Historical records show the Japanese village was established in Ayutthaya in 1616, during the reign of King Song Tham.
Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn will today preside over the opening of the Renovated Annex Building at the Japanese Village - Baan Yeepoon - a historical site in the old capital of Siam.
Baan Yeepoon is situated in Ayutthaya's Tambon Koh-rien. A team of Japanese researchers visited the area in 1935 to trace the history of the Japanese in Siam.
The researchers believe the site was the village of the Japanese who made their way into Siam in the Ayutthaya period (1350 to 1767).
Historical records show the village was established in Ayutthaya in 1616, during the reign of King Song Tham. It was burnt down and rebuilt many times.
To keep the history of the Japanese in Ayutthaya alive for further studies, the Thai-Japanese Association acquired 7.5 rai (12,000 square metres) of land to develop a memorial site for the old Japanese settlement.
In 1987, the Japanese government marked the 100th anniversary of Thai-Japanese relations by providing ¥999 million (Bt310 million) for the Ayutthaya Historical Study Centre and the Japanese village as an annex.
As Thai and Japanese historians jointly fill up the annex with historical material, the old building is once again alive with a sense of the past.
"At its peak, the village was home to around 1,000 to 1,500 Japanese. They were mercenaries, warriors who had lost their lords in civil wars, and Japanese Christian converts," noted historian Charnvit Kasetsiri said. Charnvit helped prepare historical documents to be put on display in the building.
Charnvit, of the Foundation for the Promotion of Social Science and Humanities Textbooks Project, has been working with Japanese scholars Yoneo Ishii and Toshiharu Yoshikawa to trace the historical evidence gathered from the junk (Chinese sailing vessel) on trade between Siam and Japan.
In the annex, the Japanese village has been visualised from stories in documents on display, including those showing the arrival of the Japanese in Ayutthaya and their means of livelihood, an ancient map that shows the location of the village and a map of maritime routes to Ayutthaya.
Meanwhile, a new exhibition offers lists of goods imported and exported in the Ayutthaya period. Siamese ships to Japan carried products such as sappanwood, ivory, rice wine, deerskin, beeswax, pepper, sangkhalok earthenware and jars, Charnvit said.
"Looking at the evidence in Sakai city in Osaka, we found that earthen jars were used as containers for sulphur and bat dung, Charnvit said. He led the team of Thai researchers who surveyed historical evidence in Osaka, Sakai and Okinawa, an area in the former Ryukyu kingdom.
"We have learnt that Okinawa's local drink, awamori, was developed from imported Siamese rice wine," he said.
At the annex of Baan Yeepoon, Thai and Japanese historians will give visitors preliminary information on Ayutthaya as a metropolitan trade centre of Asia.
Other parts of the exhibition include Simon de La Loubere map redesigned as a bronze-plaque, and models showing foreign settlement and Ayutthaya as a cosmopolitan city, a chronological timeline of 600 years of Thai-Japanese relationship and the Thai and Japanese dynasties, with key historical events highlighted.
The "e-book room" provides additional information and sources for further studies on the Ayutthaya period.