Anyone who has ever read James Clavell's "Shogun," or seen the movie, has already been indirectly introduced to William Adams. The fictional heroics of John Blackthorne were loosely based on Adams' exploits.
After serving in the Royal Navy under Sir Francis Drake, Adams became a pilot for the company Barbary Merchants. During this service, he took part in an expedition to the Arctic that lasted about two years in search of a Northeast Passage along the coast of Siberia to the Far East. It was late November 1599 when the ship sailed westwardly for Japan. When the ship made landfall April 19, 1600, in Oita Prefecture as a result of a typhoon.
Allegations by Portuguese priests that Adams' ship was a pirate vessel led to seizure, and the sickly crew was imprisoned at Osaka Castle on orders by the Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu.
But the Shogun took a liking to Adams, eventually making him a revered diplomatic and trade adviser and bestowing great privileges upon him. In 1604, Ieyasu ordered Adams to build a western-style sailing ship.
Ieyasu's rewards for Adams' service and loyalty were grand, and included a large house in the new capital of Tokyo. The most impressive, however, were two swords. A badge of rank and authority, the swords transformed Adams the English pilot into Miura Anjin the samurai. Along with this came a handsome salary, and the means to marry Oyuki, the daughter of a noble samurai and official of Edo Castle.
Adams and Oyuki had a son, Joseph, and a daughter, Susanna. In 1613, he became preoccupied with trading after helping the British East India Company set up a trading post near Nagasaki then setting up his own.
Adams died at Hirado, north of Nagasaki, on May 16, 1620. He was 56.
It is worth noting that William Adams had a wife and children in England, but Ieyasu had forbidden the Englishman to leave Japan. In a true stroke of wisdom, the Shogun decreed that William Adams was dead and that Miura Anjin, a samurai, was born. This made his wife in England a widow and allowed Adams to serve him on a permanent basis. Also, only as a samurai, was he eligible to marry a samurai's daughter.
Please click on the link to see William Adams Nagasaki Gravestone on a map:
Please click of the pics below to enlarge:
Messages in English
William Adams Gravestone
Here is a video of William Adams Gravestone located in Hirakata Park in Hirado:
Hirado in Nagasaki Prefecture is home to many Christian churches but the most-photographed is the St. Francis Xavier Memorial Church.
Sitting atop a hill overlooking the small town and its harbor, the church was originally named the Hirado Catholic Church, but was renamed following the placing of a statue of St. Xavier in the grounds. The church was originally built on a different site in 1913 but was reconstructed at its present location in 1931.
There are so many writings about Saint Francis Xavier but here are a couple of excerpts that i think fully show how significant he was during his life:
Arriving in Japan in 1550, Jesuit priest Francis Xavier played a key role in the early spread of Christianity in the country. His missionary work included preaching in Hirado in the northwest of present-day Nagasaki Prefecture, where Christianity took root most firmly and “hidden Christians” preserved the faith during centuries of prohibition. Today Hirado is home to numerous historic churches, testifying to the enduring influence of Spanish and Portuguese missionaries.
St. Francis was a model for missionaries, formed upon the spirit of the apostles. So absolute a master was he of his passions that he knew not what it was to have the least notion of anger or impatience and in all events was perfectly resigned to the Divine Will, from whence proceeded an admirable tranquility of soul, a perpetual cheerfulness, and equality of countenance. He rejoiced in afflictions and sufferings and said that one who had once experienced the sweetness of suffering for Christ, will ever after find it worse than death to live without a cross. By humility, the saint was always ready to follow the advice of others and attributed all blessings to their prayers which he most earnestly implored.
There are so many interesting and important historical statues and landmarks on the site that one can easily get lost in the historical significance and be overwhelmed by the tragedy and sacrifice of it all, for example the Monument to the Martyrdom of Fr. Camillus Costanzo, an Italian missionary, stands as a symbol of dedication to one`s faith and belief`s. I wandered around for a good 45 minutes and wish I could have gone inside and taken some more videos and photos but as a crowd had gathered (the area is full of pilgrims of Christian and non christian faith) I didn't want to be disrespectful and cause a scene. I am fairly certain that i will be back for some further investigations.
Please check out the Saint Francis Xavier Church Nagasaki here on a map: Please click on the photos below to enlarge:
In all its glory!
English Reading Material
Strong images everywhere
Inside the Church
Famous view of the church with a temple in the foreground.
Lots of info
Here is a video of the Saint Francis Xavier Church Nagasaki for your pursual:
Recently I have spending a lot of time researching and updating my information and knowledge of Hirado in the Northwest of Nagasaki Prefecture. I have had a couple of Private Tour requests of the area and in particular regarding Christian History of the region.
The history and the culture of the area is very different from the rest of Japan and in many regards different to Nagasaki City and the Shimabara Peninsular which are the 2 speciality areas that I use predominately for my Nagasaki Tours.
A couple of reasons why this is so, is because of the amount of foreign influence that the region was provided and accustomed to in regards to foreign trading with the Dutch and the British and also in regards to the amount of Christian missionaries who were mostly Spanish and Portuguese.
In the next month of two I will endeavour to post more and more about the region and highlight the fascinating feature and numerous attractions that they have.