the silver samurai


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In "1493" Mann states Japanese samurai helped protect silver shipments from highwaymen near Acapulco in the 1600s. Is there any evidence to support this story? • r/AskHistorians
The story in question is on page 414. I admit, I would love to watch a movie about 17th century samurai protecting silver caravans through the mountains of Mexico, but I'm having a devil of a time verifying Mann's claims here. Demographically, we know Eastern Asian migrants added to the growing multicultural landscape of post-contact Mexico, but the samurai claim seems too good to be true. I wondered if one of our Mexican or Asian specialists can shed light on the story, and if it has any basis in fact. Are there stories of Asian mercenaries fighting in the wars of conquest in the Americas? Stepping back even further, where did the earliest Asian migrants to the Americas come from, and where did they settle in this New World? Thanks in advance!

I was searching for old topics and came across this.

Answer by /u/Gorrest-Fump

The source of Mann’s account is Edward R. Slack Jr., “The Chinos in New Spain: A Corrective Lens for a Distorted Image,” Journal of World History 20 (2009): 35-67. Mann seems to have creatively misread the article - hard to resist such a tantalizing anecdote that underscores his narrative of early globalization (and which ultimately became the basis of a graphic novel that he helped to write.)

It’s worth quoting the relevant sections of the Slack article at length:

Spanish galleons transported Asian goods and travelers from Manila to colonial Mexico primarily through the port of Acapulco. During the two and a half centuries of contact between the Philippines and the Viceroyalty of New Spain, a minimum of 40,000 to 60,000 Asian immigrants would set foot in the “City of Kings,” while a figure double that amount (100,000) would be within the bounds of probability. From Acapulco they would gradually disperse to the far corners of the viceroyalty, from Loreto in Baja California to Mérida in Yucatan….

Among the scores of Asian peoples that were widely defined as chinos, in the early decades of the 1600s Japanese converts were held in high esteem by Spaniards in the Philippines and New Spain for their bravery and loyalty. In 1603 and 1639 when Chinese residents in the Parián of Manila revolted against their Iberian overlords, Japanese swordsmen distinguished themselves in combat. Without their assistance, Sangleyes would surely have made the Philippines a colony of the Middle Kingdom. Thousands of Japanese converts, traders, and ronin made the Philippines their home prior to the closing of Cipango to Iberians in the 1630s. They lived in a suburb of Manila called Dilao, with a population estimated at 3,000 by 1624.

A couple of points need to be made here: the first is that the overwhelming majority of Asian immigrants to New Spain were Filipino or Chinese, and the Japanese represented a relatively small minority. The second is that the military service of the Japanese under the Spanish took place in the Philippines, not in New Spain. Mann makes a fanciful leap when he places katana-wielding samurais in Jalisco, defending silver shipments against escaped-slaves-turned-bandits.

The real story of Japanese migrants in 17th-century New Spain is a little more mundane, but still quite fascinating. The French historian Thomas Calvo has written about a circle of Japanese merchants who climbed the social ladder of colonial Guadalajara, whom he referred to as “honorary whites” in the racial hierarchy of New Spain.

One of them, Luis de Encío, was described in a 1634 notarial document as being “de nación japón,” while also identifying his name as Soemon Fukuchi. (The suffix -emon might possibly indicate a samurai lineage.) Encío operated a small shop in the bustling commercial city of Guadalajara, and was granted a monopoly over coconut and mescal sales in 1643 - the peak of his economic fortunes - although he complained of being broke when he died in 1666.

His son-in-law, Juan de Páez - who was born in Osaka - had more luck in the business world. Páez managed the finances of the city’s cathedral, and was named as godfather to the children of various prominent Tapatío families. Although he was listed in documents as a “merchant”, he seems to have provided a variety of financial services from money-lending and speculation to real estate deals.

It’s not entirely clear how either of these men wound up in New Spain, but it’s possible that they either were part of the retinue that followed ambassador Hasekura Tsunenaga during his 1613-14 visit to the colony, or - more likely - were Christians who fled religious persecution in Japan, possibly by way of Manila.

tl;dr: No, there really isn’t any evidence of samurai protecting silver caravans in Acapulco. But there were quite a few Japanese merchants plying their trade in 17th-century Mexico, and one of them became a member of the financial elite of Guadalajara.


Thomas Calvo, “Japoneses en Guadalajara: ‘Blancos de Honor’ durante el Seiscientos mexicano,” La Nueva Galicia en los siglos XVI y XVII (Guadalajara: El Colegio de Jalisco, Centro de Estudios Mexicanos y Centroamericanos), 159-171

Melba Falck Reyes and Héctor Palacios, “Japanese Merchants in 17th Century Guadalajara,” Revista Iberoamericana22 (2011): 191-237

Sofía Sanabrais, “'The Spaniards of Asia’: The Japanese Presence in Colonial Mexico,” Bulletin of Portuguese-Japanese Studies, 18-19, (2009): 223-251

anonymous asked:

Hi, sorry for bothering but if it wouldn't be a problem could you recommend me some nice manga to read? Especially some fantasy with a lot pretty guys and many BL hints? I love already Makai Ouji, Karneval, Bloody Mary, Monochrome factor, Pandora Hearts, Owari no seraph and Sougiya Riddle so maybe you know something alike? Thank you a lot in advance.

Hello Anon ! ^^

OMG !! You mentioned almost ALL the series I usually recommend to everyone !! Bloody Mary and Sougiya Riddle are awesome !!! SOOOOO

I recommend:

- Silver Diamond by Shiho Sugiura ^^ This series is PRETTY LONG (27 volumes !!).I  LOOOOVE THIS SERIES PLEASE READ IT !!!! ;_;

- Saiyaku wa boku o suki sugiru by Satoru Kannagi and Etsumi Ninomiya

- 1001 knights by Yukiru Sugisaki

(these two are brothers tho, even if the romance doesn’t focus on… their “relationship”… it’s ambiguous, but you learn more as you read it ^^)

- Ilegenes Kokuyou no Kiseki (and the sequel Ilegenes Giyoku no Koukyoukyoku)

Torikago Syndrome by Akaza Samamiya (the same author s Bloody Mary)

- Uragiri wa boku no namae o shitteiru by Hotaru Odagiri (I loooove it but it’s been on hiatus for a least two years, but please I really recommend it if you like fantasy series !)

- Legal Drug and the sequel Drug and Drop by CLAMP

- Samurai Drive by Fujiko Kosumi

I’ll write a better list soon ! ^^ (with summaries and all ;w;)