A Gentleman from Japan

Thomas Lockley's latest book, A Gentleman from Japan is the first work to focus exclusively on the beginning of relations between Japan and the English-speaking world before the end of the 16th century. It follows the life of 'Christopher' (as the English named him), an enslaved Japanese man in service to the Spanish who was captured by English pirates off California and taken to London.

The pirate commander, Elizabethan courtier Thomas Cavendish, cleverly presented Christopher and his four colleagues as noblemen, introducing them to the elite of England. When this deception was uncovered, the narrative took a dramatic turn, and Christopher's role transformed into that of a 'naturalist,' a term we would now equate to a scholar or scientist. Christopher's contributions to the emerging English scientific community included advice on Chinese compass construction, translating groundbreaking sea charts, and the first recorded writing of Japanese script in England.

The tale of Christopher, largely forgotten and never fully recounted until now, is a testament to the enduring impact of a Japanese visitor to the English-speaking world. A Gentleman from Japan delves into the early-modern cross-cultural endeavor, intellectual exchange, perseverance, espionage, enslavement, and the challenges and hardships of Elizabethan seafaring. It presents an extraordinary sea story that upends the narrative of the Age of Exploration.

Thomas Lockley is an Associate Professor at Nihon University, where he researches and teaches themes related to the international history of Japan, especially those stories that have slipped between the cracks of recorded history. He has published numerous papers, and written several books, the best known of which is African Samurai (coauthored with Geoffrey Girard, 2019), concerning the life of Yasuke, the African man who fought beside Oda Nobunaga.

A Gentleman from Japan is a fast-paced, historical narrative of adventure, cross-cultural endeavor, intellectual exchange, perseverance, espionage and conflict in the Age of Exploration.

It has received advance praise, including from eminent academics around the world:

"When you begin reading this book, you're not prepared for the emotional journey that unfolds. As you turn the last page, it's challenging to leave the world reconstructed by Thomas Lockley and return to reality. While many books fade from memory, this one, ironically dealing with forgetting, will linger in the minds of those who read it. Christopher's life intertwines with some of the most intriguing figures in English history, bearing witness to an extraordinary era where various Asian figures start making their mark in European societies. With a multifaceted approach, clearly a result of years of research, Lockley draws on Japanese, English, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, and Latin documentation to infuse each sentence with authenticity, leaving a lasting impact on the reader's spirit."

---Lúcio de Sousa, author of The Portuguese Slave Trade in Early Modern Japan

"From Japan and the Philippines, to Cabo San Lucas and London, Lockley's tale is a traveler's delight! Meet the two young Japanese sailors who explained the East Asian invention of the compass to Londoners."

---Robert Batchelor, author of London: The Selden Map and the Making of a Global City, 1549-1689

"Thomas Lockley's A Gentleman from Japan deftly weaves together the lives of two extraordinary individuals from the late 16th century: Thomas Cavendish, an ambitious English nobleman, and Christopher, a young Japanese man. The two met in a firefight, when Cavendish's fleet attacked the vessel Christopher was sailing on. Their entangled stories are told in vivid, exciting prose, unfolding against the backdrop of the Tensho Embassy, a historic diplomatic mission from Japan to Europe. The book brings alive a rich global history of trade, exploration, war, colonialism, and cultural encounter. A vivid portrayal of the interconnectedness of the world during a pivotal time in global history."

---Tonio Andrade, Professor of Chinese and Global History, Emory University, Atlanta, USA

"The extraordinary story of the arrival of two Japanese and three Filipino youths in London in 1588, just months after defeat of the Spanish Armada, is well known to experts. Yet until now, no one has tried to gather information about them. Thomas Lockley focuses on one of the five, a Japanese named Christopher (birth name unknown), whose life he weaves together before, during and after his time in London, via a range of carefully selected documents written in many languages. No one will fail to be riveted, but more, by making Christopher the protagonist, Lockley forces us to rethink schoolbook tales of English maritime heroism in the age of Elizabeth I."

---Timon Screech, author of The Shogun's Silver Telescope

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