The Americans in Japan
This poem erases a chapter of Robert Tomes’s 1857 The Americans in Japan, an illustrated account of Commodore Matthew Perry’s 1853 expedition. The chapter describes the commodore’s arrival at the largest island of the “Lew Chews” (an alternate spelling of “Ryukyus”), now called Okinawa. At the time, the Ryukyu Kingdom was an independent tributary of both Japan and China. Okinawa became Meiji Japan’s first imperial annexation in 1872, followed by Taiwan in 1895 and Korea in 1910. The United States’ colonial holdings began to grow roughly contemporaneously: in 1898, the U.S. annexed Hawai‘i, and the Philippines, Puerto Rico, and Guam after the Spanish-American War.