Japanese marks in Hoi An


Hoi An has become familiar to people around the world. It is home to thousands of ancient relics and architectural structures that were made between the 10th and 19th centuries by the Chams, Vietnamese, Chinese, Japanese among others.

Reappearance of a red seal ship at a Vietnam-Japan cultural exchange festival
Reappearance of a red seal ship at a Vietnam-Japan cultural exchange festival

In the past, the Japanese came to Hoi An for their business when this city was one of the world’s best-known trading ports. The marks of Japanese merchants are still kept till now.

Cam Pho communual house and Japanese Bridge

Kikuchi Seiichi has spent a lot of time living in Hoi An, carrying out his study called “Looking for the Japanese” funded by the Government of Japan.

He discovered some Japanese Hyzen pottery and porcelain pieces in the Cam Pho communual house and a lot of architectural structures scattered throughout the old town.

The typical architectures that are thought to be built by Japanese merchants are the Japanese covered bridge (Chùa Cầu in Vietnamese) and Tran Phu street, which was named “La rue du Pont Japonnaire” by the French.

In the yard of the Cam Pho communual house, a lot of ancient Japanese pottery and porcelain pieces have been excavated.

According to Kikuchi, the excavation site used to belong to a river or a canal into which broken things were thrown.  So, the excavated pottery and porcelain pieces are the powerful evidences for the Japanese presence in Hoi An in the past. He stated that the Japanese lived in Hoi An around the 15th and 16th centuries.

Japanese predecessors in Hoi An

Japanese Bridge in Hoi An city
Japanese Bridge in Hoi An city

Kikuchi said that Hoi An was one of a few cities around the world where the Japanese chose for their working and living between the 14th and 16th centuries. They settled down, building streets and Japanese community there.

Moreover, one event that made the Japanese and the Vietnamese closer in the past was the marriage of Vietnamese Princess Ngoc Hoa and Japanese merchant Araki Shutaro. At the same time, Japanese merchant called Furamoto Yashishiro was assigned to be the city’s major.

Rabbi Chistoforo Borri living in Hoi An in 1618 described Hoi An as a large city including an area for the Chinese and another for the Japanese. Most of them were businessmen. According to Professor Iwao Seiichi, there were 86 of 130 arrivals of Japanese trading ships to Hoi An from 1604 to 1634.

At present in Hoi An, there are still a lot of Japanese merchants’ tombs.

Vietnam-Japan relationship

Vietnam-Japan cultural exchange festival is annually held to make the relationship closer. Hundreds of Japanese visitors come to Hoi An yearly.

More and more Japanese organizations, such as Showa Women's University, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and Vietnam- Japan Institute for Human Resources Development pay their attention to Hoi An. A lot of Japanese experts have lived and worked in Hoi An.

Most of Japanese visitors to Vietnam visit Hoi An because the city is beautiful, peaceful and especially familiar to them.