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Record of ‘Japanese Slave’ Found in Spain


The Yomiuri Shimbun

The will of a Japanese man who went overseas as a slave on the same boat as the 16th-century Tensho Embassy to Europe (see below) has been found in Spain.

Lucio de Sousa, a specially appointed associate professor of Age of Discovery history at the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, found the document at the Library of the Royal Academy of History (La Real Academia de la Historia) in Madrid. This is the first historical source suggesting that a Japanese slave was aboard the same ship as the embassy. This valuable document also details the man’s life after the voyage.

The will is dated Oct. 25, 1642, and is a handwritten copy of a document created in Portuguese by a person calling himself Damian de Lima. There are three pages.

“I come from the kingdom of Japan. When I was young, in the 1580s, I was taken by Mr. Ignacio de Lima and I served him,” part of the document reads. This indicates that Damian was purchased as a slave in Japan by Ignacio, the Portuguese captain of the ship that the embassy traveled on.

No Japanese name is given for Damian. At the time, many slaves took the surnames of their masters.

The embassy left Ignacio’s ship at Kochi (Cochin) in India, and Damian and Ignacio sailed onto Portugal. Damian wrote that he “served [Ignacio] until the Lord summoned him.”

Perhaps because Ignacio had no relatives, he left his estate to a charitable organization in Lisbon that administered estates and remitted money internationally … (read more)

Source: The Japan News


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