2016 Volume 67 Pages 2-29
This paper intends to reassess the process by which Nagasaki's port town was established in 1571. By comparing Japanese and Western historical sources, and confronting them with archeological, geological and topographical data within a GIS database, the coastline of Nagasaki Bay around the mid-16th century was reconstructed, along with a simulation of tidal movements in the area. The paper also describes the general situation of pre-1571 Nagasaki in terms of its natural topography, and provides a detailed reconstruction of the historical events that took place since the destruction of Yokoseura's port town (late November 1563) up to the construction of the first streets of Nagasaki (first 6 months of 1571). The main conclusions of this study are: 1) that we may establish a relationship between the topography of Nagasaki Bay and the worship of Shinto deities such as Sumiyoshi or Suwa; 2) that the implementation of a port town in Nagasaki brought drastic changes to the structure of its territory, representing a major turning point in the history of the area; 3) that the port town was a carefully considered project by Jesuit missionaries and the Japanese lord Omura Sumitada, in terms of self-defense and infrastructure to accommodate foreign ships and merchants; 4) that the Jesuits were involved in the establishment of at least some of the streets in the port; and 5) that it is very unlikely that other streets were built during 1571, other than the famously-known “Six Streets” (Shimabara, Omura, Hirado, Yokoseura, Hokaura and Bunchi).