Principal Analyst   GEOFFREY TUDOR



In my three decades in Japan there have been not a few moments when I’ve had to stop and ask myself – what am I doing here?


I recall one such moment in Spring 2006.  I was in the city of Kakegawa in Shizuoka looking down into a huge concrete canyon filled with household garbage. At my side was the then Dutch Ambassador, giving a good impression of understanding what was going on although, like me, probably wondering why he was there.  A visit to a garbage incinerator had not been on the day’s agenda.


The key to the mystery was a dead Dutchman, Gijsbert Hemmij, the head merchant of the Dutch East India Company’s Deshima trading post in Nagasaki. Our surprise incinerator tour was the crowning touch to a day that had started for us in Kakegawa’s Tennenji temple with the commemoration of the restoration of his tomb, Hemmij having had the misfortune to die in this charming little town on his way back to Nagasaki from Edo in June 1798.


For many years the temple received contributions from Dutch sources for the grave’s upkeep, including a major restoration in the 1920’s - but eventually the funds dried up.


My hobby is history, particularly that of the interface of Japan and the outside world and the people involved, some famous, many obscure. For example, some years ago I started an annual memorial lunch for a young Dutch diplomat, Henry Heusken, murdered in Tokyo in 1861.


At one of these lunches somebody mentioned the Hemmij tomb, but nobody seemed to know much about it. So I went to take a look. Time and the elements had damaged the stone and it looked in need of restoration.


During meetings of the Dead Dutchmen Society, as we sometimes call ourselves, the Hemmij tomb was discussed often. An alert Dutch diplomat took the initiative and as a result, funds were raised for restoration of the tomb, by cleaning the stone and applying a waterproof coating


So that was the real reason for being in Kakegawa that day. For my small part in the restoration movement, I was included in the Tokyo delegation as a “Representative of the Dead Dutchmen Society.”


At the ceremony, Tennenji’s chief priest gave a prayer followed by the mayor of Kakegawa, who gave an eloquent speech of welcome, expressing his appreciation for the restoration. The ambassador responded, finishing his address with a toast of a Dutch spirit called Corenwyn, a Dead Dutchmen Society custom.


From here, the special programme of Kakegawa hospitality took off. We feasted on a delicious bento lunch packed in a miniature tea chest – tea-growing being the key industry hereabouts.


Lunch over, the mayor led the way to the nearby castle grounds, to a teahouse where visitors can sample Kakegawa’s star product. This was no ordinary day at the teahouse, but the day when the 50,000th visitor was predicted to show. So at the estimated time of arrival of the visitor, his worship the mayor dashed to the entrance to greet an unsuspecting - and initially startled - tourist who received a huge bunch of flowers and of course a free tea ceremony.


The mayor was also eager to show us that Kakegawa has more to show than tea ceremonies and dead Dutchmen.


Back in the 16th century period of warring states, the Sengoku-jidai, Kakegawa was a key strategic point. Yamauchi Kazutoyo, a young local samurai, had the good fortune to pick the right side. Allied to the successful Tokugawa cause, he achieved eventual fame and fortune.


His story happened to be the theme for the 2006 historical drama series screened every Sunday by NHK, the national TV network, watched by the tens of millions. As a result, Kakegawa was enjoying national fame.


Kazutoyo and his thrifty wife Chiyo, who paid for a new horse for her husband at a crucial point in his military career, are featured in an exhibition in the castle grounds that Mayor Totsuka personally guided us through.


Again following the energetic mayor we moved on to an ascent of the castle donjon in our stockinged feet – to protect the wooden floor – for a panoramic view of the surrounding territory that had been regularly fought over during the warring states period. On a clear day, you can see Mt. Fuji to the northeast.


Next stop on the whirlwind mayoral tour was the former feudal lord’s living quarters and administrative offices in a substantial Edo-period building that is now an Important Cultural Property.


And then, we thought, it was over.


We had packed a lot into the four hours we had been in this hospitable city and the pace of the tour balmy weather was making us a little drowsy. It would have been nice to relax under the cherry blossoms, then at their frothy pink best.


But with one hour to go before our train back to Tokyo, the mayor had one more treat for us. After a short drive we found ourselves – to our surprise - at the Kakegawa-Kikugawa Environment Resource Gallery, otherwise the state-of-the-art municipal garbage incinerator and recycling center.


Initially surprised at the sudden introduction of a completely new theme, the center visit turned out to be a revelation. As any resident of Tokyo knows, the treatment of garbage – or gomi - has the intensity of a religion. Each type gomi  is categorized and different types are collected on different days. Literally, every gomi has its day. And here we were at a veritable 21st century temple of gomi handling, replete with fiery furnaces and praying cranes. I had never realized that the story of garbage could be so gripping, and it was thanks to Hemmij-san that we had this experience. After a fascinating presentation, we drove to the station, with just enough time to buy our omiyage (tea, of course).


On the way back to the station we passed Hemmij’s restored tomb and offered a parting prayer of thanks to our old friend for a most entertaining and informative day. Who would have thought that this long dead Dutchman would still maintain such influence in Kakegawa, 208 years after he had passed away?







                                             主席研究員 ジェフリー・チューダー





































駅に向かう途中、ヘンミイの修復されたお墓を通った時には、この古き良き友のお陰で、最高に楽しく 、有意義な一日を過ごす事が出来た事に感謝してお別れの祈りを捧げた。このずっと昔に死んだオランダ人が、没後208年も経って、掛川の町に、こんなにも大きな影響力を持つとは、一体誰が想像しただろう。