Perry - Discussion Questions

The following can be answered individually or as a group.

  1. What geographic, economic, technological and government features added to the isolation of Japan?
  2. What skills do you think are necessary to be an effective diplomat? How did Matthew Perry use these skills? Was he an effective diplomat? Why or why not?
  3. Describe some of the cultural differences between the Japanese and the Americans before the treaty. What aspects of Japanese culture have been adopted in the United States? Examples: work ethic, ceremonies, and technology. Are there aspects of American culture that have been adopted by the Japanese? Examples: television, music, and technology. Compare and contrast the relationship between the United States and Japan in 1854 to the relationship between the two countries today. What events have occurred to influence their relationship?


  1. Imagine you are a villager in Edo Bay. Write a letter to a friend describing the American arrival in Japan. Imagine you are a sailor with the American squadron. Write a letter to a friend describing the banquet given by the Japanese in honor of the Americans.
  2. Write or act out how you think a conversation between American sailors and the Japanese villagers might have sounded. What do you think they would have talked about? Would they be able to
  3. understand everything that was said? What other means besides speech might they use to convey their message? Can you demonstrate?
  4. Put together a list of "gifts" you would present to the people of another country who had never seen Americans before.
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