1. What happened on Friday, July 8th, 1853, at the opening of the book?
On Friday, July 8th, 1853, four enormous ships appeared off of the coast of Shimoda, a small fishing village in Japan.
2. Describe the scene as the ships steamed into the harbor.
Two of these ships were streaming smoke. The people were terrified, calling them giant dragons full of smoke and alien ships of fire. They wondered if the enemy was mysteriously pushing active volcanoes towards the shore. The fishermen came into shore quickly. The ships were large and black. These people did not know steamboats existed and were terrified by the size of their guns. Temple bells rang across the area to warn the people.
3. Where did messengers ride when the ships were spotted, and what was the consequence?
When the ships were spotted, messengers rode quickly towards Edo (today's Tokyo), the capital of Japan, to tell the government what was going on. The city was then the largest in the world. Over one million people went there. The city fell into chaos. No one could control the chaos. The Emperor, Komei, was confined to his palace in Kyoto.
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