In the 1860s the French expatriates stayed in Yokohama harbor which was a new place for the French business men.
The silk workers of Lyon (les soyeux de Lyon) came in Japan to buy the Japanese local seeds that could resist the pébrine that was a disease of the silkworms in order to save their silk industry (l’industrie de la soie). Although the silk industry in Lyon mainly depended on the Japanese silk of much better quality, it remained the first silk industry in the world. A new silk road (une nouvelle route de la soie) was created between Lyon and Yokohama in 1859.
In Japan, the French expatriates formed one fifth of the population.
The French silk industry and the Chamber of Commerce of Lyon (la Chambre de commerce de Lyon) pressured on the government of Napoleon III to set up a cooperation system between France and Japan.
At the same time, the French and the English languages were taught in the Japanese schools. Some students even became converts to Christianity in order to improve their knowledge of the French culture.
During the Universal Exhibition of Paris (l’Exposition universelle de Paris) in 1867, the French discovered the Japanese traditions, arts and culture, especially the engravings and the Japans.
In addition, many French writers wrote about the Japanese culture like Madame Chrystanthème by Pierre Loti in 1885.
Today, the French are fond of the Japanese cuisine, teas, food products like the noodles, the Bento boxes… (see Lyon-Japan Cultural Center in Lyon)