William Adams, the ‘Blue-eyed Samurai’, otherwise known in Japan as ‘Miura Anjin’, which translates as ‘The Honourable Pilot’, was born in Gillingham on 24th September 1564. He was baptised in St. Mary Magdalene Church, Gillingham. He was shipwrecked in Japan in 1600 and was saved from death by the local warlord who recognised his skills in ship building and navigation. He went on to show the Japanese how to build Western-style ships, and became, in effect, the father of the Japanese navy and much respected and revered in Japan. This connection led to the linking of Gillingham with Ito and Yokosuka as sister cities.
Last year Medway Council held its 7th William Adams’ Festival to celebrate the historic links between Gillingham and Japan. (more…)