Vessel of Friendship: An Untold Story
In 1855, a schooner departed from the Izu Peninsula, and set sail towards Russia. Newly-discovered documents tell an untold story of friendship between Russia and Japan.
The events occurred when Russia's Admiral Putyatin traveled to Japan to negotiate a peace treaty. While he was approaching to the peninsula, disaster struck. An earthquake and tsunami sunk Putyatin's ship, putting his delegation of 500 in grave danger. However, local residents not only saved their lives, but helped them build a brand-new ship. Japan had spent over 200 years in isolation, and for a settlement of 3,000 people, the arrival of 500 foreigners was unprecedented. Local shipwrights worked closely with the Russians, via trial and error. The techniques they learned became the cornerstone of modern Japanese shipbuilding. The schooner was named Heda, after the village where it was built. It symbolizes a tale of international exchange in the closing days of Japan's shogunate age.