In 1854, the small seaside city of Shimoda became the first port to open to the United States. Ryosen-ji Temple, a key location in the forging of U.S.-Japan diplomatic relations, lies in the heart of Shimoda. Come and see the site of these historic negotiations.
Ryosen-ji Temple is a 10-minute walk from Shimoda Station.
If you're coming from Tokyo, take the JR Shinkansen Tokaido Line to JR Atami Station, about 50 minutes away. From Atami, take the JR Ito Line to Ito Station, another 25 minutes. From there, it's an hour on the Izu Kyuko Line to Shimoda Station.
Ryosen-ji Temple is where the U.S. Government and the Japanese Tokugawa Shogunate signed the Treaty of Amity and Commerce in 1858
Ryosen-ji Temple also has an attached museum, with several artifacts from Commodore Matthew Perry's time in Shimoda
Every year in May, the town of Shimoda commemorates Commodore Perry's arrival to Shimoda with the Kurofune Matsuri Festival
When Commodore Perry returned to Japan in 1854, the Shogunate was more prepared than it had been in 1853. Designating Ryosen-ji Temple as the site for talks made both figurative and logistical sense: it was close to Shimoda Port, a deepwater port that was perfect for international trade, and praying at Ryosen-ji was said to cure eye problems, precisely what you need when you are trying to see into the future.
Today, the temple stands as a monument and museum to those meaningful negotiations. Housing nearly a thousand articles relating to Perry and his black ships, come and get lost in the history of this temple and museum. It is sometimes referred to in Japanese as “The Hall of Opening the Nation,” a reference not just to the treaty agreed upon here, but also to Shimoda as the first town where foreigners were allowed to walk around and freely interact with locals.