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View of Dejima in Nagasaki Bay
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Scale model of Dutch trading post on display in Dejima (2003)
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Edo-era boundaries of Dejima island (outlined in red) within the modern city of Nagasaki.

Dejima, also Deshima (, literally 'protruding island') in modern Japanese, was a fan-shaped artificial island in the bay of Nagasaki that was a Dutch trading post during Japan's self-imposed isolation (sakoku) of the Edo period, from 1641 until 1853.

The island was constructed in 1634 and originally accommodated Portuguese merchants. After the Portuguese and other Catholic nations were expelled from Japan in 1641, the shogunate ordered the Dutch East India Company to transfer its mercantile operations from the port of Hirado to Deshima. It is significant that Deshima was a man-made island, hence not part of Japan proper. Thus the foreigners (Portuguese and Dutch) were kept at arm's length from the sacred soil of Japan.

Sakoku policy

For the next two hundred years, Dutch merchants were generally not allowed to cross from Deshima to Nagasaki, and Japanese were likewise banned from entering Deshima, except for prostitutes. Official exceptions were also made to this rule, especially following Tokugawa Yoshimune's doctrine of promoting European practical sciences. European scholars such as Engelbert Kaempfer, Carl Peter Thunberg, and Philipp Franz von Siebold were allowed to enter the mainland with the shogunate's permission. Starting in the 1700s, Deshima became known throughout Japan as a center of medicine, military science, and astronomy, and many samurai travelled there for "Dutch studies" (Rangaku).

In addition, the Head of the Dutch 'factory' (trading post), known by the title of opperhoofd, was treated like a Japanese daimyo, which meant that he had to pay a visit of homage to the Shogun in Edo regularly (the so-called sankin kotai). In contrast to daimyo, the Japanese delegation traveled to Edo yearly between 1660 and 1790 and once every four years thereafter. In Edo the opperhoofd and his retinue (usually his scribe and the factory doctor) were expected to perform Dutch dances and songs etc. for the amusement of the shogunate, but they also used the opportunity of their stay in the capital to exchange knowledge with learned Japanese.

The Dutch East India Company's trading post at Deshima was closed in 1857, once Dutch merchants were allowed to trade in Nagasaki City. Since then, the island has been surrounded by reclaimed land and merged into Nagasaki: its original location is marked by rivets.

A project to restore Deshima is now underway. In modern Japanese the pronunciation would be Dejima; in relation to the Dutch trading post, Deshima is the preferred spelling.

See also

External links

Template:Former Dutch coloniesde:Deshima fr:Dejima ja:出島 nl:Dejima


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