English summary of the inventory of the archives of the Dutch factory in Japan, 1609-1860

Fonds Specifications


Biographical History (Sketch of the Record Creator)

7. The managing of business at a factory.
The yearly routine at the factory was determined by the arrival and the departure of the ships. At the end of june two or three ships left from Batavia and sailed with the south-western monsoon to Japan in four or five weeks. This was the case at least in the 18th and 19th centuries. In the 17th century the ships often sailed via Siam, Tonking etc. to take on trade-goods here. With these ships the new Opperhoofd also came to Japan. Therefore two Opperhoofden were at the factory during the trade-season, from about 15 august till the end of oktober. At the end of oktober or the middle of november the accounts were closed, the resigning Opperhoofd instructed his successor and the ships left for Batavia with the north-eastern monsoon. With the Opperhoofd, the second merchant and some of the undermerchants and assistants also returned to Batavia, as they only were needed at the factory during the busy trade-season. During the voyage the report on trade since october of the past year was written or finished. Around new year one arrived at Batavia. The voyage back often took more time than the outward voyage, because one had to reckon not only with the monsoon but also with the Japanese prescriptions concerning the date of departure. On Deshima, in the maintime, preparations were made for the journey to Edo (nov.- febr.); during that trip (febr.- may) an undermerchant took the place of the Opperhoofd. From may to the middle of august the factory was put in readiness for the next trade-season; sometimes a remnantsale was held.
In the 1840,s the factory more or less changed from a trade-station into a sort of pre-diplomatic recidance. Trade was at time of minor importance, the more so when compared with that of the previous centuries. For the Netherlands, the factory became a means to procure the opening of Japan for foreign nations; for japan, it was - as it had been since 1639 - the only channel through which filtered the news from the western world. (Cf. e.g. inv.nrs.1749-1758). The letter of King William II to the Shogun, sent by way of H.M.S. "Palembang" in 1844, in wich the King gave the assurance that the opening of Japan would be beneficial for Japan and the other world alike, exemplifies the changed attitude on the part of the Dutch. (The answer of the Shogun accompanied by some costly presents, was cordial but negative; cf. inv.nrs. 1707-1716). In 1847 and after, the Opperhoofd played a mediating and infomative part in the negotiations between Japan and the foreign nations. (Cf. inv.nrs. 1688-1717, van Kleffens, p. 31-39 and van der Chijs, passim).