Japan400 Telescope Presentation


12/28/20221 min read

  The Japan400 Committee in the United Kingdom presented this telescope and tripod to the people of Japan on 8th September 2013 to commemorate the gift of a telescope from King James to Tokugawa Ieyasu on 8th September 1613, marking the anniversary of diplomatic, trade, scientific and cultural relations.

In June 1613 the Clove, commanded by John Saris, arrived at Hirado, as the first British ship to reach Japan. It had been sent by the East India Company, and bore an official letter and presents from King James for the ruler of Japan, as arranged by his chief minister, the Earl of Salisbury.

Saris was introduced to Tokugawa Ieyasu by William Adams and presented the fine illuminated letter and various gifts, the principal one being a large silver gilt telescope. Telescopes had only just been invented, and this is the first known to have been dispatched from Europe to Asia. That the Japanese were impressed by such technology is demonstrated by many later shoguns asking for European telescopes.

Sadly, the original has been lost, and so a hand-made brass British telescope was commissioned as a replacement, to be an enduring symbol of the beginning of Britain's valuable partnership with Japan in science and technology. The Japan400 Presentation Telescope was made by I. R. Poyser, Maes Gylfinir, Ystrad, Meurig, Ceredigion, SY25 6AX, Wales. The following images were also kindly provided by the maker.

The Presentation Telescope and its tailor made casket was on display at the British Embassy in Tokyo for several months in 2013/2014, followed by a tour and display to all the William Adams connected towns in Japan.Its final resting place is the museum at Sunpu Castle in Shizuoka, being the ancestral home of Tokugawa Ieyasu.

Click on the images to view them in full resolution.