Christian Organizations

While in New York City, the Iwakura Mission visited the American Bible Society and the YMCA. The Bible Society was an organization that advocated the translation and distribution of the Christian Bible, and presented the delegation with Bibles written in Chinese. Kunitake Kume made note of the popularity of Christianty in America, especially as a […]

Establishment of the Consulate General of Japan in New York

This document, is a report regarding the establishment of the Consulate General of Japan in New York, sent from the Chargé d’Affaires Arinori Mori. It was sent on November 26, 1872, just over three months after the Iwakura Mission left the United States.

Erie Canal

The Iwakura Mission traveled north to Syracuse and Niagara Falls on a track that ran beside the Erie Canal. Kume wrote it was, “one of the best-known canals in the world,” and that its “gently flowing waters” were a “vital waterway” in the nation. Completed in 1825, the Canal connected the Hudson River with the […]


As the delegates journeyed across the Eastern United States, they were often served oysters at events and parties. Kunitake Kume attributed their frequent oyster-eating to the abundance of oyster beds in the New York Bay and Americans’ view of the shellfish as a delicacy. Kume didn’t disagree – he thought that oysters were both delicious […]

Guido Verbeck and His “Brief Sketch”

Many of the Japanese students who came to New Brunswick had studied in Nagasaki under Guido F. Verbeck (1830-1898), one of the first three missionaries sent to Japan by the Dutch Reformed Church in 1859. Among his students were future leaders of Japan, such as Ōkuma Shigenobu, Ito Hirobumi, Ōkubo Toshimichi and Soejima Taneomi. The […]

Prologue: The Japanese Students at Rutgers

“Fifth day of the fifth month[…] Daybreak came at New Brunswick of the New Jersey state. This is the city where the famous school is.” The “famous school” (有名なる学校) that is referred to in this brief passage on New Brunswick, New Jersey, in A True Account of the Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary’s Journey of Observation […]

Smithsonian Institution

On April 17, 1872, Vice-Ambassador Naoyoshi Yamaguchi (1839 – 1894) and Kunitake Kume (1839 – 1831) accepted an invitation to visit the Smithsonian Institution. The Institution had been established 26 years earlier with funds from James Smithson (1765 – 1829), whose vision was to create a space “for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” As […]

Bureau of Agriculture

On April 30, 1872, the delegation received a tour of the Bureau of Agriculture, beginning with the Entomology Department and the agricultural museum. The group was interested in investigating the ways that farmers in America protected their fields from harmful pests. Farmers in Japan used a method of flooding their rice fields to protect from […]