Nankai Kibun Essay

Nankai kibun


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            In 1771, Magotaro finally returned home after a long journey - Nankai Kibun Essay introduction. Far away home for 7 years, Magotaro was snatched in torment as a castaway. The riveting journey of Magotaro has brought “Nankai Kibun” (Records of the Southern Ocean) by the Japanese historian Aoki Okikatsu.

            From Aoki Okikatsu’s account of Magotaro’s struggle as a castaway, his life experience in a far-flung-alienated culture and diversity of races has foretold. Nankai Kibun, the recording and witnessing of Southern Ocean, has accounted the merchants societies of South East Asia being explored by the Dutch. It was in Magotaro’s circumstance when Japan was able to keep abreast of the outside world, as the Dutch arrived in Nagasaki that brought Magotaro home.

            It is not only with Nankai Kibun the fascinating life journey has been told in the history of shipwrecked victims and survivors of the sea torment but similar events of seafarers from the life of Robinson Crusoe that emerged the passion of discovery. Yet some were pure luck to survive as a castaway, several were accidental journeys that were beyond discoveries and exploration of new-found world.

            This paper will review and then conclude on the interesting points of ideas and perceptions from the life-journey of Magotaro in Aoki Okitatsu’s and Robinson Crusoe of Daniel Defoe’s historical novelties.

Historical Review

The Circumstance of Magotaro

            Magotaro found himself as a slave of the Karakelong Natives that brought him to Sulu and Borneo, where he met Dutch merchants. In Borneo, he observed the Chinese and Dutch are among the merchant partners of the Sultan (Chieftain) in dealing barters with the natives and other merchant visitors.  Magotaro described Banjarmasin, the largest town in Southern Borneo, as a progressive community where the Dutch has a trading factory and the Chinese has school and Buddhist temple.

            It may be observed from Magotaro’s description of Banjarmasin as having a multi-culture race ruled by a Sultan and the natives as though lowly people were rude to Chinese. Magotaro also wondered why the Sultan allowed the construction of the Dutch fortress built in stones with lined up cannon holes on the wall. Magotaro later realized that it was due to high paid taxes of the Dutch and Chinese.

            Magotaro left Banjarmasin aboard the Dutch’s ship sailing to Japan. A stopover in Jakarta has likewise amazed Magotaro where he saw several ships from China and Europe. Then he finally met the Dutch Governor that is in-charge of the government.

            Finally the Dutch ship arrived Nagasaki on 1771. It was seven years ago when Magotaro left the harbor at the age of 21. Before returning to his hometown in Karatomari, Chikuzen, Magotaro was detained at the Eastern Courthouse for inquiry and there he met Aoki Kosho who related the story in Aoki Okikatsu book “Nankai Kibun (Account of the Southern Ocean)”.

Relating the Circumstance of Robinson Crusoe

            An Englishman, Robinson Crusoe of York, England, in 1632 was a daring young man, a runaway from his father’s wishing to become a lawyer and instead fascinated by the wonders of the sea voyage. Crusoe attempted his first sailing with a friend and nearly caught by ordeal in the sea yet made their way to London.            In London, the overconfident Crusoe met a sailor who gave the opportunity to sail to Africa.  On this voyage, Crusoe have once again destined to be lucky being a lone survivor as the ship capsized before reaching Africa. Crusoe found his refuge in an Island.

            Very remarkable events happened to Crusoe being on the Island. Firstly, he saved the life of a native from the Cannibals who later he named as “Friday” because it was that day when Crusoe saved the man. Friday then became Crusoe’s servant-companion in the Island. Secondly, Crusoe saved a Captain of a ship who has been brought to the Island by the mutineers, and able to retake the ship. It was on that day after 28 years, Crusoe boarded again on a ship, from which arriving the Island alone and now leaving it with a servant-companion named Friday. On their way to England, the ship passed by a convoy of savages whom Friday tried to communicate at the onset of the attack but arrows immediately casted upon that killed him. The bottom of the sea was Friday’s grave. The sailing continued and Robinson Crusoe reached England without other stories told.

Comparative Views

            What is comparatively similar to Magotaro’s and Robinson Crusoe’s stories are the untoward incidents of being castaways, as they were both victims of shipwrecked.

