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Where the Barbarians First Landed

The wheels of diplomacy are greased by many a lubricant: embassy parties, cocktails, rounds of golf. But when commercial treaty negotiations between Townsend Harris, the United States' first consul in Japan, and the Tokugawa shogunate bogged down in 1857, a rather more personal angle did the trick: a maid- servant named Okichi for the lonely American. Barbarian comforted, deal clinched.

That's one version of the tale of Harris and Okichi. Here's another: Okichi was a 17-year-old geisha Harris chose after seeing her leave a bathhouse. There are still other versionsíXand it's unclear if the pair were ever actually...

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