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Despite the tragic ending, the goodwill mission established a positive relationship between the Ottoman Empire and “the rising star of the East”.
Two years later, in 1892, Yamada Torajirō arrived in Istanbul.
Yamada visited Egypt along the way, and after finishing his mission in Istanbul he decided to settle down there for the next 20 years, doing everything he could to foster Japanese-Ottoman political and cultural relations.
(Yamada’s story will be explored in more detail in an upcoming article).
In 1909, Abd al-Rashid Ibrahim, a Tatar born in the Russian Empire, fled to Japan seeking refuge from Russian authorities, who were after him because of his struggle for Tatar independence.
A pious man, he became the first Muslim preacher in Japan, and many indigenous Japanese embraced Islam through his work.
‘Abd al-Amīn Sāmī, a court scholar in Bukhara, spread that Meiji (“pādshāh-e Chāpun”) had secretly embraced Islam, that he was a descendant of the Qahtānī Arabs, and that his victory over the Russians meant the Day of Judgement was near.
The Ottoman poet Mehmet Akif and historian Abdurreçid Ibrahim expressed their admiration for Japanese achievements; in Iran, Adib Pishāvari wrote an epic poem titled the in praise of Meiji.
And it was only in 1920―after the sudden influx of about 600 Muslim immigrants from Central Asia into Japan during WWI―that the first translation of the Qur’an into Japanese was published by a Buddhist scholar, Sakamoto.In the 17th century, an Ottoman historian described the Japanese (or people of “Caponya”) as people who “love to take cold baths and have high morals”.The Japanese probably had similarly basic ideas about Muslims, and they may have briefly encountered Muslim traders or diplomats over the centuries as well.For many—including many of the Japanese themselves—Japan’s “splendid isolation” was a reason for the world to instead focus on nations that were easier to reach and more open to engagement. Despite the fact that Islam spread and thrived on the nearby Chinese mainland and in Southeast Asia for centuries, it wasn’t until the late 19th century, that the Muslims and Japanese expressed any real interest in each other.Of course, Muslims had heard of “al-Yāban” (or “Chāpun”), and the islands first appeared on a Muslim-made map in 1430 as part of the work of a Persian scholar, Hāfiz-i Abrū, on the Far East.