Tao Demin: A Stowaway's Dilemma-- Yoshida Shoin (1830-1859) on Perry's Flagship and in Shimoda Jail

Kansai Univ Professor Tao Demin's background includes a postdoc fellowship at Harvard's Reischauer Institute in 1991-2. Yoshida Shoin was an important Bakumatsu period figure in education and politics. His sister is heroine of NHK Taiga Drama for 2015.

This year’s NHK Taiga dorama “Hana Moyu” (flowers burning) started on January 4th with Yoshida Shoin (Torajiro, 1830-1859) and his sister Fumi as the hero and heroine. Trained from his childhood as a Yamaga-style military strategist of the Hagi domain (Choshu), Shoin was able to give a lecture to his lord when he was still a boy of 11 years old. He also studied the Chinese classics and the Dutch learning, and left an incredible ten thick volumes of writings in his short life. As the spiritual leader of the Meiji Restoration, Shoin disseminated through his famous academy Shoka Sonjuku  a strong influence on many Samurai such as modern Japan’s first prime minister Ito Hirobumi. The most striking story in his career, however, was perhaps his attempted stowaway through Commodore Perry’s flagship Powhatan at Shimoda bay on April 25, 1854. Many puzzles had remained to be solved concerning this Shimoda story, such as the exact time Shoin climbed on the flagship; why he was not beheaded even though his stowaway violated the Bakufu’s strict prohibition on immigration; and  how humanitarian concerns mattered in the age of so-called “gunboat diplomacy” or “whale oil.” Speaker Demin Tao, who appeared in the January 3rd TV introduction to “Hana Moyu,” will answer these questions based on his findings at the NARA (National Archives and Records Administrations in Washington DC, not the capital of ancient Japan!) and Yale’s Sterling Memorial Library, as well as his reading of Japan Expedition by Commodore M.C. Perry (United States Congress Papers) and Boku-I osetu roku (the Bakufu’s Records on Negotiations with the American Barbarians).

 DATE and TIME: March 17th, Tuesday, 7:00 – 9:00pm (Doors open at 6:30pm) 

VENUE: Roppongi Hills Club 

Admission 5,000 yen includes standing buffet at Roppongi Hills Club with cash bar. 

REGISTRATION: Please use the form on the right of this page.

Please register by March 15th. Cancellations after that date and no-shows will be invoiced in full. Questions about registration to carl@tokyoway.jp 


De-min Tao is Professor & Founding Director of Institute for Cultural Interaction Studies at Kansai University, a Global COE program in Japan, and the Founding President of Society for Cultural Interaction in East Asia. He earned his MA from Fudan University, Shanghai and Ph.D. from Osaka University, and taught at Bridgewater State College of Massachusetts after finishing research at Princeton’s East Asian Department and postdoctoral work at Harvard's Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies. His recent publications include Transpacific Relations in the Late 19th and Early 20th Centuries: Religion, Commerce, and Culture; The Collected Works of Samuel Wells Williams; The Orchid Pavilion Gatherings in Japan and China in 1913: A Collection of Documents and Pictures; Cultural Interaction Studies in East Asia: New Methods and Perspectives; The World Expositions and East Asian Participation 1851-2010; Neo-Confucianism and East Asia in Early Modern and Modern Eras; Naito Konan’s Collection of Calligraphic and Pictorial Works of the Late Qing Celebrities; The Transformation of Public Welfare Thought in East Asia: From Early Modern to Modern Times; Business Ethics and Its Practice in Modern East Asia: Centering on Shibusawa Eiichi and Zhang Jian; and Three Sinologists of Meiji Japan and Their Diplomatic Suggestions about China.