Titia Bergsma (Leeuwarden, 13 February 1786 – The Hague, 2 April 1821) was a Dutch woman who visited Dejima Island, Japan, in August 1817 with her husband, Jan Cock Blomhoff.
Under the Tokugawa shogunate's sakoku policy Japan was extremely secluded. The Dutch and Chinese were allowed to visit the country, but only for trade, and no women were permitted. The governor of Nagasaki allowed Bergsma to enter the island. Five weeks later when the shōgun Tokugawa Ienari became aware of her presence, he ordered that Titia and the wetnurse Petronella Muns had to leave. In December the women went back to Batavia and Holland and Bergsma never saw her husband again.
In the meanwhile, Japanese painters and sculptors had made 500 images of Bergsma. Her images had such popularity in Japan that they outsold all other prints in 19th century Japan. Images can be found all over Japan. There are companies which specialise entirely in Bergsma images. It is said[ by whom? ] her face can be seen on four million pieces of Japanese porcelain.
The life of Bergsma has been adapted to animation in Japan.[ citation needed ]
Nagasaki-e genre of art about foreign women during Tokugawa era
Media related to Titia Bergsma at Wikimedia Commons
Dejima or Deshima, in the 17th century also called Tsukishima, was an artificial island off Nagasaki, Japan that served as a trading post for the Portuguese (1570–1639) and subsequently the Dutch (1641–1854). For 220 years, it was the central conduit for foreign trade and cultural exchange with Japan during the isolationist Edo period (1600–1869), and the only Japanese territory open to Westerners.
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Sakoku was the isolationist foreign policy of the Japanese Tokugawa shogunate under which, for a period of 265 years during the Edo period, relations and trade between Japan and other countries were severely limited, and nearly all foreign nationals were banned from entering Japan, while common Japanese people were kept from leaving the country.
Jan Joosten van Lodensteyn, known in Japanese as Yayōsu (耶楊子), was a native of Delft and one of the first Dutchmen in Japan, and the second mate on the Dutch ship De Liefde, which was stranded in Japan in 1600. Some of his shipmates were Jacob Quaeckernaeck, Melchior van Santvoort, and William Adams.
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Isaac Titsingh FRS was a Dutch diplomat, historian, Japanologist, and merchant. During a long career in East Asia, Titsingh was a senior official of the Dutch East India Company. He represented the European trading company in exclusive official contact with Tokugawa Japan, traveling to Edo twice for audiences with the shogun and other high bakufu officials. He was the Dutch and VOC governor general in Chinsura, Bengal.
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Petronella Muns was one of the first Western women to set foot in Japan.
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