The Black Ship Scroll Author:Oliver Statler The human, the ordinary man's, side of momentous events is often obscured by the "big picture." This has been very true of Commodore Perry's expedition to open Japan to the world in 1853-54. The present book, however, leaves aside weighty political and diplomatic questions and seeks instead to restore human perspective to this stirring episode o... more »f history.
Here we see history through the eyes of the people who made it, many of them nameless extras but in their way equally as important as the leading characters. Here too, in the day-to-day meetings of Americans and Japanese at the tiny fishing port of Shimoda, we find the beginnings of a long and fruitful process of human relations between two neighbors who, facing each other across the Pacific, have more often been friends than enemies, more tolerant than critical of each other's foibles.
At the heart of the book are 40 pages of color plates which reproduce for the first time paintings with captions from a rare hand-scroll by an anonymous Japanese eyewitness of the Shimoda meetings. The scroll is a keenly human if naive commentary, now warm in its sense of wonder, now sharply observant in telling caricatures. And in counterpoint to the scroll paintings are the frequent quotations from the writings of the same Americans who were being observed by -- and observing -- the Japanese artist and his countrymen.« less