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Hanjlro* the man who diBCovered
MANJIRO, THE MAN WHO
Cast thy bread upon the waters:
for thou shalt find it after many days.
HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY BOSTON
COPYRIGHT 1956 BY HOUGHTON MIFFLIN COMPANY
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INCLUDING THE RIGHT TO REPRODUCE
THIS BOOK OR PARTS THEREOF IN ANY FORM
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGUE CARD NO. 56-7239
FIRST PRINTING JULY 1956
PRINTED IN THE U.S.A.
THIS is a story of Manjiro Nakahama alias John Mung, a
fisherman's boy who was shipwrecked and rescued by the
John Howland, a New Bedford whaling ship, from an un
charted island in the Pacific in 1841 when, incidentally,
Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick, was sailing in
another New Bedford whaling ship, the Acushnet, in the
same waters. Under the fatherly care of the captain of the
whaling ship, Manjiro was taken to America as the first
Japanese to be educated and to live there, and later he man
aged to return to his native land, then pursuing a rigorous
isolation policy which prohibited anyone from entering the
country on pain of death. He became a 'Voice in the wil
derness" and helped open his countrymen's eyes to modern
civilization, playing no small part in aiding his country's
gradual evolution from feudalism to democracy. More than
a century has elapsed since then, but the spirit of adven
ture and progress and the virtues of kindness and goodwill
as exemplified in his life are alive today.
It may be opportune to publish a book of this kind at
this particular time when we have just celebrated the cen
tennial of Commodore Perry's expedition to Japan, for it
was none other than Commodore Perry who drastically
changed the course of Manjiro's life and gave him the op
portunity to turn his ability and experience to the best
account for his country at its crisis. This book is an attempt
to present as clearly as possible, and in some detail, the life
and adventure of Manjiro and the milieu in which he
lived, so that the reader may enjoy this delightful episode
in the history of Japanese-American relations.
I have been able to get access to several records and doc
uments attributed to the officials who investigated Manjiro
and the other shipwrecked men concerning their experi
ences abroad, which I have freely used as source material
for my book. I am also greatly indebted to the two Japa
nese books, Mr. Masuji Ibuse's The Shipwreck Story of
John Manjiro and A Biography of Manjiro Nakahama
written by his son, Dr. Toichiro Nakahama. Also I want
to record my indebtedness to "The Presentation of a Sa
murai Sword to the Town of Fairhaven" and "Fairhaven,
Massachusetts" which the Millicent Library of Fairhaven,
Mass., kindly sent me. My thanks for sympathy and encour
agement are many, and are due to Mr. Philip F. Purring-
ton, Curator of the Old Dartmouth Historical Society and
the Whaling Museum, New Bedford, Mass., who unstint
edly furnished me with much of the hitherto unknown
Fairhaven information about Manjiro; to Mrs. P. W. E.,
Mr. W. C. B,, and many others who have taken the
trouble to read the manuscript or the proof and who have
given me much valuable suggestion and advice, without
which this book would not have been materialized.
1. A SHIPWRECK, 1
2. ON AN ISLAND OF ALBATROSS, 9
3. ON A RESCUE SHIP, 19
4. TO FAIRHAVEN, MASS., 31
5. AN EMPTY HOPE, 49
6. IN THE GOLD RUSH, 59
7. HOMEWARD BOUND, 67
8. A HAPPY LANDFALL, 75
9. HOME AT LAST, 85
1O. AN ERA DAWNS, 103
11. A GOODWILL MISSION, 115
12. AFTER YEARS, 125
13. A REUNION, 133
14. AND AFTER, 143
MANJIRO, THE MAN WHO
MANJIRO was born in the tenth year of the Bunsei Era
(1827) in a lonely fishing village called Nakanohama, in
the Province of Tosa where the warm Black Current of the
Pacific Ocean ceaselessly washes its craggy coast. His father
Etsuke died when Manjiro was only nine years old and his
widowed mother, Shio, with her lean hands had to feed
her five ever hungry children. So poor was she that she
could not afford to send the children to a nearby Buddhist
temple for a simple education. Manjiro had to work. When
he was thirteen years old, he put to sea in a fishing boat
and unhooked fish from the lines to get what little money
he could earn and help his widowed mother eke out a
On the morning of the fifth of January, 1841, when he
2 M A N J I R O
was fourteen years old, he took to the sea, bright and early,
from Usaura with Denzo, aged thirty-eight, Jusuke, aged
twenty-five, and Goemon, aged fifteen, both brothers of
Denzo, and Toraemon, aged twenty-six, in an attempt to
catch the sea bass that would come riding along in the tide
of the New Year. The boat, which belonged to one Toku-
nojo of Usaura, was loaded with three bushels of rice and
quantities of other food, firewood and fresh water so that
they could engage in fishing for several days on end.
That day, when the boat reached a point about twenty-
eight miles away from Usaura, they cast all the nets they
had, but there was not a fish to be caught. In the evening
they steered the boat behind the Cape of Yaso to
take shelter from the wind and waited for the light of
day. The next morning they went out thirty miles off the
coast of Ashizuri to try their luck with rods and lines, but
they were as luckless as the day before. So they gave up
fishing for the day and again rowed back near the shore
to stay for the night.
On the seventh day they rowed out again about thirty
miles from the Cape of Ashizuri, but the catch was as poor
as ever. Then, suddenly, a strong monkey-and-cock wind
began to blow, so they decided to make for land before
they were overtaken by a storm. When the boat had trav
ersed about ten miles of the intervening sea it ran into
such a large shoal of mackerel and sea bream that the sea
seemed to have taken on a dark purplish color. Denzo
spurred the others into action and cast six bucketfuls of
nets. In the meantime the sky grew dark and the wind
blew full blast, threatening to overturn the boat at any
moment. Terrified out of their wits, they tried to haul in
the nets but as the billows swelled mountain-high, tossing
A SHIPWRECK 3
the boat about, they barely managed to recover three bucket-
fuls of nets and rowed for their lives toward the shore.
Soon the rain began to fall and a splashy mist rose from
the sea until it became so thick that nothing was to be seen
an inch ahead. They rowed as hard as they could, but soon
they became too exhausted to prevent the boat from being
carried away by the wind and waves like a fallen leaf in a
rapid stream. Soon night fell. Their clothes were drenched
with salty water and the cold pierced their bodies. They
had only one oar left now and the rudder and the canvases
were also carried away by the waves. There was nothing
they could do. They only knelt down on the planks and
prayed to the gods and to Buddha, and asked for their
divine protection. The boat seemed to be drifting south
ward. The wind still raged and there was no prospect of
fine weather next morning.
It was said that a storm that had not blown over
by the dawn was sure to blow just as hard all next
day. Fortunately, the boat itself remained undamaged
and drifted on. Soon they saw in the distance, be
tween the peaks of swelling billows and through the
murky rain, Cape Muroto and its straggling houses. On
one of the hills of this cape there was a watchman's lodge
called "Mountain View" where villagers kept a lookout for
whales. Had the watchmen there seen the boat in distress,
they would surely have put out a ship to come to their
rescue. All the men in the rudderless boat, madly waving
their hands and scratching their heads in grief, shouted at
the top of their lungs, "Help! Help!" But as swift as
thought, the boat was carried away while Cape Muroto
receded into the distance. A little after noon, what seemed*
to be the mountain range of Kishu came into sight above
4 MAN J IRQ
the rain-brewing cloud but in a few moments it, too, dis
appeared in the mist and rain. The last oar was gone with
the waves, and with it the hope of turning back the boat,
which was now no better than a body without limbs. At
night the cold wind blew so hard that their drenched clothes
were frozen and small icicles settled on their sleeves and the
knots of their sashes. They barely prevented themselves
from being frozen to death by burning some planks and
straw mats to keep warm. Their rice was all gone now,
and they had to catch fish to survive.
On the tenth day a drizzling rain was falling. The cold
seemed to be particularly penetrating that day and much
worse than the cold of the night. Small icicles hung not
only from their sleeves and sashes but also from the shaggy
hair of Denzo. The sleet, blown into his topknot, melted
and dripped down his spine. As the drinking water was
all gone, they scraped sleet together and drank it, and ate
the icicles gathered from their sleeves. Goemon's hands
and feet were numb with cold so he shudderingly pulled
a straw mat over himself and breathed faintly.
On the eleventh day the wind and rain grew harder than
ever. Denzo and Toraemon made a roof out of the re
maining canvases and split the planks and burned them
in order to make sick Goemon warm and comfortable as
best they could. He was suffering from a cold with fever,
hunger and exhaustion. Denzo produced from a pouch a
talisman, a small piece of paper on which something was
written, and put it into the mouth of Goemon as if it were
a medicine. Soon Goemon's fever seemed to have abated
By the twelfth day the rain seemed a little weakened
and it was not so severely cold any more. While looking
out toward the distant sea about noon, they sighted a flock
of white birds called Tokuro by the fishermen of Tosa,
which were believed to be the sign of an island nearby.
Denzo, pointing toward the birds, told the fever-stricken
Goemon to look at the Tokuro. Whereupon Goemon half
rose and opened his eyes narrowly to see the distant sky
where they were flying. Then as soon as he lay flat again,
he began to cry aloud, for he was a fainthearted boy al
though he was born in the year of the wild boar.
The flock of white birds was winging its way gracefully
toward the southeastern horizon and soon disappeared in
the rain-swollen clouds. Denzo, Jusuke, Toraemon and
Manjiro peered over the sea under the dark cloud and kept
a hard lookout. As they expected, toward the evening they
sighted an island in the direction in which the white birds
Overjoyed at the sight of the island, they pulled them
selves together and erected a remaining sail yard and spread
a jib over it. Denzo steered the boat with a plank, as best
he could. Toraemon and Jusuke worked at the sail yard
and the jib and Manjiro ladled out the bilge water so that
the boat headed for the island slowly but safely.
By the time they reached the island it was almost dark.
Moreover, like so many other uncharted islands, the shore
of this island was fringed with a steep cliff and the billows
were madly dashing and breaking against it. Reefs were
everywhere to defy their approach and no place was to be
found where they could steer in or cast anchor safely. To
discover what they could, they went around the island only
to find that everywhere the rugged cliff rose high against
the sky and there was no beach on which to land.
Late at night the rain stopped at last and a pale blue
6 MAN J IRQ
moon loomed out in the rain-washed sky. In its faint light
they saw sea bass swarming by the rocks, so they produced
a fishing tackle and angled for them before they did any
thing else. They were so hungry that they ate with great
gusto the live fish just as they were taken out of the sea.
When this primitive feast was over they felt somewhat
refreshed, but they decided not to risk their lives by making
a desperate attempt at landing on this uncharted island in
the faint light of the moon when the sea was still choppy.
So they kept the boat away from the island as far as the
anchor rope permitted and cast anchor "to sleep in the
cradle of the deep" with the dark mass of cliff in full view.
The next morning the thirteenth Goemon became
better but the others had not completely recovered from
exhaustion and exposure. They felt as if all their strength
had gone and when they pulled at the rope to weigh anchor,
their knees gave way and they felt all the more hungry and
exhausted. As if it were stuck to the bottom of the sea,
the anchor refused to come up, no matter how hard they
pulled at the anchor rope. So they put their heads together.
"There's no hope of life, if we stay in this rudderless boat,"
said Denzo. "If it were only possible to get on that island,
we might be able to save our lives by some good fortune.
But I want to point out/' he continued, "that any attempt
at going to that cliff in this broken boat will surely be the
death of us all."
While everyone thought hard, Toraemon put in, "Death
stares us in the face. We shall be lucky if we are alive
tomorrow. Since that is the case, why not push this boat
along the cliff and jump to the island, sink or swim?"
Jusuke seconded it and they all agreed. Denzo at once
made a makeshift rudder by putting planks together and
said he would hold it with Jusuke. Toraemon, Manjiro
and Goemon decided to pull the oars made of planks and
use a roof beam as a substitute for a boating pole. Thus
they were ready to stake their lives in the face of this ob
Denzo cut off the anchor rope with a hatchet. The boat
rolled and shook violently as it dashed off toward the cliff.
Steered through the dangerous rocks, it was brought near
the entrance of an opening in the cliff when suddenly it
was heaved up on the top of a billow and knocked against
a corner of the rugged cliff. Toraemon and Goemon lost
no time in leaping onto the corner of the cliff and clambered
up its side by putting their feet in what small crevices they
could find. The other three men were about to follow the
example of Toraemon and Goemon now climbing the cliff
when another billow came dashing on, tossing the boat
high on its peak. Instantly, the boat careened and then
overturned and was caught between the two rocks. Manjiro
was thrown into the waves, which in a moment dragged
him into their depths, but he finally managed to come to
the surface and swim across to the cliff. Denzo and Jusuke
were also whirled into the sea, together with the makeshift
rudder, down to the bottom of the opening in the cliff, and
there they struggled in vain under the boat for a moment.
But the oncoming swell extricated the entrapped boat from
between the rocks and bore it away as it receded toward
the open sea, while both Denzo and Jusuke were hurled
upon the rock in the seething white foam. Thus they nar
rowly escaped from the jaws of death and they too clam
bered up the cliff to safety.
Jusuke must have knocked one of his feet violently against
the rock and injured it when he was hurled upon the cliff,
for no sooner had he reached the top of the cliff than his
strength gave way and he fell flat on his face. The boat
was smashed to bits against the cliff when it came back
riding on another billow and its remains were soon swal
lowed up in the churning and eddying sea.
THE ISLAND, about two miles in circumference, stood thick
with crags rising skyward and not a living soul was to be
found there. The only vegetation was a kind of dwarfish
reed. When Manjiro saw the island, he at once recalled
the picture of the Mountains of Swords in Hell which the
village priest had shown his family on a certain Buddhist fes
tival day. At once, all went out in quest of a spring in the
deep recesses among the rocks. They discovered a cave
about twelve feet square in a rocky hill where a little water
was trickling through a crevice. Seashells were scattered
about the entrance to testify that men had once lived here.
They cleaned the place at once as best they could and de
cided to make it their temporary shelter. Again they went
in search of more water and at last one of them discovered
a place where rain water had collected in a fairly large hol
low of a rock. They put their lips to this well and quenched
their thirst. The little pool of water was the only place
where they could get drinking water. There was nothing
edible to be found on the island except the albatrosses
which were flying over the island or flocking together on
That night they tried to sleep in the cave, but the cold
wind blew in so hard that they were unable to do so. Taking
advantage of the moonlight, they went down to the shore
and picked up some of the washed-up planks and canvas
and carried them back to the cave. They improvised a door
in order to prevent the cold wind from blowing into the
cave. Then they snuggled close to one another to keep
warm and tried to sleep, but now they felt very lonely. So
they kept on talking to one another in an attempt to forget
their unbearable restlessness.
"What do you think/ 7 asked Denzo, "is the name of
this island? It seems far out in the south. But it cannot
be one of those southern islands it is too cold for that.
Perhaps, we are in the extreme east." The question which
was beyond the comprehension of an experienced fisher
man like Denzo naturally remained a mystery to the rest
"Is this a part of Japan?" put in Toraemon. "If the
island is in the extreme east, it must be somewhere further
east than Izu. But I have never in my life heard that if
you go further east it gets colder. Doesn't the end of the
earth lie in the north?"
"As for the end of the earth," explained Denzo, "it makes
no difference which way you go, east or west or south or
north. It is a fact that the end of the earth lies evenly in
ON AN ISLAND OF ALBATROSS 11
the east, west, south and north. I don't know whether or
not this island lies at the end of the earth, but I do know
that a rescue ship will not come this way tomorrow or the
day after tomorrow, for that matter. It may be that we
must live on this rocky island for many years to come. But
I have a good idea and there is no harm in practicing it, as
far as I can see. Why not imagine this is the beginning
of a new world and start a life all over again? Let every
one be big and bold in heart."
The four men, seeing no objection to this proposition,
agreed to it unanimously. In other words, they decided
to call that memorable day the beginning of the First Year
of the Era of the Solitary Island and band together to make
life on the island as much worth living as possible and
disavow all the sceptical philosophies of life.
The next day, January 14, as soon as they awoke, they
went out of the cave in search of food. The sea still looked
too rough for them to catch fish and shellfish and so in
stead they decided to capture albatrosses which flew down
to the island in such large numbers. The birds looked like
snow covering the craggy tops of the island. They were so
tame and unafraid of the stalking men that they were easily
caught one after another. Having caught almost too many
to carry, the men returned to the cave with a heavy load
of the birds. With the nails they had taken out of the
planks, they prepared the meat and feasted on it, although
they found that the bird meat was not half so tasty as fish
or clams. They pounded the leftover bird meat with a
stone and dried it in the sun, calling it stone-baked, and
sometimes they preserved the meat in salt for a change of
Denzo came back with the three small pails that also
had been pushed up on the shore by the waves. After fixing
them in such a way that the rain water would drip into
them, he designated them as "wells." The one which looked
the newest of the three was called "the Well of Life"; the
one shaped like a measure box branded with a character
"Yamaju" on it was called "the Well of Reserve"; and one
which was like a barrel of shoyu sauce was called "the Well
of Spring Water." And he prescribed a strict law concerning
the use of the "wells" that the water in these pails after
a rainfall should not be drunk as long as the water in the hol
low of the rock stayed. The reason was that the water of
the rock hollow would soon be dried up by the sun.
The thing that inconvenienced them most was the fact
that they could not drink water as much as they wished.
When they had been there about a month., it happened
that a spell of dry weather settled down for about twenty
days without any prospect of rain. Needless to say, the
water in the hollow of the rock was completely gone. The
water in "the Well of Spring Water" and in "the Well
of Reserve" was gone and even the last pailful of water
in "the Well of Life" too was used up. They gave a feeling
of moisture to their mouths by chewing stems of a grass
which contained some juice. Sometimes they licked at the
rock wet with the night's dew. After this bitter experience
Denzo prescribed three regulations concerning the use of
the water which were much more strict:
Article I. Don't waste the water. The unlawful act of
drinking on the sly is strictly forbidden.
Article II. For each albatross to be eaten, water in one
oyster shell is allowed. Refrain by all means from drinking
more than this allotment.
Article III. Don't drink water when you eat seaweed,
ON AN ISLAND OF ALBATROSS 1}
etc. Try to wipe off the sdt as best you can from the sea
weed before you eat it. It is advisable in this connection
to swallow spittle in the mouth.
These were the regulations, but as the men were all un
lettered, they learned the regulations by heart and kept
They were so emaciated and so pitiable to look at that
any metaphor would be too dull to describe them. Their
food was limited to albatross, seaweed and shellfish, which
had to be eaten raw since the flint, pots, kettles and other
cooking utensils had been all lost when the boat capsized.
Denzo made something like cotton out of a handful of
blades of withered reed by threshing them thoroughly.
Again and again he struck this cottonlike material together
with a nail between two stones, hoping to produce fire, but
no matter how hard he tried, it was all in vain.
The albatrosses which once were so tame were beginning
to fear the men. When the hunters approached to within
a few yards, the birds would run off and finally fly away if
the men continued to chase them. So, lying in ambush
behind a rock, they would jump upon the birds when they
came near enough and club them or stone them. This
made the birds all the more wary and at last they took
refuge up in the high rocky mountains. It was only among
the steep rocks which the men could not reach that the
birds laid their eggs and hatched their broods. Then at
the end of May, they began their migration to an unknown
distant place together with their fledglings.
About this time Denzo had an accident which caused
him a serious wound. He had been chasing birds all day
on a rocky fell that rose above the cave. He finally man
aged to catch two and threw them down from the top of
the cliff toward the cave entrance. As he was clambering
down, he suddenly lost his footing and fell down the preci
pice. The fall might have killed him had it not been broken
by a clump of reeds to which he managed to cling. Al
though he was bruised all over his body, he managed to,
get back to the cave. After this accident Denzo gradually
became weaker so weak in fact that he lingered inside
the cave day in and day out.
Jusuke, younger brother of Denzo, finding his wounded
leg getting no better, began also to stay in the cave to be
nursed by Denzo. Toraemon and Goemon, though not
really ill, looked feebler and thinner and were in a constant
state of depression.
Manjiro alone remained strong both in body and spirit.
One day, he went on a brave adventure scaling the high
est eminence on the island, which, although it was an ascent
of only a quarter of a mile, had remained unchallenged,
so steep and perilous was it. He reached the top after a
hard climb over the steep side of the fell. There he found
a spacious flat place and what appeared to be an old well,
the sides of which were lined with stones, with a small pool
of dark water at the weed-covered bottom. Not far from
this old well there were what appeared to be two tomb
stones, somewhat oblong in shape, but they were so weather-
beaten that the characters on them were almost completely
obliterated. While Manjiro stood there looking around
blankly for some time, he suddenly noticed more than ten
whales floating peacefully out in the sea.
Upon returning to the cave, he told Denzo and the others
how he had seen what appeared to be an old well and two
tombstones on the top of the fell. Denzo asked whether
the tombs were covered with moss, and he seemed to be
ON AN ISLAND OF ALBATROSS 15
thinking of his old home in Nishinohama where his ances
tral tombs were. Suddenly he covered his face with his hands
and said, "Must we die like the men who lie under those
tombstones?" Jusuke, Toraemon and Goemon all began
to cry. After a while Denzo ceased to weep, but when
Manjiro began to tell how he had sighted a school of
whales, Denzo wept all over again and said, "My dear
Manjiro, it is a sin to tell such a thing/' For he was over
come at that moment with an irresistible desire to eat a
big juicy steak of whale meat.
It was on June 27 that a piece of good fortune unex
pectedly came their way. That morning Manjiro had gone
down to the seaside bright and early and was picking up
some shellfish when he happened to sight a tiny black dot
far away on the horizon. "It's a ship!" He danced with
joy and his voice rang in the quiet morning of the lonely
island. "Hurray! It's a ship! Goemon Nushi! Toraemon
Nushi! A ship is sighted!" They had also come to the
water's edge to pick up some shellfish. Running up to
where he was, they looked out over the sea and they too
jumped for joy. It was a ship, to be sure! Moreover, it
seemed to be coming toward the island. It was a strange
ship of a strange country with many sails spreading on its
three masts. Now it came so near that men in "pipelike
sleeves" could be seen clearly walking on the deck. All of
a sudden, however, she changed her course toward the
northwest and was ready to sail away apparently in utter
disregard of the island and the stranded men on it.
