Engelbert Kaempfer's History of Japan was a best-seller from the moment it was published in London in 1727. Born in Westphalia in 1651, Kaempfer traveled throughout the Near and Far East before settling in Japan as physician to the trading settlement of the Dutch East India Company at Nagasaki. During his two years residence, he made two extensive trips around Japan in 1691 and 1692, collecting, according to the British historian Boxer, "an astonishing amount of valuable and accurate information." He also learned all he could from the few Japanese who came to Deshima for instruction in the European sciences.
To these observations, Kaempfer added details he had gathered from a wide reading of travelers' accounts and the reports of previous trading delegations. The result was the first scholarly study of Tokugawa Japan in the West, a work that greatly influenced the European view of Japan throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, serving as a reference for a variety of works ranging from encyclopedias to the libretto of "The Mikado."