Sotaro Araki and Princess Ani-o
―Nagasaki-Vietnam Friendship Association―
長崎ベトナム友好協会専務理事 冨岡 勉
Nagasaki’s ties with Vietnam go back a long way in history as far as the 16th century. Here I would like to tell a story that became the first bond to bridge Nagasaki and Vietnam, as well as the Nagasaki Friendship Society of Vietnam.
There was a man in Nagasaki, Sotaro ARAKI, who lived from the late 16th century to the early 17th century. At first he was a samurai in Kumamoto not far south of Nagasaki, and moved to Nagasaki in 1588 and started living there on an estate. Japanese were quite active in those days, going down south and building many Japanese towns in Southeast Asia.
Sotaro, getting aboard a goshuin-sen (officially-licensed trading ship), went to visit the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and was said to have acquired a vast fortune from trade. In 1619 in what is now Hue, he met and married Wakaku, a woman of maternal bloodline of the Vietnamese King who adopted her as a daughter. Sotaro went home with his new bride, and built an emporium (trading house) in Motoshikkui-machi in Nagasaki.
He was surely the first Japanese to have an international marriage and came back to Japan with a King’s daughter, albeit an adopted one. Princess Wakaku, while living in Nagasaki, was called Ani-o-san and was well-liked by the Nagasaki citizens.
Her fabulous wedding display can still be seen today in Nagasaki’s Okunchi (7~9th Oct, every year) Festival, as a form of dance offered to a deity.
Okunchi is a very big festival, the pride of Nagasaki. Each district of the city play a program for the Festival in rotation once every seven years. The area (called odori-cho) play various programs to make a joyous atmosphere at the Okunchi Festival.
The program of Motoshikkui-machi, famous for its historic ties with Vietnam, is the Goshiin-sen trading ship that I talked about at the beginning. At the ship’s prow are Sotaro and Princess Ani-o. The odori-cho on duty this year for the Okunchi Festival is Motoshikkui-machi. The Nagasaki Friendship Society of Vietnam, now trying to obtain NGO (non-governmental organization) status and eager to get involved in the Festival in one way or another, has made a decision to become a co-sponsor of the festival.
Sotaro Araki and Princess Ani-o sleep together in a grave of the Arakis of a temple, Daionji, in Nagasaki.
（Ani-o-san lived long for ten years, but, as for the anniversary of a death, is the same accidentally.）
The Society, founded in February 2002, has now 65 members, six of whom are exchange students from Vietnam. As many Prefectural Assembly members played a central role in establishing the Society, the Governor of Landom Province and others in Vietnam were invited to our city on the occasion of the 56th Nagasaki Peace Memorial Day, 9 August 2001. Other activities of the Society for fostering friendly exchanges include the donation of personal computers to hospitals in Dalat. The Society members have visited Vietnam once every year since 2003.
Japan, particularly Nagasaki, has such a long-standing relation and has many features in common with Vietnam. The diligent national character, a high level of education, a history of being at war with the US and China, are a few examples. Japan had atomic bombings, and Vietnam suffered DDT (dioxin poisoning). There are people who suffer still today. Not to be forgotten also is that we are both countries that made a spectacular recovery after war ended. Based on such common experiences, I believe it important to respect each other and deepen friendship.
The Nagasaki-Vietnam Friendship Society wishes to continue private-level exchange and support centering on exchange students in order to contribute to activities for world peace.