"Oh, Buddha! Hear our prayer and don't let that ship
go away!" said Goemon, kneeling on the beach. But the
ship continued its course and sailed away from the island.
Toraemon was so disappointed that, accompanied by Goe-
16 MAN; IRQ
mon, he went back to the entrance of the cave where he
lay and cried bitterly. Manjiro tried to gather shellfish and
seaweed at the beach since he was hungry and Jusuke had
eaten almost nothing for the last two or three days. But
he could do nothing of the sort. He simply stood on the
beach watching the receding ship and prayed that it would
come back to the island by some miracle. Suddenly he
noticed the ship in the offing drop anchor and put out two
boats. They were coming to the island too! Manjiro ran.
He ran to the entrance of the cave where Toraemon and
Goemon were. He shouted, 'The boats! They are coming!
Look!" The three men ran up a small hill nearby and re
peatedly shouted to inform the boats that there were ship
wrecked men on the island and that they must come to
the island at once. The men picked up a plank that had
been thrown up on the shore by the waves and tying
Toraemon's checkered underwear to one end of it, they
waved it furiously until they almost fainted. The boats
apparently understood what it was all about, for they veered
their course and came straight toward the stranded men.
The men on the island waved their hands as much as
to say, "Come quick, come quick!" and the men in the
boats took off their caps in response. They came quite
close to the shore now, but finding no place to land, the
strangers in the boats made signs to them to take off their
clothes and tie them on their heads and swim across. But
the three men on the cliff hesitated for some time, a little
afraid of those red-haired and blue-eyed foreigners with
white skin. They noticed that there was a black man too.
Manjiro, determined and courageous, went down the cliff
and taking off his clothes, tied them on his head and
jumped into the sea just as the strangers had instructed
ON AN ISLAND OF ALBATROSS IJ
him. They rowed up one of the boats and helped him into
it. Thinking it was God's help, Manjiro knelt down and
worshiped the strangers in gratitude. At this the black
sailor burst out laughing. Goemon and then Toraemon
jumped into the sea, each carrying his kimono on his head
to be rescued in the same way.
But those three men were in such an excitement that
they forgot all about Denzo and Jusuke, who were lying
weak and feeble back in the cave, Toraemon tried to make
the strangers understand how the matter stood, but his
words being of no use, he pointed to the island and made
signs that there were still two men left there. Then one
of the white sailors said something to the others and they
rowed back to the shore right under the cave. At this
moment Denzo was wrapping a piece of cloth around one
of Jusuke's feet. Suddenly a black man came into the
cave uttering an outlandish language and tried to drag
Denzo out. Denzo's heart leapt into his mouth and he
tried to run away from the black man, when a white man
appeared and stood between the two making signs as much
as to say, "Calm down! Calm down! We are not going
to eat you. Your friends have already been rescued in our
boat. We are all friends."
The strange white man smiled good-naturedly, while
the strange black man grinned showing terribly white teeth.
Denzo heaved a sigh of relief and exchanging glances with
Jusuke said, "Let's go." Then he went down the cliff,
helped by the white man while Jusuke followed almost
carried in the arms of the black man. Sure enough, Goe
mon, Toraemon and Manjiro were already standing in the
boat, meek and smiling.
Denzo took off his kimono and tying it on his head, he
l8 M AN J IRQ
threw himself into the sea as suggested by the white man.
The black man, carrying Jusuke in his arm, caught at a
rope which had been tossed from the boat and both were
pulled up safely.
The white man made signs to Denzo as much as to
say, "You have not forgotten any valuable things in the
cave, have you? If you have, don't hesitate to say so, for
we shall send for them."
"Sir, we are only poor stranded men/' Denzo managed
to answer also by a gesture, "how is it possible that we
should have left some valuable things on the island? In
deed, our eyes are filled with tears of thankfulness for all
you have done to save us from the island."
"We are very happy, too," said the white man. "But
let us hear what you have left in the cave. Speak up."
"Kimono, bird feathers, the shells of turtles, and the
dried meat of birds."
The white man nodded a great nod and told the black
man something in a strange tongue. They began to pull
the oars smoothly toward the ship out in the sea, three
times faster than an ordinary Eve-oared Japanese boat. The
setting sun was already hovering over the horizon when
the two boats reached the waiting ship.
On this day Captain Whitfield of the John Holland
made the following simple entry in his logbook:
Sunday, June 27, 1841.
This day light winds from the S.E. The Isle in sight 26
1.00 p.m. Sent in two boats to see if there were any turtles.
Found 5 poor distressed people on the Isle. Took them off.
Could not understand anything from them more than that
they were hungry. Made the latitude of the Isle 30 deg. 31 min.
THE SHIP which rescued the five Japanese fishermen was a
large vessel with three tall masts hoisting more than ten sails
and jibs and spreading its weblike cordage in all directions.
The main truck perching high on the royal topmast was
faintly visible through the cloud of shrouds, yards and
sails, and it seemed to reach the sky. A long jib boom was
sticking far out over the water from the bow like an arm
of a giant. The crew consisted of more than thirty men
both white and black. John Howland was the name of the
ship; it was a whaler from New Bedford, Massachusetts,
U.S.A., and the captain was Mr. William H. Whitfield.
The rescued men, either half naked or in tattered Id-
mono, were ghostly emaciated and sick from long hunger
and exposure, with their lifeless faces half hidden in their
long, dry, shaggy hair. When they were brought before
Captain Whitfield for questioning, some of them were
unable to stand and weakly squatted on the deck. They
all looked at the captain feebly from the bottom of their
deeply sunken eyes, half in fear, half in expectation. "You
have saved us and you can do anything you like to us/' they
seemed to say.
The captain smiled a little and asked several questions,
"Where do you come from?" or "What have you been
doing on that island?" and so on. They simply shook their
heads or waved their hands to show that they could not
understand what he was talking about. They said timidly
something in their own tongue, but he could not make
out a word. All he could gather from their gestures was
that they were very, very hungry.
Then the captain sent for the chief cook and told him,
"Give them some food at once, but remember, don't give
them too much before they have fully recovered."
A little later, the captain somehow was able to find out
that they were shipwrecked Japanese fishermen who had
been stranded on the island for six months.
The next morning, June 28, the captain ordered that
several men together with Manjiro be sent in a boat to the
cave of the island to bring back the belongings that the
shipwrecked men might have left on the island. Manjiro
could not understand why he alone was to be taken to
the island with those men. He feared they might be taking
him to the island to leave him there because he was too
young to be a sailor. So he cried and begged in his own
language, "Let me stay on the ship with my countrymen,
for Heaven's sake." But it was no use. It was with great
difficulty, however, that he understood at last that he was
only going to the island to be their guide. After searching
the cave thoroughly, they brought back what they found
to the ship old clothes, feathers, and turtle shells. The
five men thanked the captain from the bottom of their
hearts for his kindness but those moldy clothes and smelly
feathers seemed no longer of any use to them now.
The captain made the following entry in the logbook
of the John Howland on that day:
Monday, June 28, 1841
This day light winds from S. E. the island in sight. To the
Westward, stood to the S. W. at 1 P. M. landed and brought
off what few clothes the five men left.
They were given coats and leather boots and although
they did not feel so uncomfortable in the close-fitting coats
which were quite different from their kimonos, they found
that the leather boots were almost unbearable.
A little before noon that day, the ship weighed anchor
and headed southeast. The five men were shown into a
room below, which appeared as wide as an eight-mat room,
and were told they had better take a good rest there. Three
days later they recovered their spirits and in five days their
bodies regained their former strength. They did not like
to be idling away their time, so on the seventh day they
said to the captain that they were willing to do some work
along with the crew men.
Jusuke's injured foot was gradually getting better under
the care of the first officer. He applied an acid-smelling
plaster to the affected part, covering it with a piece of oiled
paper, and then he bandaged it. As it was improving day
by day, Denzo and Toraemon were much impressed by
the skillful treatment which the American seaman had
On the eighth day the ship took its course toward the
southeast. On the tenth day, a watchman, who was in the
crow's-nest perched high on the foremast looking through
a telescope, shouted, "Bloooows! Ah bloooows!"
"Where away?" shouted back Captain Whitfield.
"Two points abaft the starboard beam."
Man jiro at once understood that a whale had been sighted.
Running up on deck he saw, about two miles away, a large
sperm whale lazily swimming in the trough of the sea with
its broad, glossy back glistening in the sun and spouting a
rainbow colored vapory jet from time to time. The ship
began chasing the whale and when it shortened the dis
tance to about fifty fathoms, it hove to and lowered four
boats at once. Quickly sliding down the boat-falls as soon
as the boats touched the water, the whalemen jumped into
them. Each boat carried six. They began rowing in chase
of the whale, which at last had become alive to its danger.
Desperately it began to outdistance the pursuers.
Manjiro and those who were left in the ship breathlessly
watched the boats race for the lead. Soon one of the boats,
its steerer standing at the bow with a harpoon, went ahead
of the other boats about two fathoms, and no sooner had
the boat been tossed upon the peak of a swell than w/iiz
went a harpoon and with amazing accuracy lodged in the
body of the whale. The boat was at once fast to the whale.
The oarsmen backed water, hot and strong, pulling and
stretching the line and passing it round and round the
loggerhead, but the whale began to swim away, towing the
boat which soon was shooting through the churning water
faster than a clipper under full sail. As soon as the whale
relaxed its efforts to escape, two other boats came closing in
and sent their harpoons into it so that their united lines
were available even if the whale sounded. The tormented
body of the whale, from which a red tide now poured,
ON A RESCUE SHIP 23
twisted and jerked and wallowed in blood. Now half of its
body appeared on the surface like a quaint-looking rock
rising from the sea. One of the long, slender lances used by
the headsmen had pierced its heart. It shot a column of
bloody spray high into the air from its spout and then
quivered violently until at last it lay quietly, its massive
body floating at the mercy of the waves like the capsized
hull of a ship.
Manjiro and others stood on the deck, watching this
spectacle, deeply impressed. They were convinced that
their sea-bass fishing in Tosa was nothing to this thrilling
fight with a whale. They suddenly remembered a saying
in Tosa that seven ports would thrive with a catch of a
whale. If they could use the whaling methods of those
foreigners, seventy ports might thrive. I'll be a whaler
someday! said Manjiro to himself.
Manjiro and the others retired to a comer of the deck
in order to keep out of the way and curiously watched the
men at work. The whale was towed by one of the boats
to the ship and was made fast to its side, and the process
of flensing began. All the strips of the blubber were cut
in a spiral direction. When nearly the whole of the blubber
was removed in a continuous piece, it was cut into proper
lengths for the try-pot. The work went on in good order.
Men were busy at the try-pots to boil out oil, others were
filling the barrels with oil, still others were sending barrels
down to the hold by using slings and tackles. Everyone
had his own share in the work, which he quickly and skill
fully carried out.
When the work was over, the ship headed southeast
again. A flock of gulls kept flying close behind the ship
until it was nearly dark, attracted by the odor of the whale
which had soaked into the ship.
The following day, when Manjiro was perched on the
mainmast looking through a telescope, he discovered a
large whale and a small one floating among the waves.
"Whales! Whales!" he shouted at the top of his voice
to the men on the deck. The boats were at once lowered.
Seeing the danger, the large one tried to swim away holding
the small one in its breast fins, but the boats encircled it
and killed it in the same way as they did the day before.
However, they let the whelp whale escape unmolested.
Manjiro was given a new sailor cap by the captain as a
reward for discovering the whale, while Denzo, Jusuke,
Toraemon and Goemon were also given similar caps as
rewards for the good job they did at the slings and tackles
sending down the oil barrels to the hold and cleaning the
deck which had been smeared with oil.
The ship kept steadily south-southeast when finally six
months' voyage brought them to a harbor called Honolulu,
on Oahu Island of the Sandwich Archipelago, late in No
vember after catching fifteen large whales. At the very
sight of the land which the Japanese fishermen had so much
wished to walk on, they wanted to get permission to go
ashore immediately. But the captain summoned them and
explained the situation in the hand language something
"Now look here, I will go ashore and visit the Governor's
Office in order to take steps for getting permission for your
landing at the earliest date. Besides, I shall fix the place
for you to stay. Now, you wait for a while before you land.
Denzo answered, in gesture: "Captain, we understand
quite well what you said just now. We'll wait."
"When you are allowed to go ashore, I am afraid, you
will find it hard to make a living at first. It will be neces-
ON A RESCUE SHIP 25
sary for you to get some aid from the Governor's Office at
least for the time being."
Although Captain Whitfield was a kindhearted man, he
was straightforward and outspoken. When he happened to
reprove his crewmen, he never fretted and fumed. All he
did was to utter a stern word or two staring them hard in
the face. The next moment he would look pleasantly non
chalant as if nothing had happened. So the crew loved him
and obeyed him faithfully.
Thus Manjiro and the other four were left in the ship
to wait until further notice. They often got together and
discussed the problem of getting jobs when they were al
lowed to go ashore. They decided unanimously that they
should learn the foreigners' language and they asked a sailor
staying on board the ship to teach them how to say simple
words. Being the oldest of them all, Denzo was found to
be the slowest pupil, while Manjiro was by far the best.
Captain Whitfield seemed to have had such a lot of
business to transact at Honolulu that it was nearly one
month before he came to take them ashore. First they went
to the Governor's Office accompanied by the captain.
The Governor was an American about fifty years of age
whose name was Dr. Gerrit Parmele Judd. He had been
a medical practitioner in America and had come to this
island to seek his fortune. He gave up practice and became
a successful politician. The popularity which he had grad
ually won among the islanders resulted at hst in his being
chosen governor of the island.
Governor Judd brought a map of the world, which Man
jiro and the others had never seen before, and unfolded it
before them. Pointing here and there over the map, he
questioned Manjiro, using simple words.
The Governor smiled and kindly explained. 'This is a
26 M A N J I R O
folding map. Now look here. This is the sea. This is a great
land. This is an island. Well, were you born here or
"We were born here/' replied Manjiro pointing to an
Governor Judd exchanged looks with Captain Whitfield
and they both nodded.
"Do you worship Buddha?"
"Yes, we do/' answered Manjiro, Jusuke and Goemon
in unison. Then the Governor produced from the cupboard
a Japanese smoking pipe, twenty pieces of silver, one piece
of gold and one piece of copper of the Kan-ei Era. "What
are these?" asked he of Manjiro.
"This money," answered Manjiro, "comes from our
"Then do you know a place called Osaka?"
"Yes, I know."
"What sort of place is Osaka?"
"Me not saw Osaka. But Denzo here know it well. I
hear Osaka a good port and a big, big place."
"Yes, Osaka is the best harbor in Japan. Now I under
stand quite well that you are Japanese. This long smoking
pipe and the twenty-three coins were given to me fourteen
years ago by men of a merchant ship belonging to Osaka.
They were a bunch of good fellows and very good seamen
too. Now you shall stay in this island until further notice,
for I will see to it that the Government pays all your ex
penses while you are here. In the meantime, I'll give each
of you a silver dollar as my personal gift, for you'll need
some money for the present."
Manjiro and the others humbly bowed in thanks, bend
ing low at the waist. With these silver coins in their hands,
they filed out of the Governor's room and were shown into
a guest room of the Office where they were served with
bananas and coffee for the first time in their lives.
Thus the five men received the grants from the Govern
ment to pay the expenses for bed, board and clothing
through the good offices of Captain Whitfield. He liked
Manjiro in particular for his cheerfulness, politeness and
willingness to learn. He would certainly regret it to his
dying day, should he leave Manjiro to himself in this is
land. So when a question was raised whether it was all
right to take Manjiro to America all the men except Man
jiro were puzzled, because they were bora in the same
province and, after drifting together thousands of miles,
had landed in a strange country and naturally found it
hard to part with one of their members. Even if they were
destined not to touch the soil of their beloved homeland
again, it would be an unpardonable act to give up Manjiro
who was no better than a helpless boy. Although Japan lay
ever so far away at the dim distant end of the ocean, "a
crime would run one thousand miles," as their popular say
ing had it. When they met the people of Nishinohama or
Nakanohama of Tosa even in their dreams, how could they
keep their countenance?
But Captain Whitfield was a great benefactor to them;
in fact, if it had not been for him they would long since
have perished. They turned the problem over and over and
expressed every possible opinion. To make a long story
short, they decided to leave the choice with Manjiro.
Whereupon, Manjiro nonchalantly made his intention
known that he would sooner go and see for himself what
was the real truth of America.
Captain Whitfield, very pleased with what Manjiro had
28 M AN J I RO
just said, added assuringly, "I'll take good care of him, so
don't you worry." Then he took Manjiro on board the ship
while Denzo and the others came to the wharf to bid him
The remaining four were allowed to stay with the family
of Kaukahawa, a retainer of Queen Kakaluohi, The house
was a fairly large one with a thatched roof and the rooms
were matted with palm leaves. In those days, the houses
along the streets in Honolulu were for the most part
cottages thatched with palm leaves. Only the churches were
built with spired roofs. There were neither the stone walls
nor the towers of a castle in Honolulu like those which
they had seen at Kochi back in Tosa. Indeed, Honolulu
looked far poorer and less impressive than Kochi, they
But strange to say, the trees here were thick with green
leaves despite the fact that it was the end of November.
The harbor, facing south, was almost one mile in diameter
and there were always more than fifteen whaling ships at
anchor in it. At the sterns of those ships were hoisted, with
out exception, the flags of America, bright with stars.
Denzo and the others lived at the Government's expense
until the next summer, by which time they had become
somewhat familiar with the language and the custom of the
place so that they were able to go on errands and do simple
chores. Anyway, as they did not like to remain under the
Government's care indefinitely, they went to see Governor
Judd, hoping he would assign to them some jobs, but the
former medical man kindly said, "You need not work nor
worry about anything at all. You are under Government
protection and you can stay here at the expense of the
So they let another year pass in this way, but at last they
felt they could no longer go on like this, and again they ap
plied to the Governor for some work. Finally, Denzo and
his brother Goemon were employed temporarily as serv
ants at the houses of the Governor's relatives and friends,
their jobs being drawing water, hewing wood, carrying
lunch boxes, and cleaning the house. Toraemon became an
apprentice to a carpenter through the good offices of the
Governor, while Jusuke was suffering from a relapse of his
wounded foot. His condition was steadily worsening.
WHILE the John Howland carrying Manjiro kept steadily
south, Captain Whitfield grew to like the boy, who was
good-natured and a willing and hard worker, and before
long treated him like his own son. The captain decided
to call him John Mung as his name Manjiro was too much
for the sailors. Having lost his father when a mere child,
Manjiro, hungering for fatherly love, became firmly attached
to this stern but kind captain. He was brighter than the
others, he had picked up English and spoke it with con
siderable ease. He studied hard in his spare moments and
soon he was able to write some simple English words. He
found it easier to learn the English alphabet, which was
much simpler than the Japanese one. The captain loved
John Mung all the more and the crew, too, began to like
the boy and treated him kindly and called him by his new
He certainly missed the fellow countrymen with whom
he had parted at Honolulu but as the captain was kind and
there were on the ship three teen-age sailors La Fayette
Wilcox, for instance, was only sixteen with whom he
could be friendly, he was not lonely except when he thought
of his home. Moreover, the life on the whaling ship was so
exciting that he had little time to think of his home.
The ship touched at an equatorial island among the
Kingsmill Group to get a fresh supply of fuel and water.
It was a small island somewhat over two miles in circum
ference and its inhabitants were all black people who cov
ered only their loins with the leaves of trees. Some of them
came to the ship in their canoes to sell bows and arrows.
The crew gave them only small pieces of scrap iron or other
odds and ends in exchange for those weapons.
The ship engaged in whaling in the waters of the Kings-
mill Group and in March, 1842, it arrived at Spanish Guam
Island which lay due south of the Ogasawara Islands. John
Mung set foot on the island with several crew members.
It was a large island which seemed about ten miles in cir
cumference, and the bay where a good harbor lay was over
three miles across. The houses of the natives which num
bered about three hundred were thatched with palm leaves,
like the houses in Honolulu.
Leaving Guam Island at the end of April, the ship went
up north and after coasting along only about one hundred
miles off the coast of Japan, she changed her course toward
the south-southeast and reached Emirau Island, a British
territory, at the end of November. It was an island also
about eight miles in circumference with about three hun-
TO FAIRHAVEN, MASS. 33
dred thatched houses. They stayed here about one month
and then headed southwest until they reached Guam Is
land again in February of the next year. Thus the ship went
in every direction in her voyage, making a large circle in the
Pacific Ocean west of Oahu.
After staying for one month at Guam, the John Howkmd
set sail in a south-southeasterly direction and the end of
April that year saw the ship sail via Cape Horn, and go
up north. At last, on May 7 ? 1843, the John Rowland,
completing its long, long voyage of three years and seven
months, entered the port of New Bedford, Massachusetts.
The sailors, who had been up before daybreak while the
John Howland, weather-beaten, heavy with whale oil, was
steadily plowing through the calm sea of Buzzards Bay,
were all excited at this long-awaited homecoming, but per
haps no one was so excited as the sixteen-year-old Japanese
boy, who was determined to see the New World with his
own eyes. By the time the ship sailed between Palmer's
Island and Fort Phoenix and dropped anchor at last in New
Bedford Harbor, the sun was beginning to shine through the
early morning mist, on the wings of the gulls flying around
the ship, and on its main royal mast. Soon Captain Whit-
field appeared on the deck where Manjiro had kept leaning
over the bulwarks to watch the harbor and the town, where
about thirty ships of all types lay at anchor and where a
town of big painted strange-looking houses and church
steeples was in full view on this bright May morning.
"WeVe at last come home, John Mung!" said the captain,
coming beside him.
"I can't believe my eyes, Captain!" said Manjiro.
'This is New Bedford/'
"It's like a dream!"
"We'll soon go ashore, John Mung."
"I can hardly wait/' said Manjiro excitedly. "What are
those big houses, Captain?"
"That's the custom house and that's a church, if you know
what they are."
"Your house, Captain, can you see it?"
"Nay, not from here; it's in Fairhaven on the other side
of this river."
"Is that a river? Looks like the sea."
"Aye, that is the Acushnet River, John Mung."
