Yearbook Japan, 2019, vol. 48, pp. 175–196

DOI: 10.24411/0235-8182-2019-10008

The Story of a Dream

S.A. Tolstoguzov

Abstract. The political pamphlet «Yume monogatari» was written by Takano Choei (1804–1850), a well-known representative of the Dutch science (rangaku) in Japan. Choei lived in the first half of the 19th century, when interest in things from Europe increased significantly. This interest was due to the growing influence that European countries were having in the Asian region, particularly the spectacular achievements of Europeans in advanced fields of science and industry. It was becoming obvious to a few that Japan’s foreign policy isolation was a factor hampering social and technological progress. Therefore, Takano Choei utilized the rumors about the possible appearance of the American ship “Morrison” near the Japanese coast as a chance to criticize the Order of 1825 that was in force at that time which enjoined that foreign ships were to be immediately expelled from Japanese waters. Choei believed that the execution of this order could lead to great complications in relations with foreign powers, therefore the pamphlet took the form of a story about unrealistic events occurring in a dream as way to express his views on foreign policy issues. This paper presents a translation of this work with detailed comments on the text and foreign policy of Japan in late Edo Period. It is also suggested that, despite the punishment of Takano Choei, the bakufu seemed to indeed take into account some of his considerations when changing the rules for the treatment of foreign ships in 1842.

Keywords: Japan’s Edo Period foreign policy, Anglo-Japanese relations, Takano Choei, Yume monogatari, rangaku, The “Morrison” incident.

Author: Tolstoguzov Sergey A., Ph.D — Visiting Professor, Department of Integrated Arts and Sciences, Hiroshima University. E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Contents of the issue: Yearbook Japan, 2019, Vol. 48.