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Friday, 14 April, 2000, 13:36 GMT 14:36 UK
English samurai remembered
samurai
Samurai were highly regarded warriors
By the BBC's William Horsley

The life of the only real-life English samurai in Japan has been remembered at a special event in London.

Sea captain Will Adams, was shipwrecked in Japan exactly 400 years ago this month.

It was the first contact between Japan and the British Isles and the Shogun, or military ruler, was impressed by Adams' skills in shipbuilding, navigation and gunnery.

He employed him as an adviser, with the status of a samurai and an estate of farms and fishing villages south of present-day Tokyo.

Unique role

Later King James I sent a letter entrusted to Adams, which persuaded the Shogun to let the East India company open a trading post in Japan.

His life and unique role at the start of Anglo-Japanese relations were honoured at a special Japan Society gathering at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich.

Among the guests was a delegation from Ito, near where Adams settled and married a Japanese woman who bore him two children.

Mr Adams died in Japan without returning to England and his home town, Gillingham in Kent.

There he left behind his other family, a wife and daughter whom he never forgot - even in the Far East - when he had found fame, and a place in history.

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