Soon the ship was visited by a party of relief sailors com
ing in a rowboat from the shore; and Captain Whitfield,
John Mung, and the other crewmen at once went ashore in
the boat that had just been made vacant, each carrying a
seaman's bag bulging with things from foreign countries.
They were happy; their eyes shining in their haggard faces.
They had been working hard on the homeward-bound ship,
because the original crew of twenty-seven men had been
reduced to about fifteen; some had left the ship at Calio,
some at Ascension and other places. On the wharf, a crowd
of friends, relatives and families welcomed them but Cap
tain Whitfield felt lonely because he was a widower. He at
once took John around the town.
The boy from the lonely fishing village in Tosa had never
seen such a bustling town in his life, not even in his dreams;
and simply dumfounded, he stared at everything open-
mouthed. The wharves, warehouses, churches, offices,
stores, houses, streets and parks which he saw for the first
time in his life, took his breath away, and made his feet
difficult to move. But when he saw women walking along
the streets in bonnets, muslin ruffs and hoop skirts, balanc
ing their pink, white, blue, green parasols, with the deep
TO FAIRHAVEN, MASS. 35
embroidered border, it was too much even for his curiosity.
Captain Whitfield, John Mung, and some of the seamen
went to the Seamen's Bethel and offered prayers of thanks
for their safe return "through the peril of the deep." John
Mung did not understand very well the meaning of the
prayers, but he was impressed by the singing of hymns and
the sound of the organ. While they were praying, he was
thinking of his widowed mother saying the sutra in the
village temple far away somewhere in the world.
Then John Mung, still dazed and breathless, accom
panied by Captain Whitfield, crossed a mile-long bridge
spanning the Acushnet River and reached Fairhaven where
the captain lived. Fairhaven which was on New Bedford
Harbor was also a prosperous town full of fine houses,
though it was not so big and thriving with the whaling in
dustry as New Bedford. As Captain Whitfield was a
widower, his house had been left vacant and unlivable
during his absence and although he loved John like a son,
he could not have the boy live with him in his own house.
Therefore, he asked one of the townsmen by the name of
Eben Akin who had been a third officer of a whaling ship
under Captain Whitfield to let John stay with his family.
In the neighborhood, there lived together three sisters and
the middle one, Jane Allen, was teaching at the Stone
School in Farm Lane, a private school where she had
about thirty pupils. One day Mr. Eben Akin asked John
Mung whether he would like to go to school. John an
swered that he wanted to do so by all means. As it was un
likely that he would be able to return to Japan in the near
future, he thought he should get some education in
John Mung went to school for the first time in his life.
In a large paneled room, about thirty feet square, stood
rows of desks and chairs. About thirty pupils sat at those
desks having a lesson in reading. The teacher stood on the
platform, writing on the blackboard with a piece of chalk.
The pupils at first kept the strange freshman at a respect
ful distance, but before long, friendship prevailed and they
began to play with him and to treat him kindly as one of
their number. John Mung stayed on with Mr. Akin and
went to school every morning, returning home late in the
afternoon. As he was a great lover of books, Miss Jane
Allen used to lend him many useful books so that he could
read them in his spare time.
Soon after John Mung joined the family of Mr. Eben
Akin, Captain Whitfield went to New York to sell the
whale oil which the John Rowland had brought back from
the long whaling expedition. Not only did he conclude a
very profitable business deal but he also remarried in New
York, on May 31 of that year. He married Miss Albertina
B. Keith of Bridgewater, Massachusetts, and returned home
in the height of happiness with his beautiful bride. Then
he purchased a fourteen-acre farm with some buildings in
Sconticut Neck, a mile or so from Fairhaven, for one
thousand dollars from one Alice P. Fuller. There they es
tablished their new home in a house they built, to which
John Mung, after a while, came to live to make himself
useful in doing the household chores. On the farm Captain
and Mrs. Whitfield, with the help of John Mung and
a hired farmhand, kept several cows, horses, pigs, and about
one hundred chickens and also raised wheat, corn, potatoes,
grapes and so on.
It is told that, as a person of consequence in the town,
Captain Whitfield had his own private pew in one of the
TOFAIRHAVEN, MASS. 37
three churches. One Sunday morning Manjiro went to
church with him and sat beside him in that pew. One of
the deacons of the church, who had been horrified, came
to see Captain Whitfield after a few weeks and told him
that the Japanese boy would have to sit in the pew for
Negroes, because some of the members had objected to
having Manjiro sit in the captain's pew. Captain Whitfield
bowed politely and made no reply, although he wanted to
say, "As long as I live, I shall never attend your church."
Immediately he took a pew in another church but soon met
with the same result.
Before long, the captain found that a Unitarian Church
was willing to admit John Mung into the fold, so that he
decided to take the boy to this church every Sunday.
Eventually the captain and his family became its members.
The church's principal supporter was Mr. Warren Delano,
Sr., who was an influential townsman and the great-grand
father of the late Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who once
wrote, "I well remember my grandfather telling me all about
the little Japanese boy who went to school in Fairhaven and
who went to church from time to time with the Delano
Once he was deeply moved when he heard a sermon in
which the pastor said that even a humble man was often
called upon to do an important job. He did not clearly
understand what was meant by being "poor in spirit" though
the pastor talked about it at some length. He was en
couraged, and filled with hope, however, when the pastor
said that many men of humble birth proved to be capable of
doing great service to the world. He was astonished when
he was told that one of the greatest followers of the Lord
was a fisherman. When the sermon was over, he said to
38 M A N J I R O
himself, I am glad that a fisherman's blood is in me. What
can I do when I am a man?
Manjiro was happy in this small New England town
because, as the captain's foster son, he was allowed to do
whatever was normal for any Fairhaven boy of that period,
but sometimes he felt very lonely thinking of his poor
widowed mother. Then he would take out a small tattered
cotton kimono which his mother had made for him and
bury his face in it and sob. He would wipe his tears with it
and talk to it in Japanese as if he had been talking to his
mother. He thought then as if his mother had been there
to cheer him up because he knew that it was his mother
who had made it for him and the only thing he had in his
possession to remember her by. He always said on such
occasions, "Mother, I will come back to you someday!"
One day, Job C. Trippe, who was a classmate of John
Mung, happened to come into the latter's room and found
him crying with his face buried in the small tattered ki
mono. When John told him why he was crying in such a
manner, Job Trippe began to cry and they both cried to
gether for some time. But when he suddenly noticed that
John Mung's head was sticking out of a big hole in the
kimono, he began to laugh and they both laughed together.
Much impressed by Manjiro's attachment for his mother,
Job Trippe wrote a few days later a very touching composi
tion on the theme of mother love. Those who heard him
read this composition in class were deeply moved.
When John Mung came to live with Captain and Mrs.
Whitfield at the Sconticut Neck farm, he lived in a home
for the first time in his life. When a small boy, he had
lost his father, and his mother was poor. She used to go
down to the beach every day to help the fishermen draw
dragnets to get a few small fish for her children. But in
Sconticut Neck, he lived with his foster father and mother
who were always kind to him, although like any other New
England parents, they were by no means soft. At last, he
could satisfy his hunger for fatherly love from Captain
Whitfield. The three often worked together on the farm
and he was as happy as a boy could be. He worked hard
and they liked him.
On Fourth of July he was taken by Captain Whitfield
to Fairhaven to see the sham fight and the parade, which
he always recalled and talked about even before the Japa
nese officials. In Sconticut Neck, he observed the quaint
custom of Halloween and celebrated Christmas with the
tree, candles, presents, turkey dinner and carols in its New
In Sconticut Neck he soon found that there were several
playmates with whom he could go fishing when he was not
too busy farming or reading books. He made many friends.
On May Day, John Mung and other children went a-May-
ing before sunrise in the nearby field to gather wild flowers
and tree branches, and they returned to the village in
triumph, John Mung carrying the Maypole. It was told
by the late Mrs. Eldridge G. Morton that on a May Day
when she was still a small child, John Mung hung a May
basket on her door with the following verse:
Tis in the silly night
A basket youve got hung.
Get up! Strike a light!
And see me run.
to which he added, "But no chase me/' John Mung fol
lowed this and many other New England customs of the
^O M A N J I R O
day and thoroughly enjoyed them even if he did not under
stand them very well.
He continued to read books when he was free from the
work in the field or at the cowshed, so that Captain Whit-
field was more and more impressed by the boy's strong
desire to learn. Mr. Louis Bartlett, a mathematician, who
managed school at 42 Spring Street, was also impressed by
the diligence and love of learning of this boy and said that
he would teach John Mung mathematics and surveying, if
he had any desire to learn. The young man readily became
one of the pupils of Mr. Bartlett in February, 1844, and
studied mathematics, surveying, reading and writing in his
spare hours and proved to be the brightest student in the
class. In June of that year, Captain Whitfield went whal
ing again from the port of New Bedford on board the
William Eliza without John Mung, because not only was
his service needed around the farm but the captain thought
that the boy's education should not be interrupted.
The work in the field was finished for the winter, and
John Mung could have lived a fairly easy life doing nothing
in particular at Captain Whitfield's if he wanted to do so.
He was too grateful to merely bask in the motherly care
of Mrs. Whitfield, nor could he reconcile himself to the idea
of idling away his time. Thinking of his future, he wanted
to use this time to learn some trade while he could, so he
became in February, 1845, an apprentice to a cooper named
Mr. Huzzy, a manufacturer of whale-oil barrels, whose
trade was considered a respectable one in the whaling com
munity in those days. There were two other apprentices in
the house of Mr. Huzzy, but as the work was too hard and
the food too bad, they soon left the house without giving
any notice. John Mung, however, stayed on patiently.
TO FAIRHAVEN, MASS. 41
While he worked hard as the cooper's apprentice, he read
books and attended Mr. Bartlett's school whenever he had
time to spare.
In the summer of that year when the work at the Sconti-
cut Neck farm was in full swing, he returned to it to be a
farmhand again. The early autumn saw him return to Mr.
Huzzy, but before long he became ill, having overworked
himself, and had to return to Sconticut Neck in October.
When he became quite well again under the care of Mrs.
Whitfield, he resumed his studies of mathematics and navi
gation, whenever he was not too busy on the farm. But
sometimes when he thought of the thrill of chasing whales
in the broad open sea, he could not help thinking that the
job of taking care of pigs was rather boring.
He was then a lad of nineteen, feeling a nostalgia for the
sea. He wanted, moreover, to put into practice on the ship
the knowledge of navigation and surveying he had acquired
from Mr. Bartlett. But the opportunity to do so did not
present itself at that time, so he decided in February, 1846,
to go back to Mr. Huzzy's to continue his apprenticeship
in the cooper's trade.
It happened that a whaler from New York named Ira
Davis, who was once the harpooner on the John Howland,
came to Fairhaven in order to organize a crew for the
Franklin, which was bound for the Pacific under his cap
tainship. He went to see John Mung and asked him to join
his crew; he had already been told by Isachar Akin, whom
he also asked to sail on the Franklin, about the courage and
skill which John Mung had demonstrated on the John
Upon learning that his former shipmate, Isachar Akin,
had consented to the proposal and that he would be ap~
42 M A N J I R
pointed first officer, John Mung accepted the offer at once,
since it seemed to be the very thing for which he had
been waiting all this while. He thought it might be a good
chance to return to Japan. He went to see Mrs. Whitfield
immediately and told her that he had decided to go whaling
on the Franklin, and asked her approval. But he did not
breathe a word about any possibility of his returning to
"I'm indeed glad to hear that, and Fm proud of you,
John, and Fm sure Captain Whitfield would have been
pleased to hear it. You ain't a small boy any more, and I
reckon Mr. Bartlett learned you a thing or two about sailing
a ship and whaling. You'll make a good whaler like my
husband some day, Fm telling you. Take good care of
yourself, John, and God bless you!"
"Thank you, Mrs. Whitfield. I like it here very much. I
like the people here. You have been kind to me; and the
captain . . . Oh, how can I thank him enough? I'll miss you,
and Fairhaven, and Sconticut Neck, but I want to go to sea.
Perhaps, I may be able to see the captain, if the William
Eliza and the Franklin happen to meet somewhere in the
Pacific Ocean. How I long to see him!"
John Mung said goodbye again and again to Mrs. Whit
field and picked up William, the baby, from the floor and
fondled him for a few minutes before he took leave of the
Sconticut Neck farm. Then he went on board the Franklin
The Franklin was a ship of 273 tons. She was about 100
feet long and carried a crew of twenty-four. John Mung
soon found to his great joy that ten of them were from the
New Bedford area, some of whom he already knew; he
TO FAIRHAVEN, MASS. 43
found also that twelve of them were teen-agers, the youngest
only fifteen. On May 15, 1846, the ship weighed anchor
from New Bedford and sailed into Boston Harbor, where
it stayed for three days. War was in the air in Boston
Harbor, with the loaded cannons on the fortified islands
menacingly pointing toward the sea and frigates busily keep
ing watch against possible emergency. The war with
Mexico had already started.
The Franklin headed out east across the Atlantic, touched
at Fayal Island in the Azores and stayed there for two days;
then it headed south and reached Sao Thiago of the Cape
Verde Islands where they bought pigs and fuel from the
natives. Going farther south, the ship called at the Cape
of Good Hope and continued her voyage. One day when
the ship was sailing near British Guiana, a sailor who was
watching from the topmast shrouds suddenly shouted, "A
giant turtle!" He pointed to the trough of the sea about
fifteen fathoms away from the starboard. "There it is!"
cried the men on the deck. W/ifel went a harpoon from
one of them but it fell short of the mark. Another one flew
and this time it lodged deep in the body of the ten-foot
monster turtle, which struggled so wildly and fiercely that it
was impossible to pull the rope. Manjiro at once took off
his clothes, jumped into the sea and swam over to the
struggling turtle. Sitting astride it he plunged a dagger into
its neck. This brave action on his part won the great ad
miration of the entire crew.
John Mung had ample opportunity to use the nautical
instruments on the Franklin, such as the compasses, sex
tants, chronometers and so on, and successfully to employ
the art of navigation which he had learned from Mr. Bart-
lett. He quickly grasped how to steer a big ship, how to
find out the ship's position and many other things which a
navigator should know. He often gave time to survey the
coast lines or the sea for the sake of practice. He was ad
mired by all the sailors of the Franklin for the skill which
he ably demonstrated.
The ship sailed on, catching whales in the waters of
Sumatra and Java, and in February, 1847, reached Kupang
on Timor Island, which belonged to the Portuguese. Ku
pang, however, was a Dutch town of about two hundred
houses, with a good port situated at the end of the bay
which stretched ten miles deep into the land. While the
Franklin was staying in this port for thirty days, John Mung
often went ashore to see the town where Dutchmen lived
among the natives.
This voyage proved to be a great eye opener for John
Mung. At the ports of call, as a young man who was deter
mined to see the world for himself, he met many men and
women of different races, saw many scenes and experienced
many things. The ship set sail from Kupang and next went
to New Ireland in the Bismarck Archipelago where John
Mung saw the cannibals with their faces smeared with
clay and their hair powdered white, but he could hardly
tell whether they were men or women. The sailors tried
to get the cannibals' shields and other weapons but since
they had to run a risk of being caught and devoured, they
left those deadly tools with the cannibals.
Then the Franklin caught whales in the waters of the
Solomon Islands but she had to stay at one of the islands
for a few days to undergo some repairs, after which she
headed north and reached Guam in March, 1847. Here
John Mung wrote a letter to Captain Whitfield.
TOFAIRHAVEN, MASS. 45
Guam, March 12, 1847
I will take the pen to write you a few lines and let you know
that I am well and hope you were the same. First thing I will
tell you about the home, then time I left. Well, sir, your boy
William is well all summer but the cold weather sets in he
will . . . smart, a little cunning creature I ever saw before. He
will cry after me just as quick as he would to his mother. Your
wife and Amelia and Mr. Bonney's family and your neighbor
hoods they all well when I saw them. I did went to Mr. Huz-
zeys and stayed there about six months and then I left them . . .
He goes on to pay a tribute to Mrs. Whitfield, who was
a considerate, hard-working and respectable person and
then he said that he believed that the captain was his best
friend in all the world next to great God. He also expressed
his intention to land in Ryukyu, if possible, and do his best
to open a port there to supply necessaries to foreign whal
ing ships. He left this letter, together with Mrs. Whitfield's
letter, addressed to her husband in Guam so that he might
pick them up when he entered the port. After a month's
stay at Guam, the ship left the island and caught more
whales in the East China Sea. She sailed by the coast of
Taiwan and reached the Ryukyu Islands.
John Mung always kept handy a kimono in which he
wanted to return to his native land, but his heart failed
him when the opportunity to go ashore presented itself.
Some of the men lowered a boat and approached a seaside
village where they bartered four rolls of calico for two
cows. But they feared that if they stayed too long on the
island they might get into some trouble. In fact, they saw
several islanders come toward them menacingly, so they
cut the boat from her moorings and returned hastily to the
46 M A N J I R O
ship. Now the ship headed east and went near the lonely
island on which John Mung and the others had been
stranded. From the entries in the logbook of the John
Howland he had gathered that the island was in all prob
ability Torishima of the Hachijo Islands. There they caught
more whales and angled for fish. In August of that year,
when the Franklin was sailing a hundred and sixty miles
off the coast of North Japan, she met unexpectedly with
about twenty Japanese fishing boats.
This particular part of the sea seemed to have taken
on a different color because of a large school of bonito rid
ing on the Black Current of the Pacific Ocean. The fisher
men in the boats felt almost dizzy, so busy were they in
hauling in their catch. The Franklin lowered her sails in
order to take her share in this heavy haul. Everyone took
out his tackle and fished for bonito until about two hundred
of them were hooked out of the water. Just then two Japa
nese boats came toward the Franklin, perhaps resenting that
she was intruding on their point of vantage. John Mung
put on his kimono and wrapped a headband around his
head in the Japanese style and stood on the deck calling out
to the boats as loud as he could.
"Where do you come from? Those are Japanese boats,
I take it. What province do they belong to?"
John Mung spoke Japanese for the first time in many
years. Not in a dream but in a full waking moment he
shouted his mother tongue as loudly as he pleased to his
fellow countrymen. But he felt ashamed of himself to find
that he was tongue-tied and had forgotten some Japanese
"What part of Japan do those boats come from, eh? Are
they from Tosa?"
TOFAIRHAVEN, MASS. 47
"Sundai, Sundai," was the answer from the boats.
"Sunday?" wondered John Mung. "Why? This is not
Then it dawned on him that they had pronounced the
name Sendai (a town in North Japan) in their dialect.
John Mung lowered a boat at once and carrying with him
a present of two boxes of bread, rowed toward the fishing
boats from "Sundai," until the bow of his boat almost
touched the side of one of the Japanese boats. He offered
a few loaves of bread to the fishermen from "Sundai" which
they accepted suspiciously and only stared at for a moment,
unable to make head or tail of them, because they had never
seen bread before. John Mung spoke to a young man who
was apparently the headman.
"Are your boats going to Tosa?"
The young man looked puzzled as if he could not under
stand John Mung's Tosa accent.
"I don't know," was the answer.
"Then don't you know whether there is a boat that goes
"I don't know," was again the answer of the young man.
"Can't you understand what I say? Tell me if any of
your boats is going to Tosa."
"I don't know," repeated the young fisherman and tak
ing out some bonito that he had kept in storage, he offered
them in return for the present, saying, "Katsuo!"
It was possible that they acted as if they could not under
stand very well what John Mung said because they wanted
to have nothing to do with a stranger, fearing they might
get into trouble. John Mung gave up any further attempt
to make himself understood and signed as much as to say,
"We have caught enough bonito, so I must decline your
offer with due thanks." Seeing that it was no use trying to
make further negotiations, he returned to the ship a dis
appointed man. He stood on the deck blankly staring at
the sea until someone drew his attention to the headband
which he had forgotten to take off.
Most of the men in the ship who had been curiously
watching John Mung negotiate with the Japanese fisher
men felt sorry to know that his hope of returning to Tosa
in one of those boats had been dashed.
THE Franklin steadily took a southeast course for many
days on end, making unusually good headway before the
wind. In October, 1847, she entered the port of Honolulu
and lay at anchor for about a month during which the ship
took in fuel and fresh water. It was seven long years since
John Mung bade farewell to Denzo and the others in Hono
He waited patiently for shore leave, and as soon as it was
granted he went to look for them, On inquiring of an office
clerk and a tailor whom he had known as to the where
abouts of Denzo and the other Japanese, he was told that
Denzo and his brother had gone home to Japan, that Jusuke
had died, and only Toraemon was still staying there as an
apprentice to a carpenter. He proceeded at once to the
50 M A N J I R O
carpenter's house, where he found Toraeinon busily sawing
a timber with a large saw.
Greatly surprised at the sight of John Mung, Toraemon
said, "Oh! Manjiro Nushi!" Then he said in Eng
lish, "This is, indeed, an unexpected meeting. What
brought you here?"
John Mung said, "Oh! Tora Nushi!" and continued also
in English, "I am glad to find you well. I came here a couple
of days ago in a whaleship called the Franklin and heard
that you were still here and that Den Nushi and Goemon
Nushi had gone back to Japan. I also heard that Jusuke
was dead and gone. Poor man!"
"Yes, poor man!" said Toraemon. "I feel as if my heart
would break when I think of him. 1 may die in this strange
land but my spirit will go back to my old country/ That
was what he said just before he breathed his last. I remem
ber, it was a mighty windy day in January of last year when
he passed away. Den Nushi and Goemon Nushi sailed to
Japan on the Colorado at the end of October, last year.
Indeed, I wanted to go back with them, but I did not dare
to go in that ship because I was told that Captain Cox was
a devil if ever a man was. I kind of feared I might get into
some trouble if I sailed with that skipper. Now, Fve said
enough for the present. Let me hear from you all about
what you've done since you left."
John Mung began to tell his long story, how he had been
taken to America by Captain Whitfield, how he had spent
the last seven years; how he had been employed on a whaling
ship and how he had at last come to this place. As it was
the first reunion in many years they both had many things
to talk about.
