Dejima Island, Japan’s gateway to the world

A historic tourist attraction in Nagasaki, Japan, is undergoing massive restoration to be returned to its original condition in 1897.

Built on an artificial island in Nagasaki Bay, Dejima was Japan’s only direct trading point with Europe between 1641 and 1853. It was the landing point of goods such as coffee and beer as well as Western teachings on medicine and navigation, becoming Japan’s gateway to the West.

Dejima is an artificial island to which Dutch workers were restricted during Japan’s era of isolation

But after the trading post closed, the 9,000m2 site went into decline and was later joined to the mainland to improve the harbour.

In 1951, the Dejima Restoration Project was launched as part of Nagasaki’s town development. To date, 16 buildings, the embankment and the main gate bridge have been restored. This year, the project enters its most challenging phase: making Dejima an island again. Private land will be purchased, a river and highway will be diverted, and a moat will be dug. Completion is expected to take more than 30 years.

Megumi Kawaguchi of the Dejima Restoration Office expects a boost in visitors following the works as Dejima “will provide visitors with an experience as if they travelled back in history”.

Dejima has long proved popular with incentive groups for providing a window on Japan’s modernisation and historic interactions with the West.

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