Many thanks to everyone who registered an event as part of the Japan400 year of special events and celebrations in 2013.

We are no longer registering events under ‘Japan400’. But please watch this space! This website is being evolved into a E-book which will include many of the event highlights, images and features about the expanding horizons of Japan-British relations which thousands of people have helped to create. The Japan400 team is also supporting a small number of follow-up events in 2014—see the letter from the co-chairs of Japan400 on the front page to find out more. Please come back to in a while and see what we have become!

Archived highlights

The Japan400 organising committee announces a series of special, landmark events in Japan400 Week 8-15 September to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the first contacts between King James I and the Shogun following the arrival in 1613 of an East India Company ship, the Clove, in Japan. Japan400 Week aims to bring that colourful past alive and to renew the spirit of openness, discovery and fruitful cooperation which inspired the first historical chapter in Japan-British diplomatic, trade, scientific and cultural relations in the early 17th century.

Highlights of Japan400 Week include the first viewings of a superb, British-made refracting telescope which will be offered as a gift to the Japanese people. This renews the original gift of a telescope (then an extremely rare object) sent by King James to the ruler of Japan in 1613, which has unfortunately been lost. The East India Company launches the fine commemorative Japan400 coins minted to mark this quatercentenary. A unique daimyo (feudal lord style) Tea Ceremony honouring the memory of the founding figures in Japan-British relations will take place in the Banqueting House, London, with an Entertainment on the theme of Two Cultures United by Tea. The British Library in London will display key historical documents in an exhibition, Hirado and the British in Japan. Our website has details of many more exciting Japan400 Week events, including Anjin 1600: Edo Wonderpark, David Blandy’s solo manga exploration of the world of William Adams, the first Englishman in Japan; an exhibition of traditional Japanese dolls at the Brighton Toy and Model Museum, and Treasures from Hirado at Maidstone Museum in Kent.
Note: Press access is possible at some events but not all – inquiries to and see daily details for September events below.

Calendar of Events in Japan400 Week, 8-15 September, in the UK

Sunday 8 Sept:

(On 8 September 1613 the English presented credentials and presents to Tokugawa Ieyasu. On 2 October he gave them permission to reside and trade)

The 400th anniversary of the encounter between the Commander of the British expedition, John Saris, and Tokugawa Ieyasu, the ruler of Japan, has been chosen as the formal date of issue and sale of commemorative Japan400 coins (gold
and silver proof, limited editions) minted by the East India Company by Royal Approval of the Queen. The coins are legal tender. They have the Queen’s head on one side and the heads of King James and Tokugawa Ieyasu on the other. This is the first time a shogun’s head has ever been depicted on a coin. The Clove is in the background.
Monday 9 Sept: First official viewings of the Japan400 telescope at Hatfield House, the ancestral home of the Marquess and Marchioness of Salisbury, and the Tower of London. Taking part will be the Marquess of Salisbury, descendant of the 1st Earl of Salisbury who oversaw the sending of the Clove; senior diplomats from the
Japanese Embassy; and Mr Akira Matsura, a Tea Master and descendant of the ruler of Hirado in southwestern Japan who first welcomed the British 400 years ago. The display will take place in front of the Shogun’s armour, given to King James and preserved in the Tower ever since. By renewing the original gift of a telescope Japan400 means to symbolise the two countries’ past and future cooperation in science and technology as well as in culture, diplomacy and trade. The custom-made telescope is being made by an outstanding British craftsman telescope maker, I.R. Poyser. It has been generously sponsored by Robin James Maynard, a long-term resident of Japan, whose family’s business links with the country go back over 100 years.
Registered media are asked to be at the main entrance to the Tower of London by 18.15 and will be escorted in for the Press Facility. Press contacts at Royal Armouries: Andrea Long and Cerys Wood;Tel 0203166 6660.
Tuesday 10 Sept: Japan400 and The East India Company mark the Launch of the
Japan400 coins at the EIC’s Flagship Store at 7-8 Conduit Street, SW1S2XF, from 7-9
pm. The coins may also be purchased via the Japan400 website. Press registration to
Joanna Mould; Tel 0203 2053380
Wednesday 11 Sept: Lord Mayor’s Business Seminar at the Guildhall on Japan and
Britain in Partnership: Meeting Challenges of the 21st Century (registration required
Thursday 12 Sept: Tea ceremony conducted by Mr Matsura in memory of William
Adams in Japan in the Church of St Mary Magdelene, Gillingham, Kent, where
Adams was christened in 1564 – the same year in which Shakespeare was also born.
Friday 13 Sept: Wreath-laying at the tomb of Sir Thomas Smythe, the first Governor
of the East India Company, at Sutton-at-Hone, Kent.
Saturday 14 Sept: Will Adams Festival, Gillingham, Kent: martial arts displays, tea
ceremony demonstration; Taiko Drummers, Tudor games and much more;
International conference on Diplomatic Gifts of Arms and Armour at the Tower of London; and the week-long Brighton Japan Festival begins: see
Sunday 15 Sept: Two Cultures United by Tea at the Banqueting House, London: a tea ceremony in memory of the first encounter between envoys from Britain and the Shogun in Japan, animated by a short musical programme and Tea Readings from the East and West by the Japan400 Creative Team; and an afternoon tea tasting with scones and cream: registration essential. Press inquiries to