About twenty days went by, when one day the carpenter,
AN EMPTY HOPE Jl
returning in a hurry from the town, said, "Toraemon, I met
just now a sailor who told me that the Colorado had just
made port. He also said that he had seen Denzo and the
other Japanese still in the ship/'
It was such an unexpected piece of news that Toraemon
could not believe his ears at first. He went to see Manjiro
at once and broke the news. Then they ran together to the
harbor where they saw the Colorado at anchor, and hiring
a boat at once, they rowed to the ship and went on board.
Sure enough, they found Denzo and his brother standing
on the deck.
Denzo began to tell the story of his last seven years to
John Mung: He and his brother lived at first under the care
of Governor Judd, but feeling too proud to accept charity,
they soon decided to work. Inexperienced in any trade and
having no capital to buy land, they managed to make a liv
ing as servants or day laborers for the relatives and friends
of Governor Judd. As for Jusuke, his condition was grad
ually getting worse, so that he was at last sent along with his
two brothers to the house of Pookun in a village called
Kualoa, six miles away, to get special medical treatment
from a famous doctor there. Jusuke died in January, 1845,
at the age of thirty-one, in spite of all efforts to cure him.
A funeral service was held for him at the Kualoa Church by
his brothers, Pookun and a few other friends of the deceased.
He was buried in the graveyard of his former master's family,
which was not far from Kualoa. Denzo took his brother's
death to heart and became so dejected that Pookun had to
look after him while his brother Goemon stayed at the
mission house there to work as a servant.
Once when Queen Kakaluohi came to this village on her
annual tour of inspection, escorted by the chief official
Tuwanahawa, they stopped at Pookun's house where Denzo
was staying. Tuwanahawa told them that it was the queen's
wish to inquire after his and his brother's health and to
know that everything was all right with them. They
thanked the queen for her kindness and then told the chief
official how they had been getting along on the island and
expressed their wish to make a living by farming and fishing,
if that were possible. A few days later Tuwanahawa told
Denzo and his brother, "You shall have the land to farm."
Realizing that the queen must have granted their wish,
Denzo asked the chief official to take steps to express their
gratitude to her.
Denzo and his brother built a house of their own on the
newly granted land by the sea, and busied themselves farm
ing and fishing. They made themselves fishing tackle after
that of Tosa and fished chiefly for bonito. They sold their
catch at the markets in Honolulu. They were so skillful
that either of them could catch fifty bonito while a native
of the island could get only ten. Their farm land, warmed
by the sun, yielded a good harvest of potatoes. In the back
yard they kept pigs for the first time in their lives, accord
ing to the custom of the natives. Moreover, as they were
exempted from all taxes, they were able to live as com
fortably as they could wish. When Goemon had nothing
to do in the field or in the sea, he often went to work as a
servant for a certain missionary.
One Sunday morning, when a preaching meeting of this
missionary was over, someone in the congregation shouted,
"Well, Goemon! Can you recognize me?"
"How could I have forgotten you?" said Goemon. "To be
sure, you are Captain Whitfield who saved our lives. We
always remember you with heart and soul."
AN EMPTY HOPE 53
Captain Whitfield, looking very pleased, laughed heartily
and then asked Goemon how his friends had been getting
along. Goemon told the captain all he and his friends had
done since they saw him last but when he told that Jusuke
had died, the captain looked very sad and said, "Bless his
heart, poor Jusuke! How badly he must have wanted to go
back to Japan before he died!"
In tears the captain and Goemon went to visit the grave
of Jusuke. Later the captain suddenly said, "I can help you
go back to Japan, if you still want to go. Mr. Cox, who was
once a crew member of the Rowland, is now the captain of
a whaling ship called Colorado, which is about to leave for
Japanese waters. If you want to go back, I can ask him to
take you to your country in that ship. So you'd better get
ready to sail, if that is your wish. You may depend upon it,
he is a very nice man, and I am sure he will take good care
of you. By the way, John Mung is living quite happily in
Fairhaven. He is doing fine at school."
Then the captain and Goemon went together to Denzo's
cottage on the seaside, which was a small ramshackle affair
with not a single chair to sit on. When Denzo saw the
captain and Goemon, he was so glad that he could hardly
speak. He invited them to sit on two barrels which were
standing on the dirt floor. Although the captain did not like
the look of the shabby cottage and its surroundings, he
suddenly said, looking toward the sea, "Well, well, what a
nice and simple life this is!" He then told Denzo about his
plan of arranging their free passage to Japan. He asked
Denzo to come to the harbor to talk the matter over if he
wanted to return to Japan. Before he left the cottage, he
gave Denzo and his brother two silver coins each.
On the following day Goemon, Denzo and his brother
54 M A N J I R O
went to the harbor to see Captain Whitfield. He eyed their
clothes disapprovingly and said, "I'm afraid you cannot
go back to your country in those clothes. You'd better put
these on when you go," Then the captain gave each of them
a suit of woolen clothes, a pair of shoes, a hat and a few
shirts. Goemon packed them together into a bundle and
carrying it on a pole over his shoulder as Japanese farmers
did, he returned to his seaside cottage. Denzo and Goemon
were overjoyed and at once went to Honolulu to see
"Tora Nushi! We have good news for you. At last we
can go home/' They explained the matter in detail and
tried to talk him into returning to Japan.
Denzo and the other two went to see their friends in
Honolulu to say goodbye. Dr. Judd and the missionary gave
them some money, clothes and other presents, wishing them
good luck. Some of their friends exchanged words of part
ing with tears in their eyes, because they had become very
good friends by then.
Returning to the seaside cottage, Denzo and his brother
cheerfully set about the preparations for their voyage home.
They could not contain the joy of going home after so many
years of loneliness in a strange country. Although they
found that the fields in which they had sweated so hard were
something they could not part with so easily, they offered
the potatoes and corn in the field to the neighbors and
returned the land to Twanahawa. Six chickens, four ducks,
and two pigs, which they had kept, were given as presents to
Captain Whitfield again asked Mr. Cox to look after the
three men just before the Colorado set sail. The three went
on board, while Captain Whitfield came to see them off.
AM, E MP T Y HOP E 55
But just as the ship was weighing anchor, ready to set sail,
Toraemon changed his mind.
"I'm not going back/' he blurted out. Denzo, surprised
out of his wits, told him persuasively that if he did not
return now, most likely he'd never return. Whereupon,
Toraemon said that Captain Cox was a "son of a dog" and
would bring a great deal of trouble to them in the ship.
He would not listen to any of Denzo's advice and went
ashore all by himself. It seemed that he had harbored some
suspicion about the character of Mr. Cox.
The Colorado left Honolulu late in November and, going
south, engaged in whaling in the waters of the South Sea
Islands, finally putting in at Guam Island to spend the
year's end. Then she headed north, coming close to Hachijo
Island the early part of March, but the sea was too rough
to lower a boat. So, passing about ten miles off the island,
she headed northeast and kept her course along the coast
of Boshu. The ship then came so near the shore of what
appeared to be Matsumae that it came into view very
clearly. Captain Cox told Denzo that the cape in sight was
Matsumae, and brought the ship to within four miles of the
coast. Then the captain, Denzo, his brother and six men
went ashore in a boat at the northern part of the cape.
They set out to look for a village or a house. They found
two small vacant huts. Inside one of them they found
Japanese sandals and straw raincoats hanging on the wall.
A pair of well-used straw shoes covered with dry dust was
on the dirt floor. The ashes in the fireplace seemed dead
and cold. "Ohi! Ohi!" Denzo and his brother shouted at
the top of their lungs, but neither a human voice nor an
echo was heard in answer to the shout. At the back of the
house they found a small patch planted with taro. There
was no doubt that this was Japanese territory but not a liv
ing soul was to be found anywhere. They went up a hill,
made a bonfire and waited for a long time, but no one came.
'This/' said Captain Cox at last, "is a lonely place, no
better than an uncharted island. To stay here is out of the
question. Denzo, I'll let you go ashore at a more suitable
place, so you'd better come along with us to the ship for
When Denzo and his brother came ashore, they believed
that they had come at last to the land they had dreamed
about so often, after so many years of waiting. So they
begged the captain to be left alone on this island.
"If I left you alone here at this lonely place/' said he,
"how could I explain myself to Captain Whitfield who
asked me to look after you and see you safely returned to
Japan? For heaven's sake, don't stay in such a deserted
place. I'm sure we'll find many other places more suitable
"Please," implored Denzo, "we beg of you, Captain, leave
us alone here." They both clasped their hands over their
heads and bowed humbly.
"I will do nothing of the kind," said the captain in flat
refusal. So at last, Denzo and his brother had to return to
the ship, sad and disappointed. The Colorado then went
up north and caught more whales in the eastern waters of
the Aleutian Islands, where they had to spend forty stormy,
sunless days. They returned to Honolulu the early part of
August, catching twenty-three whales in all.
Denzo told the above story to John Mung and said that
he and his brother had just returned to Honolulu from the
voyage that very day. When Denzo's story was over, John
Mung put in, "I think Mr. Cox is not so black as Tora Nushi
"Well," insisted Toraemon, "I still think that he is a
blackhearted man all right/'
Judging from what Denzo had said, it seemed as if Mr.
Cox might have tricked Denzo and his brother into board
ing the Colorado, as Toraemon had suspected, and let them
work for nothing. However, it was possible at the same
time that he knew full well the strict isolation policy of
Japan at that time and the possible consequences that
might ensue from violating it. He himself had landed in an
obscure nook of Matsumae and had tried to find a house
and had made a bonfire on a hill in an attempt to see Denzo
and his brother returned safely among their men. After all,
he was a good man who dared not abandon the two men in
that lonely place, particularly when he had been asked by
Captain Whitfield to be kind to them.
The Franklin carrying John Mung was setting sail any
time then, so giving up the talk that seemed to know no
end, he said goodbye to them, wishing them good luck till
they should meet again.
Denzo and Goemon, on returning to Honolulu, visited all
their former friends who had been kind enough to give them
presents when they were leaving town before and told how
their attempt to return to Japan had failed, and how they
had to return to Honolulu. They asked their former friends
to continue to be kind to them, and retired to a place
called Maeha, about ten miles from Honolulu, and settled
down there as humble peasants.
THE Franklin left Honolulu for the South Seas and an
chored on November 6, 1847, at Guam. About this time,
Captain Ira Davis became insane and committed all sorts of
violent acts so that the crew decided to take him to Manila
on Luzon Island. The ship continued whaling during this
voyage until she made port at Manila the latter part of May.
As there was an American consulate in Manila, some of
the members of the crew went to see the consul, explained
the matter to him and asked his advice. As a result, it was
decided that the insane captain should be returned to
America on a transport. John Mung often went ashore on
official business and whenever he found time to spare, he
hung about the town. It was full of people of different
races and nationalities, including Americans, Spaniards,
60 M AN J IR O
Dutchmen, Englishmen, Hindoos, Chinese, Filipinos, and
others, who mingled together so that the place seemed like
an emporium of races.
The Franklin having been thus bereft of her captain, Mr.
Isachar Akin, first officer, became acting captain. John Mung
was chosen second officer unanimously by the crew, who
had been admiring his personality and the pluck and skill
with which he caught whales.
Leaving Manila in July, the Franklin went to the waters
of Batangas, Taiwan and the Ryukyu Islands where it en
gaged in whaling before it turned back to Guam. Getting
a supply of fuel and water at this island, the ship again put
to sea and in October she entered Honolulu. Before she
left the port for the last whaling voyage and for home, John
Mung wrote the following letter. It clearly shows that he
had experienced the Christian faith which no doubt he had
learned from Captain Whitfield:
Oct. 30th, 1848
Oh! Captain how can I forget your kindness. When can I
pay for your fatherly treatment. Thank God ten thousand
times and never will forget.
I was sorry your ship being leaky and oblige you into the
port before your season, however, God will see all this. I often
offer prayers to God to give you the success should it please
to God. Your success will under the divine providence in a
great measure depend upon your own conduct. The God will
direct you into the straitest [?] path of the sea. Hope you re
turn safe and self preservation. I and my good Albertma and
Amelin find them injoying the health and happiness. We were
lying with 700 bbls. of sperm oil and have to go another season
on the line.
July 9th had the gam with Captain Woodard I followed
IN THE GOLD RUSH 6l
him up on the deck inquire for home and find the death of my
boy William Henry [Captain Whitfield's son]. I was very
sorry every time think about William Henry. Give my best
respects to all your friends and your kind neighbors, and my
affection your wife Amelin and Mr. Bonney family. Tell them
what quarter of the world that I am in.
I never can forget kindness they have done to me. It is hard
thing for me to join the words together therefore come to
After leaving this island and crossing the Indian Ocean,
the ship sailed off the coast of Madagascar late in May via
the Cape of Good Hope. She sailed into the Atlantic and
at last came back to the port of New Bedford in August of
that year. It was a long voyage, extending over a period of
three years and putting a girdle round the globe. The catch
of whales during this long voyage numbered about five hun
dred, and several thousand barrels of whale oil came into
John Mung earned three hundred and fifty dollars as his
share of the profit and returned to the house of Captain
Whitfield at Fairhaven, his second home. The captain,
who had also returned home from the sea a few days before,
was waiting for him. He thought that the captain might
scold him for running away from home during his absence,
but the captain didn't say a word about it. On the contrary,
he congratulated John Mung upon his successful whaling
voyage and also upon his having been appointed second
officer of the Franklin. John Mung told the captain how he
accidentally had met Denzo, Goemon, and Toraemon, and
how they had tried in vain to return to Japan. Whereupon
the captain said that the place where they had landed and
which they thought was Matsumae, was in all probability
not Matsumae after all. He said that a large number of
islands were lying like steppingstones north of Matsumae
and here and there on these islands there were cottages
built by Japanese settlers. It must have been those cabins
that Denzo and the others found there. And Captain Whit-
field concluded that there was nothing wrong with the step
taken by Mr. Cox under the circumstances.
In 1848, while John Mung was on a long whaling voyage,
America was stirred by the discovery of gold in California.
The Gold Rush began. Upon his return to Fairhaven, the
thought of adventure haunted his mind. Why not go to
California to dig for gold? California, too, was closer to
Japan. He wanted to return home to his widowed mother of
whom he had not heard since he last saw her back in 1841.
He thought he could somehow make things easier for her
by helping her make a living, if he returned. In the second
place, he wanted to go back to Japan as soon as possible
to tell his countrymen that Japan could no longer remain
isolated from the rest of the world. He thought it urgent
for his countrymen, who had much to catch up with, to
open their eyes to the importance of learning modern
science and adopting Western civilization. He was quite
happy living with Captain Whitfield's family; he had good
friends like Job Tripp. Most of the people of Fairhaven
were kind to him. He thought he could get a permanent
job as a seaman or a cooper and settle down in America
without any trouble. But he felt it his duty to go back
to Japan and do everything in his power to awaken the
people before it was too late. However, he kept his plan to
return to Japan a secret, thinking that Captain Whitfield
would probably be greatly disappointed if he told him
IN THE GOLD RUSH 63
"I know if I should tell Captain and Mrs. Whitfield
about my plan, they would probably never consent to it.
They would think it too wild and too vague, and they would
fear for my safety. I remember the captain once told me
that I should certainly be put to death the moment I landed
in Japan; no one is allowed to enter Japan from abroad. I
remember Mrs. Whitfield once told me, 'You will make a
good whaler like Captain Whitfield/ Yes, I might, if I try
hard enough. Mr. Huzzy told me that I had the talent of a
cooper. Perhaps I can be a successful cooper in New Bed
ford. But I always hear the voice of my old country calling
me. I shall always be unhappy and lonely in my heart, if I
don't see my mother once more, although I am happy now,
living with Captain and Mrs. Whitfield, and I have many
good friends here. I am sorry for my people; they know
nothing about the rest of the world. Now is the time to let
them know. I must return to help my countrymen open
their eyes. I know it's a terrible thing to leave the house
without telling the truth to Captain and Mrs. Whitfield,
but they will understand some day. I'll only tell them that
I am going to California to dig for gold. I shall never forget
all my life their kindness and the good things they have
taught me. Pardon me for my wickedness, but I must go."
In October, 1849, John Mung and a friend of his called
Tilley started the long trip by working their passage on a
lumber ship from New Bedford to California via Cape
Horn. Not only was it the least expensive method of travel
ing, but it was also the safest way in those days when the
overland journey by train was still in the future.
He and Tilley arrived in San Francisco toward the end of
May of the following year. They stayed there for three days
and were amazed at this booming town during the Gold
Rush. Then they went to Sacramento in a paddle steamer.
John Mung had never sailed in a steamer before, although
he had had an ample opportunity to observe steamers while
in Fairhaven. Experienced seaman that he was, he was
impressed by its speed and its ability to go in any direction
irrespective of the wind and current. From Sacramento
they took a train inland for a distance of about one hundred
and twenty miles. Such a long train journey was also an eye-
opening experience for Manjiro. He marveled at the great
rapidity with which the objects by the side of the train sped
away as the train went by. In all likelihood, Manjiro was
the first Japanese national who ever experienced a journey
by train and steamer.
At the foot of a mountain they got off the train, and on
horseback and on foot they traveled over a dangerously steep
path until at last they reached a gold mine. The weather
was changeable here, very cold up in the mountain and very
hot at its foot, and many people who had come to try their
luck died. A mining town had come into existence almost
overnight with mushrooming gambling houses and brothels
crowded with gold diggers and outlaws.
Manjiro and his fellow worker Tilley went to the mining
office and registered as gold miners. For it was the rule at
that time that anyone who worked in this mine should sell
all the gold or silver ore he had discovered to this office.
Manjiro and his friend went to the North River mining lot
and were employed by a certain contractor who lent them
shovels, quarrying tools, tubs, basins, boxes and so forth. As
it was already summer, it was unbearably hot inside the pit
and many miners deserted this mine and went down the
mountain to pan for gold in the river bed.
Manjiro and Tilley worked hard in this gold mine for
about a month, at the end of which they had earned about
one hundred and eighty pieces of silver. With this money
they bought mining tools and started their gold digging in
the river bed. They stayed at an inn which cost them as
much as two dollars a day each, in spite of the fact that they
ate nothing but pork and onions. They went to the river
every day to find gold. On a lucky day, they found gold
worth about twenty pieces of silver but when they were
unlucky, they found absolutely nothing.
One day, just before sunset, Manjiro discovered a gold
nugget almost as large as an egg. He did not know what to
do, because it was too dangerous to take it with him to the
inn where so many ruffians were waiting to take advantage
of anyone who possessed plenty of gold. "Oh, yes, I have a
good idea," whispered Manjiro to himself. "I'll bury it in
the ground where IVe found it and Fll stay right here until
tomorrow morning." He did not breathe a word about the
gold nugget even to Tilley. He simply said, "I'm not going
back to the inn tonight." As soon as Tilley went away, he
buried the gold nugget in the ground where he had found
it, placed a large stone over the spot and sat on it all night.
He went straightway to the office the first thing in the mom-
ing and exchanged it for money.
Thus they worked as gold diggers on their own and at the
end of about two months Manjiro saved six hundred pieces
of silver. He then decided to use the money for passage
home. So he gave all his mining tools to Tilley, bade him
farewell, and returned to San Francisco alone early in
In October, 1850, he embarked on a ship bound from
San Francisco to Honolulu, intending to return to Japan
with Denzo and his other three fellow countrymen from
there. Again he worked his passage, because the ship's cap-
66 M A N J I R
tain was very pleased to get the help of an experienced sea
man like Manjiro. Upon his arrival in Honolulu, he went
to see Toraemon and sent for Denzo and his brother, who
were fanning at Maeha. They all put their heads together
at once to discuss their passage back to Japan, but one thing
seemed to stand in their way. Goemon, brother of Denzo,
had been converted to the religion of the foreigners. More
over, he had married a pretty native woman and was living
happily with her.
When Goemon heard about the plan to return to Japan,
he did not know what to do. It was not in him to leave his
beloved wife alone, perhaps never to see her again. But if he
lost this chance to go back now, he might lose it forever. As
to his foreign religion, he would be able to escape trouble
by keeping it a secret if questioned by Japanese officials. But
to bring a foreign woman into Japan was out of the question.
Denzo's heart was greatly troubled because he could not
decide what course his brother should take. It was as diffi
cult to make his brother give up his good wife as it was to
leave him behind in the strange land. But Denzo himself
was firmly determined to take this opportunity of going
They talked in Japanese, fearing the nature of their con
versation might be known to others. Right or wrong, there
was an old saying in Tosa, "to make a devil of one's heart/'
Denzo looked into his brother's face, but seeing it turn pale,
he said to John Mung, "Manjiro Nushi, listen! I have been
living all these years only to see my old country again/ 7
John Mung nodded deeply but kept still until Goemon
broke the silence at last by saying, "I will go!"
WHILE John Mung and his companions were discussing the
plan to return home, word reached them by chance that a
ship bearing several Japanese had arrived. John Mung at
once ran to the harbor and visited the ship to meet them.
But as their Japanese was entirely unintelligible to him, he
sent for Denzo, who understood dialects. It was found that
these newcomers from Japan were Torakichi and five other
men of the Tenju-maru, a tangerine boat from Kishu, who
had been rescued by an American ship when their boat was
drifting at the mercy of a strong gale. Denzo and his friends
had seen boats from Kishu, which often visited their native
place. These newcomers also remembered the people of
Tosa warmly and were very glad to learn that they might
be able to return to Japan together.
Toraemon suddenly changed his mind and said that he
would rather stay in Honolulu where he had many friends
and that it did not make much difference whether he lived
there or in Tosa. Greatly surprised, Denzo and John Mung
tried all they could to persuade him to go with them. But
Toraemon would not hear of such a thing. He said he was
afraid that this attempt to return home would end in failure
as it had before. After all, since he was doing very well as a
cooper in Honolulu, he did not experience any homesick
ness that might otherwise have been growing in his heart.
The three men, though greatly disappointed with Torae
mon, decided to leave him behind. They were to be allowed
to sail in the ship that was to convey the rescued sailors of
Kishu to Japan, but John Mung soon found that he was
unable to put up with the captain of the ship. A few days
before the ship was scheduled to sail, John Mung was mend
ing a barrel on the deck since he had nothing to do then.
Seeing John Mung at work, the captain came up to him
and ordered that he mend all the broken barrels in the ship.
"Aye, aye, sir/' said John Mung and fell to work at once.
