The Oriental Irish, Part 1

In what will be a series of mid-week posts, I will be detailing a few of the more famous Irish people to come to Japan.

We’ll start with the first recorded Irishman to come ashore, and in true, Irish fashion, it wasn’t the most… stylish of entrances.


Robert Jansen, originally hailing from Waterford, came to Japan in 1704. At the time, Japan was under a serious isolationist policy called Sakoku. Nobody was allowed to enter or leave the country under pain of death. So what does our hero do? Only get himself caught in a boat off the coast of Kyushu (The southern of Japan’s main Islands).

Luckily for Jansen, the Dutch and Portuguese were operating a trading post in Nagasaki, called Dejima. Dejima was the only place in all of Japan where foreign people were allowed to interact with the Japanese. Whether the samurai felt sorry for Jansen, or he applied a bit of Irish charm, he was brought there safely, and spared a quick execution. Needless to say, he was probably telling that story at pubs all over the world for the rest of his life.


That’s it for Jansen, luckily we have much more details on other Irish people, so heck back next week for more Oriental Irish.


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