Q: I am very interested in your book “Why was the Pilgrims’ Introduction to Europe successful?” In particular, I was curious as a non-Asian American to understand how the Europeans came to trade with us. What do you think were the reasons?
A: Your question is a good one. Your first question may also have been “Why was the Pilgrims’ introduction to Europe so successful?” The reason that the Pilgrims took up this venture is not quite clear. It is generally believed that they were seeking an alternative to the religious practices of the Pagans. Religious practices such as animal sacrifice were common in many areas of the world at that time and the Pilgrims may well have seen these practices as a way to avoid practicing their religion against their fellow men.
In any event, there is no doubt that the Pilgrims were welcomed into the city of Kyoto by the Japanese governor Masamune Shiatsu. He seems to have been particularly impressed with the Europeans’ firearms and encouraged the Japanese to purchase firearms from Europe. The first official shipment of European firearms from Europe to Japan did arrive in Japan around the same time as the voyage across the Pacific. This marked the beginning of the period known as the “Atlantic Industrial Revolution.”
There are a number of theories as to why the European guns were effective in Japan. One possibility is that the Japanese simply picked up some techniques from Europe when it came to manufacturing clay shot guns. Another possibility is that the Europeans simply supplied more durable and powerful clays than Japan was able to produce on its own. The third possibility is that the Europeans introduced pepper powder to Japan which made the weapon more effective against enemy soldiers.
Regardless of the actual reasons, the guns did prove very effective. They quickly replaced most of the bows and arrows that the Japanese had been using and soon gun manufactures began to boom in Japan. During this time period, many gun makers started to make firearms with interchangeable cartridges and loading mechanisms. As a result, it is easy to understand why the question “Why was the introduction of european firearms in Japan so successful?”
Today, you will find most gun retailers in Japan proudly displaying a selection of these firearms. While there are many arguments about the specific reasons that the Europeans brought guns to Japan, one thing is clear: Without the firearms Japan would not have experienced the resurgence of the Japanese gun market that it has enjoyed today. If you are interested in learning more about Europe firearms and their impact on Japan, you can access many different web sites that have entire sections dedicated to this subject.