Map of Yokohama in 1860 (Man'en 1).
Map of Yokohama in 1860 (Man'en 1). (Gountei Sadahide, woodblock print, 御開港横浜之前図 Gokaikō Yokohama no Zenzu, 4.AANW 48 Yokohama, Kaart van Yokohama, Nationaal Archief).

3. Kanagawa-Yokohama


Map of Japan - Yokohama

The first Dutch consulate in Japan

With a population of 3.8 million, Yokohama is now the second-largest city in Japan. But when it was opened for international trade in July 1859 it was a tiny isolated fishing village. It was not even mentioned as open port in the commercial treaty that Dutch Commissioner Jan Hendrik Donker Curtius signed on August 18, 1858. That honor fell to nearby Kanagawa, a thriving post town on the strategic Tokaido road that linked Edo to Kyoto.

This road was always crowded with a stream of travelers, many of them samurai who were passionately against Japan opening its borders. Not surprisingly, the Tokugawa shogunate feared trouble if large numbers of foreigners settled there. Instead, it built the foreign settlement in Yokohama, just across the bay from Kanagawa.

The shogunate made a wise decision. As it later turned out, their fears were warranted. Additionally, Yokohama harbor could accommodate large foreign vessels whereas the waters at Kanagawa were too shallow.

Merchants saw Yokohama as a potential gold mine. Dutch officials, who confusingly called Yokohama “Kanagawa,” were less optimistic. “I am of the opinion that the great expectations that people might have conceived of Kanagawa as a trading place will initially cause great disappointments,” wrote Dutch naval commander J.H. van Capellen, after he surveyed Yokohama in May 1859.1

Especially telling is that no preparations had been made to open a consulate at the new port. The decision to do so was made just two weeks before Yokohama was to open, and only because an opportunity presented itself. Donker Curtius’ young secretary Dirk de Graeff van Polsbroek had established a trading company and was planning to move to Yokohama. The commissioner asked him if he was interested in becoming vice-consul there. He was.

Donker Curtius seems to have had such a lack of confidence in Yokohama’s prospects that he dared not make the decision public. “The appointment should be kept secret and shall only take effect in case you decide to establish yourself for your company at Kanagawa and stay there,” he wrote in his instructions.2 Dutch merchants moving to Yokohama were told to rely on the British representative.

The very first Dutch consulate in Japan was the result of an afterthought, and a not very optimistic afterthought at that.

Map of Yokohama in 1860 (Man'en 1)
Map of Yokohama in 1860 (Man'en 1): 1. Foreign Settlement; 2. Landing piers of Yokohama Port; 3. Customs building; 4. Japanese town; 5. Bentensha shrine; 6. Tokaido; 7. Kanagawa gate; 8. Jōbutsuji temple; 9. Chōenji temple. (Gountei Sadahide, woodblock print, 御開港横浜之前図 Gokaikō Yokohama no Zenzu, 4.AANW 48 Yokohama, Kaart van Yokohama, Nationaal Archief).

A temple across the bay

De Graeff van Polsbroek arrived off the coast of Yokohama on the Dutch merchant ship, the Princes Charlotte on July 3, 1859. It was around nine in the evening and already dark. He got his first sight of the new town the next morning when he was received by officials who showed him around.

From the landing piers he could see the newly built customs building with the offices of the bugyō (the administrator of the area). On the left was the area reserved for foreign merchants. On the right, the new Japanese town where some merchants were still building their shops. On the far right was Shukan Bentensha Shinto shrine (洲干弁天社), hidden from view in a small forest.

Left of the customs building were five houses intended for consuls. De Graeff van Polsbroek immediately told Bugyō Muragaki Norimasa3 that he would not prevent Dutch merchants from settling in Yokohama, but that the Dutch government had appointed him as Consul of Kanagawa and he had to reside there and not in Yokohama.

