Choshu Five

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The Chôshû Five were five young men from prominent Chôshû domain families who snuck out of Japan in 1863 and sailed to London to study at the University College London (UCL), becoming some of the first Japanese to study overseas in the West. The five men were Itô Hirobumi, Inoue Kaoru, Endô Kinsuke, Inoue Masaru, and Yamao Yôzô.

The men secretly approached merchants associated with the Hong Kong-based merchant company Jardine Matheson, who agreed to sneak them out of Japan and to London. Contacting UCL, Jardine Matheson was able to set the men up with Prof. Alexander Williamson, a chemistry professor, who put them up in his home in Primrose Hill, and enrolled them in the university as chemistry students.

Two years later, in 1865, nineteen young men from Satsuma han also arrived in London to study chemistry under Williamson.


  • Plaques on-site at University College London.[1]