Abstract

The apparent inevitability of Tokugawa Japan’s opening to the West in 1854 has naturalized the story of how a series of overtures from the late eighteenth century onward culminated in Commodore Matthew Perry’s successful mission. This essay proposes to disrupt that teleology through an examination of the differing responses of officials and commoners to a minor incident in 1824, which brought English whalers into contact with ordinary Japanese. The analysis places the incident both within domestic foreign policy debates and in a Pacific World that existed beyond the reach of any state.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1549-4721
Print ISSN
0095-6848
Pages
pp. 295-327
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-19
Open Access
No
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