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Old November 28th, 2017, 10:04 AM   #1

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Why didn't pre-Edo Japanese ships land in Alaska or Canada?


Debating about the causes of Western modernity and colonialism brought me to this question. Why didn't Japanese ships prior to the Edo period land in Alaska or Canada when they are very close to each other, closer even than Spain and the Caribbean where Columbus first landed?

One can also ask the same about pre-Qing China which is a similar distance.
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Old November 28th, 2017, 10:11 AM   #2

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Because for one, the Japanese were terrible sea farers. They mostly operated littoral, shallow draft vessels, suitable for hugging the coast. Their forte was shallow-water piracy, not exploration.
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Old November 28th, 2017, 10:25 AM   #3

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Originally Posted by Naomasa298 View Post
Because for one, the Japanese were terrible sea farers. They mostly operated littoral, shallow draft vessels, suitable for hugging the coast. Their forte was shallow-water piracy, not exploration.
Why were they terrible seafarers whose forte was just shallow-water piracy instead of exploration?
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Old November 28th, 2017, 10:27 AM   #4

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Why were they terrible seafarers whose forte was just shallow-water piracy instead of exploration?
Because of the geography of the Japanese islands. Most Japanese naval technology is designed to operate around the main stretch of water that is economically important to the Yamato state, the Seto inland sea, which is a very shallow body of water.
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Old November 28th, 2017, 10:43 AM   #5

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Because of the geography of the Japanese islands. Most Japanese naval technology is designed to operate around the main stretch of water that is economically important to the Yamato state, the Seto inland sea, which is a very shallow body of water.
That's not the only waters where Japanese seafarers operated. They also operated in the Sea of Japan and the seas between Korea and China where they traded. Are those also shallow as well?
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Old November 28th, 2017, 10:49 AM   #6

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That's not the only waters where Japanese seafarers operated. They also operated in the Sea of Japan and the seas between Korea and China where they traded. Are those also shallow as well?
The Tsushima strait itself is fairly dangerous, but other than crossing it, they operated near the Chinese coast. The Seto inlnand sea is the most economically important body of water that links the Japanese home islands.
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Old November 28th, 2017, 10:54 AM   #7

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China and Korea always closer to Japan.
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Old November 28th, 2017, 11:04 AM   #8

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The Tsushima strait itself is fairly dangerous, but other than crossing it, they operated near the Chinese coast. The Seto inlnand sea is the most economically important body of water that links the Japanese home islands.
Are the English Channel or the Mediterranean sea "dangerous"? And it would seem that the Japanese operated as much in the Korean and Tsushima strait as well as the Yellow Sea, which I would imagine aren't shallow waters at all, as the Seto Inland sea if the massive cultural and trading influence of China over Japan since the Tang at least is anything to go by.

In other words, the argument that Japanese seafarers didn't explore the Northern Pacific and land in North America because they operated mostly in shallow waters seems to be rather weak.
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Old November 28th, 2017, 11:06 AM   #9

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China and Korea always closer to Japan.
I know, but it is being claimed that the Japanese didn't explore the Northern Pacific because their sea technology operated mostly in shallow waters. I'm challenging that claim.
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Old November 28th, 2017, 11:51 AM   #10

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Are the English Channel or the Mediterranean sea "dangerous"? And it would seem that the Japanese operated as much in the Korean and Tsushima strait as well as the Yellow Sea, which I would imagine aren't shallow waters at all, as the Seto Inland sea if the massive cultural and trading influence of China over Japan since the Tang at least is anything to go by.

In other words, the argument that Japanese seafarers didn't explore the Northern Pacific and land in North America because they operated mostly in shallow waters seems to be rather weak.
OK. You seem to know a lot about it. You tell me why.
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