William Adams & Kuroshima

Oita Kuroshima v3

Kuroshima with a population of six people is an assuming island off the coast of Usuki. Most visitors make the short boat journey in summer months to enjoy Kuroshima’s sandy beaches and to fish. However, here in 1600 the Dutch galleon De Leifde washed ashore with its crew either dead or in a parlous state. De Liefde was the sole survivor of a fleet of five Dutch East India Company ships, which were on an expedition to find passage to the East Indies via the Straits of Magellan at the southern tip of South America. Amongst the crew of 23 sick and dying men was the English pilot William Adams, who subsequently became a trusted confidant of Japan’s greatest samurai warlord Ieyasu Tokugawa. Adams was rewarded for his service by being given the status of samurai, one of only a handful of westerners ever to reach the rank, and also a Red Seal, which conferred the right to trade.

A memorial on Kuroshima celebrates Adams, who to this day is known as Miura Anjin in Japan. Adams, who died in 1620, never returned to England but his story of adventure on the high seas and in Japan gave James Clavell the inspiration to write his famed novel Shogun, which was adapted as a TV mini-series of the same name.

At a glance

The island where William Adams, the British sailor who became confident of Japan's greatest shogun, was shipwrecked in 1600.

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