Education About Asia

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Feature Article

Butter Diplomacy: Food and Drink as a Social Lubricant in Dutch East India Company Trade with Japan

Every year the monsoon winds of the Indian Ocean and South China Sea brought roughly half a dozen Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC) ships to Nagasaki, carrying a valuable cargo consisting mainly of various types of silk and other types of cloth, and also Southeast Asian luxury goods, European “rarities,” and foodstuffs such as sugar and spices. After these VOC ships unloaded their precious and varied cargo, negotiations would begin to determine the price of t...