Japanese students from Chaucer College volunteered this weekend at the Will Adams Festival in Gillingham. Will Adams was the first English man to visit Japan and one of very small number of Westerners to ever reach the honoured position of Samurai.
Will Adams came from humble beginnings but eventually rose to the position of pilot major where he led an expedition to Japan in 1598, hoping to open up new realms for trading.
After a disastrous voyage the expedition landed in Japan and was nearly executed. However the Shogun took a liking to Will and kept him on as a trusted adviser. In time he became so valued that he was forbidden from ever returning home to his wife.
In his time Will was bestowed great wealth and respect and was presented with two swords which heralded his transformation from Will Adams the sailor to Miura Anjin the Samurai.
‘The people of this Land of Japan are good of nature, courteous above measure, and valiant in war: their justice is severely executed without any partiality upon transgressors of the law. They are governed in great civility. I mean, not a land better governed in the world by civil policy. The people be very superstitious in their religion, and are of diverse opinions.’ Will Adams – Letter to his wife