The Diaries of Sir Ernest Mason Satow, 1870-1883

1st Edition

Ian Ruxton

Published August 12, 2016
ISBN 9784902454956 - CAT# Y310180

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The scholar and diplomat Sir Ernest Satow was the best-known Westerner who lived in Meiji Japan. Although he rose to become British Minister to Japan, the most interesting part of his career was the start of it, when he witnessed, and in a small way influenced, the fall of the Bakufu and the Meiji Restoration.

This volume of his diaries continues the story up to the time when Satow leaves Japan for subsequent appointments in Bangkok, Montevideo and Tangier, before returning to Tokyo as Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary in 1895. Although the years 1870-1883 were an interlude between the exciting years of the Bakumatsu and the promotion to Consul General in Bangkok, they give much detail of Satow’s journeys under difficult conditions including appalling weather in the interior of Japan, and a firsthand account of the Satsuma Rebellion which was beginning as Satow returned to Japan from Europe in January 1877. There is also an account of a visit to Korea in late 1878, and of the visit to Japan of the British royal princes Arthur and George in 1881. His two leaves in Europe reflect his cultural interests, though Japan is mentioned only occasionally.

  The editor has added extensive annotations and explanations to these diaries, making this book an indispensable reference work for students of early Meiji Japan, and indeed anybody who wants to understand the story of how a very young, very clever, but rather awkward Englishman could have penetrated the very highest levels of the Japanese hierarchy to witness the transformation of the country from a feudal, inward-looking society to one that would become a major industrialized power to shock the world.

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