Japan - USA Relations
The city of Shimoda on the Izu Peninsula played a very important role in modern Japan’s diplomatic relations with the West, and the United States in particular. The first US consulate opened in Shimoda in 1856. Townsend Harris was the first Consul General and was tasked with negotiating the Treaty of Amity and Commerce between Japan and the USA.
Shimoda’s biggest annual festival commemorates that era with the Kurofune Matsuri (Black Ship Festival). The first festival was held in 1934 as a way to honor the five crew members of Admiral Matthew Perry’s expedition to Japan who died at sea or during their time in Japan. Today, the festival also honors the friendship between Japan and the US.
The festival begins with the original graveside memorial at Gyokusenji Temple, site of the first US Consulate and resting place of the five crew. The memorial is attending by dignitaries from the City of Shimoda, the US Naval Base at Yokusuka, and the Japan Self Defense Forces. Over a period of three days, there are parades by the US Navy, Japan SDF, fireworks, and lots of food and entertainment.
Have a great time, learn about Shimoda’s important role in Japan’s foreign relations, and experience the beautiful Izu Peninsula.
The Shimoda Kurofune Matsuri takes place May 19-21.