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Origin[]

TanegashimaGun

A Tanegashima arquebus.

Tanegashima (種子島) is one of the Ōsumi Islands belonging to Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan. This island is celebrated as the site of the first known contact of Europe and the Japanese, in 1543. A Ryukyuan trading post had been established there several decades earlier, and all traffic from the Ryukyus to Kagoshima on Kyushu, in southern Japan, was obliged to pass through this station. Thus it was that the Portuguese ship, having been blown off course from China to Okinawa made their way to Tanegashima, and not directly to Japan proper.

Until modern times, firearms were colloquially known in Japan as "Tanegashima", due to the belief that they were introduced by the Portuguese on board that ship. In his memoirs published in 1614, Portuguese adventurer turned author, Fernão Mendes Pinto placed himself in that first landing party, although this claim has been roundly discredited and in fact contradicts with his claims to be simultaneously in Burma at the time. However, Mendes Pinto does appear to have visited Tanegashima soon thereafter.

The Europeans had arrived to trade, not only guns, but also soap, tobacco and other goods unknown in medieval Japan, for the Japanese goods.

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