Learning Exercise

The Opening of Japan by the United States

The arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry to Japan in 1853 changed Japanese history. "Black Ships and Samurai. Commodore Perry and the Opening of Japan offers a visual and narrative explanation on how this event changed the history of both Japan and the United States.
Course: World Civilization/Japan

A narrated exhibit of American and Japanese art illustrating Comodore Perry’s mission to Japan in 1853-54. The lengthy... see more


To complete this assignment the following sections on the "Black Ships and Samurai" website must be read: Introduction, Perry, Black Ships, Gifts. Answer the following questions:

1. What happend at Uraga, Japan on July 8, 1853?
2. How does the reading of Herman Melville's Moby Dick lead to an understanding of 19th century Japan?
3. Who was President of the United States in 1853? Why was he interested in trade with Japan?
4. Why was Japan isolated from the rest of the world?
5. What was "Sakoku?"
6. What advantages did Japan have remaining isolated?
7. Why were the Dutch at Dejima?
8. What was the United States perception of Japan? Was it correct?
9. Did the Japanese know about the impending arrival of the Americans? If so, how?
10. What was the perception of the Japanese about the United States?
11. Did Japan have any contact with the United States before Perry's arrival? If so, list the contacts.
12. Why was Perry's visit different from other visits?
13. What were Perry's perceptions of Japan?
14. How did Perry get his way with the Japanese?
15. What did Perry's March 1854 letter to the Japanese say?
16. What were the provisions of the Treaty of Kanagawa?
17. What was the significance of the 1853 visit?
18. Name Perry's ships.
19. Describe Perry's ships.
20. How did the Japanese portray Perry and his ships?
21. What gifts were exchanged between Perry and the Japanese?
22. What did Americans learn about Japanese plant and animal life?
23. Did Perry meet the Japanese Emperor? If not, why not?
24. Who was the highest ranking official Perry met?
25. How did Perry's visit change both Japan and the United States?
26. How did Japan change?
Additional Information: None.

Technical Notes





Tokugawa Shogunate
United States

Learning Objectives

To acquaint students with the history of Japan prior to the end of the shogunate.
To acquaint students with the circumstances ending Japan's isolation from the rest of the world.
To provide students with information on how the opening of Japan changed both Japanese and United States history.