Muragaki was deeply troubled. “The Governor urged me to reconsider my decision. If you go to live there, the other consuls who are yet to come will follow your example,” De Graeff van Polsbroek wrote in his diary. The bugyō argued that this would make it difficult to protect them.4

De Graeff van Polsbroek however refused to move into one of the assigned consul houses. He remained on board the Princes Charlotte until a residence was found in Kanagawa. As a result, the Japanese officials started calling the vessel the “consulate ship.” In a letter to Dutch newspaper Java-bode, captain Klaas Lourensz Hille wrote that even half a year later his ship was still called by that name.5

On July 10, Japanese officials gave De Graeff van Polsbroek the Jōbutsuji Temple6 in Kanagawa as a place to reside. It was located “on a narrow side street, completely separated from the main road and very dilapidated,” Java-bode reported. The vice-consul was not satisfied and complained.7 Some time before October, he moved to the Chōenji Temple, located right next to Kanagawa’s main gate on the Tokaido.8

It was a conspicuous location. The first thing that travelers coming from Edo saw when approaching Kanagawa was an enormous flagpole with the Dutch flag flying from it.9

Map of Kanagawa, ca. 1860
Map of Kanagawa on the Tokaido as it looked in 1860: 1. American consulate; 2. British consulate; 3. French consulate; 4. American missionaries Hepburn and Brown at Jōbutsuji Temple (previously used as the Dutch consulate); 5. Dutch consulate at Chōenji Temple; 6. Kanagawa gate on the Tokaido. (Unattributed, lithograph, 東海道神奈川宿絵図面, part of 横浜市史稿 附図, 1932, Yokohama City, 211124-0006, MeijiShowa.)
Choenji Temple on the Tokaido
Chōenji Temple on the Tokaido, ca. 1837. (煙管亭 喜荘 書, 神奈川砂子, woodblock print, 200017585, National Institute of Japanese Literature.)
View of Kanagawa, ca. 1859
View of Kanagawa from Mt. Gongen (権現山), looking towards Edo, ca. 1859. The Tokaido is clearly visible. (Pierre Rossier, albumen print, SMA1.10, Het Scheepvaartmuseum, National Maritime Museum, Amsterdam. Modified.)

The location may have been perfect for showing the Dutch colors, but most of De Graeff van Polsbroek’s work was across the bay in Yokohama. So he rented a small house there and furnished it as a consulate.10 It is not yet clear where this house was located.

Every day I crossed from Kanagawa to Yokohama with a boat I had rented, manned with five men. That crossing, which took half an hour with a favorable wind for sailing, was often unpleasant. Frequently, my suit was all wet when I arrived. I had to keep it on until I had returned to Kanagawa around 6 o’clock, grateful to be able to enjoy some rest after a day full of troubles.

Woodblock print by Ippōsai Yoshifuji
A Japanese sumo wrestler throws down a foreigner, expressing anti-foreign sentiment in Japan, 1861. (Ippōsai Yoshifuji, woodblock print, 2007.49.253, The Metropolitan Museum of Art.)

The first building

The Japanese officials had been right to be cautious. Disaffected samurai were organizing under the rallying cry “Revere the Emperor, expel the barbarians” (Sonnō jōi) and a violent mood hung in the air.

In August of 1859, a Russian officer and sailor were brutally murdered on the street in Yokohama. Five months later, in January 1860, the Japanese interpreter of British diplomat Rutherford Alcock was stabbed to death at the English legation in Edo. Only a few days later the French legation in Edo burned down. It was believed to be arson.

On February 26, two Dutch captains, Wessel de Vos and Jasper Nanning Dekker, were slaughtered on the main street of Yokohama while on their way to do some shopping. De Vos’ right hand and some of his fingers were found between the two bodies, which were 50 paces apart. The following March, Ii Naosuke, the Chief Minister of the Tokugawa shogunate who espoused cooperation with foreign nations, was assassinated as he was about to enter Edo Castle. More attacks followed.11

The biggest shock came when Henry Heusken was ambushed in Edo on January 14, 1861. He died the following morning. Heusken was the Dutch-American interpreter for American Consul Townsend Harris, and a close friend of De Graeff van Polsbroek.

The Japanese government, still eager to have the consuls reside in Yokohama, promised De Graeff van Polsbroek that it would build him a new consulate building there. Only ten days after the death of his friend, he moved the consulate from Kanagawa to his company’s office in Yokohama.12

No address has been found for this office, but an 1861 woodblock print map of Yokohama by Japanese artist Utagawa Sadahide (also known as Hashimoto Sadahide) shows a lot on the Bund with the text “Dutch consulate” and a flagpole displaying the flag of the Netherlands. The lot is located almost halfway between the customs house and Yamate, popularly known as the Bluff. This might be the same location that De Graeff van Polsbroek rented in 1859.

The move was important, because the Netherlands was the first country to agree to move from Kanagawa to Yokohama. Soon after, the other consuls followed De Graeff van Polsbroek’s example.

