I hope you enjoyed meeting Kusawara-san yesterday. Now, because I can’t resist a little worldbuilding of my own:
I imagined a world where Japanese colonists settled the American west-coast. How? Because of a magic system I invented for another story, lets Muromachi-era scholars know about Chinese legends of a land to the far east, as well as Icelandic sagas of voyages to lands in the far west. Using Greek, Arabic, Indian, and Persian estimates for the circumference of the earth, some clever guy figures there ought to be either a big land mass or a group of big islands over thataway. The shogunate equips an expedition, which makes landfall in the Pacific northwest. Harbors along the northwest coast became hideouts for pirates in the 15th century. Oda Nobunaga, then Shogun, outfitted several expeditions to “the Far East,” which brought back fur and gold. Whether Nobunaga’s trading outposts broke new ground in America or whether they mixed with the descendants of the pirates is unknown, but there was a thriving community in the settlement of Ariyasuka (有靖加 or “the existence of peace increases”) to which Nobunaga and his loyalists could flee when Toyotomi Hideyoshi turned against them.
The flow of refugees would continue for some time, including ironically the retainers of Hideyoshi, as well as waves of Japanese Buddhists and later Christians (Kiristan). By the time of Isolationism (Sakoku) in the 17th century, Ariyasuka had grown to a settlement of over 100,000 people. Now called Arigoku (有国, the Land that Is, from which the modern English Arica derives), the independent colony retained illicit communication with anti-Shogunate groups in Japan, including the Imperial Court in Kyoto. It was Arican arms shipments and political pressure that broke the Shogunate and began the Yuuji Restoration in 1858. The wave of Japanese emigration that followed spurred another push of Arican expansionism, bringing the American Civil War to an uneasy truce as Northern and Southern English-speakers tried to maintain their western borders. They were only partly successful.