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Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun
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Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  1,187 ratings  ·  60 reviews
In 1853, few Japanese people knew that a country called America even existed. For centuries, Japan had isolated itself from the outside world by refusing to trade with other countries and even refusing to help shipwrecked sailors, foreign or Japanese. The country's people still lived under a feudal system like that of Europe in the Middle Ages. But everything began to chan ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published January 21st 2003 by HarperCollins (first published 1985)
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3.59  · 
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 ·  1,187 ratings  ·  60 reviews

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Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: asia
Despite being very short, it is informative and make you curious about further developments about this relationship among Japan and the West.
Lauren Stoolfire
This biography of Commodore Perry primarily focuses upon his voyage to Japan to help open up the country for trade with America. The biography is well rounded as it offers points of view from the other crew members and also the Japanese they came into contact with as well as Perry. As for art work, many portraits, paintings, and drawings from the time period are presented to the reader. For young readers, I would suggest a discussion on the differences between the two cultures or maybe having th ...more
This was a very detailed book on the landing of Commodore Perry in Japan in 1853 trying to establish trade relations with Japan - which had been a closed society for hundreds of years. It clearly marks the differences between the two cultures and tells both sides of the story to some degree. It shares a lot on the Japanese culture of the time - traditions, social structure, etc. More than I wanted on teaching my kids about this event, but still a good book. More for Middle school age or older el ...more
Jul 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Excellent synopsis of how Perry and his Black Ships opened up Japan into the modern world. The time it took from the absolute reluctance to a modernized Japan is a testament to the Japanese people's spirit. I once heard of Japan described as a country of "inertia", slow to start but a force to be reckoned with once moving. Blumberg encompasses this nicely in the book.
Feb 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
I was enchanted by this book. I didn't really know any of this history beyond Japan's longtime isolation. What a magical experience, to discover an entirely new culture in every possible way. Also enjoyable because the Americans or Westerners don't just end up murdering everyone, like so much of the rest of imperial history.
Jan 30, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: january-2013
I was struck by the cultural differences between the Americans and the Japanese - each thought the other crude and uncivilized. Interesting book!
Jan 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
Part of the Sonlight curriculum. Very well done!
Oct 12, 2017 rated it liked it
For such a short read, this book is extremely informative. It broadened my understanding to the early introduction between Japan and the United States, how instrumental Commodore Perry was, how essential was the awareness and adherence to others' customs and traditions, how the errors in judgment and action result from misunderstandings, and how two seemingly opposite cultures can benefit from one another. I enjoyed the drawings and sketches included in the book, especially those done by Japanes ...more
Char Freund
Feb 26, 2019 rated it liked it
I was searching my local library’s online catalog for books about Japan before our trip. I found this middle school book and was intrigued as Commodore Perry also explored nearby Lake Erie. The History of Japan I recently read only gave a few pages to his influence on a trade treaty.

This 140 page easy to read book was actually quite interesting, especially some of the side stories written for the juvenile audience. It got me with the first sentence, “If monsters had descended upon Japan, the ef
Becky B
A historical look at Commodore's Perry arrivals in Japan to secure a promise that shipwrecked American sailors wouldn't be imprisoned and negotiate restocking options for whaling ships...which eventually led to Japan opening its doors to trade with the rest of the world after decades of isolation.

Rhoda Blumberg does such a great job of incorporating primary sources in her writings and the designers found firsthand witness artwork to go with it. Superbly done history telling! I highly recommend r
This was actually a really good book that I read to my sons.
Commodore Perry was the first American to successfully make it to Japan without being imprisoned and set out to make a peace treaty with them in order to make trades and good relations with them. He is still celebrated in Japan today for helping them out of their solitude and leading them to eventually inspiring the emperor to wanting to end all castes there.
It was really neat to learn this history and teach my sons. They can even tel
Robin E.
Nov 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: default
More history book should be a wonderful as this one.

Blumberg used diaries, journals, and official reports to tell the story of Commodore Perry opening Japan to the US. She goes out of her way to show how the different people misunderstood each other, yet kept being gracious and as understanding as they could be. Her telling is filled with humor and insight, and the whole book is illustrated by sketches, drawings, and paintings done by a mix of American and Japanese artists that were there.

I high
Apr 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: kids
Japan's long period of strict isolationism and how it ended is another of the many blank spaces from my own education that has been filled in by homeschooling my children. This book includes illustrations made at the time by both Japanese and American artists, as well as primary sources in the appendices. Some bits were a little confusing and/or a little boring for my son, but the fact that my eight-year-old paid attention to an entire sixteen-chapter book about nineteenth-century diplomacy mean ...more
Cynthia Lint Dunker
We read this one for history class (4th grade). I started reading it from Kindle, but got the hardback copy from the library. This is one to read from an actual book. The pictures are excellent and add so much to the story. We all learned so much about Japanese history and culture. And Rhoda Blumberg wrote in an easy to understand way.
May 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Newbery Honor Book. Well-written account of Perry's visits to isolated Japan in 1853 and 1854 to negotiate a treaty to open the nation to peaceful relations and eventually trade. Interesting insights into the Japanese culture of the time, as well as Perry and his crew. Illustrated with authentic drawings, paintings and etchings of the time, mostly Japanese. Excellent book!
Oct 18, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, children
Interesting read about when Commodore Perry and his fleet of ships arrive in a Japanese Port, and their attempt to get Japan to open up to the United States for trade.
K.D. Reid
Sep 17, 2017 rated it liked it
A little dry but informative.
Nov 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sonlight-core-f
A short biography of Commodore Perry and his relations to the previously closed to foreigners Japan. Lots of details and illustrations.
Jul 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2012
Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun is a concise account of the forced opening of Japan to the Western world in 1854. The event marked a powerful and dangerous precedent that Japan itself would later use to its own advantage on neighboring Korea. Commodore Perry was not the first U.S. Naval officer to bring warships in hopes of establishing trade with Japan, but he was the first successful one employing a sort of "gunboat diplomacy"; a deadly mixture of stubbornness and the firepower to en ...more
Sarah Crawford
Jan 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
The book starts off with something I have not read elsewhere. Perry's trip to Japan was not the first attempt to open Japan to trade. Another attempt had been made seven years previously, but had failed.

