During the Edo period, Japan prohibited foreigners from entering the country, and restricted Japanese citizens from leaving. But there was one tiny exception, a two-acre manmade island in Nagasaki Bay that was connected to Nagasaki by a bridge leading to a military post. This was Dejima, the only place that traders from around the world could do business with Japan between 1636 and 1854. First the Spanish and the Portuguese came, but they were expelled for attempting to spread Christianity. The Dutch East Indies Company then took over. They had to surrender their sails when arriving, and had to ask for them back in order to leave. No Westerners were allowed across the bridge, and the only Japanese to enter Dejima were designated traders, interpreters, sex workers, and various cooks, gardeners, and clerks. There was only room for between 10-20 men to stay on the island at a time. Meanwhile, shiploads of lumber, silk, livestock, and other goods changed hands between countries that weren’t allowed to interact otherwise. Narratively tells the story of Dejima with some notable episodes in its history, involving ambition, homesickness, love, prison, science, suicide, war, and gradually-relaxing restrictions in international relations. -via Smithsonian
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(Image credit: The British Museum)