A history of Japan - Vietnam trade
The first known ties between Vietnam and Japan date back to 736 when a Champa monk named Buttet-su from Linyi (now on the Central South Coast of Vietnam) came to Todai-ji in the capital of Nara in Japan to practice Buddhism. Buttetsu introduced Linyi’s style of Buddhist music into Japan, where it was embraced and adapted into Japan’s Gagaku court music.
Formal diplomatic and commercial ties began in 1591, when Vice Admiral and Marques of Phuc Nghia of the Nguyen clan in Cochinchine sent a letter to Shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi requesting the formation of trading ties between Cochinchine and Japan. These ties grew stronger during the Shuin-sen Trade Era.
During this era, Japanese authorities granted Shuin-jo trading licenses for 71 vessels to Cochinchine and 37 trading vessels to Tonkin. These Japanese ships carried porcelain, cannons, gunpowder, paper and a variety of minerals to Vietnam and bought ceramics, incense, silk and staple foods in Vietnam for sale in Japan.
In the 17th century, Nguyen authorities in Cochinchine allowed Japanese merchants to settle in Hoi An (Quang Nam), where they founded a Japanese quarter that existed in harmony with a Chinese district and Dutch assembly halls. Hoi An was one of the busiest and most cosmopolitan port towns in Southeast Asia during that era.
Among the Japanese traders who settled in Cochinchine was a merchant named Araki Sotaro from Nagasaki. He visited Hoi An six times on his Shuin-sen boats and established close ties with Lord Nguyen Phuc Nguyen (1563 – 1635). In 1619, Araki Sotaro won the hand of Princess Ngoc Hoa, the third daughter of Lord Nguyen Phuc Nguyen, who gave Araki Sotaro the Vietnamese name “Nguyen Thai Lang”. In 1620, Araki Sotaro took his new wife to Nagasaki. She was very popular among the Japanese who called her “Anio-san”.
Princess Ngoc Hoa passed away after having spent 26 years in Japan. People in Nagasaki still remember the merchant Araki Sotaro and his Vietnamese wife, and host the Nagasaki Kunchi Festival in their memory each year during October. Every seven years, the festival features a procession in which children play the roles of Sotaro and Ngoc Hoa standing on a trading vessel. This ritual celebrates the old trading ties between Japan and Vietnam. Besides Japan, Vietnam has also a close relationship with Laos. That's why it's very easy and beneficial if you take Vietnam and Laos tours.
An exhibition titled “A History of Japan – Vietnam Trade” is being jointly hosted by the Hue Royal Antiquities Museum and the National Museum of History in Hanoi from late February to early May 2017. This event will celebrate the historic visit of the Emperor and Empress of Japan to Vietnam and the Hue Former Citadel. The exhibition will display both antiques from Japan and Vietnamese artifacts relating to trade between Japan and Vietnam over the last 400 years.
Visitors to this exhibition can see blue glazed Hizen sometsuke ceramics brought to Vietnam by Japanese trading vessels in the early 17th century. Hizen pottery has been found in archeological sites in Hoi An (Quang Nam), Thanh Ha Port (Thua Thien Hue) and the Thang Long Imperial Citadel (Hanoi).
Anyone with an interest in the past will welcome this display of interesting artifacts that shed light on the close trading ties between Vietnam and Japan.
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