Dejima, in old Western documents latinized as Decima, Desjima, Dezima, Disma, or Disima, was a small fan-shaped artificial island built in the bay of Nagasaki in 1634 by local merchants. This island, which was formed by digging a canal through a peninsula, remained as the single place of direct trade. Dejima was built to constrain foreign traders as part of sakoku, originally built to house Portuguese traders, it was used by the Dutch as a trading post from 1641 until 1853. Covering an area of 120 m ×75 m or 9,000 m2, in 1922, Dejima Dutch Trading Post was designated a Japanese national historic site. In 1543, the history of contacts between Japan and Europe began with the arrival of storm-blown Portuguese merchants on Tanegashima. Six years later the Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier landed in Kagoshima, at first Portuguese traders were based in Hirado, but they moved in search of a better port. In 1570 daimyō Ōmura Sumitada converted to Catholicism and made a deal with the Portuguese to develop Nagasaki, in 1580 Sumitada gave the jurisdiction of Nagasaki to the Jesuits, and the Portuguese obtained the de facto monopoly on the silk trade with China through Macau. The shogun Iemitsu ordered the construction of the island in 1634, to accommodate the Portuguese traders living in Nagasaki. This was one of the many edicts put forth by Iemitsu between 1633 and 1639 moderating contact between Japan and other countries, however, in response to the uprising of the predominantly Christian population in the Shimabara-Amakusa region, the Tokugawa government decided to expel the Portuguese. This left the Dutch employees of the Dutch East India Company as the sole Western nation with access to Japanese trade, since 1609, the Dutch had run a trading post on the island of Hirado. For 33 years they were allowed to relatively freely. At its maximum the Hirado trading post covered a large area, in 1637 and 1639 stone warehouses were constructed within the ambit of this Hirado trading post. Christian-era year dates were used on the stonework of the new warehouses, in 1639, the last Portuguese were expelled from Japan. Dejima had become an investment and without the annual trading with Portuguese ships from Macau. From 1641 on, only Chinese and Dutch ships were allowed to come to Japan, on the administrative level, the island of Dejima was part of the city of Nagasaki. The 25 local Japanese families who owned the land received a rent from the Dutch. Dejima was an island,120 by 75 metres, linked to the mainland by a small bridge. It contained houses for about twenty Dutchmen, warehouses, and accommodation for Japanese officials, the Dutch were watched by a number of Japanese officials, gatekeepers, night watchmen, and a supervisor with about fifty subordinates
An imagined bird's-eye view of Dejima's layout and structures (copied from a woodblock print by Toshimaya Bunjiemon of 1780 and published in Isaac Titsingh's Bijzonderheden over Japan (1824/25)
Dejima and Nagasaki Bay, circa 1820. Two Dutch ships and numerous Chinese trading junks are depicted.
View of Dejima island in Nagasaki Bay (from Siebold's Nippon, 1897)
Philipp Franz von Siebold (with Taki and his child Ine) watching an incoming Dutch ship at Dejima (painting by Kawahara Keiga, between 1823-29)