THE SATSUMA STUDENTS IN BRITAIN: Japan’s Early Search for the “Essence of the West,” by Andrew Cobbing. Japan Library: Curzon Press, 2000, 201 pp., with maps and 11 b/w photos, unpriced.

On a summer morning in 1865, the steamship Delhi dropped anchor in Southampton. On board were 17 young students from Satsuma, who had come to England in quest of the “essence of the West.” Actually, there were 19 of them, but since the other two were not from Satsuma (they came, respectively, from Tosa and Nagasaki) they were left out of the official accounting, devoted as it was to “the Spirit of Young Satsuma.” Thus, from the very first, the quest was to harbor parochial interests, and the group soon dispersed in various directions.

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