Map of the Foreign Settlement of Yokohama in 1861. The Dutch consulate can be seen in the center left bottom. (Hashimoto Sadahide, woodblock print, 御開港横浜大絵図二編外国人住宅図 Gokaiko Yokohama oezu nihen gaikokujin jutakuzu, ル11 00972 0002, Waseda University Library.)

The shogunate erected the promised new consulate building on land that was previously part of the Bentensha Shrine. It was the first purposely built Dutch diplomatic structure in Japan. De Graeff van Polsbroek is believed to have moved in on May 1, 1862.13

It was the only foreign building in the Japanese town and impressive. German diplomat Rudolf Lindau who lived in Japan between 1859 and 1862, wrote that it was “Yokohama’s largest and most beautiful residence in 1862.”14

The square building combined Japanese and Western architectural features, and was made of brick, wood and earth. A high veranda surrounded the building on the west, north and east. “Like Swiss huts,” wrote Swiss politician Aimé Humbert (1819–1900) who stayed at the house when he visited Japan in 1863–64 to conclude a treaty for Switzerland.15

There was a spacious dance and reception hall, a library, a large dining hall, and even a wine cellar. The rooms, all with doors to the veranda, were furnished with antique government pieces brought over from Dejima, as well as furniture, curtains, and carpets shipped in from London.16

As was common in traditional Japanese architecture, the house only had a ground floor. This was perfectly adapted to Japan’s hot and humid summers. “Thanks to the height of the ceilings and the beautiful dimensions of the corridor and the kitchen, the air circulates freely,” wrote Humbert.

A balcony on top of the roof allowed a free view on Tokyo Bay. Humbert and De Graeff van Polsbroek would often go here to await the arrival of the steamer carrying the mail from Europe.

De Graeff van Polsbroek was especially happy with the “very extensive” garden the Japanese government had built for him. “The garden was beautifully landscaped and provided with the most beautiful flowers and plants. Camelias, orange trees, azeleas, lilacs, etc. Too many to mention,” he wrote in his memoirs.17

The house was surrounded by stables, a coach house, eight small servants’ houses, a godown (storehouse), and a two-storied house for his Japanese common-law wife, Koyama Ochō, who was at that time pregnant with their son Pieter.18 The total acreage came to 6,491 m².19

Dutch legation in Benten, Yokohama, 1860s
The legation and consul-general's residence in Benten, Yokohama, ca. 1863~1865. On the far left of the group, De Graeff can be seen with his son Pieter. (Felice Beato, albumen print, Het Nederlandse Consulaat Generaal in Japan, KITLV A735, Universiteit Leiden. Modified.)
Floor plan of the Dutch Legation at Benten, Yokohama, 1864
Floor plan of the consulate general at Benten (left to right counter clockwise): Ontvang-Kamer : Reception Room; Kantoor : Office; Conferencie-Kamer : Meeting Room; Bed-Kamer : Bedroom; Bad-Kamer : Bathroom; Keuken : Kitchen; Bediende-Kamer : Servant's Room; Bewaarplaats voor provisie : Pantry; Doorgang : Corridor. (Unattributed, ink on paper, 1864, 36 0100, Nationaal Archief, Hague.)
Grand ball at the home of De Graef van Polsbroek
Grand ball at the home of De Graef van Polsbroek, 1863. (Felice Beato/Charles Wirgman, albumen print, 4 September 1863, SMA2.52, National Maritime Museum, Amsterdam. Modified.)
Ohiraki-kō Yokohama no Zenzu, 1860s
Map of Yokohama in the early 1860s: 1. Foreign settlement; 2. Brothel district; 3. Japanese town; 4. Location of the Dutch legation—notice the Dutch flag; 5. Kanagawa gate; 6. Chōenji temple. The foreign settlement is on the left. (宝善堂丸屋徳造, Woodblock print, 御開港横浜之全図, 210125-0011-OS, MeijiShowa. Detail.)
161124-0003-OS - Panorama of Yokohama, 1863
Panorama of Yokohama, 1863: 1. Dutch Legation; 2. Japanese town; 3. Foreign Settlement; 4. Yoshidabashi Bridge; 5. Miyozaki brothel district; 6. Yamate (Bluff). (Felice Beato, albumen print, 161124-0003-OS, MeijiShowa. Detail.)

The significance of Benten

Benten lived up to the importance the building expressed. De Graeff van Polsbroek was promoted to consul in March 1861, and he became political agent and consul general in July 1863, at which point the consulate general was moved from Dejima to Benten.

When De Graeff van Polsbroek became the first minister resident of the Netherlands in Japan in July 1868, it effectively transformed the consulate general into a legation, comparable to an embassy today.

