Kawada Ryōkichi - Jeanie Eadie's Samurai: The Life and Times of a Meiji Entrepreneur and Agricultural Pioneer
In the early 1880s, Kawada Ryokichi, a young samurai training at a shipyard on Clydeside, near Glasgow, met and fell in love with a Glaswegian girl – a bookshop assistant – by the name of Jeanie Eadie, and took the many letters she wrote to him (together with a lock of her hair) back to Japan in 1884, where they remained undiscovered for almost a hundred years. Subsequently, Kawada was to have an extraordinary career at the heart of the building of the new Meiji Japan, but it was his period in Scotland which informed everything he later accomplished – from shipbuilding to agriculture, and, at the end of a long life, his conversion to Christianity. It may even have influenced his decision to become the first Japanese owner of a motor car in 1901. Through a detailed reconstruction of Kawada’s life and career, the book provides a remarkable case study of a single life impacting on developments in the Meiji period.- from the building of the new docks at Yokohama to the planting of seed potatoes in Yokohama. The biography also takes us through different epochs – from the roots of rebellion in the last years of the Tosa domain, to the early days of Mitsubishi, the world of shipbuilding in Glasgow, Yokohama docklands and, finally, the first decades of modern farming in Japan. Not least, of course, it contains the rare account of an East-West love story which unfolds through the eighty-nine letters Jeanie wrote to Ryokichi, all of which are transcribed and republished here.
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