Primary Source: The 1582 Japanese Mission to Europe 一次史料:天正遣欧使節記

In 1582, the Jesuit Alessandro Valignano sent four teenage boys to Europe in order to gain support for the Christian mission in Japan, and he hoped that upon their return they would report back to the Japanese lords about the wonders of Europe. In 1585, the Jesuits published a book in Italy about the journey. It was called Relatione del viaggio, et arrivo in Europa, et Roma, de’ prencipi Giapponesi venuti à dare obedienza à sua Santità, and there is a copy of it in Japan, where it is referred to as the Record of the Delegation to Europe in the Tenshō Period (Tenshō ken’ō shisetsu-ki 天正遣欧使節記).

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(Photo credit: The Tokyo National Museum 東京国立博物館)

Online Source

Apparently, the only copy of this source in Japan is held by the Tokyo National Museum 東京国立博物館. It is available to view online. On the Mac, at least, the museum’s e-collection is a pretty frustrating user experience, but with patience, this text, and many other rare items, can be viewed.

Ōtomo Sōrin 大友宗麟, one of the historical figures I am researching, appears in the text as “Don Francisco, the King of Bungo” (Don Francefco Rè di Bungo). “Francisco” was the Christian name he took after his baptism.

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(Photo credit: The Tokyo National Museum 東京国立博物館)

Related Resources

Why Am I Posting This?

This is one of several posts I plan to make about Japanese primary sources available on the Internet, a project I have had on the back burner for a few years now. At the moment, the coverage and selection of sources is related to anything that I happen to stumble across in the course of doing my own research. It is, therefore, neither comprehensive nor especially well-organized, but my hope is that other people will benefit from having this information compiled here: the people and institutions who expended the time and effort to upload the sources will see an increase in traffic; more people from outside the field of Japanese studies will have an opportunity to see fascinating original sources that would otherwise be unavailable to them due to language constraints or low search ranking by Google; and researchers might be able to make use of these materials in their work.