The location at Benten played an important role that reached far beyond it being the first purposely built Dutch diplomatic structure in Japan and its contributions to diplomatic relations between the two countries. For example, Swiss envoy Humbert stayed here while concluding a commercial treaty for Switzerland20 (1864). And treaties for Sweden, Norway, and Denmark (1868) were negotiated by De Graeff van Polsbroek from Benten.

Over the years, the surroundings changed drastically. Initially, the Dutch consulate was the only foreign outpost in the Japanese town, sheltered and partly hidden by the Bentensha forest. Later, the French and German legations became neighbors. In 1869, the shrine moved to Hagoromo-cho and the forest made way for streets and buildings. When the railway connection between Tokyo and Yokohama was opened in 1872, the terminal was built right across the Ōoka-gawa River from Benten. The legation conveniently ended up being just a short walk from the station.

This situation did not last long, though. Around 1880, the legation moved to Yokohama’s elegant residential area for foreigners at Yamate. First at No. 245, then No. 244 and finally No. 17. It left Yokohama and moved to Tokyo in 1886, one of the last legations to do so.

Map of the area around the Dutch legation in 1878
Area around the Dutch legation in 1878: 1. Dutch Legation; 2. German Legation; 3. Bentenbashi Bridge over the Ōoka-gawa River; 4. Yokohama Station (current Sakuragichō Station). ( 錦誠堂 尾崎富五郎, woodblock print, Meiji 11, 改正 横浜分見地図 全, 140303-0042, MeijiShowa.)
Map of Yokohama, 1890
The locations of the legation at Yamate: 1. No. 244 (1883–1884?); 2. No. 245 (1882?); 3. No. 71 (1885?). (Farsari, Adolfo, The Bluff of Yokohama published in Keeling’s Guide to Japan, 1890, 70405-0002, MeijiShowa.)

More than one

Shortly after the consulate general was moved to Yokohama in 1863, an additional Dutch consulate was established in Yokohama. The Dutch merchant George Frederic Plate, only 25 years old, became acting consul on May 1, 186321. He was appointed consul for this new consulate in January 1864.22

No exact address has been found. But as a result of this study a map was discovered at the Swiss Federal Archives that features a handwritten notation that places the Dutch consulate next to the Yokohama Customs House around this time.23

The Japanese government sent De Graeff van Polsbroek a letter in 1865 that mentions Kamagatamachi as the location of the “piece of land ceded for official business” (i.e. the consulate). Several other documents in the consulates’s archives also mention this area, one specifically describes the consulate building as standing “east of the customs office.”

Kamagatamachi is the general area around the location marked on the map from the Swiss archives, and the marked building is east of the customs office.24 An article in the Japan Times from around this time mentions that godowns were erected on the “Dutch Consulate Lot close to the Custom house [sic],” to serve as a bonded warehouse. Maps of the 1866 fire that devastated Yokohama have the above-mentioned location indeed marked as a bonded warehouse.

It therefore seems reasonable to assume that the spot marked on the map in the Swiss archives was indeed the location of the new consulate. This would effectively make it the first location of the Yokohama consulate that served the city until it was closed in 1967.

Map of Yokohama, ca. 1865
This map of Yokohama from around 1865 features a handwritten notation placing the Dutch consulate (1) next to the customs house (2) on the other side of the Japanese town from the Dutch legation (3). (L.F. Clipet, Plan of Yokohama, E6#1000/953#169*, Swiss Federal Archives SFA.)

The Yokohama consulate was to have a painfully turbulent life. After Plate returned to the Netherlands for health reasons, the agent of the Netherlands Trading Society (NHM) Willem Martinus van der Tak became the acting consul on February 12, 1866. He transferred the consulate to his residence at Number 5 on the Bund, the exclusive avenue fronting Yokohama Harbor.

In November, only nine months later, disaster struck. “A terrible fire on the 26th destroyed almost this entire city,” De Graeff van Polsbroek wrote in a letter to the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs. It was feared, he explained, that the whole foreign settlement would be “reduced to ashes” after three-quarters of the native city had burned down. “The beautiful fireproof and stone warehouses could not withstand the pillar of fire propelled by the storm.”25

In the Daily Japan Herald, Scottish journalist John Reddie Black wrote about what happened next:26

At length, it was determined to blow up a number of buildings across the line the flames seemed likely to take, and a commencement was made in the house of Mr. Van der Tak. A protest was made by the owner, and, it is said, by some of the Consuls; but the Admiral, deeming it the only thing that could be done to cut off the communication, persisted. Whether the step was judicious we will not pretend to say, for the débris of the house caught [fire] and burnt to ashes.

