Our countryman Joseph Goshkevich is the first Russian consul in Japan

The biography of Joseph Goshkevich

Гошкевич-ИJoseph AntonovichGoshkevich is a state councilor, was born in the village of Strelichev, Rechitsacounty, Minsk province (Gomel region). Father was a village priest Anthony IvanovichGoshkevich, mother was GlikeriaYakovlevna.

Russian diplomat, missionary and orientalist, Sinologist and Japanist. The scientist is known as the compiler of the first Japanese-Russian dictionary awarded the medal of the Imperial St. Petersburg Academy. Russian Imperial Consul in Japan. 1858 - winner of the full Demidov Prize and gold medal.

In 1839-1848 he was a member of the Russian Orthodox Ecclesiastical Mission in China, where he studied a number of Oriental languages - Chinese, Manchurian, Korean, Mongolian. Due to his good knowledge of languages, he was invited to work in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and appointed an official on special assignments of the Asian Department.

In 1852-1855 he served as a translator and adviser in the diplomatic expedition of Vice Admiral, Adjutant General E. V. Putyatin on the military frigate Pallada.

In 1855, he participated in the signing by Putyatin of the first Russian-Japanese diplomatic and trade treaty (the Treaty of Shimoda). According to it, they decided to open the first Russian consulate in the history of Japan in the port of Hakodate on the island of Hokkaido.

On December 21, 1857, by the highest order of the civil department, he was appointed the Russian Imperial Consul in Japan, headed it until 1865. Russian school was opened at the Russian mission, where Japanese children were taught to read and write Russian. During his seven years in Hakodate, I.A. Goshkevich built a consular house, a naval hospital, and an Orthodox church. I.A. Goshkevich taught Japanese people Russian, photography, baking bread, cooking dairy products and pickles, sewing European-cut clothes. The Japanese respected Russians for their selflessness, for their desire to understand local customs and culture.

When he returned to Russia, I.A. Goshkevich continued to serve in the Asian Department, and then retired due to illness. He spent the last years of his life in his estate near Vilna, where he was engaged in scientific work. The scientist is known as the compiler of the first Japanese-Russian dictionary (together with V. I. Matov), awarded the medal of the Imperial St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences and wrote a number of works on the history and culture of China and Japan.

A bay in the Sea of Japan near South Korea is named after the orientalist and diplomat I.A. Goshkevich. A bust of I. A. Goshkevich, donated to the city by sculptor O. Komov, was installed in Hakodate in 1989, and a monument by V. Yanushkevich was erected in his homeland in Ostrovets in Belarus in 1994.

The Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg branch, stores the library of Joseph AntonovichGoshkevich. It was bought from the consul's son in 1910. There are 1,346 Japanese woodcuts and old printed books, 47 sheets of geographical maps.

A century later, in August 1994, on the initiative of the local authorities and the Belarusian-Japanese Friendship Society, the I.A. Goshkevich Foundation was established.

The name of Joseph AntonovichGoshkevich, who laid the noble foundation of friendship, mutual knowledge of the Russian and Japanese peoples, is immortalized on the geographical map of the world: a bay in the Sea of Japan is named in his honor.

From work experience

The map of the life of Joseph Goshkevich



Monuments to Joseph Goshkevich

In August 1994, in the center of the urban settlement of  Ostrovets, in the presence of the Charge d'affaires of Japan in Belarus Akira Toteyama, a monument to Goshkevich was erected, the author of which is the Belarusian sculptor Valerian Yanushkevich.


In the spring of 2004, a memorial sign by the Belarusian sculptor R. B. Grusha was installed in the village of Mali in honor of a fellow countryman.


On December 29, 2015, a monument to Joseph  Goshkevich was opened in the city of Ostrovets, Grodno region. The monument, the author of which is the sculptor Alexander Shumov, was installed on the street of the same name.


Photo gallery

Iosif Goshkevich's wife Ekaterina Semenovna and son Joseph. Photoof 1875


Dr. Tatsibana-no Koos'ai (Vladimir Pribylov). From a drawing by A. F. Mozhaisky, lieutenant of the frigate "Diana". 1854



October 1852  I.Goshkevich is the first from the left, next to him the commander of the frigate

I. S. Unkovsky, I. A. Goncharov and Vice Admiral E. V. Putyatin among the officers of the frigate Pallada.


Japanese watercolor depicting the Russian Embassy in 1853


Opening of the bronze bust of  I.Goshkevich in the Museum of the Japanese city of Hakodate


Metrical information about the birth of Joseph Goshkevich

Метрические сведения о рождении

The National Historical Archive of Belarus in Minsk contains metric data that shed light on the date and place of birth of the first consul of the Russian Empire in Japan in 1858-1865, Orthodox missionary, linguist Joseph Gashkevich.

Until that time, there was confusion in all sources with the exact date and place of Goshkevich's birth. Often the exact date was not mentioned at all only a year. But, according to the metric book of the Uniate St. Michael's Church in the village of Strelichev, Rechitsa district, Minsk province (now Khoiniksky district, Gomel region) for 1814, Joseph Gashkevich was born on April 4 (according to the Gregorian calendar – April 16) in the family of a priest of the same church: In the same village [Stralichava], the priest Anthony IvanovGoshkevich and his wife GlikeriaYakovleva had a son, Joseph, who was baptized by the Bragin JacovomVarsoba, when the treba was sent by the nobleman Alexander Vasilevsky." A priest from the village of Glukhovichi, Jan Bernatsky, became the godfather of an outstanding man in the future.

метрические сведения о рождении


Record of the death of Joseph GashkevichMay 3, 1875

State Historical Archive of Lithuania. F. 605.Vop. 20. Spr. 484. a.59adv– - 60


The consulate in Hakodate

According to the Shimoda Treaty of 1855, the Japanese government undertook to provide "places and houses" for the Russian consulate, and according to the Treaty of 1858, the right of permanent residence in the Japanese capital was granted to Russian diplomatic representatives.The first building was the Russian Consulate in Hakodate (now closed). It introduced Hokkaido residents to European architecture.


G.Hakodate. The building of the former Russian Consulate. The main entrance.


G.Hakodate. The building of the former Russian Consulate. Garden.


Hakodate today


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