Journal of Undergraduate Research


Siena, Tenshō Embassy, Japanese, records


Family, Home, and Social Sciences




During the early modern period in Italy (1400s-1700s), nobles and organizations (e.g., guilds, oligarchies etc.) established a pattern of using artwork to demonstrate their power, standing in society, and relevance to current events. The exchange of diplomatic visitors, known as embassies, was common at this time and interactions with these dignitaries from other states in Europe, are examples of events recorded in the form of art or literature. Interactions with unusual visitors, such as moor slaves, were also recorded. While the pattern of recording interactions in the form of art and literature was pervasive, it was curiously lacking for the Tenshō embassy, the first Japanese embassy to Italy. Scholars have proposed two theories as to why there are no enduring artworks or literature accounting the embassy’s visit. The first theory by Cooper states that the Europeans’ curiosity about the Japanese embassy and Japan diminished but does not explain why. The second theory by Brown states that the lack of enduring records was because those in Europe decreased the differences between the Japanese youth and themselves. However, this does not address the fact that other diplomatic interactions with Europeans did have enduring records. Seeing that their methodologies of looking at Italy or Europe as a whole did not provide a solution, a micro-level approach of focusing on one location that the embassy visited is needed.

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