Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Finding Japan: Early Canadian Encounters with Asia by Anne Shannon

Finding Japan is a huge - and pleasant - surprise. Many readers will be just like me having never realized that the connections between Canada and Japan were so rich, varied, and deep.

Finding Japan: Early Canadian Encounters with Asia looks at this long history. It starts even before U.S. gunboats opened a closed island Japan to the world -- with the story of the Canadian son of an HBC trader who marooned himself in Japan, and ended up teaching English to the man who would translate for the Americans when the arrived in their black ships.

The ties are commercial as well - and includes the story of Canada's growing trade in wheat and especially buckwheat in the early 20th century.

The biggest surprise for me, though, was the connections between Nitobe Inaz┼Ź (The author of Bushido: The Soul of Japan) and Canada. I had no idea he died in Victoria.

Well worth a read -- and you'll find out why you eat mandarin oranges at Christmas time in Canada! 

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