The house was rebuilt, and for the next few years the consulate and the NHM office were located on Bund no. 5. The luxurious Western-style, two-story building featured a spacious covered balcony that offered a beautiful panoramic view of the port.

Dutch consulate and offices of the Netherlands Trading Society in Yokohama, 1868
The Dutch consulate and offices of the Netherlands Trading Society (Nederlandsche Handel-Maatschappij or NHM) on the Bund in Yokohama, 1868. (Unattributed, albumen print, 6201, Nagasaki University Library.)

From around 1875, the consulate started to move pretty much each time a new consul took over. Over the next 48 years, it had 18 different addresses. During the 1880s, the Belgian and German consuls looked after the Dutch interests in Yokokama. Around 1891, it was reestablished as a vice-consulate.

Then, disaster struck once again just before noon on September 1, 1923. A powerful earthquake flattened the area and destroyed the vice-consulate. The body of Vice-Consul Willem Delinus Visser (1893–1923) was never found.27

His story is a sad one. He had only started the year before on November 2, had celebrated his 30th birthday six days prior, and had just returned to Yokohama from vacation. His very last message to the legation was a telegram that he was back at the office.28

Dutch journalist Henriette Holst-Hendrix (1877–1933), who had lived in Yokohama for sixteen years and lost her house in the disaster, returned on September 29 in the hope of saving some of her family’s belongings. In her report on the visit, she wrote about Visser:29

We go to Main Street where our young sympathetic consul Visser must have died. On that awful first day of September, he had returned to Yokohama at ten o’clock. During August, he had been on vacation and had traveled. He arrived at the consulate in awe of Japan, reportedly so enchanted with the beauty of the country that he wanted to spend the rest of his life in Japan. The rest of his life consisted of two hours…

Yokohama Vice-Consul W.D. Visser, 1923
News of the death of Yokohama Vice-Consul Visser in Dutch daily De Courant Het Nieuws van den Dag (pp. 6) on September 12, 1923. (Delpher.)
M.S. Wiersum & Co. Ltd., temporary office after earthquake, Yokohama, 1923
Temporary office of M.S. Wiersum & Co. Ltd. after the Great Kanto Earthquake of September 1, 1923. M. S. Wiersum became the vice-consul after Vice-Consul Visser died in the earthquake. So this most likely also functioned as the Dutch vice-consulate in Yokohama. (Photo courtesy Pieter Lommerse. This image is not used in the book.)

After the disaster, the vice-consulate in Yokohama was left unattended until November, when Dutch shipping agent Menno Simon Wiersum was appointed honorary vice-consul at his make-shift office on 25A Yamashita-cho.30 A contemporary photograph shows a simple corrugated steel building as you would find at a construction site. It is surrounded by rubble and ruins.

The vice-consulate was upgraded to a consulate in 1929. It had to be closed after the start of hostilities between Japan and the Netherlands in December 1941.

In July 1948, almost three years after Japan capitulated, Wiersum restarted consular duties in Yokohama.31 No address has yet been found for the early years of the reopened consulate, but between 1959 and 1963, it was located at the previous address, 25 Yamashita-cho, Naka-ku.

The consulate was moved to the Strong Building at 204 Yamashita-cho, Naka-ku in 1964. Only a few years later, around 1967, the Yokohama consulate was permanently closed. Later, Yokohama had an honorary consul.

1859 The first Dutch consulate in Japan is established at Kanagawa after the opening of Yokohama Port on July 4. Initially at Jōbutsuji Temple, later at Chōenji Temple.
1861 The consulate is moved from Kanagawa to Yokohama after the assassination of Van Heusken.
1862 The first purposely built Dutch diplomatic building in Japan is completed at Benten, Yokohama.
1863 The consulate effectively becomes the consulate general.
1864 An additional consulate is opened in Yokohama. Over the following century, the Dutch consulate in Yokohama is housed at more than 20 locations.
1868 The consulate general at Benten effectively becomes the legation.
1880 The legation is moved from Benten to Yamate (aka the Bluff).
1886 The legation is moved from Yamate to its current location in Tokyo.
1967 The consulate is closed. At some later point, Yokohama has an honorary consul.

