Published: Friday, 26th July 2019

The bond between Medway and Japan began with Will Adams.

Will Adams established the first trading link between Britain and Japan and each year thousands of residents and visitors celebrate maritime history and Japanese culture at the Will Adams Festival in Gillingham Park.

Adams, born in Gillingham, joined the Navy and set sail as Chief Navigator on flagship Hope in 1598. In 1600 his ship ran aground on the Japanese Island Kyushu.

Though he was captured and imprisoned as a pirate, the Shogun appointed him as a trusted aide and diplomatic advisor because of his knowledge of shipbuilding and navigation, binding Medway and Japan.

This year’s festival will be held on Saturday, 7 September at Gillingham Park, from 11am to 4.30pm.

Visitors will have the opportunity to see and have a go at traditional Taiko drumming, Origami and Japanese martial arts. These martial arts originated in the warrior traditions of the Samurai. Adams himself was awarded the honoured title of Samurai when he proved himself to be a knowledgeable and trusted advisor.

There will also be a history exhibition on display, created by St Mary’s Magdalene Church at Gillingham Green, where Adams was christened.

The Will Adams Festival introduces residents to an important part of Medway’s history, allowing them to learn about, and experience, contemporary Japanese culture.

Celebrating our close connection with Japan

Cllr Howard Doe, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community Services, said: “We are excited to, once again, celebrate our close connection with Japan at our annual Will Adams festival. It is important that we continue to recognise Medway’s cultural heritage. I am looking forward to seeing our residents learning, experiencing and celebrating our maritime history and Japanese culture.”

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