Golownin's Captivity in Japan and
Release (1811-1813), Volume I & II
Golownin and Rikord

Golownin, Captain R.N.
Rikord, P. (Volume II):
Narrative of My Captivity in Japan, During the years 1811, 1812 & 1813: With Observations on the Country and the People, by Captain Golownin, R.N., To Which is Added An Account of Voyages to the Coasts of Japan and of Negotiations with the Japanese, for the Release of the Author and His Companions, London, Colburn, 1818, two volumes 302 pp & 348 pp, large 12mo (5 3/4 - 8 1/2 in). This is an English language translation of a Russian book. The set is an account of the voyage of the Russian ship Diana to Japan and the capture of it's Captain and part of the crew by the Japanese. The author and the part of the ship's crew were held captive by the Japanese for two+ years. This is a narrative of that voyage, the captivity and eventual release of the Russians. The account by Captain Rikord is in the second volume. There are no illustrations in the set. These two volumes are sometimes offered with the 1819 book (see below) as a three volume set. There are no illustrations.


Title Pages


Volume I

This is Volume I in the two volume work published in English in 1818. The Narrative begins in April of 1811 with in command of the Russian sloop of war Diana in Kamtschatka. He was directed to survey the Southern Kurile and Shantar Islands. He put to sea in May. On July 11 Golownin landed with a party of two other officers and four seamen believing he would receive a friendly reception by Japanese authorities. However that was not the case and the party was arrested and imprisoned. This volume is a narrative of that captivity from July of 1811 through early April of 1812.


Volume II

This is Volume II in the two volume work published in English in 1818. The book has two sections. The first is a continuation of Golownin's account of his captivity by the Japanese. The second section is an account by Captain P. Rikord (Imperial Russian Navy) of his successful negotiations to obtain the release of Golownin and his crew.

Golownin's Narrative. Volume II of the narrative of captivity starts in April of 1812 with Golownin's attempts to evade capture by the Japanese after an escape for prison. They were captured and returned to the prison "cages" at Matsmai. In October of 1812, Golownin is informed by the Japanese of Rikord's mission to obtain his release. The narrative presents a day by day account of Golownin's interaction with the guards and interpreters, his fellow captives and Japanese officials overseeing his captivity and the negotiations for his release. On June 19, 1813 the Russian ship, Diana arrived in Kunashier harbor to free Golownin and the crew. Negotiations between Rikord and the Japanese over the release were conducted for almost a month and then the Diana withdrew. In September the Russians were moved to a residence ("imperial building") in "Chakodade." The Diana returned on the 24th and after more negotiations, Golownin and Rikord met face to face on October 5. The captives were released to Rikord on October 7 thus ending "...an imprisonment of two years, two months, and twenty six days...." (p 204)

Rikord's Account. Rikord was aboard the Diana on July 11, 1811 when Golownin and others were taken prisoner by the Japanese through what he considered "treachery." Rikord returned to Russian to mount a rescue expedition. It took over a year before the actual rescue voyage began. The Diana arrived back in Japan on the 28th of August of 1812 and the back and forth posturing, maneuvering and negotiations began and finally produced release on October 7, 1813.

Background. Vasilii Mikhailovich Golovnin (17761831) trained at the Kronstadt Naval Academy and from 1801 to 1806 served as a volunteer in the British Navy. In 1807 he was commissioned by the Russian government to survey the coasts of Kamchatka, the Kurile Islands and Russian America.

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