When he had mended all the barrels, the captain brought
all sorts of broken pieces of furniture and piled them high
on the deck, saying, "You mend all these things. That's my
order. Do you hear?" John Mung had some skill as a cooper,
but as to furniture making and repairing he knew little.
"I'm sorry, sir," John Mung answered, "I can't repair all
those things." The captain, without saying so much as a
word, slapped him on the cheek. The act, which might have
been reserved for a slave, enraged him.
"I am not your slave," declared John Mung. "You are
putting on airs with that clay pipe sticking out of your
mouth. Don't you know how to behave like an honorable
Uttering a curse, he refused point-blank to repair the
broken chairs and tables before him. Greatly annoyed, the
captain tried to frighten him into obedience, but he looked
the captain in the face and held his own. "I'm not sailing
with you in this ship/' said Manjiro defiantly. He decided
to put off going back until another opportunity presented
itself, and he and Goemon and Denzo, much disappointed,
left the ship. Torakichi and the other Kishu sailors, know
ing how heartbreaking it was for the three men, said simply,
"We're sorry for you/'
John Mung and the two brothers went straightway to see
Toraemon, the cooper, who laughed at them as much as to
say, "It served you right." But suddenly, knitting his brows,
he told them that there was some difficulty.
Every day, for four or five successive days, Goemon's wife
had come to see him demanding, "Where is Goemon? Tora
Nushi, you know where he is/' Toraemon had simply said,
"I don't know." Although she was such a good, gentle
woman, there'd be much trouble this time. Goemon had
slipped out of his house without letting his wife know any
thing about his plan. Word that their attempt to go back to
Japan had failed again would surely be rumored all over
Honolulu. Even worse, it might be reported in the Polyne
sian and the Friend which were two rival newspapers in
Hawaii always trying to beat each other with such stories.
When Denzo and Goemon returned to their house in
Maeha, ten miles from Honolulu, they found Goemon's
wife kneeling before a picture of Christ and praying a fer
vent prayer. At the sound of footsteps she jumped up and
seeing Goemon standing there, she flung herself upon him
with a cry and clung fast to his shoulders. Overwhelmed
by joy, she wept with her face pressed on his breast and then
she kissed him again and again. Denzo had been quite
JO M A N J I R O
accustomed to see her kiss her husband, but this time he
found it more than he could stand. So he left them alone
and quickly went out to work in the field, taking a hoe from
the dirt floor of the cottage.
John Mung was waiting for a chance to go back to Japan
by working his passage. He had asked some of his friends
in town whether or not it was possible to find a suitable ship
for him. One day, he heard the news that a certain ship was
ready to sail for China. It was an American merchant ship,
the Sarah Boyd, which entered Honolulu late in November,
1850, and was sailing for China to pick up a cargo of China
tea. John Mung brought this good news to Denzo and his
brother, and at once they all went to see Captain Whitmore
of the Sarah Boyd.
When John Mung told the captain their story and asked
his permission to sail in the ship, the captain refused, saying,
"I know very well how you wish to return to your old coun
try. But I am sorry to say that the ship that goes to Shanghai
to take on a cargo passes far south of Japan. Besides, a
merchant ship, unlike a whaling boat, must run her course
according to a schedule. It is out of the question to change
her course in order to touch at a Japanese port. You see,
the Sarah Boyd belongs to a shipping company and it is
essential, therefore, to deliver her cargo of tea within a fixed
time to the merchants for whom no delivery is too early. At
any rate, I can't act on my own authority as to changing
In spite of these words, Captain Whitmore was touched
by their passionate desire to go home. So he spread a chart
before them and explained.
"You see, this is the China Sea. This is Satsuma of Japan.
The ship sometimes passes through the waters of Satsuma
HOMEWARD BOUND Jl
in a fair wind. If that's the case, landing on one of those
islands near Satsuma might be possible. It all depends upon
a favorable wind."
John Mung, Denzo and Goemon began talking the
matter over among themselves. They might be taken to
Shanghai and back to Honolulu, were the wind unfavorable.
Yet if they lost this chance, they might never have another
one. Sail they must in this ship, come what may. They put
their heads together to discuss how they should enter their
native country whose doors were so tightly closed. At last
John Mung hit upon a happy plan when all the others failed.
According to his plan, he would buy a small boat to be car
ried on the Sarah Boyd, and when she entered the waters of
Japan, the boat would be lowered to reach the land. Denzo
and Goemon thought it a splendid idea and at once sec
onded it. Captain Whitmore, also thinking that the plan
might work, said, "How clever you are, John Mung!" And
he nodded approvingly.
Leaving the Sarah Boyd, the three men went straight to
see Toraemon and tried to talk him into joining in their
scheme. But Toraemon would not listen to such a proposal,
on the ground that crossing the sea in a small boat was too
dangerous. Evidently he had given up the hope of ever
going back to Japan.
John Mung proceeded to the U.S. consulate in Honolulu
and thanked the American authorities there for the kind
ness shown him and his friends. Mr. Elisha H. Allen, U.S.
consul, wrote a letter introducing them and asking all those
who might come into contact with them to treat them
kindly. He also mentioned in the letter about the desire of
the American people to establish good relations with Japan
even before Commodore Perry came to Japan.
J2 M A N J I R O
Consulate of the United States,
Honolulu, Hawaiian Islands
To all whom these presents shall, doth or may come; I,
Elisha H. Allen, Consul of the United States of America,
Hawaiian Islands, send greetings:
Know ye, that satisfactory evidence has been produced to
me that John Manjiro, Denzo, and Goemon left the southwest
part of the Island of Nippon, Japan, in a fishing vessel and
were wrecked; and after remaining on an uninhabited island
for about six months they were taken off by Captain Whitfield
of the American whaleship John Holland, who brought them
to the Sandwich Islands. Denzo and Goemon remained here;
Manjiro went cruising for whales, and in the year of eighteen
hundred and forty-four reached the United States of America.
He remained there two years, spending his time in farming,
learning the cooper's trade and attending school. He went on
another voyage sperm whaling, and returned to the United
States in the year of eighteen hundred and forty-nine. Last
October he arrived here again, after having visited California,
the gold region of the United States of America.
Captain Whitmore has kindly consented to take them in the
bark Sarah Boyd, a vessel belonging to the United States of
America, and leave them near the Loochoo Islands. Some
friends here aided them in making preparations for their voy
age and I trust they will be kindly treated by all they may meet.
I am informed by the Captain of the Seaman's Friend So
ciety, that John Manjiro has sustained a good character and has
improved in knowledge. He will tell his countrymen of Japan
how happy the Americans would be to make their acquaintance,
and visit them with their ships, and give gold and silver for
Given under my hand and the seal of this Consulate at Hono
lulu this thirteenth day of December in the year of our Lord
Eighteen Hundred and Fifty.
ELISHA H. ALLEN
U. S. Consul
HOMEWARD BOUND 73
John Mung got busy going around visiting people and
trying to buy a small boat which was necessary for their
voyage. He had some money and gold dust which he had
found in California. But as a newly launched boat was too
expensive, he tried to buy a second-hand one that was still
seaworthy. Fortunately, he heard the news that a certain
Englishman was willing to part with a second-hand boat
which was apparently in good condition. So he went and
bought it with complete equipment for a hundred and
John Mung christened this boat the Adventure and took
it on board the Sarah Boyd. Some of the people of Hono
lulu, hearing about this brave adventure, came to help them
with the preparations for sailing. The Reverend Samuel C.
Damon, appealing to the public in the newspaper Polyne
sian to contribute money for their benefit, raised funds for
them from many citizens of Honolulu. The Polynesian
printed the following article written by the Reverend S. C.
Damon on November 14, 1850:
Expedition for Japan. The public is aware that from time to
time wrecked Japanese have been brought to the Sandwich
Islands. There are now three who were brought hither by Cap
tain W. H. Whitfield in 1841. One of them, John Manjiro,
accompanied Captain Whitfield to the United States, where
he was educated in a good common school, besides having
acquired the cooper's trade.
He has returned to the islands, and here finds his former
shipmates, two of whom propose to accompany him, and if
possible, return to Japan. He has purchased a good whaleboat
and outfit; Captain Whitmore of the American ship Sarah
Boyd, bound from Mazatlan, Mexico, to Shanghai, China, hav
ing kindly consented to leave them somewhere off the Loochoo
Islands and from thence they hope to make their way to Japan.
To complete the outfit is wanted a compass, a good fowl
ing-piece, a few articles of clothing, shoes, and a nautical al
manac for 1850. Will not some benevolent person aid forward
the enterprise? The subscriber will be responsible for the safe
delivery of the articles referred to.
S. C. DAMON
From this article in the newspaper, Goemon's wife
learned, to her great sorrow, that her husband again was
secretly planning to return to Japan. But she knew already
that her husband had irretrievably made up his mind to
return home and she could do nothing about it. She man
aged to be resigned to her fate.
John Mung wrote to his benefactor, Captain Whitfield,
thanking him deeply for his great kindness of the past many
years, and deeply apologizing for his act of ingratitude in
leaving him for good without saying goodbye to him. He
asked the captain to give away his possessions he had left in
the house to his friends back in Fairhaven.
Goemon and Denzo went to see their friends in Honolulu
to say goodbye. But as the ship was setting sail sooner than
expected, the farewell calls had to be done in a hurry and
they went on board the ship a little lonely and sad, although
they were going home at last.
THE Sarah Boyd, measuring a hundred and twenty feet in
length, and carrying a crew of seventeen, left Oahu on
December 17, but as she soon met bad weather she lost her
normal speed considerably. When the ship reached a point
four miles from Ryukyu on January 2 7 according to the
Japanese calendar, after almost seventy long days of sailing,
John Mung and the other two were overwhelmed with the
joy of returning home at last. He wrote at once to his friends
in Oahu telling them of this great joy and asked them to
tell Toraemon to come to share it, sending the letter through
the kindness of Captain Whitmore.
"That direction/' said Captain Whitmore, pointing
toward the island in the distance, "may hide death in store
for you, I am afraid, for your country strictly bars out any-
76 M A N J I R O
one from abroad. Why don't you give up the whole idea of
going back to your country and instead go to China with us
and return to Honolulu in this ship?"
"How can I do such a thing? If I don't take this chance,
I may never see my mother. Besides, I must return to my
countrymen at once and tell them that they must open their
eyes before it is too late. They cannot remain isolated from
the rest of the world forever/' answered Manjiro, firmly
determined to run any risk. "Thank you for your advice but
my mind is made up." The captain still looked as if he
could not understand John Mung at all and said, "All right,
but remember, if you run into trouble, you have nobody but
yourself to blame."
At last the captain ordered his men to stop the ship and
had the Adventure lowered on the rough sea. He shook
hands with each of the Japanese just before they went into
the boat and said, "This is a risky landing, my friends. The
sea is rather choppy today. Come back to the ship if you
fail to reach the shore. Don't take chances, understand?
The law of your country to keep out foreigners is so strict
that I'm afraid I shall never see you again. Now let me wish
all of you and the Adventure the best of luck!"
"Thank you, sir, for all you have done for us," said John
Mung. "But the time will come, Captain, sooner or later
when your ship will freely enter Japanese ports."
Captain Whitmore smiled and simply said, "Who
knows?" The three men exchanged words of farewell with
the sailors and thanked them for everything. Then they
went into the boat and began to pull it over the tossing
waves toward the island. The m.en of the Sarah Boyd kept
watching the boat for a long time, waving their hands.
When they saw it safely approach the island, they started
the ship under full sail and soon went out of sight beyond
the western horizon.
The three men directed the boat close to the rocky shore,
but a heavy wind and rain began to rage and prevented
them from landing. It was dark already. So they decided
to spend that night under the lee of the cliff and wait for
the dawn. The boat was heavily loaded with food, their
personal effects, and presents, but it was so strongly built
that it could easily stand the stormy sea.
The wind and rain ceased with the dawn of January 3.
The houses with orange gardens came in sight beyond the
beach to which the three men rowed the boat. Denzo went
ashore first to take in the general situation. As he had
retained his Japanese language better than anyone else, he
went to one of the houses and asked the name of the place,
but the people in that house were scandalized at the sight
of a man in foreign clothes, and their peaceful New Year
family breakfast ended in bedlam.
Uttering some outlandish words, they raised a hue and
cry and ran out of the house. Denzo tried to explain that
he was a harmless fellow, but his Tosa dialect was no more
intelligible to the natives than their speech was to him.
Running away from those excited people, he went back to
the boat and reported what had happened. "They don't
understand me/' said Denzo. "I'm afraid Fve forgotten
Japanese. I've been away so long."
John Mung fastened the boat to the shore, and with a
pistol in his pocket, he headed toward the straggling houses,
Denzo and Goemon following. He met a native on the
road, but his word being unintelligible, he imitated a man
who drank water out of his hands until the native led them
to a well. They fetched their kitchen tools from the boat
yg M A N J I R O
and cooked beef and pork, for they had not eaten anything
since the night before. To crown the joy of the feast, they
drank coffee. As they were taking an after-dinner rest, a
group of natives came, and thinking that these three men
were stranded foreigners, took them to a cottage which
seemed to be a watchman's lodge.
The islanders treated them kindly, giving them drinking
water, potatoes, and rice. In the meantime, a village official
who had been sent for and who was accompanied by some
village clerks arrived to investigate the matter.
The official questioned the men as to their nationality,
their names, the port of embarkation, the port of debarka
tion, and their possessions. He disarmed John Mung and
told them that they would be sent to the Village Office for
further examination. The place where they landed was a
village called Mabunimagiri in the southern extreme of
Okinawa Island, Ryukyu.
John Mung and the others were taken to a village called
Nakao where the Village Office was located, escorted by
more than ten armed officials who never took their eyes off
them. Denzo who had trouble with his eyes was allowed to
ride in a litter. Although the three men were not treated
harshly by any means, they were closely watched by the
escorting officials who thought they might be foreigners
The two villages, Mabunimagiri and Nakao, were con
nected by a road four miles long. On arriving at Nakao,
the three men were first sent to the house of a farmer called
Peichin. That night they were summoned to the Village
Office to be cross-questioned till a late hour. But they could
not understand each other very well, so the investigation
was adjourned till the next morning. The investigation con-
vinced the officials that they were of Japanese nationality.
Peichin, too, in whose house the three men were staying,
testified that the stranded men were Japanese as he had
seen them eat rice with chopsticks. But as to whether they
were dangerous characters or civilized people even the of
ficials apparently found it hard to tell.
It was on January 14 when the days of New Year jubila
tion were over, that John Mung and the others were again
summoned to the Village Office, where a senior official and
three lower officials from Satsuma carefully examined their
personal effects and books. The books were examined page
by page with special attention and curiosity. The topo
graphical survey textbook must have struck them as sus
picious, for the official's eyes were riveted on the enigmatic
symbols in it, while the three menial officials, whose eyes
also pored over those illustrations, thought it no more than
a book of nonsense. They whispered to themselves that
those circles made with a pair of compasses were like play
ful pictures drawn on the ground by foreign children. Then
the senior official from Satsuma said admonishingly, "No!
These must be symbols used in some profound learning."
The senior official from Satsuma, whose name was Sho-
noshin Ogawa, was a good-natured young samurai. He told
the village officials to be kind and helpful to the castaways,
and advised John Mung not to let rashness get the better
of him under any circumstances. He told about a fisher
man of Sendai called Sajuro who had returned from Russia
where he had been rescued in a shipwreck, and how he had
killed himself, unable to stand the harshness of his trial.
The official from Satsuma assured John Mung that the
Lord of Satsuma would always treat stranded men with
mercy. The severe questioning to which John Mung and
80 MAN J IRQ
the others had been put, before they were turned over to
the Governor of Nagasaki under the Tokugawa Govern
ment, was in accordance with the law a matter of for
mality after all. John Mung and the others felt relieved by
this and thanked him for his kind advice. Of course, they
had never dreamed of the popular outcry, "Down with the
Tokugawa Government/' which was increasingly making
itself heard in Satsuma.
They were still detained in the house of Peichin as ordered
by the senior Satsuma official and were constantly watched
by two of the five Satsuma officials and two Ryukyu officials
by turns. But as to their treatment there was nothing left
to be desired. Their food was paid for by the local govern
ment. Peichin served his guests liberally at every meal with
various kinds of delicious food such as pork, chicken, fish
and eggs, while occasionally Ryukyu whisky was among
the gifts from the lord. As to their clothes, Japanese haori
and hakama were given by the chief of Ryukyu, and as it
was soon summer, mosquito nets, summer kimonos, and
underwear were also given to them. This kind of life lasted
seven months and finally it was decided that John Mung
and the others should be taken to Satsuma on July 18.
Guarded by the officials again, the three men, carried in
litters, left Peichin's house in the evening with their Ameri
can articles borne by some natives. Peichin walked with
them to the village border to bid them farewell. As it was
quite dark, they could not get a roadside view of the coun
try. No sooner had they arrived in Naha, capital of Ryukyu,
than they were taken to a ship which was ready to set sail.
The port of Naha and its neighborhood were hidden in
darkness from their observation.
The ship cast anchor just outside the port of Yamakawa,
A HAPPY LANDFALL 8l
Satsuma, on the evening of July 29. Two boats were put
out from the ship to carry them to Kagoshima before the
dawn of the thirtieth. They were taken in or out of the ship
always under cover of darkness, which prevented them from
observing the ports. As soon as they landed, they were taken
into custody at Nishidamachi, Kagoshima, guarded by some
petty samurai. Satsuma was a great feudal province, and
the guards showed the utmost politeness to the men as the
Lord of Satsuma privately desired. They were served with
all sorts of delicacies of land and sea and with wine as fine
as ever they drank. The lord granted them gifts of the
summer kimonos, underwear and hemp garments and even
the winter haori and the cotton padded kimono which they
did not need as yet.
The trial of the castaways lasted for several days under
an official who would leave no stone unturned to find out
what he could. One day, Lord Nariaki himself summoned
the three men. After feasting them, he sat with them alone
in order to ask them all sorts of questions about America.
The three men had already shaven the temples of their
heads according to the Japanese custom. They were dressed
in kimonos, and that day they put on the hakama which
were the gifts from the lord to be received in audience.
The lord summoned them not merely because he was in
terested in examining their foreign articles and clothes but
because he wanted to get as much information as possible
about the political, educational and military conditions in
America. He also asked them about American manners,
fashions, and customs concerning weddings and funerals.
Denzo and Goemon, nervous and shy in the presence of the
lord, felt tongue-tied, but John Mung boldly told the lord
how highly civilized and progressive America was, citing
82 M A N J I R O
all sorts of examples. The lord listened intently to John
Mung's talk, nodding a little from time to time. But when
John Mung said that in America the value of a man was
judged according to his ability, the lord nodded a great nod.
The trial was held every day for forty-eight days, at the
end of which a report from the lord to the Tokugawa Gov
ernment was at last written to this effect:
Mabunimagiri of Ryukyu: three strange-looking men in a
boat were drifted ashore on January 3. Our officials who had
been sent there to examine them, found that they were Denzo
and his brother Goemon of Usaura, Takaoka-gun, Tosa, and
Manjiro of Nakanohama. Those three and Jusuke, brother of
Denzo, and Toraemon of Usaura put to sea for fishing in
January of the Year of the Cow and had met a storm which
sent them to a lonely island in the direction of the Dragon.
They lived chiefly on bird meat until June 27 when a foreign
ship passed by the island. Approaching at their signal, the ship
was found to be an American whaling ship. They asked for
help and were taken onto the ship which in October reached
Oahu. They were placed under the care of the captain's friends
there, except Manjiro who was told he would be taken to the
mainland. Sailing in November, the ship reached America in
April of the next year. After a few years there, Manjiro left
and came back to Oahu, where he and his friends earned their
living until they heard about a ship bound for China. Their
request to be conveyed on board the ship to Japan was refused,
the passage to Japan being closed as yet. Whereupon, they said
they would sail in a ship with a small boat, which they would
purchase, and when Japan was sighted, they would ask permis
sion to lower the boat. Jusuke had been dead these five years
and Toraemon was left behind as that was his own wish. Leav
ing the port in December, the ship came to where Ryukyu was
in sight and the boat was pushed off. The wind and waves were
A HAPPY LANDFALL 8j
too rough to land, so staying overnight behind a cliff, they
landed the following day, while the ship sailed away toward
the west according to their statement. If they had been brought
to the shore by the ship, we could have prohibited them from
landing. But we could do nothing about it since they came
ashore in a boat in which no foreigner came with them. They
were again put to examination which proved again that they
were quite innocent of the evil foreign religion or other crimes.
So we have decided to keep them under protection until we
hand them over to the Governor of Nagasaki.
THE THREE MEN, accompanied by the officials, left Kago
shima on September 16, 1851, and reached the port of
Kyodomari two days later, whence they embarked on a
transport again under cover of darkness. This ship had
thirteen sails and eight oars and on its deck was built a
pavilion showing a family crest of a bridle. The ship mark
of the feudal Satsuma clan was hoisted at its bow. The
party arrived safely at Nagasaki on the twenty-ninth of the
On October 1, John Mung and the two other Japanese
were taken ashore and sent to the Office of Nagasaki, where
they were examined by Governor Maki Shima while their
statements were minutely recorded in a book, The Narra
tives of the Castaways. The trials were held eighteen times
86 M A N J I R
but what they said was the repetition of what they had
already told at Satsuma. Again they related their experi
ences abroad, the names of the countries they had visited,
the customs and manners, food, industries, farm products,
geography, flora, ceremonies, politics and military condi
tions of those countries.
John Mung's observations recorded in The Narratives of
the Costa-ways, unlike those of other castaways, are gen
erally correct and to the point. Speaking of the politics
and finance of Hawaii he says:
Honolulu, which is the capital of Hawaii, is on Oahu and
has become very prosperous in recent years as ships from all
parts of the world enter this port. The wealth of the seven
islands is estimated at one hundred and twenty thousand silver
coins, of which sixty thousand belongs to King Kamehameha
while the other sixty thousand belongs to the governor from
America who owns half of the land. If America tries to take
possession of these islands, Britain would protest and if Britain
tries to do the same, Spain would likewise protest. Though
a small country, it belongs to none of them and, therefore, the
ship mark of this country is a combination of the marks of
these three countries. All the seven islands are rather moun
tainous, but a few sandy places on them are good enough for
the cultivation of potatoes or onions. It is said one hundred
and twenty thousand silver coins are raised every year by taxes,
mainly those levied on ships entering the port.
