Hasekura Tsunenaga: the samurai who became a Roman citizen

Open Culture delved into the history of Hasekura Tsunenaga, a 17th century samurai who had an incredible life of travelling which included meeting Pope Paul V:

Sent on a mission to Europe and America by his feudal lord, Date Masumune, Hasekura “set off on a quest to earn riches and spiritual guidance,” Andrew Milne writes at All that’s Interesting. “He circumnavigated the globe, became part of the first Japanese group in Cuba, met the Pope, helped begin a branch of Japanese settlers in Spain (still thriving today), and even became a Roman citizen.”

Hasekura was a battle-tested samurai who had acted on the daimyo‘s behalf on many occasions. His mission to the West, however, was first and foremost a chance to redeem his honor and save his life. In 1612, Hasekura’s father was made to commit seppuku after an indictment for corruption. Stripped of lands and title, Hasekura could only avoid the same fate by going West, and so he did, just a few years before the period of sakoku, or national isolation, began in Japan. Traveling with Spanish missionary Luis Sotelo, Hasekura embarked from the small Japanese port of Tsukinoura in 1613 and first reached Cape Mendocino in California, then part of New Spain.

He went on to convert to Catholicism and became Philip Francis Faxecura.

Samurai related: A samurai made out of a single piece of paper, Indo apples, samurai, and Japanese farmers, Yasuke, the African samurai, and Samurai Pizza Cats.

The Romans thought excessive milk drinking and eating butter was 'crude and tasteless'

Mark Kurlansky, the author of Milk: A 10,000-Year History, wrote an adapted article for Gastro Obscura about the Romans disdain for milk and butter consumption when they visited Britain:

During a visit to conquered Britain, Julius Caesar was appalled by how much milk the northerners consumed. Strabo, a philosopher, geographer, and historian of Ancient Rome, disparaged the Celts for excessive milk drinking. And Tacitus, a Roman senator and historian, described the German diet as crude and tasteless by singling out their fondness for “curdled milk.”

The Romans often commented on the inferiority of other cultures, and they took excessive milk drinking as evidence of barbarism. Similarly, butter was a useful ointment for burns; it was not a suitable food. As Pliny the Elder bluntly put it, butter is “the choicest food among barbarian tribes.”

But the Romans weren’t the only milk and butter critics. The Ancient Greeks used “butter eaters” as an insult for the Thracians who lived north of Greece. Interestingly, cheese was exempt from such criticism as both the rich and poor enjoyed a variety of cheeses. I guess they thought feta of it.

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