Hirado Dutch Trading Post - History
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The current situation of the Trading Post site

The Hirado harbour and the Trading Post site viewed from the sky

The circled part on the right side of the entrance of the harbour indicates the historical site of the Hirado Dutch Trading Post. Hirado, during the Chinese Tang dynasty known as Hirashima, and during the middle ages known as a strategic location used by Japanese pirates (wako), has since ancient times been known for its important role in maritime exchange. In 1550 Hirado became the window for foreign trade when the first Portuguese ships sailed into the harbour, and in 1609 the first Dutch Trading Post was built. However, by order of the bakufu the Dutch Trading Post was moved to Dejima in Nagasaki. The Hirado era lasted for 33 years.

However, because the storage house was thoroughly demolished we can only speculate about how the situation would have been from the remains of the stone wall and the Dutch well on the site of the Trading Post.

In 1922 the site of the Dutch Trading Post was acknowledged for its historical value as a location of foreign trade and was designated as National Heritage as the “Hirado Dutch Trading Post.” Since the excavations started 1978 the construction and scale of the Trading Posts has become clear through research done in the area.

The Hirado harbour and the Trading Post site viewed from the sky

The site of the Trading Post looks out over the Hirado Strait and harbour, while steep mountains arise from the back where other remains of the Dutch Trading Post, such as the wall, the well and the wharf still exist. When standing amongst these remains you can really feel the scenery of the 17th century Era of Foreign Trade.

A. The Dutch wall

The Dutch wall shows best that the Hirado Dutch Trading Post existed during the early days of the Edo period. It was built between the Trading Post and the rest of the city to prevent fire spreading and burglary, and keep the Trading Post from people’s sight.

B. The Dutch well

The Dutch well is also a clear indication of the Hirado Dutch Trading Post’s existence in Hirado. Nowadays it is called the Dutch Well, but on an old map of Hirado from 1792 it was called the “Dutch River”. Even though there are no records available on the construction we can confirm the well’s existence through Dutch related historical documents.

C. The Dutch wharf

We do not know for certain when the wharf was constructed, however, on the first of November 1641 stone stairs leading to a watergate are mentioned in the property records of the VOC warehouse. It is believed that it was the place where the ships of the VOC unloaded their cargo and laid anchor for short periods of time.

D. Light Beacon

This Light Beacon was built as shore protection during the reclamation of 1616, 1618 and 1639. We can confirm this fact through excavation projects because the ocean side was reclaimed after the stone wall was built in the 1610’s.

Hirado Dutch Trading Post
Nagasaki Prefecture, Hirado City, Ookubo, 2477
TEL. 0950-26-0636 FAX. 0950-26-0638 E-mail: shokan1639@matsura.or.jp