Like a Yankee daimyo, on Nov. 23, 1857, Townsend Harris made a progress to Edo (now Tokyo) from his residence in Shimoda on the Izu Peninsula. Proceeded by an American flag made of Japanese crepe, Harris, on horseback, was escorted by a guard of six whose costumes bore the coat-of-arms of the United States. The same blazon adorned the dark-blue uniforms of the 12 men who followed, shouldering his palanquin. Bringing up the rear were coolies bearing his clothes and furniture, and his cook.

The procession halted at Kanagawa, where Harris gazed across the bay to the former anchorage of the Black Ships that brought America’s first emissary, Cmdr. Matthew Perry, to Japan in July 1853. Harris, Consul General of the United States for the Empire of Japan, now came bearing a letter from President Franklin Pierce requesting a commercial treaty.

Unable to view this article?

This could be due to a conflict with your ad-blocking or security software.

Please add japantimes.co.jp and piano.io to your list of allowed sites.

If this does not resolve the issue or you are unable to add the domains to your allowlist, please see out this support page.

We humbly apologize for the inconvenience.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.