Is This The Oldest Image Of A White Dude In Japan?

Is This The Oldest Image of a White Dude in Japan?

Blond hair. A big nose. These aren't just the white people stereotypes Japanese people have today. They also could describe one unusual individual in a 13th century Japanese scroll.

Here, compare to the white people stereotype that still exists in Japanese popular culture:

Is This The Oldest Image of a White Dude in Japan?

According to the Tokyo National Museum, the scroll dates from the Kamakura Era (1185 — 1333). This is known as Japan's medieval period and saw the rise of the samurai class and the establishment of feudalism. It was also during this period that the Monguls, along with the Koreans and the Chinese, unsuccessfully tried to invade Japan.

Is This The Oldest Image of a White Dude in Japan?

A while back, website Tokyo Metanoia pointed out this apparent white dude (above). The painting depicts samurai and bandits. Once again, it has recently become a topic of discussion online in a Japanese bulletin thread titled "I Cracked Up Because There's a White Person Among These Old-Timey Japanese Bandits."

This image does inspire discussion. It really wasn't until after Portuguese landed in Japan during the 16th century that you really start to see white folks (and black folks) appear in Japanese art.

Is This The Oldest Image of a White Dude in Japan?

[Photo: Wiki]

Of course, you see more images of Europeans when the Dutch began trade relations with Japan in the 17th century. While you certainly images of foreigners (Chinese, Koreans, Indians) prior to the 13th century in Japanese art, I'm not sure if there are images of Europeans before that. If so, let me know in the comments down below!

On 2ch, there is a range of theories about this mysterious man (these are internet theories, so your mileage may vary). Perhaps, wrote one 2ch commenter, these bandits came from Europe to Japan via the Silk Road. Or maybe this was a Russian. Others thought this was a legend — maybe a yokai (monster). One net user joked, "What is this, The Last Samurai?"

Some thought that this wasn't a white person, but rather, a Japanese person in a fur hat. The result is simply people thinking the bandit was European because of the cap, confusing the headwear's fur with blond human hair. Makes sense to me. But that doesn't necessary explain the nose — but maybe it doesn't have to. Maybe this is just a Japanese person with a big nose. Maybe!

昔の日本の山賊に白人いてワロタ [2ch]


    The tattoo down his arm seems specific.

      Maybe he was wearing one of those 'skeleton' print hoodies.

    I'm sure some would be adventurer took a long walk east many times.

    If find this fascinating. Imagine going back to a time where all major civilisations haven't met, the world hasn't been mapped and you could sail across the sea in any direction and find strange and wondourous lands, unheard of and unimaginable by your own people.

      I've thought the same thing! None of this McDonalds everywhere stuff

      It's a tempting fantasy, but seafaring used to be hellish. Intercontinental voyages lasted months or even years at a time, much of it cramped on a slowly rotting death ship. Unless you were an aristocrat it's also unlikely you can just decide to sail to sate your curiosity, short of being press-ganged. There's also the matter of scurvy, the plague, slavery, angry natives, etc.

    Yet again, people seem to forget that the ainu (an indigenous people from japan) are caucasian, not like the asian yamamoto tribe the started to conquer the japanese islands from the 9th century AD, possibly this scroll depicts the ainu in a stereotype that the yamamoto tribe establised back then & still continues with.

      The Ainu are still genetically related to the area of Asia, and while more Caucasian than the Yamato people it would still be highly unlikely for them to be blonde.

      Although as @gwenclone it could be a hat, it still seems to be depicted as someone of another ethnicity.

      Last edited 20/08/14 9:47 am

    white dudes, your nose so crazy!

    - Rethilgore, white dude.

    It was Steven Seagal. He was the first white person to step foot in Japan. Later on he established a local branch of the CIA, before giving up worldly pursuits to become a god.

    Obviously a time traveler got snapped in the era equivalent of an iphone image.
    Who doesn't dream of heading back to feudal japan with some high tech solar powered wizardry and a sack full of metallurgical spec sheets and tungsten ingots.
    Apart from the black teeth on the women It would be pretty freaking rad to be wealthy back then.


    Many of the members of the Mongol empire would have had these sorts of features - the Mongol Empire that invaded Japan (under the reign of Kublai Khan I think) was enormous - the biggest contiguous land Empire by area in history - covering all of Russia, China, Mongolia, all the way west into eastern European areas like Georgia, and right down through Turkey and the Middle East as well, all the way into places like Iraq. It's not impossible that there would be blonde people in the Mongol invasions of Japan. The picture in this case dates from the Kamakura shogunate, and that was the Shogunate in power during the two Mongol invasions.

    The second image is more interesting, it suggests that the Portuguese had invented parachute pants centuries before MC Hammer.

    it was either tom cruise, or keanu reeves...

      Nah,doubt it mate as neither actor has blonde hair.

        tom has died it blonde before as lestat.
        keanu...maybe he was surfing those sweet tokyo bay waves for point break-u and the got bleached...?

    I guess that clears up the ethnicity of Usopp from One Piece then.

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