Wenceslau de Moraes,
navy officer

Moraes and Camilo Pessanha,
Hong Kong, 1895.

Consulate of Portugal
in Kobe, 1911.

Kobe, Japan, 1964.

Wenceslau de Moraes – Self-Portrait

Wenceslau de Moraes is the author of the most beautiful texts on Japan, its people, landscapes and arts in Portuguese language. His pilgrimage through Asia takes him to the country he adopts as his homeland and terrestrial paradise, the Dai-Nippon – the Great Japan.

On February 14, 1928, Wenceslau de Moraes writes a letter to Yanazi Wara, a Japanese who has requested him his autobiography:

Mr. Twamoto, my neighbour in Tokushima, tells me that you wish to receive a brief summary of my public life. I will satisfy your wish. I am Portuguese. I was born in Lisbon (the capital of the country) on May 30, 1854. I have attended the Navy School and then dedicated myself to the post of war navy officer. As such, I have travelled a lot and visited the coasts of Africa, Asia, America, and so on. I was in China for about five years and had the opportunity to go to Japan on board a cannon ship and visited Nagasaki, Kobe and Yokohama.

I returned to Japan in 1893, 1894, 1895 and 1896 for short periods, at the service of the Government of Macao, where I was then commissioned at the command of the port of Macao. I returned to Macao in 1896 for a short period as well and visited Japan (Kobe) again. I was appointed consul of Portugal in Hyogo and Osaka and stayed there until 1913.

By that time I was feeling seek and unable to fulfil my professional duties and so I have asked the Portuguese Government to exonerate me from the posts of consul and navy officer, and my request was accepted. Then I left for the city of Tokushima, where I still live now, because it seems to me to be the appropriate place where to rest from a hard career and a not much strong health.

I shall add that I wrote in Kobe and Tokushima, merely as a hobby, some books on the Japanese manners, which were kindly accepted by the Portuguese public.

For Wenceslau de Moraes, the future would bring a man enriched by the Western and Eastern cultures, a perfect man who would live in a universal and planetary civilization. However, it is in the intimacy of a little country town – Tokushima – that Moraes will suffer the anguish of not being able to conciliate both civilizations. He eats rice, refuses chair and bread, and lives a unique experience. He thinks the West is decaying and he foresees a strong Japan and the rising of Asia. He despises the western materialist civilization and even rebels himself against the Christian religion.