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stepping stones of maritime history


The Van Bosse was the property of the Bonke & Co Handelsonderneming in Rotterdam.

A storm had drifted the ship off its course when travelling from Shanghai to Singapore. All 27 people on board survived. Before being able to come back to Batavia in the Dutch Indies, they had to stay in Okinawa for a couple of months interacting with the local inhabitants.

The story of the wrecking of the ship has been documented in the archives of the island of Tarama. Als original families have told stories about the wrecking event from generation to generation. This gives us a beautiful insight in what this wrecking did for the local community and how a wreck site still contributes to the history and daily life on the island.


The Van Bosse sank in an interesting period of transition and fast developments in Asia. Trading activities from Europe and the US fused and competed with the activities of Asian trading nations. Batavia, Shanghai and Singapore were important trading cities in this network.

In 1824 the Dutch gouvernement established De Nederlandsche Handelsmaatschappij (NHM, Dutch Trading Company) to develop further and better trading with the Dutch colonies overseas, mainly the Indies, and possibly also to re-erect the grandeur of the Dutch East Indian Company (VOC). Many ships were hired to trade for the trading company both from the Netherlands and other nations. Japan had been in a self-chosen isolation until 1824 when the American Navy forced the opening of this market and the Netherlands lost their monopoly in the trade with Japan. Okinawa itself officially did not belong to Japan until 1879. In that year, the independant kingdom of Ryukyu was forced to integrate in Japanese society.

In this light, the Van Bosse shipwreck can be seen as a window into this period and the perception of people at that time. A few years ago, the site and a story about a Dutch ship that wrecked on the coast was known in Tarama and even beyond. However, nobody really knew which ship. This is the reason why the local authorities have protected the area as Village Historic Site (オランダ船遭難の地) Oranda-sen Sonan no Chi or find place of the Dutch shipwreck. Historical research by Akemi Kaneda in Dutch archives (published as < 研究>多良間島沖で難破したオランダ商船ファン・ボッセ号の歴史的考証 >


The Van Bosse was a three-masted bark built at the Johan Carl Tecklenborg yard in Bremerhaven.

MasterW. van de Hoeven
People on board27
Tonnage665 ton


Objects have been found, like an anchor, a bottle of gin, a huge chest and shards of major Chinese jars that may also have been on board the ship. All dating to the 19th century. The wreck itself is not detected yet.

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