Araki Sotaro

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Araki Sotarô was a Nagasaki-based shuinsen merchant known for his travels in Southeast Asia and marriage to a daughter of a Vietnamese aristocratic family.

A samurai originally from Higo province (Kumamoto), he moved to Nagasaki in 1588, and shortly afterwards began sailing to Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia. In 1619, he returned to Japan with a wife, a daughter of the Ruan family & adopted daughter of the King of Annam known as Wakaku or Anio in Japanese. He and Wakaku then established a trading emporium at Nagasaki. Araki is said to have flown the flag of the Dutch East India Company upside-down, an indication that he sailed under red seal licenses issued, originally, to the Dutch.[1]

The Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture owns a Vietnamese mirror in gilded and lacquer mounting which was first brought to Japan by Wakaku as one of her personal possessions, along with a Japanese manuscript translation of an original letter from the Ruan family to Araki.

Araki and his wife are buried in Nagasaki; their gravesite at the temple of Daion-ji has been designated a city cultural property. Their half-Japanese, half-Vietnamese son is represented by one of the chigo ("sacred boys") who rides a parade float in Nagasaki's annual Kunchi festival.


  1. Geoffrey Gunn, History Without Borders: The Making of an Asian World Region, 1000-1800, Hong Kong University Press (2011), 216.