Photograph available:久米美術館

The year 2018 marks 150 years since the change of era name signaling the start of the Meiji period. This period saw the international environment around Japan and East Asia go through sudden changes. As these changes unfolded, Japan was pushing to transform itself into a modern nation state in its goal to achieve relationships with the Western powers that stood on an equal footing. In 1871, almost immediately after the work on building that new nation state had begun, the Iwakura Mission was dispatched for the purposes of getting acquainted with the peoples and governments of Western countries, holding diplomatic talks, and observing conditions in foreign lands.

The Iwakura Mission included senior government officials and civil servants from various ministries; they were accompanied by numerous individuals who were studying at foreign educational institutions. Including others who joined the delegation later and still others traveling together to destination countries, the Mission came to include around 150 people in total. It is said that the things these individuals observed and their experiences studying abroad later had a major impact on Japanese history.

JACAR has made available a variety of historical materials related to the Iwakura Mission, including the Taishi shorui [Envoy documents]--a compilation of the delegation’s reports on its findings. The Center also has available numerous other materials written by people involved with the Mission or that record their activities.

For this Internet exhibition, we have prepared a search guide covering the materials and names of people who appear in the name so that visitors can more easily access items related to the Iwakura Mission. Details about the Mission’s historical background and the impact it had on subsequent Japanese history are explored in detail in a series of columns included in the exhibition.

The materials presented as part of this website’s content all come from JACAR's publicly accessible database.