Next: 4. Edo-Tokyo


01 July 4–10, 1859 Aboard Princes Charlotte, Yokohama harbor (横浜港プリンセスシャーロット号にて)
02 July 10–September?, 1859 Kanagawa - Jōbutsuji temple (神奈川宿・成仏寺)
03 September? 1859–January 25, 1861 Kanagawa - Chōenji temple (神奈川宿・長延寺)
04 July? 1859–May 1, 1862 Yokohama - Unknown Location. Used simultaneously with Chōenji.

Note: De Graeff van Polsbroek rents a "wooden house with two rooms" and "furnishes it as Consulate". This was likely the office of Textor & Co. An 1861 map of Yokohama by Japanese artist Utagawa Sadahide suggests it was located almost halfway between the customs house and Yamate.
05 May 1, 1862–1880/1881? Yokohama - Benten (弁天)
06 1882? No. 245 Bluff (山手町245番)
07 1883?–1884? No. 244 Bluff (山手町244番)
08 1885? No. 71 Bluff (山手町71番)
These addresses are contemporary and may differ from the modern address. Some years are approximate. See the locations on a Google Map.
01 May 1, 1863?–February 12, 1866 Kamagatamachi (駒形町)
02 February 12, 1866–1875? 5 Kaigandori (海岸通5番)
03 1875?–1876? 12 Kaigandori (海岸通12番)
04 1877?–1878? Benten (弁天)
05 1879?–1880? 5A Kaigandori (海岸通5A番)
06 1881? No. 179 Bluff (山手町179番), c/o Belgian consulate
1882?–1883? N/A
07 1884?-1891? 81 Honchodori (本町通81番), c/o German consulate general
08 December 2, 1891–May 20, 1896 No. 92, Dutch legation in provisional charge
09 May 20, 1896–1897 177 Nihonodori (日本大通177番)
10 August 29, 1897–1898/1899 No. 90 Bluff (山手町90番)
11 1898/1899–1900 No. 104-D Bluff (山手町104D番)
12 April 9, 1900–1902? 87B Honchodori (本町通87B番)
13 1902?–1903? 89B Satsumachō (薩摩町89B番)
14 1903?–March 1, 1905 168-A Bungochō (豊後町168A番)
15 March 1, 1905–September 19, 1906 214 Kyushucho (九州町214番)
16 September 19, 1906–1907? 74 Honchodori (本町通74番), Yokohama International Building, c/o Belgian consulate
17 1907?–1909? No. 30 Bluff (山手町30番), c/o Belgian consulate
18 1910? No. 26, c/o Belgian consulate
19 1911?–1917 No. 46-A Bluff (山手町46A番), c/o Belgian consulate
20 Jan 1–March 7, 1918 76 Honchodori (本町通76番)
21 March 7, 1918–September 1, 1923 75-D Yamashitachō (山下町75D番)
22 January 22, 1924–1942 25 Yamashitachō (山下町25番)
23 1948?–1963 25 Yamashitachō (山下町25番)
24 1964–1967 204 Yamashitachō (山下町204番), Strong Bldg.
These addresses are contemporary and may differ from the modern address. Some years are approximate. See the locations on a Google Map.

What we still don’t know

(These questions are only shown on this site)

  1. The Jōbutsuji temple was assigned on July 10, 1859. Is this date according to the Japanese or Western calendar?
  2. Where was the house in Yokohama located that De Graeff van Polsbroek rented in 1859? Until when was this used?
  3. Where was the company (Textor) office in Yokohama located where De Graeff van Polsbroek briefly lived after the murder of Heusken in January 1861?
  4. There is a photo of another house of De Graeff’s, but it lacks information and a definite address. Did this house replace the original Benten structure at some time? If so, when and why?
    House of Dirck de Graeff van Polsbroek in Yokohama, circa 1868
    House of Dirck de Graeff van Polsbroek in Yokohama, circa 1868.
  5. Dutch physician D. Hellema wrote about his visit to Yokohama in June, July 1875 and mentions that the legation had burned down four years earlier: “Onze minister-resident houdt nog zijn verblijf in de bijgebouwen, zijnde het hoofdgebouw der Nederlandsche legatie voor een viertal jaren verbrand.” (Hellema, D. (1880). Eene reis om de wereld. Nieuwediep : De Buisonjé en Zoon, pp. 165.) When did this fire take place? Does this explain the different building in the photograph mentioned in #3?
  6. When did the Legation move out of Benten and why? What happened to the Legation buildings? (The land was rented from the Japanese government.)


  • Footnotes are only shown on this site, not in the book.
  • See the Notebook of this article for the raw data.
  • See the Archive for some of the primary documents used in the study.

