Japan’s Opening to the West: Westerners Accounts of The Secret Country

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Japan's Opening to the West: Westerners Accounts of The Secret Country

Japan was one of the most secretive countries in the world for hundreds of years because of rules put in place by their government during the 15th-17th centuries. When men such as Matthew Perry, Francis Ottiwell Adams, and Townsend Harris traveled to Japan, they were astounded and surprised by what they experienced and saw, but none of them had anything bad to say about the people or culture that they encountered in their travels. The heritage and culture were just something that was not very common in the Western world. All three men kept detailed journals that demonstrate they were not familiarized with some of the things that the Japanese culture entailed. In their respective journals, Perry noticed that the way they dressed was far different than Western society. Perry, Adams, and Harris all had one thing in common when they arrived in Japan at their respective times; they brought a culture and a way of life that the citizens of the country had never seen before.

It was as much of a shock for the Westerners who entered this foreign, unknown territory as it was for the native citizens of Japan who had never experienced people from other countries entering their walls and learning their way of life. There were specific characteristics of Japanese culture that all three men described in their personal journals, and their accounts gave Westerners a better idea of what life was like on a daily basis in the newly opened country.

Perry reestablished for the first time in over 200 years regular trade and discourse between Japan and Western countries. From the beginning, it is clear that one of his interests/concerns was gauging possible military opposition. Because Japan was such an unknown,