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Catharina Blomberg

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Catharina Blomberg

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Catharina Blomberg

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Catharina Blomberg

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Catharina Blomberg

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Catharina Blomberg

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Catharina Blomberg

Abstract

Japan has a long tradition of pilgrimages to Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples and other sacred sites. The writings of two Western observers, Olof Eriksson Willman (1624?-1673) and Carl Peter Thunberg (1743-1828), both of whom visited Japan as VOC employees, in 1651-1652 and 1775-1776 respectively, provide several examples of what they found remarkable about the pilgrims they encountered on the Tōkaidō and elsewhere. Their reactions to manifestations of an unfamiliar religion depended on their different backgrounds and the time in which they lived. Whereas Willman saw idolaters and devil worshippers, Thunberg regarded the Japanese faithful in a more tolerant light, influenced as he was by the Enlightenment in Europe. What strikes a contemporary observer about pilgrims today? The French sociologist Muriel Jolivet, who herself completed the pilgrimage to the eighty-eight temples in Shikoku associated with Kōbō Daishi, has provided insights into the mentality of today´s pilgrims, which does not appear to differ greatly from that of their Tokugawa predecessors.

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The Journal of Olof Eriksson Willman

From His Voyage to the Dutch East Indies and Japan, 1648-1654

Olof Eriksson Willman

Edited by Catharina Blomberg

The travel journal of Olof Eriksson Willman, a Swedish employee of the VOC, provides a highly personal account of his sea voyages to and from Asia. His observations during a year in Japan include glimpses of daily life at Deshima and a detailed description of the Hofreis to Edo, and his encounters with Tokugawa Bakufu officials there. Willman, who had served in the Swedish army, seems to have found favour with the notorious Inoue Masashige, who summoned him on more than one occasion to demonstrate and discuss European firearms. Willman observed religious celebrations, saw yamabushi and pilgrims along the Tokaido and visited several temples, including the Hokoji. He also witnessed a family of Christians being taken to the execution ground.