The British Embassy William Adams Sculpture

The memorial sculpture by Kate Thomson, erected in 2020 by The William Adams Club in the grounds of the British Embassy, Tokyo.


12/28/20221 min read

  The mainsail depicts a period navigator using a back-staff, the precursor of the sextant. This is not an illustration of Adams, because there is no reliable picture or record of what he looked like. This replicates a period drawing taken from John Davis' 1595 book, The Seaman's Secrets. Adams would have used such a basic device for navigation purposes, and likely knew Davis, who had a similar passion for navigating to Japan.

Right: The crest of the first shogun, Tokugawa Ieyasu who, in recognition of the services and value of Adams to him personally-as interpreter, educator, European affairs adviser and ocean-going ship builder­ bestowed upon him Hatamoto (senior retainer) samurai status, along with an estate at Hemi on the Miura Peninsula.

Centre: The flag of St George, England's national flag.

Left: The crest of the Matsura family, who as local lords ruled over Hirado domain both before and after Adams' time. The Matsura’s treated Adams, and later the British expatriates of the East India Company, for which Adams was employed as sea-captain and special adviser, ­most favourably.

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