Then in referring to the government of America he says
something like this:
Having been founded by Englishmen, the country is full of
them. They are white-complexioned and the color of their
eyes is a little yellow. As there is no hereditary king in this
HOME AT LAST 07
country, a man of great knowledge and ability is elected king
who holds his office for four years and then he is succeeded
by another. When the administration is good under a certain
king and his popularity continues, he sits on the throne for
another four years. He lives a very simple life and goes out
on horseback accompanied by one servant. Officials there are
not haughty; indeed, it is hard to tell them from ordinary
citizens. The present king is called Taylor, an Englishman by
blood, who, during the war with Mexico which was fought
over the border question, led his army to a great victory which
won for him so great a fame that at last he was made king.
This year being the Year of the Rat, another king is to succeed
the present one.
As to the criminal law, he says:
The prisoners have certain freedoms within an enclosure
and they are made to do something in their line, such as mak
ing cloth or various other articles. The term of imprisonment
is determined by the gravity of a crime. A murderer is usually
punished with death. When he is to be executed, a scaffold is
raised on which he is made to stand with a noose around his
neck, and upon the reading of the death sentence the trap
door upon which he is standing opens, causing him to fall, to
be hanged by the neck. However, I have not seen an execu
John Mung had no knowledge of Commodore Perr/s
plan to visit Japan which was to be executed in 1853. How
ever, he refers to the general situation which made Perry's
Seven years ago, a warship from a port called Boston went
on a cruise visiting various countries for a survey. Upon en
tering a port of Japan to get water and fuel, this warship, I
88 M A N J I R O
hear, was ordered to leave at once and was compelled to do
so without accomplishing its purpose. When a survey ship
or a whaleship runs into a storm, it often runs short of fresh
water and fuel, and the captain of the ship asks the local
authorities at the nearest port for permission to take on fresh
supplies, even offering a hostage, if necessary. But the Japanese
authorities make a great fuss on such an occasion and flatly
refuse to comply with the reasonable request, to the great
discomfort of the captain and crew. Such stories have often
been reported in detail in newspapers. Generally speaking,
the Japanese are quick-tempered, while the people over there
are broad-minded, and as their country is now being opened,
they have no design to take land from any other country.
American ships have entered the port of Nagasaki three times,
pretending to be English or Dutch, but each time they have
been found out and forced to leave the port. In sailing to
China from California, a ship carries many passengers as well
as its cargo and, therefore, it cannot be loaded with enough
coal. The distance between America and China being a mat
ter of fourteen or fifteen hundred rf, it is almost impossible
for the ship to make a long voyage back to California to get
coal when it has run short of it. So I understand, they desire
to have a coaling station in Satsuma, Nippon. I happened to
read this story when I was in Oahu last year.
At the end of the trial the men were put to the usual
test of stamping on the picture of Christ. John Mung often
attended the Sunday services in Fairhaven, and as Goemon
was a servant to a Honolulu missionary, he used to hear
Christian sermons and say Christian prayers. But they
knew nothing about the bronze tablet of the crucifix, so
they stamped on it nonchalantly, only to please the in
'Tell me, how did you feel when you stamped on the
tablet?" asked the official.
HOME AT LAST 89
"I felt rather cold/' replied John Mung whose feet had
been so accustomed to the foreign shoes which he had been
wearing for so many years that he must have felt particu
larly cold when his feet touched the bronze tablet.
When the investigation was over, they were again put
into custody at a feudal town called Sakura-machi, where
upon John Mung was enraged and became rebellious when
he was put into prison instead of being released at once
as he had expected. Denzo, seeing John Mung lose his
temper, advised him in English, "Take it easy! Take it
easy! Mr. John Mung/'
In the dark prison house, there were several other pris
oners and while John Mung and the two others were hud
dling together in one dark comer someone accosted them
"If it is not Den Nushi! . . ."
"If it is not Manjiro Nushi!"
It was Torakichi and the four others of the Tenju-maru
of Hidaka, Kishu, the men whom John Mung and the others
had met in Honolulu. According to Torakichi, he and his
party were taken to China from Honolulu by an American
ship and then returned to Nagasaki by a Chinese ship, to
be sentenced to only three days 7 imprisonment according
to the law.
The men from Kishu thought that the imprisonment
was rather a matter of formality and, indeed, they received
kind treatment, except for the fact that they were not al
lowed to go out. In the evening, the Joruri tellers (a kind
of Japanese ballad singers) often came to entertain them
by reciting the romance of Osome-Hisamatsu and other
famous tales. John Mung was much impressed by the
words of romance in those tales and realized the beauty of
the language for the first time in his life.
90 MAN JIRO
Both the Kishu and Tosa parties were released from
the prison at last and the three men belonging to the Tosa
party were sent to the house of Sanjiro Nishikawa, purveyor
to the Tosa clan. Those articles which they brought from
America were returned to them, except a barometer, an
octant, seventeen English books, gold dust, gold coins, silver
coins, a musket with a bayonet, two pistols, shot and foreign
dice, which were all confiscated by the officials. The Ad-
venture, which had cost them one hundred and twenty-five
dollars, also had to be given up. Thus the trial of the cast
aways having been completed at last, they stayed on with
Sanjiro Nishikawa waiting for the arrival of the officials from
Tosa who were coming to take them home. In the mean
time, the Kochi clan of Tosa received the following letter
We notify you that Denzo, Goemon and Manjiro of Usaura,
Takaoka-gun, in the Province of Tosa, who had been rescued
by a foreign whaling ship and landed in Ryukyu, were handed
over to us by Governor Matsudaira of Satsuma. We request
that you send your officials to the Nagasaki Office where we
intend to commit the repatriates to your authority,
On receipt of this letter, the Tosa clan decided to let
Sasuke Horibe proceed to Nagasaki to receive the three
men and bring them to Tosa. Horibe, accompanied by
several officials, left Kochi by sea in early June, 1852,
reaching Nagasaki in the middle of June. Just before
the party of Manjiro left Nagasaki, the Governor of Naga
saki issued the following statement:
I do hereby certify that Denzo, his younger brother Goemon
of Usaura, Takaoka-gun, in the Province of Tosa, territory of
HO ME AT LAST 91
Lord Matsudaira of Tosa, and Manjiro of Nakanohama, Harita-
gun, in the same province, were stranded on a desert island in
the Year of the Cow, were rescued by an American ship, lived
in foreign parts for several years, returned to Ryukyu, and upon
examination at this office of their lives abroad, they proved to
be innocent of being converted to Christianity and other evil
faiths; in short, they are fit to be returned to their native
It is imperative, however, that they should not live here
after outside the said province and that we should be duly noti
fied in case of their death.
Articles acquired or purchased abroad, such as gold dust,
coins, gold, silver and copper, guns, bullets, drugs, an octant,
foreign dice and also the boat and its tackle shall be confis
cated. Japanese silver pieces shall be granted in exchange for
the gold dust and foreign coins.
Those confiscated articles as listed in the above letter
were mostly John Mung's property, for Denzo and Goemon
had taken no chance and had conformed to the law ban
ning the articles of foreign countries.
The three men, accompanied by Sasuke Horibe and his
party, sailed from Nagasaki on June 25, 1852, a year and
a half after their landing in Ryukyu, and entered Urado on
June 30. They were made to stay at an inn of Urado and
were summoned to the Office there every day to be ex
amined again, despite the written statement proving their
innocence issued by the Office of Nagasaki. Manjiro and
the other repatriates repeated what they had told the offi
cials of Nagasaki about their experience abroad.
They told the officials of Tosa what they had told the
officials of Ryukyu, Satsuma and Nagasaki. Manjiro had
been held in Ryukyu for six months, at Satsuma for two
months and at Nagasaki for ten months, chiefly for investi
gation. It was more than he could stand. Naturally he grew
impatient when he knew that he was about to be put to
another long session of interrogation in the very province
where his family, all his relatives and friends were eagerly
waiting for his return.
"What is the meaning of all this?" Manjiro demanded.
"I told them everything already."
"That may be so but you haven't told us anything yet/'
said the official. As was the case with other clans, the
Tosa clan wanted to learn firsthand from Manjiro as much
as possible about foreign countries. Far from regarding
Manjiro and the others as outlaws, the officials treated them
most hospitably, giving them good food and fine clothes.
On September 24, Manjiro was asked to appear before the
members of the family of the Daimyo of Tosa in a suit of
foreign clothes just to show what it looked like.
The investigation being over, Manjiro left Kochi on the
early morning of October 1, with Denzo and his brother,
and reached Usaura on the evening of the same day. They
found that Denzo's family had ceased to exist and that not
a trace of his former house was to be seen, so Denzo and
his brother went to one of their relatives to live temporarily.
Leaving Usaura on the morning of October 2, Manjiro
set out on foot on the last leg of the long journey which
stretched seventy miles through the familiar countryside.
He spent three nights at roadside farmhouses and reached
Nakanohama at last on the afternoon of October 5.
Word had already reached the village that Manjiro was
coming, and his family, relatives and almost all the villagers
were on hand to welcome him at the village headman's.
When they met Manjiro, however, for the first time in
twelve years, they could hardly believe their eyes. The
Manjiro in front of them, elegantly dressed in his formal
hdkama and haori, looking much more dignified and intel
ligent than the village squire, was quite different from the
poor fisherman's boy they remembered so well.
"Mother, here I am at last!" said Manjiro.
"Is that really you, my son?" said his mother as though
she were unable to believe that the fine young man in front
of her was her own son.
"Yes, I am indeed your son/'
They both stood there for a while unable to speak. Then
Manjiro took his mother in his arms and they both cried.
Many villagers cried, too.
"Is it possible," one of them said in a whisper, "that that
poor fisherman's boy could have become such a gentleman?"
"I really don't understand," said another.
"It's so good to see you again," said Manjiro to the
villagers; "this is certainly the happiest day in my life! I
thank you for every kindness you have shown my family
while I have been away/'
Then Manjiro accompanied by his family and friends
went to the village graveyard and "reported" his return
home to his father. While he offered a prayer of thanks,
the smoke rising from the burning incense offered to the
spirit of the father filled the air of the early Autumn, and
suddenly he remembered Fairhaven and Captain Whitfield.
That night there was a great rejoicing and feast in the
house to which his relatives and friends came. When
Manjiro told his story about foreign countries and how he
had lived among foreigners, they all listened in amazement.
But when the talk was over, someone asked him, "Do they
have thunderstorms and the four seasons in America?"
Another, "How is it possible to live without rice?" Manjiro
answered those questions in detail although he thought them
silly. They are simple people, after all, said Manjiro to
himself. At any rate, when Manjiro sipped sake and ate a
broiled red sea bream fresh from the sea of Tosa and boiled
rice and red beans prepared by his mother, he knew he had
returned home at last.
But the happy reunion was abruptly brought to an end
when it was only three days old. A messenger came from
the Daimyo of Tosa telling him that it was the wish of the
lord that he should become an official instructor at the
school of the Tosa clan in Kochi. Much as he regretted
leaving Nakanohama, of which he had dreamed so often
when he was roaming up and down the world, he decided to
accede to the wish of his feudal lord. Besides, he gladly
thought that the opportunity to teach his countrymen the
ways of civilization and to let them know that it was no
time for Japan to keep her doors closed to the rest of the
world had presented itself unexpectedly. He found in the
Kyojukan School in Kochi a class of students hungry for
knowledge about foreign countries, to whom he taught
various subjects of science as well as English.
He knew that he was constantly watched by "too many
eyes" and that he had to use great discretion in the class.
He did not say in so many words publicly that Japan should
open the country to foreigners, but he did not hesitate for
a moment to teach them the facts about the civilized world,
so that the students could decide for themselves unmistak
ably what was to be done about the future of their country:
"I remember when I told an official who investigated me
at Kagoshima that the American horse was bigger and
stronger than the Japanese horse, he got very angry, think
ing perhaps I was telling a lie at the expense of our country.
There are many countrymen who believe that I don't hold
my own country in respect, if I tell them that America and
other Western nations are more advanced in science than
Japan. But it is a fact. Fd rather not say definitely that
Japan should open its doors to foreigners at once. Perhaps,
it is better to do a thing gradually. But whether we like it
or not, the day will come when Japan must put an end to
its closed-door policy; because only then can we build our
country into a modern nation. When that day comes, the
opportunity for you young men will be limitless and a bright
future will surely dawn upon our country."
In recognition of the service rendered by Manjiro as an
instructor, the Daimyo of Tosa presented him with a sword,
granting him the privilege of wearing it at his waist. But
Manjiro, having lived many years in America, distrusted
the samurai's side arms. He often tied the sword with a
Japanese towel and carried it about as if it were a nuisance.
"I have no use for a sword in time of peace," he would
say to anyone who asked him why he did such a strange
Manjiro had already told the Daimyo of Satsuma and
other Japanese officials who investigated him about some of
the enlightening facts concerning America and its people.
Almost everything he said was a revelation to those who had
for centuries been living in insular isolation. Never did he
hesitate to point out to them that America was not a coun
try of "foreign barbarians, 7 ' as some people believed, but, on
the contrary, much more advanced in many ways than
Japan. The influence of his revelations had been limited
to the local clans with which he had come into contact, but
96 M A N J I R O
when he was invited by the Tokugawa Government, soon
after Commodore Perry and his fleet appeared in the Bay
of Uraga in 1 853, he had a vital role to play for the wakening
of the Japanese people to world civilization. Upon his ar
rival in Yedo, the former capital of Japan, he was examined
by Magistrate Saemon Kawaji before he was officially taken
into government service.
Answering the questions put to him by the investigating
official, he revealed his own observations about America to
the amazement of his listeners. Never can we overestimate
the value of these observations which undoubtedly in
fluenced the policy of the Tokugawa Government in favor
of the opening of the country to foreign intercourse when
Commodore Perry revisited Japan in February, 1854. They
were recorded in a report made by the investigator. Touch
ing upon the geography, people and products of America,
he is quoted as saying:
The United States of America occupies the vast area of
North America extending from about 30 degrees to approxi
mately 50 degrees [N.L.]. The west coast faces Europe across
the seas, large and small; the south borders on Mexico. The
North and South Americas are separated by the Gulf. The
northern borders abut on the various countries belonging to
England. The United States of America, which has thirty-
eight states now, has pushed forward its borders and has be
come a powerful nation. The country is generally blessed with
a mild climate and it is rich in natural resources such as gold,
silver, copper, iron, timber and other materials that are neces
sary for man's living. The land, being fertile, yields abundant
crops of wheat, barley, com, beans and all sorts of vegetables,
but rice is not grown there simply because they do not eat it.
While I was in California, large quantities of gold and silver
HOME AT LAST 97
were discovered. People flocked to the gold mines from all
parts of the world, even from China. I saw some people who
had made fortunes from their gold mines riding in carriages
having silver wheels and I also saw they were using many gold
or silver wares.
Both men and women are generally good-looking but as they
came from different countries of Europe, their features and
the color of their eyes, hair and skin are not the same. They
are usually tall in stature. They are by nature sturdy, vigor
ous, capable and warmhearted people. American women have
quaint customs; for instance, some of them make a hole through
the lobes of their ears and run a gold or silver ring through this
hole as an ornament.
Then Manjiro went on to tell the officials about the
strange customs of the Americans:
When a young man wants to marry, he looks for a young
woman for himself, without asking a go-between to find one
for him, as we do in Japan, and, if he succeeds in finding a
suitable one, he asks her whether or not she is willing to marry
him. If she says, "Yes," he tells her and his parents about it
and then the young man and the young woman accompanied
by their parents and friends go to church and ask the priest
to perform the wedding ceremony. Then the priest asks the
bridegroom, "Do you really want to have this young woman
as your wife?" To which the young man says, "I do". Then
the priest asks a similar question of the bride and when she
says, "I do," he declares that they are man and wife. After
ward, cakes and refreshments are served and then the young
man takes his bride on a pleasure trip.
Both American men and women make love openly and ap
pear wanton by nature, but they are unexpectedly strict about
their relations. Husband and wife have great attachment for
each other and their home life is very affectionate. No other
nation can be a match for the Americans in this respect.
Refined Americans generally do not touch liquor. Even if
they do so they drink only a little, because they think that
liquor makes men either lazy or quarrelsome. Vulgar Ameri
cans, however, drink just like Japanese, although drunkards
are detested and despised. Even the whalers, who are hard
drinkers while they are on a voyage, stop drinking once they
are on shore. Moreover, the quality of liquor is inferior to
Japanese sake, in spite of the fact that there are many kinds
of liquor in America.
Americans invite a guest to a dinner at which fish, fowl and
cakes are served, but to the best of my knowledge, a guest,
however important he may be, is served with no liquor at all.
He is often entertained with music instead when the dinner
When a visitor enters the house he takes off his hat. They
never bow to each other as politely as we do. The master of
the house simply stretches out his right hand and the visitor
also does the same and they shake hands with each other.
While they exchange greetings, the master of the house in
vites the visitor to sit on a chair instead of the floor. As soon
as business is over, the visitor takes leave of the house, because
they do not want to waste time.
When a mother happens to have very little milk in her
breasts to give her child, she gives of all things a cow's milk,
as a substitute for a mother's milk. But it is true that no ill
effect of this strange habit has been reported from any part
of the country.
On every seventh day, people, high and low, stop their work
and go to temple and keep their houses quiet, but on the other
days they take pleasure by going into mountains and fields to
hunt, while lower class Americans take their women to the
seaside or hills and drink and bet and have a good time.
The temple is called church. The priest, who is an ordinary-
looking man, has a wife and he even eats meat, unlike a Japa
nese priest. Even on the days of abstinence, he only refrains
HOME AT LAST 99
from eating animal meat and he does not hesitate to eat fowl
or fish instead. The church is a big tower-looking building two
or three hundred feet high. There is a large clock on the tower
which tells the time. There is no image of Buddha inside this
temple, where on every seventh day they worship what they
call God who, in their faith, is the Creator of the World. There
are many benches in the church on which people sit during
the service. All the members of the church bring their Books
to the service. The priest, on an elevated seat, tells his congre
gation to open the Book at such and such a place, and when
this is done, the priest reads from the Book and he preaches
the message of the text he has just read. The service over, they
all leave the church. This kind of service is held also on board
Every year on the Fourth of July, they have a big celebra
tion throughout the land in commemoration of a great victory
of their country over England in a war which took place
seventy-five years ago. On that day they display the weapons
which they used in the war. They put on the uniforms, and
armed with swords and guns, they put up sham fights and
then parade the streets and make a great rejoicing on that day.
Then Manjiro related his observations about the arms
and ships of America, pointing out their superiority over
Japanese arms and ships:
As the gun is regarded as the best weapon in America, they
are well trained how to use it. When they go hunting they
take small guns, but in war they use large guns since they are
said to be more suitable for war. Ports and fortresses are pro
tected by dozens of these large guns so that it would be ex
tremely difficult to attack them successfully. Before Europeans
came to America, the natives used bows and arrows, but these
old-fashioned weapons proved quite powerless before firearms
1OO M AN J IRQ
which were brought by Europeans. Now the bow and arrow
has fallen into disuse in America. To the best of my knowl
edge, they have never used bamboo shields, as we do, although
they use sometimes the shields of copper plates for the pro
tection of the hull of a fighting ship. They are not well trained
in swordsmanship or spearsmanship, however, so that in my
opinion, in close fighting, a samurai could easily take on three
American men, even officials, do not carry swords as the
samurai do. But when they go on a journey, even common
men usually carry with them two or three pistols; their pistol
is somewhat equivalent to the sword of a samurai. As I said
before, their chief weapon is firearms and they are skillful in
handling them. Moreover, as they have made a thorough study
of the various weapons used by foreign armies, they believe
that there are hardly any foreign weapons that can frighten
them out of their wits.
Both a whaling ship and a fighting ship are built essentially
in the same way and the only difference is that the latter
carries guns. In other words, a whaling ship is strongly built
and can easily be converted into a fighting ship. Usually a
fighting ship is manned by about a hundred men, but in time
of war, this number can be increased to one thousand five
hundred men. A fighting ship of a certain type which is lightly
built can attain a high speed carrying several guns. A long
boat can also be used as a fighting ship, because it can be fitted
with a three-inch gun to fight the enemy in a shallow sea right
up to the beach.
More and more both fighting ships and merchant ships
driven by the steam engine have been built of late in America.
These steamships can be navigated in all directions irrespective
of the current and wind and they can cover the distance of
two hundred n a day. The clever device with which these
ships are built is something more than I can describe. While
in America I had no chance to learn the trade of shipbuilding,
so that I would not say that I can build one with confidence.
Since I have looked at them carefully, however, I shall be able
to direct our shipwrights to build one, if I could get hold of
some foreign books on the subject.
I have sailed in my time on American whaling ships through
the North and South Pacific Ocean, not to speak of Japanese
waters, the South Seas, the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic
Ocean; I have learnt the art of observing the heavenly bodies
and the method of navigation. If I only had a large ship, I
could sail it to any part of the world.
Then the official asked Manjiro about President Fillmore
and Commodore Perry, but he found the names too difficult
to pronounce. He read those names written in the Japanese
syllabary which was pronounced something like President
Hiruore and Commodore Peruri. So Manjiro said:
The way you pronounce the names of the President and his
messenger, I gather that they are not Americans. Perhaps they
are Dutchmen after all. I never heard such names while I was
in America. The letter which is said to have been addressed
to the Shogun by the President in question is highly suspicious.
If I see the letter, however, I can instantly tell whether or not
it is a genuine one. Be that as it may, it has been a long
cherished desire on the part of America to establish friendly
relations between Japan and that country, particularly in view
of the fact that whenever an American vessel is shipwrecked
in Japanese waters, the survivors are treated very harshly, as if
they were so many beasts, by the Japanese authorities. The
Americans think that the people of other countries should not
be discriminated against, because they believe that the people
of the world must live like brothers. Even when a ship be
longing to a country with which America has no intercourse is
wrecked, the survivors of the ship are always rescued and kindly
1O2 M AN J I R O
treated by Americans. I can tell this from my own experience.
