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Representation of the English samurai, William Adams.         Source: adrenalinapura/ Adobe stock

The English Samurai - The Story of William Adams (Video)

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William Adams, also known as Miura Anjin in Japan, transcended cultural boundaries to become one of the first Western Samurai in Japanese history. Born in 1564 during the Elizabethan era, Adams' journey from a modest upbringing in Gillingham, England, to the prestigious role of a samurai is a story of resilience and adaptability. His early years as a shipyard apprentice shaped his expertise in navigation and shipbuilding, leading him to serve in the Royal Navy during the Anglo-Spanish War.

Fascinated by the promise of wealth and adventure, Adams embarked on a perilous expedition to the Far East, which ultimately led him to Japan in 1600. Despite initial suspicions and hardships, Adams impressed Tokugawa Ieyasu with his knowledge and skills. Recognizing his value, Ieyasu appointed Adams to build Japan's first western-style ship, marking the beginning of a remarkable transformation.

Over time, Adams fully integrated into Japanese society, embracing its customs and even marrying a Japanese woman. Despite his newfound status and wealth, Adams grappled with the longing for his family in England. His loyalty to his roots remained steadfast, even as he accepted the title of samurai and immersed himself in Japanese culture.

As a trusted advisor to Ieyasu, Adams played a significant role in shaping diplomatic relations and trade with the West. However, his influence waned after Ieyasu's death, and Japan's isolationist policies began to take hold, leaving Adams marginalized in his later years.

Top image: Representation of the English samurai, William Adams.         Source: adrenalinapura/ Adobe stock

By Robbie Mitchell

Robbie Mitchell's picture


I’m a graduate of History and Literature from The University of Manchester in England and a total history geek. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with history. The weirder the better. I spend my days working as a freelance... Read More

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