Japanese student visit and friendship pact continues learning legacy

150 years ago 19 young members of the ‘Satsuma Samurai’ set off on a journey to Britain that would change the course of their lives and Japanese history.

Defying the 19th century Japanese government’s travel ban, the young people from the Satsuma region – now known as Kagoshima - came to Britain seeking the latest technological and economic knowledge of industrialisation necessary to transform their country.

14 of the ‘Satsuma Samurai’ were accepted in Camden at the University College London in 1865. Three years later and having completed their studies, they returned to Japan, where they used their new found knowledge to help modernise and industrialise not only Kagoshima but the whole of Japan, as well as making huge advances in culture, education, diplomacy and finance. These advances came during the Meiji period, where Japan moved from being an isolated, feudal society to one which was more open and outward looking.

Camden Council is determined to continue the legacy of the ‘Satsuma Samurai’. On Monday and Tuesday (30/31 July 2018) we welcomed 15 Japanese students to events at Camden Summer University, where they got to meet budding film-makers producing a documentary about 'Women in Power'.

The Japanese students also visited the British Library, the British Museum and went on a guided tour of the Kings Cross area. The students are set to enjoy a dinner reception hosted by University College London on Tuesday evening.

Mayor of Camden Jenny Headlam-Wells signed a friendship agreement between Camden and Kagoshima on Wednesday 18 July 2018. In the meeting with Satoshi Mitazono, Governor of Kagoshima Prefecture, and members of the Kagoshima Assembly, both Camden and Kagoshima pledged to encourage greater understanding and cooperation particularly through education.

Councillor Jenny Headlam-Wells, Mayor of Camden, said: “Camden has always been and will continue to be open to the world and nothing evidences that more clearly than our internationally renowned educational and learning institutions. In 1865, Camden welcomed the ‘Satsuma Samurai’ and this month we’ve renewed these ties, setting out a commitment to shared learning, growing our cultural understanding and a big yes to nurturing young talent in Camden, whether those young people are from Kentish Town or Kagoshima.”

Camden Summer University offers free activities for 13-19 year olds in Camden in the school summer holidays, many of which offer accreditations. Find our more on the Camden Summer University website.