It may be considered a plot of the story for Robinson Crusoe wherein Daniel Defoe’s rhetoric persists on the virtue of his character of discovering oneself, as Crusoe’s passion towards the sea is a self-centered discovery of challenge to his father’s wished of him becoming a lawyer. It was only then the purpose in life and the virtues have realized by Crusoe struggling in an Island. According to the review of the Booklist and Syllabus (2006), “Religion in Robinson Crusoe”, it quoted that “Defoe announces his intention to justify and honor the wisdom of Providence in all the variety of circumstances”. From that point of view, Crusoe’s circumstance in life differs from Magotaro’s for the reasons that Crusoe was an adventurist young man who wanted some discoveries in life without considering the will of his father. For Crusoe, as again cited from the Booklist and Syllabus review, the figure of his father’s authority has been blatantly ignored and it was only the twist of Defoe’s story that seek God’s providence.

Unlike Magatoro’s circumstance, the purpose in life as an orphan has brought him the voyage to work. The people and places he immersed were consistent to depict the social order of the 18th Century. Cindy Postma (2004) of Bernard College History Courses, cited in her article, “Asian Cultures Across Boundaries 1500-1800”, that contextualizing the issues of Asia-Japan coming into European trading worlds of the 16th-18thcenturies, have also examined traditional history of trading and trading patterns. Wherein, the Japanese later found the information from Magatoro who has been rescued and brought home to Japan by the Dutch. What Postma implied was the objective perception of the merchant societies emerging in Asian countries, like in Sulu, Borneo and Jakarta where Magatoro had been.

Another reason is that what depicted in Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe was deliverance of oneself to the realities of life and rather fictional from the life of Crusoe. The Robinson Crusoe genre was a popular novel that immersed in the American and European readership, which later on were supplemented with various interpretations relating God’s providence to a person that seeks oneself.

The Robinson Crusoe genre of voyage and world discoveries was complemented in the exploration of Brazilian and African people. The association of Crusoe has reached the passion of many novelists.  As pointed out by Betty Joseph (2000) in her article review, “Re: Crusoe/Pocahontas: Circum-Atlantic Staging in The Female American-Playing-Critical Essay”, we can borrow some quotations to cite, “revision are confined to our historical moment, a moment inflected both by critical theory debates within the literary establishment and by the legacy of feminist and anti-colonial movements”.

What Betty Joseph pointing out, the popularity of Robinson Crusoe meet within the period of power struggle at the time where Europeans and Americans of the 18th century were exploring the world and, on the other hand, like the propaganda of the Feminist groups have found Pocahontas as the leading woman power of anti-colonialism.

The Japanese, having Magatoro’s life experience have recorded the mercantile activities of Dutch and Chinese in Asia. The inquiry of Aoki Kosho may have contributed the Japanese realization that colonial powers, known as merchant societies, were crossing borders of Japan, wherein the Nagasaki harbor were already occupied by the Dutch.


It may be said that Nankai Kibun is not much popular as Robinson Crusoe; it is clear from the story of incomparable circumstance. It may be perceived that Robinson Crusoe has long been novelty propaganda started in 1632 at the time prior to Magatoro’s witnessing of the social order from 1763 to 1771. It was then the circumstance of Magatoro that has been regarded by the Japanese to knowing more of the colonial powers in Asian countries towards Japan.

In some degree and aspect, Magatoro’s life experience can be included in the Robinson Crusoe’s genre. However, the circumstance is essentially a struggle of contrasting ideas as it was proven in the life-historical saga of Magatoro who travelled and assimilated in multi-cultural-racial diversities and witnessed the social order as he desired to be rescued back home. Thus, Robinson Crusoe’s journey to life as a castaway was founded on pure adventurism of the Western civilization and waited for God’s providence.

 As if then colonialism was likewise providential by God when the Dutch, Englishman, Chinese, Spaniards and Russians have travelled the world and accidentally found the world of Asians and Africans beyond discoveries—of which, to mention a similar pretext, using the propaganda of God’s providence to Christianize the Asians resembles the shipwrecked Andalucia and Isabella galleons that turned to be a Spanish conquest.

Works Cited

Booklist and Syllabus. Religion in Robinson Crusoe.  Brooklyn 2006.

Retrieved 08 February 2008.


Joseph, Betty. Re: Crusoe/Pocahontas: Circum-Atlantic Staging in The Female American –

            Playing – Critical Essay. BNET.COM, 2000. Retrieved 08 February 2008.


Postma, Cindy. Asian Cultures Across Boundaries, 1500-1800. Bernard College History

            Courses, 2004. Retrieved 08 February 2008.


20-20 Site. The Story of Robinson Crusoe. Retrieved 08 February 2008.


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