Towards a Hybrid Seagoing Ship: The Transfer and Exchange of Maritime Know-How and Shipbuilding Technology Between Holland and Japan Before the Opening of Japan (1853)
During the so-called sakoku period (1635–1853), the Tokugawa shogunate imposed severe constraints on direct contacts with the overseas world. Yet through studying Rangaku (Dutch learning) and Yōgaku (Western learning) Japanese scholars attempted to catch up with scientific developments in the fields of medicine, ballistics and astronomy. Although the study of Western ship design and technology strictly belonged to the forbidden realm of the kaikin or maritime prohibitions, the Tokugawa regime itself finally tried to catch up with developments in Western shipbuilding technology when it had to face uninvited visits by Russian explorers and American whalers by the beginning of the nineteenth century. How off and on the quest for the transfer of maritime knowledge occurred between Holland and Japan is the subject of this contribution.