Cruisers’ Guide to Japan

Cruiser’s Guide to Japan

Japan, an Island Nation

Japan’s ports and harbors have long played an essential role in the social and economic activities of its people. While there are notable exceptions such as the Ainu, the indigenous people of Hokkaido, the country is relatively homogenous in terms of its population’s ethnicity and language.

Waterways help connect communities within Japan.

In 1853, U.S. Navy Commodore Matthew Perry famously demanded that Japan open its doors to foreign trade. In 1854, Japan opened two ports, Shimoda and Hakodate, to foreign trade (Convention of Kanagawa). It designated five more ports, Yokohama, Kobe, Nagasaki, Osaka, and Niigata, in 1858 with the Treaty of Amity and Commerce.

Throughout its history, the Japanese developed an active maritime culture to facilitate trade and cultural exchanges with their neighbors that bridged Japan's geographical disconnect from the Asian continent.