The Will Adams Festival: Celebrate Japanese and English relations with a free, fun-filled, family festival about our very own, Gillingham-born Will Adams. Saturday, 12 September at Gillingham Park

Take a walk through time, from Tudor England and Tudor maritime history to Japanese culture in the 17th century and Japanese culture in the 21st century.

Every year we celebrate Will Adams, and here’s why:

Miura Anjin, better known as William Adams to most, was born in Gillingham in 1564.

Since childhood Adams had always been fascinated by the ocean and ships, and at the age of 12 began a 12-year apprenticeship in navigation, and seamanship. He joined the Royal Navy in 1588, serving under Sir Francis Drake during the wars with Spain, piloting supply ships to the English fleet during the battles with the Armada.

It was in the summer of 1598, after retiring from the Royal Navy, Adams was appointed Chief Navigator to a fleet of five Dutch ships, one of which was the flagship Hope. In 1600, after a hazardous voyage from west Africa, his ship went aground on the island of Kyushu, Japan. He was captured and taken to the Shogun, questioned and imprisoned as a pirate.

Eventually when he was released, he was ordered to sail to Edo (Tokyo). His knowledge of shipbuilding and navigation had impressed the Shogun so much
that he became a trusted aide and diplomatic adviser to the Shogun. He built two western-style