Mission to Europe

Mission to Europe

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Coria de Rio

Mission to Europe


Hasekura in prayer, following his conversion in Madrid in 1615 The fleet arrived in Sanlucar de Barrameda on 5 October 1614.

"The fleet arrived safely finally, after some dangers and storms, to the port of Sanlúcar de Barrameda on 5 October, where the Duke of Medina Sidonia was advised of the arrival. He sent carriages to honor them and accommodate the Ambassador and his gentlemen" (Scipione Amati "History of the Kingdom of Voxu").

"The Japanese ambassador Hasekura Rokuemon, sent by Joate Masamune, king of Boju, entered Seville on Wednesday, 23 October 1614. He was accompanied by 30 Japanese with blades, their captain of the guard, and 12 bowmen and halberdiers with painted lances and blades of ceremony. The captain of the guard was Christian and was called Don Thomas, the son of a Japanese martyr" (Library Capitular Calombina 84-7-19 Memorias..., fol.195).

The Japanese embassy met with King Philip III in Madrid on 30 January 1615. Hasekura remitted to the King a letter from Date Masamune, as well as offer for a treaty. The King responded that he would do what he could to accommodate these requests.

Hasekura was baptized on 17 February by the king's personal chaplain, and renamed Felipe Francisco Hasekura. The baptism ceremony was to have been conducted by the Archbishop of Toledo, though he was too ill to actually carry this out, and the Duke of Lerma – the main administrator of Phillip III's rule and the de facto ruler of Spain – was designated as Hasekura's godfather.

The embassy stayed eight months in Spain before leaving the country for Italy.


Depiction of Hasekura's visit in the 17th century German edition of Scipione Amati's 1615 book on the "History of the Kingdom of Voxu". Hasekura's blason in the top right corner.

After traveling across Spain, the embassy sailed on the Mediterranean aboard three Spanish frigates towards Italy. Due to bad weather, they had to stay for a few days in the French harbour of Saint-Tropez, where they were received by the local nobility, and made quite a sensation on the populace.

The visit of the Japanese Embassy is recorded in the city's chronicles as led by "Philip Francis Faxicura, Ambassador to the Pope, from Date Masamunni, King of Woxu in Japan".

Many picturesque details of their movements were recorded:

"They never touch food with their fingers, but instead use two small sticks that they hold with three fingers."

"They blow their noses in soft silky papers the size of a hand, which they never use twice, so that they throw them on the ground after usage, and they were delighted to see our people around them precipitate themselves to pick them up."

"Their swords cut so well that they can cut a soft paper just by putting it on the edge and by blowing on it." ("Relations of Mme de St Troppez", October 1615, Bibliothèque Inguimbertine, Carpentras).

The visit of Hasekura Tsunenaga to Saint-Tropez in 1615 is the first recorded instance of Franco-Japanese relations.