Samurai - Western Samurai

Western Samurai

The English sailor and adventurer William Adams (1564–1620) seems to have been the first Caucasian to receive the dignity of samurai. The Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu presented him with two swords representing the authority of a samurai, and decreed that William Adams the sailor was dead and that Miura Anjin (三浦按針), a samurai, was born. Adams also received the title of hatamoto (bannerman), a high-prestige position as a direct retainer in the Shogun's court. He was provided with generous revenues: "For the services that I have done and do daily, being employed in the Emperor's service, the emperor has given me a living" (Letters). He was granted a fief in Hemi (逸見) within the boundaries of present-day Yokosuka City, "with eighty or ninety husbandmen, that be my slaves or servants" (Letters). His estate was valued at 250 koku (measure of the income of the land in rice equal to about five bushels). He finally wrote "God hath provided for me after my great misery," (Letters) by which he meant the disaster-ridden voyage that initially brought him to Japan.

Jan Joosten van Lodensteijn (1556?–1623?), a Dutch colleague of Adams' on their ill-fated voyage to Japan in the ship De Liefde, was also given similar privileges by Tokugawa Ieyasu. It appears Joosten became a samurai and was given a residence within Ieyasu's castle at Edo. Today, this area at the east exit of Tokyo Station is known as Yaesu (八重洲). Yaesu is a corruption of the Dutchman's Japanese name, Yayousu (耶楊子). Also in common with Adam's, Joostens was given a Red Seal Ship (朱印船) allowing him to trade between Japan and Indo-China. On a return journey from Batavia Joosten drowned after his ship ran aground.

Also, during the Boshin War (1868–1869), French soldiers joined the forces of the Shogun against the Southern Daimyos favorable to the restoration of the Meiji emperor. It is recorded that the French Navy officer Eugène Collache fought in samurai attire with his Japanese brothers-in-arms. At the same time, the Prussian Edward Schnell served the Aizu domain as a military instructor and procurer of weapons. He was granted the Japanese name Hiramatsu Buhei (平松武兵衛), which inverted the characters of the daimyo's name Matsudaira. Hiramatsu (Schnell) was given the right to wear swords, as well as a residence in the castle town of Wakamatsu, a Japanese wife, and retainers. In many contemporary references, he is portrayed as wearing a Japanese kimono, overcoat, and swords, with Western riding trousers and boots.

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