DORDRECHT, NETHERLANDS – A Dutch city held a ceremony Friday to commemorate 150 years since the launch of a ship commissioned by the Tokugawa shogunate (1603-1867), with descendants of the vessel’s Japanese crew attending the event.
The Kaiyo Maru was launched on Nov. 12, 1865, in the renowned shipbuilding city of Dordrecht. It was the largest wooden warship built in the Netherlands at the time.
At the ceremony, Dordrecht Mayor Arno Brok said the city hopes to resurrect memories of the big shipbuilding project, which has been forgotten by many people, and bolster its ties with Japan.
A commemorative plaque was placed at the site of a shipyard where the Kaiyo Maru was built and an exhibition about the ship, which will continue until March, opened at a museum in the city.
Takamitsu Enomoto, 80, a great-grandson of Takeaki Enomoto, a Tokugawa naval officer who commanded a fleet that included the Kaiyo Maru, said his ancestor studied in the Netherlands and contributed to the modernization of Japan.
“I’d appreciate it if many people learn about history. It will help boost friendship between Japan and the Netherlands,” he said.
The Kaiyo Maru became a flagship for the Tokugawa shogunate after its arrival in Japan, but became stranded and capsized during a storm off the town of Esashi, in Hokkaido, in 1868 during a civil war between the shogunate and forces seeking to return political power to the emperor.