- Traveled: 1865
Nineteen young men from Satsuma han were among the first Japanese to study overseas in the West, departing Japan in 1865, a year before the Tokugawa shogunate lifted bans on overseas travel. A number of these students went on to become prominent figures in the Meiji government, or in Meiji period society otherwise.
The students, aided by the Scotsman Thomas Glover, claimed to be merely traveling to the Koshiki Islands just off the coast of Kyushu, when they departed from Hashima (an area in Kushikino city, on the Kyushu mainland). In fact, they left Japan entirely, arriving in Singapore twenty days later; 46 days after that, they arrived in London. All adopted new names while overseas, but most are known today by their "real" names.
The students returned to Japan with examples of numerous new technologies, including spinning machines, and also made arrangements for Satsuma to show a pavilion, separate from that of the shogunate, at the 1867 Paris World's Fair. Members of the mission also arranged to gain Britain's support for Satsuma in the upcoming rebellion against the shogunate.
Members of the Mission
- Niiro Hisanobu (34) - leader of the mission
- Godai Tomoatsu
- Hatakeyama Yoshinari - first president of University of Tokyo
- Machida Hisanari
- Matsuki Koan
- Mori Arinori - first Minister of Education
- Nagasawa Kanae (13) - settled in US, started a vineyard
- Plaque at Kagoshima-Chûô train station, Kagoshima City.