2006/TV Docuemntary

Wine Road of the Samurai

This full feature documentary is about a group of samurai sent by the Japanese government to France at the end of the Edo period. At the time, all the ports of Japan were closed, cutting it off from the rest of the world. The 36 Samurai, led by Nagaoki Ikeda from Okayama Prefecture where Koyamada is also from, were sent to help solve diplomatic problems between Japan and Europe on December 29, 1863. They were welcomed by every government and head of state they visited, including Napoleon III, in France. They were also photographed standing in front of Sphinx, in Egypt. The samurai brought back lots of products from their trip, including a book on wine production. They ended their expedition earlier than expected due to the need to report home about the astonishing technology in modernized countries.

Nagaoki Ikeda left with a mission of 36 men on a French warship, stopped in Shanghai, India and Cairo through the Suez canal. His mission visited the pyramids, a feat which Antonio Beato photographed at the time. He finally arrived in Marseille and then Paris, where he met with Napoleon III and with Philipp Franz von Siebold. He stayed at the Grand Hotel in Paris. The request to close Japanese harbours to Westerners was doomed as Yokohama was the key springboard for Western activity in Japan. The mission was a total failure. Nagaoki however was very impressed with the advancement of French civilization, and became very active in promoting the dispatch of embassies and students abroad, once he had returned to Japan. He was finally put under house arrest by the Bakufu. Nagaoki brought many documents from France, related especially to physics, biology, manufacture, textiles and also fermentation technologies. He is considered as one of the fathers of the wine industry in Japan.

March 21, 2006
Feature Documentary
90 minutes
Japan News Network
Nationally Aired
France, Egypt, Japan
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