William Adams, also known as Miura Anjin, holds the distinction of being one of the few non-Japanese individuals granted samurai status. Born in Gillingham, Kent, England in 1564, Adams embarked on a remarkable journey that led him to become an influential figure in Japanese history.

Following his father's death at the age of 12, Adams apprenticed in a shipyard where he honed his skills in shipbuilding and navigation. He later joined the Royal Navy, serving under Sir Francis Drake during the conflict against the Spanish Armada in 1588.

In a fateful turn of events, Adams found himself aboard the Liefde, a Dutch ship, which, after 19 months at sea, encountered a typhoon that decimated its crew. Only 23 of the original 110 men survived as the battered vessel made its way to the port of Bungo (modern-day Usuki, Oita Prefecture), where authorities seized the ship and imprisoned its crew in Osaka Castle.

On May 12, 1600, Adams was brought before Tokugawa Ieyasu at Osaka Castle. The ship's cargo, including cannons and firearms, piqued Ieyasu's interest, leading him to order its transfer to Uraga for inspection.

Adams's fate took a remarkable turn when Ieyasu became his patron, valuing his intellect, mathematical prowess, and nautical expertise. Despite having a family in England, Adams was forbidden from leaving Japan and became Ieyasu's trusted advisor and official interpreter. In return for his loyalty, Adams was granted samurai status, bestowed with the two swords of the samurai, and provided with an estate in Uraga Harbor, among other privileges.

Under the name Miura Anjin, Adams married the daughter of a samurai official and had two children. He continued to serve the Tokugawa faithfully, conducting trade on behalf of various trading houses while also enjoying the Shogunate's permission to engage in his own trading ventures.

Adams passed away in Hirado, north of Nagasaki, in 1620, leaving behind a legacy that inspired numerous books and even computer games. Today, a monument in Tokyo's Anjin-cho commemorates his remarkable life and contributions to Japan.


See also 

  • Yasuke


    Yasuke, an African page, arrived in Japan in 1579 as the attendant of the Italian Jesuit missionary Alessandro Valignano. Before the arrival of the Englishman William Adams, it is thought that Yasuke was possibly the inaugural non-Japanese samurai, arriving about twenty years earlier.

    Read more …

  • Yamanami Keisuke


    Yamanami Keisuke, the second in command of the Shinsengumi, a special police force during the late Edo period, shocked many when he performed seppuku on March 20, 1865, at the age of 32.

    Read more …

  • Yamamoto Kansuke


    Yamamoto Kansuke, renowned as a samurai strategist and one of Takeda Shingen's esteemed 24 Generals, hailed from the Mikawa region, known for breeding formidable warriors. Despite physical challenges—blindness in one eye, lameness in one leg, and a malformed hand—Kansuke embarked on a warrior's pilgrimage in his twenties. Traveling across the land, he honed his skills in strategy, tactics, castle construction, and warfare, engaging in various swordsmanship schools and forms.

    Read more …

  • Yamaga Soko


    Yamaga Soko was a multifaceted figure in Japanese history, renowned as a strategist, philosopher, and scholar. Later in life, he became a ronin, leaving a significant mark on the understanding of the Tokugawa period samurai.

    Read more …

  • Wakisaka Yasuharu


    Wakisaka Yasuharu held the position of daimyo over Awaji Island before ruling over Ozu in Iyo Province. His significance in the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 cannot be overstated.

    Read more …

  • Ukita Hideie


    Ukita Hideie was born as the second son of Ukita Naoie, the ruler of Okayama Castle. Tragically, Hideie's father passed away when he was just nine years old, thrusting him into the responsibilities of leading the castle, clan, and domain. Prior to his father's demise, the Ukita clan had aligned with Oda Nobunaga. After Nobunaga's assassination during the Honno-ji Incident, Hideie remained loyal to Toyotomi Hideyoshi, whose ties were further solidified through marriage.

    Read more …

  • Uesugi Kenshin


    Uesugi Kenshin stands out as one of the most formidable daimyo of the Sengoku period, presenting the sole substantial challenge to Oda Nobunaga's quest for dominance.

    Read more …

  • Uesugi Kagekatsu


    Uesugi Kagekatsu was born into the Nagao clan of Ueda, the son of Nagao Masakage. After Masakage's death, Kagekatsu was adopted by his uncle, Uesugi Kenshin, as his mother, Aya Gozen, was Kenshin’s elder sister. When Kenshin passed away suddenly in 1578, Kagekatsu found himself entangled in a power struggle with his stepbrother/cousin, Uesugi Kagetora, also adopted by Kenshin.

    Read more …



Contact: samuraiwr22@gmail.com