Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Study ABroad Japan Blog - Book Review - A Diplomat in Japan

Book Review – A Diplomat in Japan

Author: Sir Ernest Satow
Publisher: ICG MUSE, Tokyo, JAPAN. First published 1921
ISBN: 4-925080-28-8
Pages: 424.
Rating: 5/5 

An armchair view of Japan in 1862

Copyright. 2007. JapaneseCustomer.com.All rights reserved

Ernest Satow first arrived in Japan on September 8, 1862 aboard a steamship bound from Shanghai, China. Over the next twenty years he saw first hand the events of the period and recorded them in his diary. All in all he spent over twenty years in Japan and this time is covered by this book.The period in question covers the period 1862 to 1882. Spread over thirty six page turning chapters, a glossary of Japanese words and an index of people, places and events he shares his studies and life in Japan.

Satow documents the day of his arrival, his life in Yokohama, how he studied Japanese, the physical conditions of the country and the people, the political conditions, the relationships with other foreign embassies, daily life and the meetings with the government. All are mixed into a narrative that puts you there in the room as he talks with officials, Shoguns and Emperors as he translates and interprets treaties, documents and conversations to allow Great Britain to trade with Japan.

Highlights include his first visit to Osaka, the bombing of Kagoshima, meeting with the Shogun, the Emperor and the negotiation of reparations for murdered foreigners. The book is best read with a map handy so you can follow his steps as he travels throughout the mainland by palanquin, horse and steamer.

For the current Japanese language student he details how he started learning the language, discusses his teachers, the resources he had available, the techniques he used and the joy he gained living and speaking the language.

For the traveler, the book will surely light a spark that yearns for seeing the places he visited. To see for yourself the places, experience the lifestyle (food, baths, sake, etc) and to visit the temples and to meet the people, cities and places mentioned.

For the businessmen, Satows book details some of the first business negotiations foreigners had with the Japanese government and the practical duties of implementing trading.

The only weakness the book has is that it ends too soon.

Rating: 5/5 *****

A Diplomat in Japan - Sir Ernest Satow

See Japan by motorcycle at Motorcycle Japan