Medieval and early modern eras
A small fishing village secluded by harbours, Nagasaki enjoyed little historical significance until contact with European explorers in 1543—among them, possibly, Fernão Mendes Pinto—when a Portuguese ship landed nearby in Tanegashima. Soon after, Portuguese ships started sailing to Japan as regular trade freighters, thus increasing the contact and trade relations between Japan and the rest of the world, and particularly with mainland China, with whom Japan had previously severed its commercial and political ties, mainly due to a number of incidents involving Wokou piracy in the South China Sea, with the Portuguese now serving as intermediaries between the two Asian countries. Despite the mutual advantages derived from these trading contacts, which would soon be acknowledged by all parts involved, the lack of a proper seaport in Ky?sh? for the purpose of harboring foreign ships posed a major problem for both merchants and the Kyushu daimyo (feudal lords) who expected to collect great advantages from these trade intercourse with the Portuguese. In the meantime, Navarrese Jesuit missionary St. Francis Xavier arrived in Kagoshima, South Ky?sh?, in 1549, and soon initiated a thorough campaign of evangelization throughout Japan, but left for China in 1551 and died soon afterwards. His followers who remained behind converted a number of daimyo. The most notable among them was ?mura Sumitada, who derived great profit from his conversion to the "Kirishitan" religion through an accompanying deal to receive a portion of the trade from Portuguese ships. In 1569, ?mura gave permit for the establishment of a port with the purpose of harboring Portuguese ships in Nagasaki, which was finally set in 1571, under the supervision of the Jesuit missionary Gaspar Vilela and Portuguese Captain-Major Tristão Vaz de Veiga, with ?mura's personal assistance.
The little harbor village quickly grew into a diverse port city,