They think that the establishment of friendly relations between
Japan and America will put an end to the harsh treatment by
the Japanese officials of the shipwrecked American sailors. I
cannot understand, however, why they should ask in the said
letter to open trade between the two countries, because America
produces enough goods necessary for its people's living and
also they know quite well that Japan can do without foreign
While I was in America I did not hear any good or bad
remarks in particular about our country but I did hear Ameri
cans say that the Japanese people were easily alarmed, even
when they see a ship in distress approaching their shores for
help, and how they shoot it on sight, when there was no real
cause for alarm at all. I also heard them speak very highly
of Japanese swords, which they believe that no other swords
could possibly rival. I heard too that Yedo of Japan, together
with Peking of China and London of England, are the three
largest and finest cities of the world.
COMMODORE PERRY and his fleet which consisted of the
Susquehanna, his flagship, the Mississippi, and the sloops-
of-war Saratoga and Plymouth, suddenly appeared off the
town of Uraga on July 8, 1853, to negotiate with the Japa
nese Government to "open the country to the rest of the
world." On July 14, accompanied by his officers and es
corted by a body of armed marines and sailors in all
about three hundred men and while the band was play
ing he went ashore and presented to commissioners espe
cially appointed by the Shogun his own credentials and a
letter from President Fillmore to the Emperor. Fully aware
of the importance of the occasion, the Yedo Government
had massed two hundred flags and bunting bedecked boats
in the bay and eight thousand full-dressed samurai near the
landing place. But a few days later, at the polite but in
sistent request of the Japanese officials, the American fleet
sailed for Hongkong with the understanding that it would
return the following spring to receive the Emperor's re
At the news that the "black ships" had appeared in the
Bay of Yedo, the island empire of centuries-old tranquil
isolation was thrown into confusion and turmoil. A state
of emergency had been declared in Yedo while the samurai,
in battle array, guarded its seaboard and strategic points
and the alerted firemen ran about the streets; the citizens
were panic-stricken and women and children trembled and
tried to run away from Yedo. The 'loyalists" throughout
the country stirred and demanded their "divine country"
be kept inviolate from "barbarous foreigners" and opposed
any attempt to conclude a treaty with them. The Tokugawa
Government had to face a storm.
It sent a messenger posthaste to Tosa to ask Manjiro
to come up to Yedo as quickly as possible to serve and
save the country now confronted by a great crisis brought
about by the visit of Commodore Perry's fleet Although
Manjiro was then teaching at one of the clan's schools in
Tosa, he accepted the invitation from the Tokugawa Gov
ernment thinking that he might be able to make himself
more useful in Yedo with his knowledge of foreign coun
tries. He left Kochi for Yedo on August 1, 1853.
On November 6, Lord Abe, who was a progressive cabinet
member, appointed him a managing official worth twenty
bushels of rice, with two retainers in his service. He was
given the right to wear two swords like a regular samurai
and the privilege of adopting the surname of Nakahama,
from the name of his native place, Nakanohama, as his only
AN ERA DAWNS 105
name had been Manjiro like any other humble fisherman
of the day. A fisherman's boy, who otherwise would have
been destined to be a fisherman for the rest of his life
under the centuries-old strict caste system, awoke one mor
ning a great vassal to the Shogun!
When Manjiro came to Yedo at the request of the Sho
gun, he was kept in protective custody and no one was
allowed to see him without official permission; the Shogun
feared that any information originating from Manjiro
could be used against the security of the country, which was
threatened by the sudden appearance of Perry's fleet in
Uraga Bay. Chief Secretary Egawa of the Department of
Navigation, Survey and Shipbuilding filed the following
petition with the Shogun in September, 1853:
At the time when Manjiro, who had lived in America, was
summoned to Magistrate KawajTs mansion for questioning, I
had the occasion to be there, and put certain questions to him
in regard to the matters I am anxious to know. If it please
you, let him, therefore, come to my house two or three times
to answer my questions in the presence of three or four learned
men in my service.
But even the petition from such an important vassal was
pigeonholed, so chary was the Shogun of Manjiro's being
used for some inscrutable purpose. Chief Secretary Egawa,
however, thought that Manjiro's service was of great value
in his office and he repeatedly petitioned the Shogun to
appoint Manjiro as his assistant, which at last was granted
on November 22. As Egawa took great interest in Man
jiro, he allowed him to live in the premises of his mansion
in Honjo, Yedo, although the Shogun at first did not ap
prove of this. Then he obtained official permission for
the return to Manjiro of all the foreign articles which the
government had confiscated from their rightful owner.
Some of these things, particularly the scientific books, were
very useful to him when he assisted Chief Secretary Egawa,
the most enterprising engineering official of his day, and
also when he taught many classes of aspiring students.
In the meantime, Commodore Perry reappeared in the
Bay of Yedo with his fleet on February 11, 1854, and, despite
the protests of the Japanese, selected an anchorage about
twelve miles farther up the bay, nearly opposite Yokohama
and within about ten miles of Yedo.
Again a state of emergency was declared, but this time
the Yedo Government knew that it must face the inevitable
and sign a treaty to open the country. On this occasion the
Japanese officials even tried to be friendly with the Perry
mission with good grace; they entertained the Commodore
and his staff at a formal Japanese banquet in which sake,
raw fish and many other strange things were served and
they even allowed themselves to be invited to the flagship
Susquehanna to taste the meat of "f our-f ooted beasts." But
when the Japanese officials saw sailors sing and dance in a
minstrel show, they laughed and laughed, forgetting their
Commodore Perry presented to the Shogun a model
train, a telegraphic apparatus, books, and in return the
Shogun presented the fleet, among other things, with two
hundred straw bags of rice and three hundred chickens.
The officials took the occasion to impress the foreigners with
the brawn of the Japanese people. They had brought to
gether ninety-three professional wrestlers at Uraga and held
exhibition matches in the traditional custom. Then all of
the ninety-three wrestlers, each carrying a 130-pound straw
AN ERA DAWNS
bag of rice on each shoulder, proceeded to the landing place
in procession. Many Japanese officials and people of Uraga
were thrilled when they heard for the first time the band
play marches and they asked the band to play more. They
were also impressed, though unable to understand the de
vice, by a telegraphic apparatus which the Americans
demonstrated by stretching a mile-long wire on the beach.
The Tokugawa Government had invited Manjiro to
Yedo with the intention of using him as an official inter
preter and adviser for the negotiations with Commodore
Perry. But on learning that Manjiro not only spoke Eng
lish very fluently but advocated progressive ideas in favor
of the opening of the country, isolationist elements in the
government took exception to assigning such an important
job to him. They feared that he might reveal some of the
secrets of the country to the Americans and conclude the
negotiations on their terms. They particularly feared that
these barbarians might kidnap Manjiro and take him aboard
one of the ships in an attempt to use him as a cat's-paw
against the interests of the country, should Manjiro's use
fulness be revealed to them.
Lord Nariaki of Mito, spiritual leader of the nationalist
movement of his day, sent a letter to Egawa advising him
to prevent Manjiro from coming into contact with the
foreigners, which read something like this:
While there is no justification for doubting the character of
Manjiro a commendable person who has returned to this
country for which he has a great attachment those bar
barians took advantage of his boyhood, bestowed special favors
upon him alone by teaching him the art of counting. This
may be construed as some insidious wile on the part of those
barbarians. Moreover, as he had been saved by them and had
1O8 M A N J I R O
been under their care from his boyhood until he was twenty
years of age, he owes a debt of gratitude to them and, there
fore, it is inconceivable that he should act contrary to their
Under no circumstances should he be permitted to go on
any one of the ships or meet those barbarians when they land,
even if you have thoroughly established that he is above sus
picion. Nor is it advisable to let Manjiro know anything about
what we discuss.
Be that as it may, you might use your discretion and try to
get information about the barbarians in the hope of preventing
them from taking advantage by using Manjiro as a tool therefor.
The Lord of Mito advised in the postscript that Manjiro
should be placed under secret surveillance lest "a baby
dragon escape riding on the winds and clouds when a storm
comes." He also advised that Manjiro should be placed
under no constraint whatsoever but instead should be given
good treatment because, should he perchance become re
sentful, his services could not be counted upon.
As a result, he was not allowed to meet anyone of Perry's
party and was kept behind the scenes. No one, of course,
could rival Manjiro in English and his knowledge of foreign
countries, but the government had to employ interpreters
who were not half so good. In fact, the negotiations were
mostly conducted in Dutch as the interpreters understood
Dutch better than English. It is recorded, however, that
their knowledge of Dutch was quite limited and almost
totally lacking in diplomatic terminology. Besides it was
as archaic as that of Grotius.
Manjiro apparently took the whole turn of events phil
osophically, believing that it was no use exciting isolationist
elements in the government in the presence of Commodore
AN ERA DAWNS 1CX)
Perry. He knew that the odds were definitely against him
and decided that all he could do under the circumstances
was to teach his countrymen the facts about the rest of the
world and open their eyes to modern science, believing that
that was the best thing he could do in the interest of his
country. Thus, although he secretly resented the govern
ment's measure to bar him from the negotiations with
Commodore Perry's mission, he said to himself, The time
will come soon when everything will be all right.
In the meantime, on March 31, 1854, there was concluded
the first treaty, known as the Kanagawa Treaty, which
among other things officially opened the ports of Shimoda
and Hakodate to American ships, thus ending the old
closed-door policy of Japan.
In spite of the Kanagawa treaty, Japan's doors actually
remained closed to foreign commerce, and it was reserved
for another citizen of America to open them. This was
Townsend Harris (1803-78), the first U.S. consul general
in Japan. Arriving in August, 1856, he concluded in June
of the following year a treaty securing to American nationals
the privilege of permanent residence at Shimoda and Hako
date, the opening of Nagasaki, the right of consular juris
diction and certain minor concessions. Still, however, per
mission for commercial intercourse was withheld, and Harris,
convinced that his great goal could not be reached unless
he made his way to Yedo and conferred directly with the
Shogun's ministers, pressed persistently for leave to do so.
The Yedo administration was already weakened by the
growth of a strong public sentiment in favor of abolishing
the dual system of government that of the Mikado in
Kyoto and that of the Shogun in Yedo. Openly to sanction
commercial relations at such a time would have been little
short of disastrous. The Perry treaty and the first Harris
treaty could be construed as mere acts of benevolence to
ward strangers; but a commercial treaty would not have
lent itself to any such construction, and naturally the
Shogun's ministers hesitated to agree to an apparently suici
dal step. Harris carried his point, however. He was received
by the Shogun in Yedo in November, 1857, and on July 29,
1858, a treaty was signed in Yedo, agreeing that Yokohama
should be opened July 4, 1859, and the commerce between
the United States and Japan should thereafter be freely
carried on there.
In 1854, the year when Commodore Perry revisited Japan,
Manjiro married, through a go-between, a pretty seventeen-
year-old daughter of Gennosuke Danno, who owned and
taught in a fencing school in Honjo not far from Egawa's
mansion where Manjiro was living. Her name was Tetsu
and although she had an elder sister who was as pretty and
demure as any samurai's daughter, the go-between thought
that the younger one, who was more vivacious than her
elder sister, was more suitable for the young man who had
lived in America for many years.
Before Manjiro married the pretty daughter of the fenc
ing instructor, he had often thought that he would marry
a girl he loved, as was the Western custom. But
he found that it was almost impossible, for no respectable
maiden would let herself love a young man unless she were
engaged to marry him. In those days honorable marriages
were arranged by go-betweens at the request, or with the
approval of the parents, often even against the girl's will.
Manjiro could not bring himself to follow this custom
blindly. So after his engagement to the girl was arranged,
he met her alone several times. One day he took her for a
AN ERA DAWNS 111
walk around the duck pond in Egawa's mansion. Looking
at the stars reflected in the duck pond, the girl asked Man-
jiro, "Why do they say that good girls should not fall in
"Because it is our custom, but a custom will change/'
"Do American girls fall in love before they marry?"
"Yes, they usually do."
"I think Japanese girls begin to love after they marry;
of course, I mean, their husbands/' Then she asked, "Is it
all right for a girl to fall in love before she is married?"
"I think it's natural in a country like America."
Then they walked together along the shore of the starlit
pond in the Japanese garden. Her prettiness in the summer
kimono was still visible in the darkness. At a bend of the
lane, he held her firmly and kissed her.
"We are very happy, aren't we?"
"Oh, I am the happiest girl in all Yedo," said Tetsu, smil
About this time, Lord Abe had the Adventure, in which
Manjiro had reached Ryukyu, brought around from Naga
saki to Yedo for inspection. Subsequently several longboats
were built after this model which became the prototype of
modern Japanese longboats. Lord Abe was a statesman of
great caliber and was promoted to be a member of the
Cabinet when he was only twenty-five years of age. Among
many important vassals to the Shogun, no one could rival
him in ability, popularity and personality, so that Lord li
and Lord Izumi of the rival faction, who became jealous
of the great reputation of this young official, hated him and
plotted to oust him. So the latter always carried a resigna
tion in his pocket, ready to tender it at any moment's notice.
Lord Abe knew that Japan could no longer remain iso-
lated from the rest of the world and appointed Tarozaemon
Egawa to a position of supervising the sea defenses and other
engineering works and invited Manjiro to come to Yedo
from Tosa to advise the government. In full realization of
the necessity of making a survey of Japanese waters and of
learning the art of navigation, as soon as he appointed Man
jiro as assistant to Egawa, he instructed Manjiro to submit
a report on his own plan of developing the sea power of this
nation. He also instructed Manjiro to translate E. C.
Branter's book on navigation which he had brought from
America and after two years' painstaking work he com
pleted the translation, and greatly contributed to the art of
navigation in Japan. In 1855, Egawa suddenly died. In the
meantime, Lord Abe, whose health declined considerably,
at last tendered his resignation and was succeeded by
Masamitsu Hotta. Two years later in 1857, Lord Abe also
died in the prime of his life at the age of thirty-nine. Thus
Manjiro lost in less than two years two great patrons who
understood and encouraged him in all his undertakings
when others distrusted him. Indeed, had it not been for
these patrons, he might have ended his life in obscurity in
In April, 1857, Manjiro became an instructor at the Naval
Training School which was established at Yedo that year
and taught navigation and ship engineering to many trainees
who were destined to be important figures in the Japanese
Navy. Then in October of the following year, he proceeded,
by order, to Hakodate in Hokkaido to serve in the governor's
office as a whaling instructor. While there, he probed the
possibility of starting a whaling industry in that area. He
returned to Yedo in the spring of 1859, He was quite busy
that year; he compiled A Short Cut To English Conversa-
AN ERA DAWNS 113
fo'on, which became the standard book on practical English
in those days. It was superior to all the other books on the
subject already in circulation, because through the proper
use of the Japanese alphabet, it enabled the student to
pronounce English much more accurately than any other
book of its kind at that time.
Earlier, he had proposed that the government undertake
a whaling business believing that not only could it be a
profitable enterprise but it would afford a good chance to
train young men in navigation and sounding. This proposal
was eventually approved by the government and he was
appointed supervisor of the proposed whaling enterprise in
1859. He at once set about the task of fitting out a schooner
called the Kimigata I which had been presented to the
Tokugawa Government by the Russian Government He
painted it black, built a crow's-nest, and installed proper
equipment for processing whales. He supervised the con
struction of the whaleboats at Ishikawajima and trained
about twenty fishermen from Ajiro who were to man the
whaling ship. All this while he continued teaching English'
to his students.
The entry in his diary under the date of July 29, 1859,
Mr. Egawa and I went by boat to Ishikawajima, the site of
the ship-building. We rested in one of the whaleboats, then
went to inspect the Russian ship off Shinagawa. Returned
home very late.
Seeing officials, visiting the shipyard, training the crew,
teaching English, Manjiro spent busy days, but he was
happy because the preparations for another whaling voyage
were making good progress. The September 18 entry
in the diary says:
M A N J I R O
Fair weather and moderate winds. All well with the world.
The family are safe and sound. The two shipwrights of Tosa
came to see me. Mr. Otori came to learn English.
As soon as the preparations were completed in March,
he set sail from Shinagawa, thrilled with the foretaste of
hunting whales in the Pacific, a thing he had dreamed
about for many years. But before a single whale was caught,
the expedition completely failed. The schooner was over
taken by a storm near the Ogasawara Islands and only with
great difficulty did he manage to return to the port of
Shimoda after cutting down one of the masts. WTien the
storm blew over, he navigated the crippled schooner into
the Bay of Shinagawa for repair to make another attempt
to go whaling.
ABOUT this time, the Tokugawa Government decided to
send a goodwill mission to America for the ratification of
the treaty which had been concluded between Townsend
Harris and the government. Manjiro was appointed official
interpreter and instructor in navigation to be sent with the
party sailing on the Kanrin-maru.
The mission, consisting of seventy-seven men headed by
Lord Chikami and Lord Muragaki, left Shinagawa on board
the U.S. warship Powhatan in February, 1860. Simultan
eously, a Japanese warship, the Kanrin-maru, sailed from
Uraga for America, carrying Lord Kimuru, Captain Rintaro
Katsu, Yukichi Fukuzawa, Manjiro and about ninety other
men. This man-of-war, which the Tokugawa Government
had purchased from Holland, was equipped with an auxil-
iary engine of one hundred horsepower and was a convenient
ship in which both new and old combined a steamer in
home waters and a sailing vessel in the high seas.
The Powhatan touched at Honolulu, while the Kanrin-
morn sailed straightway for San Francisco, reaching there on
March 17, 1860. It was a long stormy passage and only
Manjiro's skill to navigate the ship prevented it from being
shipwrecked. A newspaper of that city carried the following
A Japanese warship, the Kanrin-maru, made port at San
Francisco at 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon after a successful
voyage of thirty-seven days since she left Uraga, Japan, under
the direction of Captain Katsu. Lord Kimura, admiral of the
Japanese Navy, is among the passengers on board the ship.
It is learned that the ship is acting as a sort of harbinger to
the Powhatan, that is now en route to this country, charged
with the important mission of transporting the Japanese Am
The admiral is always followed by four retainers who are
ready to wait upon him most reverently. But he seems to
know better than to treat them like slaves. Some of the crew,
who wore straw sandals, were eying us curiously from the deck.
These men seemed to be far better-mannered than the Chinese
in California. As we boarded the ship, we were much struck
by its cleanness and apple-pie orderliness. We had the pleasure
of meeting Lord Kimura in his cabin. He seemed to be en
trusted with the important mission. When we entered his
room, he squatted while one of the servants was trying to do
up a most elegant coiffure for the lord. Soon he appeared on
the deck in his formal dress: a pair of pure white socks, a dark
brown coat, and a blue skirt all of excellent quality. He
wore two swords at his side. All the officials wore beautiful
swords, sharp and shining . . .
A GOODWILL MISSION 117
The American newspapers featured the arrival of the
vessel showing affection as well as curiosity for the Japanese.
The strange customs of the Japanese were a constant source
Lord Kimura and his party landed at San Francisco for the
first time and were escorted to the International Hotel. In
the lobby they formally met the Mayor of San Francisco and
other dignitaries of the city. It was a curious sight to see all
the Japanese officials squatted on the floor except Lord Kimura,
who sat on the sofa when Governor John G. Downey of Cali
fornia appeared to greet the strangers. It passed their com
prehension to see the Governor appear alone without being
followed by a solemn procession of his retainers. They thought
him to be an impersonator. It was only when Captain Brook,
an aide to the Governor, repeatedly endeavored to explain that
the man was the real Governor that at last they exchanged
greetings with him through the interpretation of Manjiro who
spoke English very fluently. The Governor expressed his con
gratulations on the occasion of the two nations, separated by
the Pacific, entering upon a new friendly relationship to open
trade between them.
Lord Kimura and Captain Katsu, shaking hands with every
one present, bowed politely in Japanese style, while Manjiro
acted as interpreter. When the name and the office of the
man to be introduced was announced by Manjiro, Lord Kimura
received him in a gentlemanly and refined manner. The oc
casion was an important affair even for America, for it was
an epoch-making event in the history of America-Japan rela
tions, so the U.S. Government and the public tried to give
the Japanese a warm welcome. On that day each Japanese
wore a fine dress and two swords, but the costume of Lord
Kimura was particularly beautiful. The Japanese costume is
entirely different from that of the Chinese. A banquet was
Il8 M AN J IRQ
held in the great hall of the hotel in honor of the Japanese.
They ate a small portion of each dish, but they seemed to be
quite satisfied. Captain Katsu, when served with ice cream,
said, "I have never tasted such a wonderful thing in my life."
Captain Katsu speaks English fairly well but not so well
as Manjiro, official interpreter, who speaks English fluently as
he was educated in Fairhaven, Mass., when he was a boy.
Captain Katsu is never seen with a hat on. The temple of his
head is shaven, and his hair, which is sticking up like black
needles/ is tied at the end so that it is pointing forward. All
the officials have their hair in like manner. Half a dozen
smart-looking officials have wide-brimmed white hats resem
bling those worn by the Chinese in California on a rainy day.
The rest of them put on straw bonnets with string which go
under their chins lest they should be blown off.
While in San Francisco, the Japanese officials received every
attention from the citizens as well as the officials. One of the
peculiarities first manifested by the foreign dignitaries was a
disinclination to regard women as equals, in consequence of
which the feminine sex was forbidden to set foot on their vessel.
This is said to have been owing less to adherence to their own
prejudices than to a misapprehension of the social position of
women in America.
The party of delegates, after San Francisco's warm recep
tion, boarded the Powhatan again for Panama. Crossing
the Isthmus by train, they boarded the Roanoke, an Ameri
can man-of-war, and eventually reached Washington. They
were accorded a rousing welcome there as the official guests
of the U.S. Government. Sixty rooms of the Willard Hotel,
one of the best hotels in Washington, were placed at their
disposal, and great banquets were held in their honor. In
short, it was as warm a welcome as ever the U.S. Govern
ment and the U.S. Army and Navy had given to any foreign
A GOODWILL MISSION 119
Lord Chikami and Lord Muragaki were received in
audience by President Buchanan and they exchanged the
notes of ratification of the Japanese-American Treaty. On
May 13, they received a gala send-off from the American
public and embarked on the Niagara (4580 tons), one of
the largest ships of America at that time, and via the Cape
of Good Hope, Java, and Hong Kong, the party returned
safely to Shinagawa.
