In most of the history books, the second half period of the 19th-century history of the good relation between Japanese and Turkish as official Ottoman-Japanese relations was started. However, it never means that both of these countries did not have any contact between them before that. Institute of Developing Economies’ Hiroshi Nagaba in Tokyo pointed out that Japan and Turks have had contact with each other due to trade and foreign travelers as far back as the 18th century.

However, the relation is still present and people can easily travel to Japan by finding the best flight offers from Tokyo from Turkey. Well, if you are going to take a look at the artifacts placed in Topkapı Palace Museum then you will be able to find the fact that 730 of these Japanese pieces are dated back to the period between 17th to the 19th century. However, there is another little story which affirms the Turkish Japanese friendship. To know about that have a look at the following description.

Turkish Japanese Friendship

There must be few Japanese who know about the sinking of a naval vessel of ottoman off the coast of the Kii Peninsula. The incident was happened 125 years ago and made a strong reason behind the good relations between Japan and Turkey. It is because in this incident, selfless efforts by the locals of japan to care and rescue the for the crew of the vessel and earned goodwill in Turkey, a seat of Ottoman power as a reward in return. The reinforcing unit of this sense of camaraderie was the shared conditions of enduring unequal pacts that were imposed by European powers.

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Japanese Ottoman Relationship

As it has mentioned-above that Turkey and Japan has a long history of their relationship and they have strong relations due to foreign travelers and trade. If we look at history, then you will come to know another prominent incident. Japanese Imperial Navy’s sloop Seiki came to Istanbul for a training mission in November of 1878. Sultan Abdul Hamid II received the envoy and he honored them with multiple medals.


While in the year 1881, diplomat Masaharu Yoshida reached the court Yıldız Palace to lead a mission with an effort to accomplish agreements which were related to the wartime and trade status. However, in October 1887 when Prince Komatsu Akihito visited Istanbul along with the presentation of the highest order of japan to the Sultan. At that time Ottoman Empire’s government made a decision to send a goodwill voyage as a ship in return to Japan.

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The Disaster Brought Goodwill Among Japanese and Turkish  

Sultan Abdul Hamid II was highly impressed by the rapid modernization of Japan which wad following by 1868’s Meiji Restoration. Therefore, his government decided to approach Japan with the hope of imitating friendship ties to which the Meiji government gave a positive response to confirm mutual sentiments. However, the Ottoman Empire’s Government sustained the exchange by sending their Ertugrul Frigate for a goodwill visit in the year 1889 to Japan.

Ertuğrul was instructed to set for a voyage to Japan. Although the ship was being used for the last 35 years. It became repaired before setting to sail from Constantinople and most of the wooden parts of hull was repaired and renewed to ensure a safe voyage to Japan.

Admiral Ali Osman Pasha was heading the Ottoman mission along with a crew of more than 600 officers and sailors. They traveled a long and trouble-prone journey to reach Yokohama aboard in June 1890 with 76-meter, 2,344-ton Ertugrul.

The initial route of the ship was designed to make different stops which were quite necessary on the way to Japan. Although the ship stops were pre-defined for a better and planned journey but it was recommended for the ship to stop by Pondicherry and Calcutta in India, by accurately considering the seasonal wind. Even the return of the ship was also pre-scheduled.


However, in Japan, the crew was received by the admiral and welcomed with the gifts along with bestowing admired titles of the Ottoman Empire. 

After staying for three months, the Ertugrul again set to sail from Yokohama for the return voyage of the ship on 15th September 1890. During its return voyage in the cholera outbreak, the contingent had lost many of its crew members. But this was not the real happening because the worst was still waiting for Ertugrul. At a day out of Yokohama Ertugrul encountered a typhoon. By being tossed by waves and wind for the whole night of 16th September, ultimately the vessel broke up on the rocks. And the vessel came off the s Kii Ōshima’s island which is known as the town of Kushimoto at the present time.

Along with the captain of the ship and Admiral Ali Osman Pasha almost 587 sailors and officers have perished. However, the islanders of Kii Ōshima braved the typhoon and made hard efforts to save 69 members of the contingent of vessels. Their heroic deeds’ words reached to Ottoman very soon, where it provoked an expression of pro-Japanese sentiment.

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Selfless Life-Saving Efforts by Japanese Won the Turkish Goodwill

Officials of Japanese maritime urged to Ertugrul captain to postpone the departure of the ship it is because the season of the typhoon was in progress and 26 years old vessel made of wood was a real concern. However, captain and officials of Ertugrul rejected the beseech of Japanese officials. It is because they felt that the delay in their departure may betray the shame and weakness of the empire. Therefore, they preferred their departure as scheduled and piloted the Ertugrul as decided before for its fateful and final journey.

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However, when the Ertugrul broke out on rocks, 69 of the crew members managed to find salvation with the help of Kashinozaki lighthouse’s beam which was located at the Kii Ōshima’s eastern tip. That was the first lighthouse of Japan which started its service in the year 1870. It was the first lighthouse who employed a flashing and revolving beacon.

Well, some of the survivors managed somehow to reach the top of the lighthouse and sought for help. When the islanders knew about the disaster they ran out into the typhoon to help the crew members. They struggled through the night to rescue the sailors and officers and to recovering bodies from the water. Although the people of Kii Ōshima had limited resources to live there but they shared the same provisions with the Turks generously. However, later on, German and Japanese vessels brought the survivors to Kobe and Emperor Meiji. 13 nurses and 3 personal physicians of empress consort were dispatched to Kobe to provide the survivors care.

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Turkish Got an Opportunity to Repay the Kindness

Turkish Flight for Japanese in 1985

The Government of Turkey took the best opportunity to repay the kindness which was being shown by the Japanese at the Ertugrul sail in 1985. At the time when the Iran-Iraq War was rising and Saddam Hussein gave a notice that his military would start to target commercial airlines too over Iran. This threatened the thousands of expatriates there which included 200+ Japanese. Although other nations carried their citizens but the Govt of Japan stuck to a legal construal, which made the Japanese on Tehran Mehrabad International Airport to lose hope of survival. But after Japan request to the Turkish government to help they sent two airplanes that dispatched 250 nationals of Japan with safety. When Japan Government showed appreciation for this safe rescue, the officials of Turkey cited the debt of gratitude of their nation from the incident of Ertugrul.

Kainan 1890, 125 YEARS MEMORY of Ertugrul

This is a movie which is based on the true story of two major incidents which strengthen the relationship between Turkish and Japanese that became a cause of deepening their friendship. The storyline of this movie is based on the incident of broken out of Ertugrul while returning from Japan from its goodwill journey and encountered typhoon. The incident resulted in a great loss of 533 people including Admiral. Only 69 of the travelers managed to save themselves. Japanese helped them selflessly and bring them back to the earth. This is an important event which is still remembered as a base-stone of Turkish-Japanese Friendship.

In the year 1974, a Turkish museum was established in Japan where the scale model of Ertugrul is placed. Even more, statues and photographs of the sailors are also on display there. If you want to see the things associated with this incident. However, If you want to have a trip to visit this amazing place, you can easily find the best flight offers from Istanbul to have the best visit to the monument.