Japanese ''Red Seal'' Ships

  • Medieval Asia
  • 1 min

By Crusader1307

These Japanese vessels were armed Merchant vessels specifically constructed for trade with other Southeast Asian Countries. Designed around the 16th Century, the name “Red Seal” derived as a system to recognize Merchant ships from Pirate vessels. The Captain of the ship carried documentation (at all times), baring the Imperial (or Shogunate) Seal. A special flag also identifying a “Permitted ship was flown. Designed along the same lines as a European Galleon (no doubt refined upon by European contact), Red Seal Ships displaced between 500 and 750 tons. They ranged around 15 to 18 feet tall (beam). A typical Red Seal Ship crewed around 200 men. Built locally, some Red Seals were captured Chinese “Junk” Class ships that the Japanese reconverted. Although they traded throughout the “known” Asian Countries – many Nations had fears of letting The Japanese into their Ports (their reputation for ruthlessness preceded them as well as known Japanese Pirates). Trading was often difficult to arrange and maintain. However, Red Seal Ships were responsible for the “forming” of the Japanese populace of the then small and unknown Philippine Islands. By 1635, the ruling Shogunate declared “foreign travel” (even by experienced Merchantmen, too “culturally dangerous” and ended The Red Seal Shipping Trade.