Historical note: The Clove dropped anchor in Hirado, southwestern Japan, on 11 June,
1613. On 8 September John Saris, the Commander of the mission, met the retired but still all-powerful Shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu, and presented him with the first telescope ever sent out of Europe. The reciprocal gifts from Ieyasu were ten sumptuous painted screens, and from his son the incumbent Shogun Hidetada two suits of armour, now in
the Royal Armouries, Leeds, and the Tower of London. Ieyasu also presented a ‘Vermilion Seal Letter’ (shûinjo) granting the British special permission to trade and reside throughout Japan, on display at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, in October.

‘Thus forever and ever, we will, we avow, communicate with Japan without any sense
of distinction of separation.(King James to retired Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu,1613)

‘Though separated by ten thousand leagues of clouds and waves, our territories are,
as it were, close to each other.’ (Tokugawa Ieyasu to King James, 1613)

For further information please e-mail
or telephone Japan400 Co-chairman Timon Screech on 07956 125748
About us: The Japan400 organising committee are a group of professionals from various
backgrounds with experience and close interest in Japan. Japan400 is staging or coordinating about
200 events in the UK and Japan, including exhibitions, concerts and seminars, to mark this 400th
anniversary. We aim to renew the fruitful cooperation and understanding between the two countries
in many fields of human creativity. The public response has been considerable. The Japan400 Co-chairs
are Professor Timon Screech and Nicolas Maclean CMG. has more
details and features, including our original Gallery of personal stories in My Japan, My Britain.


Conference: 1613 in Comparative Perspective

An international conference investigating Japan and Britain in 1613, and the role of the East India Company. Sponsored by the Percival David Academic Fund. SOAS London.

Conference: Diplomatic Gifts: The Role of Armour (tbc)

A conference organised by the Royal Armouries on the role of weapons and armour in international exchange. One panel will be devoted to the shogun’s armour given to King James. Tower of London.


Exhibition: Shunga – Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art, 1600-1900

The British Museum’s most ambitious exhibition of Japanese art in a decade will open 400 years ago to the day since the British were given permission to reside and trade in Japan.

London Matsuri

The popular annual outdoor festival organised by the Japanese community in London, celebrating Japanese life and culture. Trafalgar Square.

Display: Tokugawa Ieyasu’s ‘Vermillion Seal Letter’

The Bodleian Library, Oxford University will display the original of Tokugawa Ieyasu’s “vermillion seal letter”(shûinjo).  This document granting permission to reside and trade is thought to have been in the collection since 1614.


Japan400 Closing.

The year’s closing event will be held on the anniversary of the first ever art auction in British history: the sale of Japanese lacquer from the Clove.

This post is also available in: Japanese