Earthquakes

The year of Perry's return visit saw more than its share of major earthquakes. In addition to Odawara, two magnitude 8.4 earthquakes with offshore epicenters shook a vast area along the Pacific coast of Japan on consecutive days. The Ansei Tokai Earthquake shook a region extending south from the outskirts of Edo to Ise Bay Ise Bay on the fourth day of the eleventh month. The next day, the Ansei-Nankai Earthquake shook a wide area of the coast further south, centered approximately on the Osaka. Both earthquakes generated tsunamis, the first of which severely damaged the Russian warship Diana, which had sailed into Shimoda (near Yokohama) to negotiate a treaty. Estimates of the death toll from each quake vary, but 3,000 apiece is a typical figure.

When Edo shook in 1855, prominent bakufu official Matsudaira Shungaku (1828-1890) reacted in part by writing a memo to Abe Masahiro (阿部正弘 (1819-1857), the de facto leader of the bakufu. Matsudaira listed recent earthquakes, other natural disasters, and the unwelcome visits of American, Russian, and British naval vessels. Together with the present disaster in Edo, these events "definitely constitute a heavenly warning," he concluded. The Edo popular press and the namazu-e also retroactively linked the Ansei Earthquake with the series of severe earthquakes going back to 1847 and the recent arrival of Perry's so-called "black ships. Prevented by censorship regulations from stating the same explicit conclusion as did Matsudaira in his memo, the popular press and makers of namazu-e left such conclusions to readers' imaginations.

Shaking up Japan:
Edo society and the 1855 catfish picture prints.

source : www.thefreelibrary.com

CLICK for more potos of namazu-e

Daruma Museum
Hyootan, Namazu and Daruma -
The Gourd, the Catfish and Daruma

なまず絵 namazu-e "catfish pictures"


'The Mission of Commodore Perry to Japan' (1854)

Scroll displays the human side of Perry’s arrival

“It’s come pretty much out of nowhere,” says British Museum curator Tim Clark, placing a small wooden box on the table — it’s about the dimensions of a shoebox, slightly weathered and lightly inscribed with fluid kanji characters. “It was in Japan until last summer, where it belonged to a dealer, and before that, we don’t know. In fact there’s still a lot about it we don’t know.”

And with that, he takes out a compact bundle, loosens the silk cord around the worn cloth cover, and lays the Japanese section’s latest, almost half-a-million-pound (¥75 million), acquisition gently down on the table and starts unrolling it. I have my dictaphone running, and when I listen back there’s almost a minute when I’ve gone completely silent as I watch Clark reveal this treasure — which goes on display to the general public on April 18.

The piece is a jawdroppingly fine, 15-meter-long handscroll depicting the arrival in Japan of Commodore Matthew C. Perry and the nine famous black ships in February 1854. It was Perry’s second visit, and culminated in the signing of the Convention of Kanagawa on March 31, which effectively ended Japan’s centuries of sakoku (closed country) diplomatic seclusion.

The scroll opens, like many a Hollywood movie since, with a wide panorama. “There were two fiefs which were charged with the defence of Japan: Kokura and Matsushiro, so we begin with the panning shot of the defensive forces in all their glory,” explains Clark. “This is what’s going to be the treaty house where they do the negotiations; this is the local shrine, still completely undeveloped.”

Cinematically, this magnificent opener is succeeded by more focused vignettes. “We’re now zooming in from the wide-angled shot,” says Clark. “Here are Perry and (Commander Henry) Adams coming up the beach. It’s like Nixon coming down the stairs of the aircraft to greet Zhou Enlai.”

Clark’s scene-by-scene commentary, as he rolls the scroll up at one end and out at the other, is likely just how the scroll would have been used by its first owner. Notably, there is no explanatory text in the scroll itself, just an introductory preface. This suggests that the scroll’s owner was someone who needed no explanation — in other words, someone who was present at the events depicted, and would tell the story himself to the favored guests who were permitted to view the work. So who was that owner? And, indeed, who was the artist? These are, it turns out, two more of the things we don’t precisely know about this remarkable piece.

Since — and before — acquiring the scroll, Clark has been doing some sleuthing, with the assistance of Japanese scholars, in particular those of the Reihaku, the National Museum of Japanese History. We know who wrote the preface, an eminent poet of the Chinese style named Onuma Chinzan (1818-1891), “so the scroll’s owner was obviously moving in high literary circles in the city of Edo,” explains Clark. “Chinzan writes: ‘Mr Maruyama had an artist paint this.’ But he doesn’t” — Clark gives a laugh of gentle exasperation — “say who the artist is.”

Maruyama’s own identity is also vague — after all, the name is not uncommon. But one of Clark’s Japanese correspondents showed him a poetry diary entry for 1858 — the year of the scroll’s completion — in which Chinzan goes mountain climbing with a Mr. Maruyama. The diary locates the pair inside the Matsushiro fief — one of the two tasked with Japan’s national defence, as shown in the scroll’s opening scenes.

Here’s where the detective work steps up a gear: the Sanada family ruled Matsushiro, and Clark has been directed to an obscure 1930s journal article which reproduces sketches made by a mid-19th century artist retained by the Sanada that are near-identical to scenes in the British Museum’s scroll. The article (authored by the artist’s son) at last gives us a name: Hibata Oosuke (1813-1870). “We can’t be totally certain yet,” says Clark, “but everything triangulates.”

