Daikokuya Kodayu

Daikokuya Kodayu
Item# MIEMIE012

Product Description

Daikokuya Kodayu (大黒屋光太夫) and Isokichi (磯吉) when returned to Japan by Adam Laxman, 1792.

Daikokuya Kodayu (1751-1828) was a Japanese castaway who spent eleven years in Russia.

His ship landed at Amchitka, Aleutian Islands. They managed to escape to the Russian mainland and had Catherine the Great allow them to go back to Japan by Kirill Laxman's effort with Alexander Bezborodko and Alexander Vorontsov. Two made it back to Japan alive, one died when they stayed in Yezo (Hokkaido), two stayed in Irkutsk as they became Christians, 11 died.

Early life

Daikokuya Kodayu was born in Wakamatsu, Ise Province. (Suzuka, Mie, Japan) He was adopted by a merchant, Daikokuya in Shiroko, Ise.(also Suzuka, Mie)


As the captain of the ship, Shinsho-maru. Kodayu set sail for Yedo in 1782. The ship was caught in a storm around Enshu (Western Shizuoka). After drifting for seven months, one man died.


Just after the man died, they found and landed on the island, Amchitka where Russians and Aleut people lived. They witnessed Aleuts' revolt in 1784 (Amchitka#Aleuts' revolt)


Russians and Kodayu's people escaped from the island by building new ship of driftwood with their sails being made of otter fur. They sailed the ship for one and a half months. Russian officials in Kamchatka at first could not believe they had sailed from Amchitka to Kamchatka by a "hand-made boat". At Kamchatka, Kodayu met Barthélemy de Lesseps, a French diplomat. Lesseps wrote about Japanese castaways and the leader Kodayu in his book, Journal historique du voyage de M. de Lesseps published in 1790.

According to Lesseps, The crew had special feeling of attachment and respect with Kodayu. He also showed his attachment as much as they did to him, and he always paid attention if they had any frustrating matters as possible as he could. Kōdayū did not hide what he thought and his Russian had strong accent and spoke very fast so sometimes Lesseps could not understand Kodayu. He wore Japanese cloths which did not cover his throat even when it was freezingly cold despite other Russian people's recommendation that he should have covered his throat.


A captain in Kamchatka, Hokkeich, led Kodayu's people to Okhotsk. In the book 《Daikokuya Kodayu》 (Iwanami Shoten, 2004), Japanese author Yamashita Tsuneo says Hokkeich (ホッケイチ) is ホトケーヴィチ, which sounds equivalent to a Russian name Khotkevich.


Kodayu's people had temporarily stayed in Yakutsk.


Kodayu's people met Kirill Laxman as Captain Hokkeich introduced them to each other.

Tsarskoye Selo

Kodayu's people had assistance by others, including Kirill Laxman, in Irkutsk. Kodayu then left for Saint Petersburg in order to accompany Kirill to ask to be returned home in 1791. By the instrumental help of Kiril, Kodayu was granted an audience with Catherine the Great in Tsarskoye Selo and Kodayu's people were permitted return home in the same year.