2021 marks the occasion of the 160th anniversary of the conclusion of a treaty of amity, commerce and navigation between Prussia and Japan in 1861. Due to the pandemic the jubilee of “160 years of German-Japanese relations” could neither attract much attention nor be celebrated accordingly. Nevertheless the Specialised Information Service Asia (FID Asien) of the Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin-PK (SBB-PK) would like to present at the end of the anniversary year its virtual contribution by the release of two thematic portals on its platform CrossAsia (crossasia.org).

The website about the „The Prussian Expedition to Japan 1860/61” introduces the stay of the legation under the lead of Friedrich Albrecht Graf zu Eulenburg and the course of the negotiations. The treaty that was concluded follows the pattern of earlier contracts with the other Western powers and was very much to the disadvantage of Japan. The members of the expedition spent their time between the meetings with excursions and shopping in and around Edo (today’s Tokyo). The manuscripts, printed works and maps that were acquired for the then Royal Library – today’s Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin-PK – constitute the “The Origins of the Japanese Collection of the SBB-PK”. They are described in the second thematic portal. Some of the items can be attributed to individuals – the envoy Eulenburg, the attaché Max von Brandt, the geologist Ferdinand Freiherr von Richthofen and the medical doctor Robert Lucius Freiherr von Ballhausen are to be named. Both pages are available in German, English and Japanese.

The Prussian Expedition to Japan 1860/61

The Origins of the Japanese Collection of the SBB-PK

As real travels to Japan are difficult at the moment, we hope you enjoy these virtual encounters!
Best wishes
Dr. Ursula Flache