XI Congreso Nacional y II Internacional
de la Asociación de Estudios Japoneses en España

Imagen Fondo AEJE


400 years from Keicho Mission : Japan and Japanese.

Keiko Chino. Journalist - Sankei Shimbun.

Keicho Mission led by Hasekura Tsunenaga arrived in Sevilla around October 21st of 1614, almost 1 year after they departed from Port Tsukinoura in Sendai, northern part of Japan. This was really adventurous journey for Japanese at that time.

The organizer of was Date Masamune, chief of Oshyu Sendai han (domain) and he appointed Hasekura to chief of the Mission. Date wanted trade with Mexico not only for han’s economic prosperity but also to compete with Tokugawa Ieyasu, Shogun then ruler of Japan and in addition to these, Date was interested in Christianity.

But 400 years from Keicho Mission, another new motif is now emerged. That is Keicho Earthquake. It had occurred in 1611 just 400 years before Great East Japan Earthquake (GEJE) in 2011 and it was also 2 years before the departure of Keicho Mission. Two earthquakes had hit the same area with similar magnitude. Therefore Keicho Earthquake caused huge Tsunami which gave severe damage and took many lives.

Interestingly enough, Spanish explorer Sebastian Vizcaino who was coincidently measuring the Sanriku coastline in Sendai became historical eyewitness of Keicho disaster. He later joined in keicho Mission.

Why Date sent the Mission to Spain under such a severe situation? It is said that Date hoped to accelerate rebuilding han and reinvigorate han’s people through this new project.

My paper will pick up this new factor and analyze how Keicho Earthquake influenced to Keicho Mission. And I would like to examine how Japanese mind has been affected by natural disaster because our history is also a history of earthquake. I will also refer to the current activities of Miyagi San Juan Bautista Museum and the replica of San Juan Bautista which were newly renovated and reopened to the public after GEJE.