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  • Japanese: 風説書 (fuusetsu gaki)

Fûsetsugaki were documents collected in Nagasaki from Dutch and Chinese merchant ships, relating information about the ships themselves (their cargoes, etc.) and about events and developments in the broader world. Along with information obtained via Korea and Ryûkyû, these reports were a key source of information for Edo period authorities as to political and other developments in the outside world.

The first fûsetsugaki were prepared by the Dutch in 1641; from 1644 onwards, it became standard for both Dutch and Chinese ships to provide three copies of such reports when making port at Nagasaki. One copy went to the Nagasaki Magistrate's office, one to Edo, and one to the official interpreters. The copies sent to Edo could be in the hands of the rôjû in as little as two weeks.

In the latter half of the 17th century, this allowed shogunate officials to keep apprised of developments in the struggle between Ming loyalists and the Qing Dynasty; in 1840, Japanese officials were informed by Dutch fûsetsugaki of the outbreak of the Opium War almost as it happened. Market developments, such as the supply and price of various goods in Chinese and other regional ports, were also among the valuable information provided by such documents. The Dutch were able to hide from the authorities, to some extent, the details of the Napoleonic Wars and their impacts upon the Netherlands and upon the VOC, but when it came to developments in Asia, information from Chinese fûsetsugaki, and from Korean and Ryukyuan sources, were able to be used as checks against any such deceptions.[1]

The fûsetsugaki also help reveal ways in which merchants and shippers skirted regulations; for example, merchants who lacked the proper licenses to trade at Nagasaki often had licensed merchants carry their cargoes for them, and licensed merchants would admit this in their reports. Similarly, when Qing authorities forbade ships from certain regions to travel to Japan, merchants from those regions would instead ship their goods to Fuzhou, or elsewhere, and arrange to have shippers from those regions bring their goods to Nagasaki for them.[2]

Historian Ishii Yoneo has compiled modern Japanese translations of many of the Chinese fûsetsugaki in a 1998 volume entitled The Junk Trade from Southeast Asia: Translations from the Tôsen Fusetsu-gaki, 1674-1723.[3]


  • Marius Jansen, China in the Tokugawa World, Harvard University Press (1992), 12.
  1. Jansen, 34.
  2. Jansen, 34-35.
  3. Ishii Yoneo, The Junk Trade from Southeast Asia: Translations from the Tôsen Fusetsu-gaki, 1674-1723, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 1998.