Korean Ambassadors

. Koorai, Kōrai 高麗 Korai, Koma - Korea .

Daruma Pilgrims Gallery


Korean Ambassadors to Japan in the Edo Period

CLICK for more photos !
Road Marker "Chosenjin Kaido"

During the Edo period, about 12 delegations with ambassadors from Korea came to Japan, mostly to visit a newly appointed Shogun in Edo. They were called: Choosen Tsuushin Shi 朝鮮通信使.

They used a special road, the "Korean Road", Choosenjin Kaidoo 朝鮮人街道. The road led from Korea via Kyushu along the inland sea to Kyoto. From there partly over the Nakasendo and the Mino road and finally a part of the old Tokaido to Edo.

CLICK for original . inoues net

This road passed through Okayama town, and in 2007, to celebrate 400 years of this custom, there were many events.

Delegations from Korea came with drums and dancers for special performances during the procession through town.
The three main Korean officials travelled in hand-carried palanquins.
The governor of Okayama prefecture, dresses up as Samurai official, exchanged papers of goodwill with the Korean delegation.

日韓善隣友好フェスティバル in Okayama

in Okayama」のメーンイベントとなる朝鮮通信使行列が10日、岡山市の表町商店街で再現され、友好の思いを乗せた“使節団”が、異国情緒あふれるいでたちで沿道の観衆を魅了した。
© Sanyo Shinbun 2007年11月11日


Land of the Lake,”Omi (Shiga Prefecture near Lake Biwa)
has since ancient times occupied a significant position across the nation as a corridor leading to the city of Kyoto. In particular, the road through Omihachiman City has been one that intersects many key crossroads.

Tokugawa Ieyasu, after attaining a pivotal victory at the Battle of Sekigahara, traversed this "Road of Good Fortune that rules the nation”on his triumphant journey to Kyoto. Afterwards, this road became an important thoroughfare employed by messengers from Korea bearing communications bound for Edo, modern day Tokyo.
It became known as "Chosenjin Kaido,”Road of Koreans.”

In Japan at that time, relations with Korea deteriorated because, previously, Toyotomi Hideyoshi had dispatched troops to that country in an aggressive military move. Ieyasu was determined to revive diplomatic relations with Korea. This concentrated effort on his part resulted in a Korean diplomatic delegation coming to Japan in 1607, testifying to the restored bilateral relations. Over the course of the next two centuries, 12 more diplomatic delegations were dispatched, each time passing along the fortuitous Omihachiman Road during the arduous course of the long journey. It thus gained fame as the Chosenjin Kaido.

These delegations from Korea consisted of from 300 to 500 people of culture, including doctors and scholars, painters and calligraphers. Clad in splendid Korean attire and sounding flutes, drums, and bugles, they made their way along this road in a most lively fashion. They must have, indeed, made a strong impression on the people they encountered along the way. The Chosenjin Kaido was the conduit by which culture from the continent was transmitted; it was also the artery of Japanese-Korean friendship.

The people of the Omihachiman area opened their villages and towns in warm welcome to the members of these Korean entourages. The local people came out in full force to clean the road, and horses and guards were assembled in regal formations. It is said that the travel-weary visitors were welcomed by Hachiman merchants with feasts arrayed on Shigaraki Pottery, and Honganji Hachiman Detached Temple invited the guests to various receptions, thus deepening the exchange with the local inhabitants.

In 1987, Omihachiman City, looking back on the Korean messengers of old who traversed this road, restored the guideposts in various spots along the route, quietly appealing to an historical sense of friendship and international exchange.
- source kippo

Read more about Japanese-Korean Culture Exchange
- reference -


Procession of Korean Ambassadors
Painted handscroll
by Kano Masunobu (1625 - 1694)

CLICK for link to Orientations Magazine

Volume 38 - Number 8 - November/December 2007
© Orientations Magazine


Part of a painting in the Koryo Museum
from 1711

朝鮮通信使行列絵巻 / 正徳元年(1711)

CLICK for original . Koryo Museum
© www.koryomuseum.or.jp



Komabune no yorade sugiyuku kasumi kana

the Korean ship
not stopping passes back
into the mist

Komabune were the large Korean ships that sailed to Japan during the ancient period, bringing cargo and precious goods from the continent, a practice that had long since been discontinued by Buson's time. The Korean ship, which is offshore, appears to be heading for port but then gradually disappears into the mist (kasumi), a seasonal word for spring and one associated with dream-like atmosphere. The Korean ship passing into the spring mist creates a sense of mystery, of a romantic other, making the viewer wonder if this scene is nothing but a dream.
source : Haruo Shirane

source : koharu/friend/michiko


A koma boat, coming not to shore
Glides by --
Spring haze.

Tr. Nelson/Saito

A Korean ship passes by
without stopping here,
misty weather!

Tr. Sawa and Shiffert

. Yosa Buson 与謝蕪村 in Edo .

. WKD : kasumi 霞 Spring haze, Spring mist .


Introducing Haiku from Korea

- #korea -


Anonymous said...

the frog observes
the clouds

Chiyo-Ni (Tr. Donegan/Ishibashi)

Without researching Chiyo ni’s meaning, few people would know that “the frog” is the poet herself, and “the clouds” refers to the family crest of persons directly involved in the visit of the Korean envoys.
In fact, the Tokugawa Shogunate gave a gift to Korea of a publication of many of Chiyo ni’s hokku.


Gabi Greve said...

Ambassadors from the Island of Immortals:
China-Japan Relations in the Han-Tang Period
(Asian Interactions and Comparisons)
Zhenping Wang
Using recent archaeological findings and little-known archival material, Wang Zhenping introduces readers to the world of ancient Japan as it was evolving toward a centralized state. Competing Japanese tribal leaders engaged in "ambassador diplomacy" and actively sought Chinese support and recognition to strengthen their positions at home and to exert military influence on southern Korea. They requested, among other things, the bestowal of Chinese insignia: official titles, gold seals, and bronze mirrors. Successive Chinese courts used the bestowal (or denial) of the insignia to conduct geopolitics in East Asia.