Sculptures at the Anjin Memorial Park: Miura Anjin = William Adams (left) and San Buena Ventura (right). They were created by Kenji Shigeoka

Miura Anjin = William Adams and Ito

In 1980, the television miniseries "Shogun" was broadcast in the United States, and it was quickly edited into a movie and shown in Japan and Europe, where it received great acclaim. The main character, a fearsome blue-eyed samurai played by Richard Chamberlain, is modeled after William Adams, who was cast ashore in Japan in April 1600 and placed in the service of Tokugawa Ieyasu.

A 1/7 scale restored model of "San Buenaventura" on display in the lobby of Ito City Hall
The real-life William Adams was a British navigator who drifted ashore in Japan on the Dutch ship Liefde while sailing around the world. 1600 is 2 years since Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who brought an end to the civil war period, passed away. His heir Hideyori was a child, and Ieyasu, who was Hideyori's chief assistant, won the Battle of Sekigahara in October, crushed the opposition within the Toyotomi government, and was in the process of establishing what would become the Tokugawa dynasty.

Jesuit missionaries claimed that the Liefde was a pirate ship and that the British and Dutch crew members should be immediately executed. However, after meeting with Adams and others several times, Ieyasu saw through the lies of the Jesuit missionaries and decided not to follow their claims. Ieyasu invited Adams and others to his headquarters in Edo. Ieyasu made Adams a samurai under his direct command, gave him territory on the Miura Peninsula, and gave him the name Miura Anjin. Anjin means navigator in Japanese. While Adams was certainly given samurai status, he never led his men into war as in the movie. Ieyasu received interpretation and advice from Anjin and others during diplomatic negotiations, and also gained new Western knowledge such as navigation techniques.

Model of the sand dock at the mouth of the Matsukawa River: The Matsukawa River flows to the right with the dock on the left.
Anjin's greatest achievement was the construction of Japan's first Western-style sailing ship, and the Matsukawa estuary in Ito was chosen as the construction site. Ito was probably chosen because it had a rich forest behind it, which was necessary for securing lumber, and at the mouth of the river there was a sandy beach, which was necessary for shipbuilding at the time, and the deep sea immediately spread out. Kamakura was in a similar situation, but there is a history that Sanetomo, the third shogun of the Kamakura shogunate, built a large ship in order to cross to China, but it failed because it could not be launched (1217) , and Kamakura was considered to be a place of bad luck. Satisfied with the performance of Anjin's first small 80-ton ship, Ieyasu ordered the construction of an even larger ship, and the 120-ton galleon was completed in 1607.

Clock presented by the King of Spain (imitation pdoduct)
In 1609, Rodrigo de Vivero, the Spanish governor of the Philippines, happened to encounter a typhoon on his way home, and his ship, the San Francisco, was wrecked and washed ashore in Onjuku, Sotobo. De Vivero appears to have had friendly relations with Japan since his time as Governor-General of the Philippines, and the Japanese treated him respectfully, offering a 120-ton galleon built by Anjin to replace the ship Rodrigo was on. De Vivero named the ship "San Buena Ventura" and left Japan in 1610, arriving safely in Acapulco, New Spain (present-day Mexico) in just over three months. In response, Spain sent an envoy of gratitude to Ieyasu, Sebastian Vizcaino, who paid for the ship and gave Ieyasu a pillow clock. Anjin writes that San Buenaventura was later used as a trading vessel between Japan, Manila, and Acapulco.

Anjin Street in the south of the Matsukawa River.
Currently, there is Anjin Memorial Park (completed in 2017) at the mouth of the Matsukawa River, where there are sculptures of Anjin and the San Buenaventura created by Kenji Shigeoka, a sculptor who has a studio in Ito. When you look upstream from the river mouth, you can see the old wooden building Tokaikan (formerly a hot spring inn) on your right, which has exhibits related to Miura Anjin. There is a small model of the San Buenaventura there, but a much larger one-seventh model (produced in 2020) of the actual ship is on display in the lobby of City Hall.

Ito City seems to be trying to utilize Miura Anjin for tourism promotion, Ito City seems to be trying to utilize Miura Anjin for tourism promotion, and in addition to developing the Matsukawa Estuary area, they have named the main street of Kusumi, the center of the former Ito Onsen, "Anjin Street". The shops along the street are beautifully decorated with city subsidies, but unfortunately there are few tourists. Anjin Street has such a strong retro atmosphere that it was used for a filming location for the 2006 movie "Ride the Subway" as the street in front of Nakano Station on the Marunouchi Line of the 1960s. Only a few more ideas, then the street would be filled with tourists. 。

Since 1947, the Anjin Festival has been held every August, and 2023 was the 77th festival. Recently, the Anjin Festival has become the largest annual event in Ito, with lantern floats, drum battles, and a fireworks display in which 10,000 fireworks are set off in an hour.

Matsukawa estuary. Anjin's dock was on the left bank of the river. What you can see in front of you is Hatsushima.