1 Nederlandsche staatscourant. ‘s-Gravenhage, September 22, 1859, pp. 2. In his report, Van Capellen calls Yokohama New Kanagawa and Kanagawa.

2 Moeshart, H.J. (2018). Dirk de Graeff and the Opening of Japan 1857-1869. Amsterdam/Berlin: Batavian Lion International, 70.

3 村垣範正 (1824–1880).

4 Moeshart, H.J. (1987). Journaal van Jonkheer Dirk de Graeff van Polsbroek 1857-1870. Assen/Maastricht: Van Gorcum, 53-54.

5 Java-bode: nieuws, handels- en advertentieblad voor Nederlandsch-Indie”. Batavia, February 25, 1860, pp. 3.

6 成仏寺. This temple later became famous as the residence of the American missionaries James Curtis Hepburn and Samuel Robbins Brown and their families. That Jobutsuji was used as the Dutch Consulate is mentioned in a letter by Hepburn (see footnote 8), the Dutch newspaper Java-bode (see footnote 7), and in the diary of Bugyō Muragaki Norimasa, see Nagao, Masanori (1988). Notes on the Dutch Legation at Chō’ōji in Edo, Bulletin of the Japan-Netherlands Institute Vol. 13 No.1 (No. 25), October 1988. Tokyo: Het Japan-Nederland Instituut, pp. 65. The Bugyō’s diary however mentions July 9 as the day of entry.

7 Java-bode: nieuws, handels- en advertentieblad voor Nederlandsch-Indie. Batavia, May 9, 1860, pp. 4.

8 長延寺. Yokohama Archives of History, Letters and Papers of Townsend Harris I, pp. 53. In a letter to American consul Townsend Harris, American missionary James Curtis Hepburn writes that their residence in Kanagawa “is the one formerly occupied by the Dutch consulate.” He continues to write that it is in “a very dilapidated condition”. The letter is dated October 26, 1859; De Graeff van Polsbroek must have moved out of Jobutsuji before this date. The location is also annotated on Tokaido Kanagawa Juku Ezumen (東海道神奈川宿絵図面), part of Yokohamashi Shikō Fuzu (横浜市史稿 附図), published by Yokohama City in Showa 7 (1932).

9 Java-bode: nieuws, handels- en advertentieblad voor Nederlandsch-Indie. Batavia, May 9, 1860, pp. 4.

10 Moeshart, H.J. (1987). Journaal van Jonkheer Dirk de Graeff van Polsbroek 1857-1870. Assen/Maastricht: Van Gorcum, 54.

11 Moeshart, H.J. (2018). Dirk de Graeff and the Opening of Japan 1857-1869. Amsterdam/Berlin: Batavian Lion International, 95. The date of the assassination of De Vos and Dekker is incorrect in this book.

12 Moeshart, H.J. (1987). Journaal van Jonkheer Dirk de Graeff van Polsbroek 1857-1870. Assen/Maastricht: Van Gorcum, 57. However, Consul General De Wit wrote in a report (Verslag over Februarij 1861) that he and De Graeff van Polsbroek had moved to Yokohama on January 31. Yokoyama, Yoshinori (1993) Dutch-Japanese Relations during the Bakumatsu Period: The Monthly Reports of J.K. de Wit, Tokyo: Journal of the Japan-Netherlands Institute, volume V page 121.

13 In his journal, De Graeff van Polsbroek writes that the building was completed within 3 months. He also writes that an additional house had been built for his “servant” (common-law wife) Koyama Ochio, because she was pregnant. His son Pieter was born on June 8, 1861 (open archives). However, in Notes of the Dutch Legation at Chō’ōji in Edo (Bulletin of the Japan-Netherlands Institute Vol. 13 No.1, October 1988), Nagao Masanori writes that the building was used from May 1, 1862. Additionally, a letter of De Graeff van Polsbroek dated November 12, 1863 states that he has lived since May 1, 1862 in a house of which the rent has not yet been decided by the Japanese government (Nederlands Archief: 2.05.01: 3052, 0199). This must be the new consulate building.

14 Lindau, Rudolf (1865). Japan: eene reisbeschrijving. Leyden: De Breuk & Smits, 166-167.

15 Humbert, Aimé (1867). Il Giro del mondo, giornale di viaggi, geografia e costumi of February 21, 1867 (Volume VII, Issue 8, page 122).

16 Moeshart, H.J. (1987). Journaal van Jonkheer Dirk de Graeff van Polsbroek 1857-1870. Assen/Maastricht: Van Gorcum, 58.

