Receptions and Media Coverage
In nearly every American town and city, the Iwakura Mission was greeted by the formal entourages of politicians and prominent citizens, who treated them to lavish banquets and demonstrations. Crowds often gathered to catch a glimpse of the esteemed representatives from Japan. The mission’s progress was monitored by American newspapers of all size and scale, from publications like the New York Tribune to The Emporia News in Kansas.
Below is a selection of articles that make note of the embassy and its journey. This selection has been sourced from the Chronicling America collection at the Library of Congress, provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities. It reflects only a fraction of the many articles that make a record of the mission.
1/17/1872 – (New York Herald) Report on the arrival of the mission in San Francisco, highlighting its leading members and central goals, as well as a description of Japanese governmental affairs.
1/24/1872 – (New York Herald) Coverage of the mission’s activities in San Francisco, including a banquet held in their honor and telegraph correspondence between the delegates and various parties around the country.
2/26/1872 – (Chicago Tribune) Introduction of the mission before its arrival in Chicago, including a discussion of governmental affairs and religious matters.
2/29/1872 – (The Evening Star [DC]) Account of the embassy’s arrival in Washington D.C., and a special note that the delegation had donated $5,000 to the poor of Chicago before their departure.
3/4/1872 – (The Evening Star [DC]) Report on the delegation’s reception at the White House by President Grant, with detailed descriptions of their dress and the proceedings of the meeting.
3/21/1872 – (Beaufort Republican [Beaufort, SC]) Coverage of an opulent State Department banquet for the ambassadors, including the latter’s thoughts on the peculiarities of American dancing customs.
4/6/1872 – (The Emporia News [Emporia, KS]) Description of Japanese social manners and customs, in connection with the mission.
4/26/1872 – (The Emporia News [Emporia, KS]) Description of Japanese social manners and customs, in connection with the mission.
6/5/1872 – (New York Herald) Denouncement of rumors that the embassy is seeking a loan from the U.S. government.
6/26/1872 – (New York Herald) Report on the status of treaty negotiations.
7/30/1872 – (New York Herald) Coverage of the delegation’s visit to Philadelphia and the entertainment that the city provided.
8/3/1872 – (New York Herald) Account of the elaborate banquet hosted by the Boston Board of Trade.
8/6/1872 – (New York Herald) Editorial regarding Americans’ conflicted understanding of Japanese interest in Christian evangelism.
9/7/1872 –(Daily National Republican [DC])Post the mission’s departure from the U.S., a report that some English politicians have publicly disparaged the U.S. as unimportant for the Japanese embassy’s goals, with an editorial on the writer’s distaste for British diplomats.
12/12/1873 – (Chicago Daily Tribune) Interest continues a year and half after the mission’s departure when word is received that Tomomi Iwakura has ousted most of the Japanese cabinet from office.