It was a new dawn in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Tokugawa had just received the title of Shōgun, legitimising his absolute power, and set out to unite the country.
But a foreign cancer lurked in his southern island.
Some 60 years earlier, Europeans had made their first landfall when a group of Portuguese merchants travelling towards China were blown off course.
Now a Portuguese community was thriving in Nagasaki with around 15,000 inhabitants relying on the annual black ship laden with silk from Macao where the Portuguese had direct access to inner China and the latest firearms from Europe via Goa.
Local warlords looking to profit from Portuguese trade were converting to Catholicism, at one point declaring Nagasaki belonged to the Jesuits.
Despite being overtaken by Hideyoshi, who announced anti-Christian measures including the crucifixion of twenty-six Catholics, Nagasaki remained the main Japanese port for Portuguese ships.
But more discontent was brewing. Local warlords accused Portuguese merchants of unfairly hoarding Chinese silk to push up prices.
It was time for Tokugawa to break the monopoly.
Fortune had it that a Dutch ship with an emaciated crew landed on Kyushu’s east coast just three year’s earlier, the sole survivor of a fleet of five, and sent to Edo under Tokugawa’s orders.
The Jesuits in Nagasaki had wanted the ship’s crew executed as pirates.
Tokugawa had other plans. The ship’s pilot, William Adams, had served in the English Royal Navy under Sir Francis Drake and was well trained in designing sea-faring ships. Tokugawa put him and his crew to work building Japan’s first Western-style ship in Ito on the Izu Peninsula, a 3-day walk from Edo.
Two spies were keeping a close eye on the Ito shipyard.
They spotted small white missiles being fired from a Dutch ship in the harbour into a barbarian’s house at the edge of the town.
“Looks like civil war among the barbarians!”
“Let’s get back to Edo Castle and tell Kintaro!”