upon a time, in a land far, far away, lived an ancient Japanese harbor master. He was known by his peers as Master Katsuo and had been in control of the uneventful harbor of Japan for years and years. Master Katsuo lived during the time of isolation, where Japan was not open to any outside trade. This was a major contributor to the boring job he lived every day. Many years before the Master was born, Tokugawa shoguns, the powerful ruling class, had closed Japan’s ports to foreigners and forbade overseas travel. For nearly two hundred and fifteen years, Japan had developed under complete and utter isolation. For this long period of time, Japanese life was successful. However inevitably, Japan’s political, economic and social state started to decline. Corruption became common as economic growth brought changes to Japan. Social classes started to grow irritable with their specific positions and lost their sense of loyalty to the old Japanese system of government. Soon, Katsuo and his peers would face a change that would alter the future of Japan forever.
One summer day, of July 1853, Katsuo was out on the docks with his fellow guards when they spotted a suspicious looking ship. Glistening in the wind, a red, white and blue flag waved. An American ship was heading their way! The last time Japan had interacted with another country was ages ago! Unsure of what else to do, Katsuo instructed all people on the dock to get ready to fight, as no ships were allowed at this port. As the ship approached, the captain called, “We aren’t here to harm!” Katsuo dropped his weapon and glanced to his peers. Little to their knowledge, the famous Commodore Matthew Perry was there to deliver a message that would change Japan’s fate. “I’ve come to deliver a message by the demands of the President of the United States,” Commodore Matthew Perry claimed forcefully, “President Fillmore has asked a favor of the Japanese people. Can one of you please deliver this letter of mine to...
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