Links between Japan and the North East of England were celebrated as part of the ‘UK-JAPAN 150’ year of events in 2008 to mark the 150th anniversary of Japan-UK relations. Now the region’s vibrant historic links with Japan are being explored through a cultural research project which aims to tell the story of five young Japanese men who came to Tyneside to research shipbuilding in the late 19th century, never to return.
The project is the brainchild of Newcastle-based researchers Nicole Vivien Watson and Adam Dentone, who were fascinated by the story of the five young researchers from the Japanese Navy who visited Tyneside to investigate shipbuilding methods in the late 19th century but ultimately came to die on English soil rather than return home. The five are buried in Newcastle’s Elswick St John’s Cemetery, overlooking the Armstrong works where several Japanese navy ships were built to order during this time. Several of the graves currently lack headstones and the pair hopes to raise funds and identify suitable partners to provide fitting memorials.