History of the Hirado Dutch Trading Post
The Hirado Dutch Trading Post and the 1936 storage house
The Dutch Trading Post in Hirado was a hub of East Asian trade. In 1609 the Tokugawa shogunate permitted the VOC to trade with Japan after which the Dutch Trading Post was constructed in Hirado under the guidance of Matsura Takanobu, lord of Hirado. According to descriptions from the diaries of Trading Post captains, the VOC started out renting one building, but as trade grew they gradually expanded their facilities in 1612, 1616, 1618, 1623, 1637 and 1639. The warehouses built in 1637 and 1639, after the Taiwan Incident (a conflict with Japan regarding Chinese trade in Taiwan) in 1628 which caused trading relations to stop for 5 years, were especially large in scale and were symbols of the VOC’s blooming trade.
However, on the 9th of November 1640, by order of Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu, Governor-General Inoue Masashige instructed all Dutch buildings to be destroyed. The reason for this order was the year 1639 displayed on the Trading Post’s gable. As it is a date in accordance with the Christian calendar it was in violation with the Anti-Christian policy active during the time.
In May 1640 the Dutch Trading Post was moved to Dejima in Nagasaki. This marked the end of 33 years of Dutch Trade in Hirado. After that, the Trading Post area was returned to the city and shipyards were built along its coastline. As we can see on old maps, some of the remains of the Dutch Trading Post were called by their Dutch names throughout the Edo period (1603-1868), such as the well and the hill which were called the “Dutch River” and the “Dutch Hill”.
In 1922 the site was recognized as National Historical Site, as: “The Hirado Dutch Trading Post Site”. However, full-scale excavations only started in 1978. As a result, the Dutch Trading Post is now a historical fact, rather than something obscurely featured in historical records. The recon-struction of the buildings and surroundings, which flourished as trading facilities around the 1640’s, is still moving ahead in order to make this important landmark in Hirado’s history and culture more accessible to the public. The period in which the Trading Post flourished coincides with the historically important period of international trade, the promotion of Christianity and the Anti-Christian Policy, and Japanese Foreign Policy.
Please look forward to relive the Hirado Dutch Trading Post where you can experience the history of Hirado and its ocean town and enjoy Hirado’s picturesque scenery.
^ A drawing of the Hirado Dutch Trading Post which appeared in the “Atlas Japannenis”. Published by the Dutch missionary Montanus in 1669.
^ The outer appearance of the reconstructed Hirado Dutch Trading Post.
^ The interior of the Hirado Dutch Trading Post.