In September 1613, King James l gave the Shogun a precious goblet. He gave his father, the all-powerful former Shogun, a telescope—the first ever known outside Europe.

The items, with letters of friendship, were conveyed by the newly-formed East India Company. The Japanese responded with two suits of armour, ten sumptuous paintings and permission for the British to reside and trade in Japan for ever

But there already was an Englishman living in Edo (modern Tokyo). His name was William Adams, from Gillingham in Kent. The Japanese called him Anjin (or “pilot”). He had become a confidant of the Shogun, but he joined the East India Company, and acted as go-between. He never returned to England.

His grave is a famous site, and a district in Tokyo was named after him.

This is the 400th anniversary of the opening of trade, scientific, cultural and diplomatic ties.

2013 is “Japan400” and we aim for 400 connections for 400 years!

painting of James I
James I

Send your subjects to any part or port of my dominions! They shall be most welcome.

Though separated by ten thousand leagues of clouds and waves, our territories are as it were close to each other

–Tokugawa Ieyasu, letter to King James I, October 1613

painting of Ieyasu

The Lord Mayor’s greeting

The City of London is delighted to see so many events planned to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Anglo-Japanese diplomatic relations. The UK and Japan have a very strong partnership and we hope that volumes of bilateral trade and investment will increase over the coming years. I look forward to leading a senior City business delegation to Japan in April 2013 to promote two way trade and investment between our two countries.

–Alderman Roger Gifford, Lord Mayor of the City of London