17 ibid, 57.

18 小山おちょう. ibid, 57.

19 1963.5 tsubo. Nederlands Archief: 36, 0098 Regts titel.

20 De Graeff van Polsbroek helped Switzerland conclude a treaty with Japan which was signed on February 6, 1864. He took the Swiss delegation on the H.N.M.S. Djambi to Edo, where they stayed at the Dutch legation at Chō’ōji temple. Dallais, Philippe (2016). 150 Years of Diplomatic Relations between Switzerland and Japan, pp. 37. Federal Department of Foreign Affairs FDFA, Bern.

21 Nationaal Archief, 2.05.01 Inventaris van het archief van het Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken, 1813-1870: 3052, 0196.

22 Nederlandsche staatscourant. ‘s-Gravenhage, February 25, 1864, pp. 1. Plate was a partner in the trading house Carst, Lels & Co. since November 21, 1863. (Java-bode : nieuws, handels- en advertentieblad voor Nederlandsch-Indie. Batavia, November 28, 1863, po. 2.). He was granted an honorable discharge on March 1, 1867 during a sick leave in the Netherlands (Nederlandsche staatscourant. ‘s-Gravenhage, March 11, 1867, pp. 1 and Dagblad van Zuidholland en ‘s Gravenhage. ‘s-Gravenhage, February 1, 1867, pp. 2). On January 24, 1869 Plate died aged 30 in Rotterdam “after a long illness”(Nieuwe Rotterdamsche courant: staats-, handels-, nieuws- en advertentieblad. Rotterdam, January 25, 1869, pp. 5).

23 E6#1000/953#169* Konzession von Terrain an in Japan etablierte Schweizer seitens der japanischen Regierung, Konflikt mit Dr. Lindau: Auszüge aus dem Protokoll des Bundesrates, Stadtplan von Yokohama, Zeitungsartikel. Annotated ca. July 14, 1866 (Keio 2). Swiss Federal Archives SFA.

24 Nationaal Archief, 2.05.01 Inventaris van het archief van het Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken, 1813-1870, 3052: 0255. Several other documents also place the consulate at Kamakatamachi (駒形町), No. 169: Inventaris van het archief van het Nederlandse Gezantschap in Japan, 1879-1890, 36: 0233, 0234, 0241.

25 Nationaal Archief, 2.05.01 Inventaris van het archief van het Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken, 1813-1870: 3146, 0449–0451.

26 The Daily Japan Herald, No. 952. November 28th, 1866.

27 Willem Delinus Visser, born 26 August 1893 in Maarsseveen, Netherlands. Nationaal Archief, Inventaris van de archieven van het Nederlandse Consulaat-Generaal in Osaka-Hiogo / Kobe, later Consulaat-Generaal te Kobe (Japan), 1868-1941 (1953); Consulaat te Harbin (Japan), 1923-1933: 123, 0025.

28 De Tijd, September 11, 1923. Nationaal Archief, 2.05.115 Inventaris van het archief van het Nederlandse Gezantschap in Japan (Tokio), 1923-1941: 115, 0157.

29 Nationaal Archief, 2.05.115 Inventaris van het archief van het Nederlandse Gezantschap in Japan (Tokio), 1923-1941: 80 Stukken betreffende de aardbeving in Japan in 1923 en de gevolgen daarvan voor Tokio in het bijzonder. 1923-1934, 0512. “Wij gaan naar de Main street waar onze jonge sympathieke consul Visser omgekomen moet zijn. Om tien uur was hij teruggekomen in Yokohama, op dien afgrijselijken eersten September. Hij had de maand Augustus vakantie gehad en gereisd; opgetogen over Japan kwam hij op het consulaat; hij moet zoo verrukt geweest zijn over de schoonheden van het land, dat hij beweerde, zijn heel verdere leven in Japan te willen blijven. Zijn heel verdere leven bestond uit twee uren…”

30 Nationaal Archief, 2.05.115 Inventaris van het archief van het Nederlandse Gezantschap in Japan (Tokio), 1923-1941: 115, 0108.

31 Nationaal Archief, 2.05.116 Inventaris van het archief van de Nederlandse diplomatieke vertegenwoordiging in Japan (Tokio), 1946-1954: 421, 0057.


Reference for Citations

Duits, Kjeld (). 3. Kanagawa-Yokohama, From Dejima to Tokyo. Retrieved on April 23, 2024 (GMT) from

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