As the scroll unrolls to reveal further gorgeous — and surprisingly lively — scenes of banqueting, dancing, of amazed American sailors patting the bellies and squeezing the muscles of sumo wrestlers, it is hard to understand why Japan let such a treasure go, even though other pictorial versions of the event do exist in locations within and outside Japan. “For the British Museum, with its ambitions to tell the big picture in history,” says Clark, “it is almost like our Japan Galleries were set up waiting for something of this importance and great historical and artistic interest.”

From April 18, for six months, the scroll will be displayed at the center of the gallery, a few meters visible at a time — repeat visits will be necessary to savor the full magnificence of the piece. The theme of the surrounding gallery exhibition, “The Making of Modern Japan,” provides excellent context — there are, for example, lithographs that comprise the American record of Perry’s visit.

And herein lies the historical value of the scroll — for the insight it gives into Perry’s visits as viewed by the Japanese. We’re used to a narrative of shock and awe: the Americans arriving by steamship, Commodore Perry dropping not-so-subtle hints about the offensive capability of his shell guns. The scroll tells a very different story: American officers inspect the chinaware at the treaty banquet, sneak food out in their hats to share with those too junior to attend, have their hand wrung painfully by a sumo wrestler.

“It’s the kind of thing you don’t get in the American lithographs, where everything’s going like clockwork,” says Clark. “Throughout, you get this human detail. What attitude does that actually reveal toward to Americans? It doesn’t seem to see them as a threat, more a curiosity — these people who do things differently. This scroll gives us another side of the story.”
by Victoria James
source : Japan Times, April 18, 2013


- quote
Encounters: Facing “West”
... There was, moreover, no counterpart on the Japanese side to the official artists employed by Perry—and thus no Japanese attempt to create a sustained visual (or written) narrative of these momentous interactions. What we have instead are representations by a variety of artists, most of whose names are unknown. Their artistic conventions differed from those of the Westerners. Their works were reproduced and disseminated not as lithographs and engravings or fine-line woodcuts, but largely as brightly colored woodblock prints as well as black-and-white broadsheets (kawaraban). - source : ocw.mit.edu/ans7870/21f/21f.027

Kawaraban on the arrival of Perry
- source : library.brown.edu/cds/perry

Worldwide use

Things found on the way

Poetry of Urban Life in Modern English Tanka

an industrial town
soaked to its bricks with the stink
of the river
where Black Ships tied to piers
whispered of elsewhere

Gary LeBel
source : www.simplyhaiku.com


observance kigo for early summer

kurofune matsuri 黒船祭 (くろふねまつり)
festival of the Black Ships

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Shimoda Kurofune masturi 下田黒船祭(しもだくろふねまつり)
Festival of the Black Ships in the town of Shimoda

Kurihama Kurofune Matsuri 久里浜黒船祭(くりはまくろふねまつり)
Festival of the Black Ships in the town of Kurihama

Perii sai, periisai ペリー祭(ぺりーさい) Perry Festival

Matthew Calbraith Perry
(April 10, 1794 – March 4, 1858)
was the Commodore of the U.S. Navy who compelled the opening of Japan to the West with the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

Reference : Kurofune Matsuri : Black Ships Festival

At the port of Yokosuka, there is an annual Haiku Meeting for the Kurofune Festival


kurofune ga sairai shiteru Okinawa ni

the Black Ships
came back to Japan
in Okinawa

Matsumoto Takayuki 松本孝行
(14 years)
source : www.itoen.co.jp

Related words


Kigo for Summer


- #perry #kurofune #blackship -



Anonymous said...

Fascinating, Gabi. In school we get the heroic version of Perry. Not surprisingly, there's another side to the tale.
L. Senryu

anonymous said...

Seasame Street
Cookie Monster wants...
Black Ship Cookie!


Anonymous said...

John Dower
blog on Black Ships and Samurai: Commodore Perry and the Opening of Japan (1853-1854)

Gabi Greve said...

from a friend :
The Black Ships (in Japanese, 黒船, kurofune) was the name given to Western vessels arriving in Japan between the 15th and 19th centuries. In particular, it refers to Mississippi, Plymouth, Saratoga, and Susquehanna, that arrived on July 14, 1853 at Uraga Harbor (part of present-day Yokosuka) in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan under the command of United States Commodore Matthew Perry.
The word "black" refers to the black color of the older sailing vessels, and the black smoke from the coal-fired power plants of the American ships.

Gabi Greve said...

from a friend
What is often not covered is the reasons why the Americans sailed to Japan. From a more macroscopic view, this is the background as far as I understand it:
 The western part of the USA had been populated by the Europeans, who had  a large demand for lamp oil. Petrol Oil had not yet been discovered. So lamps were working with Whale oil.
 At the same time, steam ships have been invented, and they were plenty of whales to be caught in the northern pacific, but the Americans needed a hub for wood and coal on the other side of the Pacific. Korea and Siberia were too cold, so Japan was, the closest ice free area where a hub could be installed.
 They might have been more reasons than that, but this is the  one that makes most sense to me.