Hello, my name is Remco and I will be reporting once in while from Hirado, located in the north of Nagasaki Prefecture.
I am originally from the Netherlands but I have been working and living in Hirado for 7 years now. Nagasaki city is famous for having a long relation with the Netherlands, after all the Dejima Network is called after the Dutch Trading Post in Nagasaki, Dejima.
But did you know that both the Chinese, Portuguese and the Dutch traded in Hirado long before they moved to Nagasaki city? The head of a Chinese trading network established his base in Hirado and brought the Portuguese (1550) and later the Dutch (1609) to Hirado. Eventually the English also set up a trading post in Hirado, exactly 400 years ago actually, in 1613!
Those who have been to Hirado probably know that you can still see many signs of this international history. Two years ago a reconstruction of a warehouse of the Dutch Trading Post was rebuilt in its original style. It’s a beautiful building and it is said it was originally the first real western style building in Japan, built in 1639.
It is now open as a museum where you can read all about the international trading that was going on in Hirado. They are English explanations throughout the museum and they have a free Tablets on loan with app that include all the information about what is on display and about items in the archives.
The Portuguese, Dutch and English introduced many different things to Japan while they were in Hirado. For example Bread, Refined Sugar, Paint, Tabacco, Beer but also paint and new building techniques, such as stone arch technique which they used for the doors of the warehouse. Therefore the old stone bridge that you can find in Hirado is nicknamed `The Dutch Bridge` because it uses that building method.
So if you ever come to Hirado, come and visit the Dutch Trading Post, you can learn all about how the first western nations traded in Japan.
The Hirado Dutch Trading Post is beautifully located at the entrance of Hirado harbour so you also have a beautiful view over the Straight of Hirado, where still many ships pass through. You can imagine how the old Gallions sailed here 400 to 450 years ago!