Monday, April 14, 2014

Nagasaki : Dejima

Nagasaki was once Japan's only connection to the outside world. Even during the long period of isolation , Nagasaki was the only place which was allowed to have limited trade with the outside world.

In 1636, Dejima, a man made island was constructed close to the port to house the Portuguese residents. Since the Shogunate was worried about Western influence on the country, they wanted to segregate foreigners from the Japanese. Hence the Portuguese were restricted to Dejima. In 1639, the Portuguese were expelled from Japan and the only Westerners allowed to remain were the Dutch. The Dutch who had been operating a trading factory, the Dutch East India Company, in Hirado since 1609 were asked to move their activities to Dejima and they were confined within the limits of the island. Dejima thus remained the only Western settlement in Japan for almost 2 centuries till Japan opened up to trade with the outside world in the Meiji period. 

During the period of isolation, the Dutch confined to Dejima were not allowed to crossover to Nagasaki and the Japanese were not allowed to enter Dejima. Only those providing essential services were allowed to cross over after strict scrutiny. 

While the Dutch were confined to Dejima, the Chinese were confined to a walled Chinatown close by. When it was damaged in a fire, the Chinatown was shifted to its current location.

Reclamation was carried out around Dejima and today it is a part of mainland Nagasaki. A number of the historical buildings like warehouses, residences, clubs etc have been restored to their original appearance and now serve as a museum. Works are on to restore Dejima to its original appearance, a fan shaped island in the sea connected by a bridge to the mainland. 

A scale model of the Dutch trading post is on display in Dejima and its gives a fair idea of what Dejima looked like in the past. 

Some pictures from Dejima :

Some models of ships and ceramic ware are also on display

Opening Hours: 8:00-18:00 hrs

Admission fees: 500 yen

Closing days: No closing days

Access: Short walk from Dejima stop on Nagasaki Street Car Routes 1 or 2

Dejima Wharf was built to commemorate Japan's trade relations with the Netherlands for over 400 years. 
The place with its restaurants and coffee shops is popular among residents and tourists alike. 

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