"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things

that you didn't do than by the ones you did.

So throw off the bowlines.

Sail away from the safe harbor.

Catch the trade winds in your sails.

Explore. Dream. Discover.”

 — Mark Twain






Japan by Yacht

By Annie Brassey

Annie Brassey (1839–87), was perhaps the first Western woman to arrive in Japan on her own family yacht, the Sunbeam. Having departed from Chatham with her family, friends, and crew, she and her husband, the English Member of Parliament Thomas Brassey, had already circumnavigated half the globe when they arrived in Japanese waters towards the end of January 1877.

Over the next weeks she and her family went on to explore Japan in a way no foreign visitors had done before them: by yacht. Starting out from Yokohama, they first anchor off Kobe, from where they traverse the Inland Sea, to visit Shimonoseki before their final departure through the Bungo Straits.

Not wanting to miss out on Japan’s cultural sites, she lands at all of these ports to make long overland excursions: to the opulent mausoleums for the Tokugawa shōguns in Tokyo, to the Iwaya Caves on Enoshima, to  the great Daibutsu and the Tsurugaoka Hachiman shrine in Kamakura, to the ancient temples of Kyoto, to the Imperial Mint at Osaka, and to the famed hot springs of Arima.

Published back home under the title A Voyage in the Sunbeam, Brassey’s unique account of her journey went on to run through several English editions, and was translated into many languages. Today, it still stands out among the other early travel accounts for its uniquely maritime perspective on the Japanese isles.



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