Isaac Meyer

Historian, teacher, podcaster

Episode 307 – The Prisoners of Nanbu, Part 2

The Breskens crew arrive in Edo, with the question of how they are to be treated looming over them. At the same time, another group of very different Europeans arrive there as well. This week, we’ll talk about the interwoven fates of both groups, and what they tell us about the concerns of the shogunate and Tokugawa Iemitsu.


Hesselink, Reiner. Prisoners from Nambu: Reality and Make-Believe in 17th-Century Japanese Diplomacy.

Matsukata, Fuyuko. The Dutch and English East India Companies: Diplomacy, Trade, adn Violence in Early Modern Asia. 

Tokugawa Iemitsu, the third Tokugawa Shogun.

Whenever the Dutch arrived at the Nagasakiya, the inn where they were kept while in Edo, it was always an event. This Hokusai lithograph shows the kind of reception they would get.

A lithograph from a Dutch publication describing Schaep’s experiences. This is one of the interrogation scenes.

While Inoue Masashige was not important enough to have any paintings of him made, he was important enough to be the villain of Endo Shusaku’s novel Silence, which is all about the interrogation of a captured Jesuit priest. That means he was also in the movie adaptation; he’s played here by famous character actor Ogata Issei.

An example of tsurushi, or suspension torture. This or worse awaited captured Jesuits and other Catholics under Iemitsu’s reign.


Episode 306 – The Prisoners of Nanbu, Part 1


Episode 308 – The Prisoners of Nanbu, Part 3


  1. Julia

    Tartary is real. It’s supposed to be the land of the Tatars. It’s just an antiquated name for Central Asia and Siberia.

    • ijmeyer

      Apologies, to be clear I meant Tartary as imagined by Marco Polo — that’s what they were looking for, and it isn’t real (or more accurately, it’s a heavily orientalized version of China, a place they’d already managed to find).

      • Julia

        Could you mean Cathay? I heard there used to be debate over whether Cathay was the same as China.

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