The Nanban trade or Nanban trade period, was a period in the history of Japan from the arrival of Europeans in 1543 to the first Sakoku Seclusion Edicts of isolationism in 1614. Nanban is a Japanese word which had been used to designate people from Southern China, Ryukyu islands, Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia centuries prior to the arrival of the first Europeans. For instance, according to the Nihongi ryaku, Dazaifu, the administrative center of Kyūshū, reported that the Nanban pirates, who were identified as Amami islanders by the Shōyūki, pillaged a wide area of Kyūshū in 997. In response, Dazaifu ordered Kikaijima to arrest the Nanban.
The Nanban trade as a form of European contact began with Portuguese explorers, missionaries, and merchants in the Sengoku period and established long-distance overseas trade routes with Japan. The resulting cultural exchange included the introduction of matchlock firearms, galleon-style shipbuilding, and Christianity to Japan. The Nanban trade declined in the early Edo period with the rise of the Tokugawa Shogunate which feared the influence of Christianity in Japan, particularly the Roman Catholicism of the Portuguese.