Thursday, July 14, 1853 was the day of the ceremony. On shore the Japanese had built two tents among the trees. On board the American ships everything was ready, guns were trained at the place of reception.1 Soon two Japanese boats approached the squadron and stopped next to the Susquehanna. Kayama Yezaimon came on board with two interpreters, followed by Nagashima Saberosuke. They were received and led to the quarter-deck. Within half an hour the American who were required to take part in the ceremony on shore, including two bands, were seated in 15 boats with Captain Buchanan in the lead. This American flotilla was flanked by two Japanese boats that carried the governor of Uraga and the vice-governor.2 As these boats were about halfway from the shore, the salute of 13 guns were fired by the Susquehanna. It was also the moment when Perry stepped into his barge for the shore. When Captain Buchanan reached the landing wharf, he sprang ashore, becoming the first American officer ever to set foot on Japanese soil. The boats that carrying about one hundred marines also arrived, and they were followed by the sailors and the bands. In total the formation had about 300 men. The number of Japanese on shore was over 5,000, they were well armed with swords, spears, and matchlocks. At the front was the Japanese infantry, archers, and lancers, with a large body of cavalry behind in a distance. Behind the Japanese soldiers there was a large number of local inhabitants, many of them were women. They were looking on with intense curiosity.3 Upon the arrival of Perry, the American procession marched toward the house of reception following the lead of Kayama Yezaimon and his interpreter. Walking before Perry were two boys in ceremonial dress carrying a box which contained the letter from the US president. On the either side of Perry, there was one tall, well-built negro, armed to the teeth to act as Perry's body guard. Soon the US party reached the house of ceremony which was made of timbers and pine wood while the entrance was a kind of tent. Perry and his suite were seated in armchairs at the right side of the venue.4 (to be continued)
1. Perry, Matthew Calbraith ed. by Sidney Wallach. Narrative of the Expedition of an American Squadron to the China Seas and Japan. NY: Coward-McCann, 1952, page 74.
2. Ibid., page 76
3. Ibid., page 78
4. Ibid., page 80