• Friendship Affiliation

Although the Dutch had had a trading post on the island of Deshima since 1641 and Japan and the Netherlands enjoy a unique relationship that spans over 4 centuries, it wasn’t until Philipp Franz von Siebold arrived at Deshima (Nagasaki) that the ties between Japan and Leiden became evident.  Philipp Franz von Siebold landed at Deshima, located off the coast of Nagasaki in 1823.  He was sent to gather information on Japan, the trade situation and the  political system.   At that time foreigners were not allowed to leave the island, however after Siebold had cured an influential local official, he was given permission to open a clinic on the mainland and make house calls to the sick.  Immediately after arriving, Siebold contacted physicians and natural scientists, some of whom spoke and wrote Dutch and were known as ‘Rangakusha’ or Dutch experts.  Siebold’s home rapidly became a meeting place for lectures and discussion and Siebold himself gained recognition as an expert on Western learning.  It is no wonder that at the time the Dutch language was seen as the ‘Latin of the East’.   Siebold return in 1830 and portions of his collection were kept in Leiden, Ghent, Antwerp and Brussels.  In 1832 Siebold came to live on Rapenburg 19 in Leiden and his collection was displayed to the general public.  This very first Japan Museum was opened on June 15 1832.

Ondertekening Leiden Nagasaki 01

  • Leiden and Nagasaki: the ties continue

Today the ties between Leiden and Nagasaki can been seen throughout the city and have led to the establishment of a Friendship Affiliation which was signed in 2012 by Mayor Lenferink of Leiden and Mayor Taue of Nagasaki.  The most obvious and tangible example of these ties is Japan Museum SieboldHuis at Rapenburg 19.  Siebold’s legacy can also be found in the collections at the Museum for Ethnology and the Biodiversity Centre Naturalis.  As early as 1846 the German scholar J.J. Hoffmann was active at the university of Leiden teaching Japanese and Chinese gaining the rank of professor in 1855.  At present Japan studies located in the ‘Arsenaal’ (virtually around the corner from Japan Museum SieboldHuis) is the largest in the faculty of Humanities.  In keeping with the traditions set out by Siebold himself, the relations between Leiden and Nagasaki in the field of medicine continue to flourish through the strong ties between Leiden University Medical Centre and the University of Nagasaki.  Ties are also active in the field of commence between both cities.

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