At a Glance


Explore the official beginning of U.S.-Japan international relations.

Professor Susan Smulyan, Heather Velez, and the Center for Digital Initiatives, Brown University

Perry Visits Japan

Woodcut, America Torai Okatame Ezu, 1853, Perry Visits Japan

This website brings together two unique historical holdings with the work of students to highlight the cultural interaction between Japan and the U.S. in the 19th century. The first holding is a 12-panel painted Japanese scroll by an anonymous artist that illustrates U.S. Navy Commodore Matthew Perry's 1854 landing in Japan, the first official contact between the two countries and the beginning of Japan's emergence as a world power. The second holding is a set of six lithographs by William Heine, the official artist of the Perry expedition, that depicts an American view of the events of Perry's landing.

In addition, there are images of three Japanese broadsides about the visit, often accompanied by student essays interpreting the images, and excerpts from the official narrative and essays by accompanying officers—including two from Commodore Perry's accounts and one from Heine's account. Also included are a bibliography with seven books, one journal article, and three links to related websites. For teachers, there is a sample lesson plan (10th grade) using the website. A useful resource for anyone interested in Perry's visit to Japan or for those researching Japanese-American relations or cultural contact.