The initial meeting between Perry and a minor official did not go well. The next day, humorously enough, Perry's ships saw a boatload of artisans doing paintings of the ships and the men, paintings which were reproduced and sold in shops. Some people found a way to immediate capitalize on what w
Michelle Albanese
Nov 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book was wonderfully researched and told as an interesting story. The Appendices give the actual translations of the letters and detail the gifts that went back and forth between Commodore Perry and the Japanese. It is so eye opening that just over 150 years ago, Japan was very backward and closed to all foreigners. Their society was similar to the Dark Ages of the west in the mid-1850's. The chapters are short and interesting. We read a chapter a day and at the same time read a book called ...more
Amber Hao
Oct 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a great read if your studying Asian history. It's written in a direct and unbiased manner, not say who the "Bad Guys" or the "Good Guys" are, only stating the fickleness that exists in the culture of the Japanese and Americans.
By 1853, the Japanese people didn't know that a country called America existed or that the steamship was invented! They were intrigued by the American's clothing and "customs", while the Commodore and his men, on the other hand, found the Japanese strange and re
Catherine Gillespie
Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun is one of those rare children's history books that combines facts with stories and excellent pictures. We really enjoyed learning about this interesting time in history when feudal Japan was first opening up to the modern world. The illustrations include paintings and drawings by Japanese people first observing the American visitors, old photographs, and other Japanese-style line drawings. If your kids are interested in Japan this would be a great choice ...more
Oct 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lit-for-the-kids
This was fantastic! The illustrations alone are worth perusing the book. This is a historical account of Commodore (or Admiral,if you read the book)Perry's landings and how the treaty was signed amid much pomp and circumstance. Also, fear on the part of the Japanese civilians that the "hairy barbarians" were going to attack and destroy them. There are quotes from diaries and letters of men involved, lists of gifts exchanged and the wording of the actual treaty. Well written - we really like this ...more
Thomas Bell
Aug 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: newbery-honors
This was a fun read, and I loved the pictures. It was completely unexpected, but this book is full of pictures drawn of (and during) the events taking place in this book. It reminds me vaguely of Russell Freedman's books except this is more about a particular event than any particular person and they are drawings rather than photographs. Either way, it was quite interesting.

One thing though. In the afterward they mentioned how this led the way for Japan to become a world nation, with the emperor
Mark Shafranski
Aug 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finished reading Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun by Rhoda Blumberg.

This was an excellent read on a fairly obscure historical event I had only read about tangentially. It is fairly short and in LARGE print, which I appreciate. It is also beautifully illustrated, with drawings by both Japanese and American participants. Additionally, it is well documented with ample footnotes.

Wanting to read on this subject I ordered the book online and the library delivered it to my door. I was a little
1986 Newbery Honor Book

This was an interesting little book about when Commodore Perry and the American Navy traveled to Japan to negotiate a trading contract. At the time, Japan was an isolated country and only did trade with the Dutch, who were treated very poorly. There are lots of historical illustrations in the book.

John Hung, who is mentioned in the book, has his own fictionalized Newbery Honor book, Heart of a Samurai.
Feb 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
While the book's writing style is not the best, with very short sentences and some repetition, the content itself is quite good, and presents the subject matter in a didactic manner that should be easy for anyone to follow. I would recommend this book to anybody interested in getting a deeper insight into an event that contributed to the end Japan's feudal era, portraying just how closed to foreign influence that nation was before the Meiji era.
Nov 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: nbbp
Interesting introduction to the opening of relations with isolated Japan. The writing is a bit inconsistent, as if the author periodically remembered she was writing for young people and felt an excited tone was necessary to keep the interest. What I missed was more information about what was happening outside of Japan - a fitting of this tale into the bigger story of the world.
May 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
My three children and I used this as part of our homeschool curriculum produced by Sonlight Core F. This book was very well laid out and was useful in learning about Commodore Perry and the hierarchy of Japanese society at the time. The illustrations were wonderful and caught the boys attention. It lead us to further research into the time, place, and people.
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Rhoda Blumberg has written about the opening of Japan (1853-1854) in Commodore Perry in the Land of the Shogun, a Newbery Honor Book, which also won the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award and the Golden Kite Award. Her acclaimed histories also include The Incredible Journey of Lewis & Clark, The Great American Gold Rush, and The Remarkable Voyages of Captain Cook, all ALA Notable Books. She is the w ...more