The Tale of Coffee of Samurais in Tsugaru

A request was made from Ainu people in Syari area to Matsumae Domain (former administrative names of places in present Hokkaido Prefecture) for dispatching trade ships, and the Syari Trading Post was established in 1790.
Being confronted by Russian attacks on merchant ships, 100 samurais in Hirosaki were sent by the shogunate government to protect the northern region. However, due to hard labor, malnutrition and the like, this incident resulted in deaths of 72 of them suffering from edema disease. During the 25 years after this, as much as 1,002 samurais were sent as well.
Samurais from Hirosaki again engaged in guarding Ezo (an old name of Hokkaido Prefecture). In the era a book titled ‘Dutch Remedy’, written by a Dutch doctor, reported that coffee was effective against edema disease which was incurable in those days, and thus coffee was rationed to samurais to make up for the scarcity of vitamins.

History Here

  • Hirosaki, which was at the heart of former Tsugaru Domain, has a distinctive history which is characteristic of a castle town. It has been found out lately that samurais in Tsugaru Domain were said to experience drinking coffee earlier than most people in Japan did. It seems that at first they drank coffee after decocting it as a prevention against diseases following Dutch doctors’ recommendation. We made ‘Coffee Monogatari’ (tale of coffee) with thinking of such a history.