Picture Scroll Depicting the Arrival of Black Ships from the West

Unknown1854 - Modern times

Saitama Prefectual Museum of History and Folklore

Saitama Prefectual Museum of History and Folklore
Saitama City, Japan

This picture scroll depicts the reaction of Japanese warriors and common people to the arrival of American Commodore Matthew Perry and his seven warships off the coast of Kanagawa on January 16, 1854 (near the end of the Edo Period, 1603-1868) as Perry sought to open Japan to foreign trade. In this scene, which takes place on the coast of Koyasu Village (present-day Kanagawa Ward, Yokohama), a group of commoners near a tea house, including a man smoking tobacco and a man holding a telescope, enjoy watching the black ships curiously from afar. In contrast, a different scene from the same scroll shows a group of warriors scrambling to prepare for the black ships' imminent arrival.


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