Wolfgang Michel (Ｗ・ミヒェル)
Optical Instruments (Spectacles, Telescopes, Microscopes etc.) in 17th Century Japan
This paper discusses the imports of spectacles, magnifying glasses and telescopes to 17th century Japan. Not long after their invention in Europe the Dutch East India Company (VOC) brought remarkable quantities of telescopes to Nagasaki. Here they were used as presents for the shogun and government officials or sold as luxury goods to feudal lords and other high-ranking officials. A final proof remains to be found, but it is quite possible that among the numerous magnifying glasses that arrived at the trade post Dejima simple microscopes came to Japan too. Spectacles were first introduced by the Chinese. Throughout the 17th century Chinese merchants sold spectacles in Japan. Until 1638 the Portguese participated in this market with sometimes amazing quantities. After 1640 the VOC, responding to frequent orders by Japanese government officials, brought high-quality spectacles in modest quantities. Japanese lens making seems to have started already in the beginning of the 17th century. The first Western glas-blower probably was Nathaniel Castelaar, who even travelled to Edo in 1687. Around 1731 the existence of a Japanese telescope specialist in Nagasaki can be traced. In view of the changes telescopes and microscopes induced in Europe the introduction of these optical instruments during the early Edo-era should have had some inpact on the perception and thinking of at least some Japanese circles too. List of all papers presented at the symposium.