Written by David Watts for The Times
Four hundred years ago today a British ship sailed for Japanese waters to establish the first contact between the two nations and start a mutually beneficial relationship which prospers to this day.
In 1613 the arrival of the East India Company vessel the Clove helped to spark the beginning of Japan’s emergence as a modern nation; knowledge-thirsty Japanese later stowed away on ships returning to glean all Britain had to offer.
Today influence is arguably greater in the opposite direction, with no British household bereft of the benefits of Japanese technology, and with Japanese carmakers based in the UK leading the export charge. Anime, Japanese animation films and manga cartoons are vibrant art forms that have seeped into our consciousness, while many work practices and even the notion of removing dirty shoes at the front door we owe to Japan.