In the meantime the Kanrin-maru, which had been badly
damaged by a storm when crossing the Pacific, had to be
docked for repair at the Mare Island Navy Yard near San
Francisco. While in San Francisco, Manjiro bought many
"articles of civilization/' such as a sewing machine and a
daguerreotype apparatus with which he became the first
photographer in Yedo. He particularly wanted to take a
picture of his mother. But photography (daguerreotype)
was still in a crude and primitive stage and it produced a
picture of a man whose kimono appeared "left-side-front."
So before anyone had a picture taken of himself, he had to
wear his kimono actually "left-side-front" and his swords on
the right side of his waist in order to appear properly dressed.
Manjiro and Yukichi Fukuzawa, who was later to found
Keio University, each bought a Webster's dictionary, the
first two English dictionaries ever openly imported into
Ten years before, during the hectic days of the Gold
Rush, Manjiro had waited in San Francisco for a ship to
take him to Honolulu and thence home. In 1850, San
Francisco was a city of tents, shanties with goods, boxes and
barrels strewn all over the place and sunk in the liquid mud
of the streets. At that time, the population suddenly grew
from two thousand to twenty thousand in less than a year
as steamers one after another arrived with emigrants from
the East over the Isthmus. Manjiro had seen more than
five hundred vessels lying in the bay, most of them deserted
by their crews. Many rotted, others were beached, and were
converted into stores and lodging houses. He knew a street
corner where he had seen a signboard saying, "No man, not
even a fool, can walk on this street." It was a booming but
filthy town, full of outlaws who took the law into their
hands while the city government was too corrupt and ineffi
cient to repress them. Now he was struck with the orderli
ness of the town where there had been no order. It had
grown into a fine prosperous city with stone or brick build
ings and wide streets, where decent-looking and law-abiding
men and women thronged. He remembered that gold dust,
then private coins, and money of various countries had been
in circulation but now the banks refused to accept foreign
coins. While he was in San Francisco in 1860, he saw mail
communication established with the East by a pony express,
the charge being five dollars for a half-ounce letter.
The Kanrin-maru, on her homeward voyage, put in at
Honolulu where the party was received in audience by King
Kamehameha. Manjiro visited Toraemon, the cooper, and
other old acquaintances in Honolulu for the first time in
eleven years. They were greatly surprised to see him wearing
a large and a small sword like a brave samurai and said
gladly, "Jhn Mung has risen in the world."
He also went to see the Reverend Samuel Damon, whom
he always remembered gratefully, because if it had not been
for this kindly preacher who raised the money for their boat,
Manjiro and the others might have been unable to return
to Japan safely. The pastor could hardly recognize him at
first and was much pleased to learn that Manjiro had be
come a fine-looking official of the Japanese Government.
A GOODWILL MISSION 121
While Manjiro was in Honolulu, he wrote a letter to
Captain Whitfield and asked the pastor to send it to him
by a special mail ship bound for Fairhaven, Massachusetts,
along with a kimono as a souvenir:
Sandwich Island, May 2, 1860.
Captain William H* Whitfield,
My Honored Friend I am very happy to say that I had an
opportunity to say to you a few lines. I am still living and
hope you were the same blessing. I wish to meet you in this
world once more. How happy we would be. Give my best
respect to Mrs. and Miss Amelia Whitfield, I long to see them.
Capt. you must not send your boys to the whaling business;
you must send them to Japan, I will take care of him or them
if you will. Let me know before send and I will make the
arrangement for it.
Now I will let you know that I have been to the Gold Mine;
here stayed 4 months, average eight dollars per day, beside
expenses, from here I made up my mind to get back and to
see Dear Mother and also shipped in one of the American
merchantmen. In this vessel I arrived at Sandwich Island. I
found our friend Mr. Damon and through his kindness bought
whale boat and put her into a merchantman. This vessel was
going to Shanghai in China.
It was January very cold that part of country; Time I went
on shore south off Great Loo Choo it was gail with snow. The
Capt. of vessel he wish me to stay with him and to go to
China, but I refused it, because I wanted to see Mother.
The boat is ready for me to get in, myself, Dennozo &
Goyeman jump into the boat, parted with ship at 4 PM. After
ten hours hard pull we arrived lee of Island and anchored until
morning. I went on shore amongst the Loo Choose, but I
cannot understand their language, I have forgot all Japanese
words. I stay here six months, under care of the King of Loo
Choo, waiting for Japanese junk to come.
In the month of July get on board junk and went into the
harbour Nagashirki Island, off Kie-u-see-u, waiting to get per
mission for 30 months before we get to our residence. After
all the things is properly regulated we were sent to our residence.
It was great joy to Mother and all the relation. I have stay
with my Mother only 3 days and night the Emperor called
me to Jedo. I became one emperian officer. At this time I am
attached this vessel.
This war steamer was sent by Emperor of Japan to the com
pliment of the President of America. We went to San Fran
cisco, California, and now homeward bound, at Sandwich to
touch Island to secure some coal and provition. I wish to send
the letter from San Francisco but so many Japanese eyes I
can't. I wrote this between passage from San Francisco to
Island. Excuse me many mistakes. I can write better after
our arrived Japan Jedo.
I wish for you to come to Japan, I will now lead my Dear
Friend to my house, now the port opened to all the nations.
I found our friend Samuel C. Damon. We are so happy each
other I cannot write it all When get home I will write better
account. I will send to you suit of my clothe. It is not new,
but only for remember me.
I remain your friend,
JOHN MUNGERO (May 25, 1860)
The Reverend Samuel Damon also wrote a letter to Cap
tain Whitfield telling all about his impression of John
Mung "dressed like a Japanese official with two swords/'
who had come to see him when the homebound Kanrin-
mctru touched at Honolulu. He sent this letter together
with John Mung's to Captain Whitfield.
Captain W. H. Whitfield,
Dear Sir, Accompanying this letter I forward you a com
munication from your protg<, John Mung, the Japanese. You
A GOODWILL MISSION 123
will be doubtless as much surprised to hear from him as I was
to see him. I have written out an account of his visit to
Honolulu for the next No. of "The Friend/' This I shall send
to you, and it will furnish you the information which I am
confident will be most interesting to you. He speaks of you
with the most grateful feelings and also of your family. He
wished to learn all about your children. I have taken the
liberty to read the letter, which he left with me for you, and
also to retain a copy of the same. It is a very great source of
satisfaction to me to have seen him again. For years I have
striven to learn something about him, but I could not obtain
the least information. Judge then of my great surprise to have
him come to my study, dressed like a Japanese official, with
"his two swords."
He was very free and communicative, often called, and
brought the captain of the steamer, who was a man of much
intelligence. John has really become a man of importance in
Japan. I could not state in print all he told me about his posi
tion, but let me say that it is my decided opinion that John
Mung acted a most important part in opening Japan. The in
formation which he furnished the Japanese Government was
of immense importance. His translation of BowditcVs Navi
gator is most remarkable. [Some think that the book must
have been E. C. Branter's book on navigation.]
He left with me to be forwarded to you a suit of his Japa
nese costume! Unless I can send it by some gentlemen going
overland, I will forward the same by some New Bedford
I have become so much interested in John that I want you
to write me and tell me when and where you first found him,
for I am quite astonished at the ability which he displays.
I think when you write him you had better send your letter
to my care, for we have frequent opportunities of sending let
ters to Japan. A vessel, the Leo, arrived from Japan today. Do
you feel like paying a visit? He is placed in a position where
he is constantly watched, in other words, there are "many eyes
in Japan," so he says. The reason why he had not written us
has been that he could not get his letters out of the country.
He told me that at the end of two years, or when Yedo was
open to foreigners that he hoped I would visit Japan. He of
fered me the hospitality of his house.
Your honorable friends, the Diamonds, the Smithes, the
Damons, the Harris (the lawyers) are all well.
Now, I shall expect a letter from you and if you send one
for John Mung, alias Captain Mungero, etc., I will send it to
him by the very earliest opportunity.
SAM C. DAMON
P.S. Remember to your fellow townsman,
Cap. S. Cox and family.
MANJIRO returned to Japan on board the Kanrin-maru on
June 24, I860, but something unexpected was in store for
him. The captain of a certain American ship staying at
Yokohama invited him to the ship to celebrate his safe
return from America. Without fully realizing the conse
quences that followed the fraternizing with foreigners, who
were still looked upon with suspicion and fear in Japan,
John accepted the invitation and went. Punishment fol
lowed. He was summarily dismissed from the post of
instructor to the Navy, which he had held for three years.
Although he was for the time in the bad graces of the
Tokugawa Government, a few months later, in recognition
of the great service he had rendered during the trip to
America, the government awarded him fifty pieces of silver,
two suits of silk clothes, several koku of rice ? and other
In October of the following year, however, Manjiro re
turned to government service as chief interpreter and tech
nical adviser for an official party sailing on the Kanrin-maru
for the Ogasawara Islands to cany out a survey and proclaim
Japanese sovereignty over those islands. About fifty stranded
foreigners, who were living on these islands, were glad at the
sight of the ship which brought along food and medical
supplies, and they willingly helped the party do its task.
The mission having been successfully accomplished, the
party returned to Shinagawa in March of the following year.
It happened that the measles raged in Yedo in 1862, and
his wife Tetsu caught the disease while she was in childbed.
Despite all efforts to cure her, she passed away at the age of
twenty-five, to the great sorrow of her husband and three
children. Manjiro, brokenhearted, wanted to forget his
sorrow by going on a whaling voyage.
He had always had an irresistible longing to sail a schooner
in chase of whales instead of remaining as an official in the
Tokugawa Government, the days of which were numbered.
He proposed a whaling expedition to a wealthy merchant
from Echigo, Renzo Hirano by name, and succeeded in get
ting his financial support for his long-cherished desire to be
a whaler. In 1862, he was appointed captain of the Ichiban-
maru. Loaded with shipbuilding materials and necessary
equipment, the ship left Shinagawa in December, the same
year, and reached the port of Futami in Ogasawara Island
in January of the following year. The expedition started
building two whale boats with the materials which had been
brought along from Shinagawa, and in two months they
were successfully launched. On March 17, carrying these
boats, the Ichiban-maru finally set about whaling in the
AFTER YEARS 12J
neighboring waters and by the middle of April they had
caught two sperm whales.
It happened, however, that there was a ferocious rogue
by the name of William Smith, British by nationality,
among the foreign sailors whom Manjiro had hired at
Ogasawara. He committed all sorts of violence and tried
to steal everything valuable in sight. One day, Smith and
another rogue attempted to steal goods from the ship at the
point of a pistol, but Captain Manjiro Nakahama proved a
perfect master of the situation and, with the help of his men,
he thwarted the attempt and finally put them under arrest.
He could have taken the law into his own hands but fearing
any rash action on his part might give rise to some interna
tional complication, he locked up the men in a cabin of the
ship and, much as he regretted doing so, he left Ogasawara
waters on May 1 for Uraga to deliver them to the British
Then Manjiro unloaded the barrels of whale oil and made
preparations for another expedition. However, this time the
government would not permit the ship to leave the port, on
the ground that the international situation was getting too
critical to warrant such an expedition.
Indeed, the international situation had been bad enough
for some time. Earlier, in 1859, Governor Muraviev of
Eastern Siberia, accompanied by his fleet of ten warship,
came close to Shinagawa to negotiate on his own terms with
the Tokugawa Government about the Saghalien border and
fishery rights. It happened that a Russian officer and two
sailors from the fleet were attacked by several Japanese and
fatally wounded in Yokohama. This incident deadlocked
the negotiations and Muraviev and all his ships but one
suddenly left the Bay of Yedo.
He dispatched a man-of-war, the Posadnik, and another
one to Tsushima in the Korean Straits in 1861. Talcing
advantage of the defenseless island, the Russians cut down
trees, surveyed the coast, built their houses and even mur
dered a samurai. Thoroughly helpless, the Tokugawa Gov
ernment asked the British Minister to Japan to mediate,
and it was only through his intervention that the Russian
The situation took a turn for the worse in 1863. The
raging movement for expelling foreigners culminated in
firing on foreign ships at Shimonoseki and murdering and
injuring British subjects near Yokohama. In retaliation
British men-of-war bombarded the fortifications of the
Choshu and Satsuma Daimyos and completely routed their
samurai. These British operations finally convinced the
Japanese of their impotence in the face of Western arma
ments and shattered their faith in the Tokugawa Govern
ment. Thus the year 1863 saw the nation suddenly roused
to the disintegrating effects of the feudal system. The
traditional antipathy to foreigners gave way to the desire
to study their civilization and adopt its best features. What
Manjiro had forewarned actually came to pass, and he was
inwardly glad that the morning of civilization was beginning
to dawn in Japan at last
While the Tokugawas 7 power and fame were thus fast
ebbing and the cry "Down with the Tokugawa Govern
ment" was growing louder and louder, the Choshu Rebel
lion broke out in 1865, proving once and for all the utter
incompetence of that government. Thus the situation
quickly got out of control and the general trend of events
pointed to the inevitable collapse of its power.
Under these circumstances Manjiro abandoned, at least
temporarily, the whaling voyage and stayed on Egawa's
premises in Honjo. He busied himself translating the table
of logarithms and teaching English, mathematics and ne
gation to a class of scholars, officials and ambitious young
men who had pronounced English in an absurd way before
they received his instruction. Among his students were, to
name a few, Fukuzawa, Hosokawa, Enomoto, Mitsukuri,
and Otori, the men who later played important roles in
the making of modern Japan as statesmen, generals, admi
rals, educators, diplomats and scientists. In fact, most of the
great men who successfully served the country in the early
years of the Meiji Era were directly or indirectly under
Manjiro's influence at one time or another. He taught
many young men wherever he went, in Tosa, in Kagoshima,
in Hakodate and in Yedo, and his teaching gave rise to a
chain reaction in political, educational, and scientific circles
and quickened the tempo of modernizing Japan.
About this time, the Satsuma clan felt the need for train
ing its clansmen in more modern methods of navigation and
military science. It had taken a severe beating when a
British fleet bombarded its fortifications in 1863. Also, in
the same year, it had lost most of its well-trained navigators
when the Nagasaki-mam was sunk by the coastal artillery
of Choshu, the rival feudatory of Satsuma. The Satsuma
Daimyo at once purchased several ships from abroad to
rebuild its navy and sought Manjiro's assistance to train
the clansmen to man those ships. The Yedo Government
sent Manjiro to Satsuma in 1864.
Manjiro began teaching at the Kaisei-jo School in Kago
shima in the summer of that year and then he took leave of
absence and went to Tosa to see his mother in January,
1 866. There he stayed for about three months, during which
time he had a neat and cozy house built for his mother. At
130 MAN; IRQ
the end of the three months, after a big send-off by the
villagers, he went to Kochi, capital of Tosa, at the invitation
of the Lord of Tosa. There he was asked to advise the
Daimyo concerning establishment of a school called Kaisei-
kan in Kochi and teach there. In March of that year, the
school was opened and in July, when it was fairly well
established, he decided to return to Kagoshima. He went
to Nagasaki first, accompanied by Shojiro Goto, for they
had been commissioned to buy a foreign ship at Nagasaki
for the Daimyo of Tosa. But as there was no good ship to
buy at that port, they went to Shanghai in August, where
they bought a suitable ship and returned to Nagasaki.
At that time, Nagasaki was the most important trading
center of Japan and the port was bustling with foreign ships
and merchants. While there, Manjiro spent busy days
negotiating with foreign traders to buy ships and weapons,
sometimes for the Tokugawa Government, and other times
for the Tosa Daimyo or the Kagoshima Daimyo. It hap
pened that a fleet of three warships of Satsuma, led by the
chief minister, put in at Nagasaki in September and so
Manjiro at once went to see them and asked his permission
to return to Yedo before he went to Kagoshima, for he had
been away from home for about two and a half years. Before
he actually returned to Yedo in December, 1866, however,
he went to Shanghai again in October to oversee the con
struction of a ship in a shipyard there. In February, 1867,
he returned to Kagoshima and resumed teaching its clans
men in navigation and whaling at the Kaisei-jo until No
vember of that year when he finally returned to Yedo.
Almost immediately after the Meiji Restoration, which
took place in 1868, the capital had been moved from Kyoto
to Yedo, which was rechristened Tokyo. The Emperor
AFTER YEARS 131
Meiji, who had come to the throne in 1867 when he was
only sixteen years old, moved to Tokyo. All the fiefs and
lands under the control of the Tokugawa came under the
direct authority of the new government. Although anti-
foreignism had served to oust the Shogun, as soon as the
new government came into existence not only were friendly
overtures made to foreign powers but Japan attempted to
entirely remodel herself on European lines. Gradually,
promising youths were sent abroad to study, and foreign
experts were engaged and the foundations of the Meiji
Government were gradually secured. Manjiro's dream at
last came true.
WHEN THE Tokugawa regime collapsed in 1868, many
vassals lost their jobs and had to leave Yedo to seek their
fortune in other provinces. However, Manjiro, whose repu
tation had been fully established by then, was appointed by
the new government the same year instructor of the Kaisei-jo
School, predecessor of the present Tokyo University.
The following year he left Egawa's Mansion to live at one
of the official residences of the Tosa clan in Fukagawa and
there he lived for the next thirteen years. The area was an
extensive secluded domain with a large duck pond, where
Manjiro often enjoyed duck hunting.
In September, 1870, Manjiro was ordered by the govern
ment to proceed to Europe with Iwao Oyama, who became
later a field-marshal, and the supreme commander of the
Japanese army at the time of the Russo-Japanese War,
Yajiro Shinagawa, who became later a member of the Privy
Council, and twenty-four other Japanese, to make a first
hand observation of the Franco-Prussian War. The party
left Yokohama on September 4 on board the Great Republic
and after spending about one month crossing the Pacific, it
reached San Francisco. Manjiro had visited the city ten
years before and he had noticed then that it had changed
from the town of shanties, outlaws and fortune hunters
which he remembered so well when he had been there ten
years before that. He could not but be deeply impressed by
the rapidity with which the city was still further expanding.
When the party of Japanese officials came upon Market
Street, with stately stone or brick buildings on both sides,
crowded with people and carriages, both Oyama and Shina-
gawa were breathless with amazement. But Manjiro, acting
as a guide, tried to look unruffled like the experienced man
that he was and sagely explained many a strange thing to
them. As it happened, the city was in the "silver era/' and
Manjiro found an excitement in the air paralleling that of
the Gold Rush which he knew so well.
The party stayed in San Francisco for two days and then
took a train for Chicago, which was already a commercial
center of immense importance having a population of over
three hundred thousand. The city was full of wooden
houses which were doomed to be reduced to ashes about a
year later by the Great Fire of 187L The party stopped over
at Niagara Falls for sightseeing and reached New York on
There were only five days left before the Minnesota which
was to take the party across the Atlantic to Southampton,
England, was scheduled to sail from New York, and Man-
A REUNION 135
jiro was busy making preparations for the voyage as well as
taking his fellow countrymen over the city.
'1 have a long-cherished desire which I'd like to fulfill,"
said Manjiro to Oyama.
"What can it possibly be?"
"As you know, I was rescued by an American whaleship
when I was shipwrecked off the coast of Tosa about thirty
years ago. The kindhearted captain of that ship took me to
Fairhaven, his native town, and looked after me and put me
in school. I owe him a great debt of gratitude. He lives in
Fairhaven, not very far from here. With your permission,
Fd like to go there and see him. That is what I mean by my
Oyama knew that he and Shinagawa would surely be at a
loss in this great strange city without Manjiro, but he simply
said, "Go, by all means," and he added, "Well try to man
age without you, if it is only a day or two."
On the morning of October 30, Manjiro took the train for
New Bedford from New York. As it happened, New Eng
land's autumn was at its best. The woods of maple trees
were aflame under the blue sky, and the hills were covered
with wine-dark bracken and blueberry. As the train sped
through the glorious autumnal countryside, he was exhil
arated and drank in every bit of the ever changing train-side
view. Every minute seemed to heighten the excitement of
the reunion with the Whitfield family and the rest of his
former friends. He felt then as though he were going to
see his father from whom he had been absent for a long
time. Arriving at New Bedford, he walked along the famil
iar streets toward Fairhaven like a man who was walking
along his home-town streets for the first time in twenty years.
When he crossed the long bridge over the Acushnet River
136 MAN) IRQ
and breathed the same old sea breeze and saw the same old
harbor and the same old Mr. Bartlett's School where he
studied mathematics for the first time in his life, a flood of
memory rushed back to him and his heart ached. It was
already late afternoon when he knocked on the door of
Captain Whitfield's house.
"If it is not John Mung!" exclaimed Captain Whitfield
with great excitement and delight. He shook hands vigor
ously with Manjiro and led him inside.
"I have been looking forward to this day for twenty
years/' said Manjiro, falteringly, tears in his eyes.
"It does my old heart good to see you again, John Mung/'
Captain Whitfield said in a choking voice. "Congratula
tions! You seem to have certainly risen in the world/'
At first Captain and Mrs. Whitfield felt a little strange
and embarrassed when they saw Manjiro, well dressed and
dignified, but before very long they found that the Manjiro
in front of them had little changed from the polite, cheer
ful, alert lad they remembered so well.
Manjiro told the captain about his experiences in detail.
In the meantime, Marcellus, who was nineteen years old,
son of Captain Whitfield, and a pretty daughter were
introduced to Manjiro. They were both pleased to see the
man whom their parents had often talked about so warmly.
When Manjiro told them quaint stories about Japan and
the Japanese people, they all seemed deeply interested and
asked him all sorts of questions about the country and
"I hope someday you will be able to come to our country
and see for yourselves what I've told you about," said
In the meantime, word that John Mung had come spread
all over the town, and soon all the neighbors, even those
who did not know him, as well as his former friends, includ
ing Jean Allen, Eben Akin, Bartlett, Bonney, and others
came to see the unexpected visitor. Soon Captain Whit-
field's home was beseiged by a large crowd of people. Mrs.
Whitfield and her daughter worked hard in the kitchen to
prepare refreshments which they served to all. It was a
"It's so good to see you again/' Manjiro told them. "I
have always been thankful to you for every kindness you
showed me a long while back. Fve remembered it all this
time. Since I returned to my country, I've been telling my
countrymen how advanced your country is and that Japan
has much to learn from you. They thought that I did not
know what I was talking about at first. Now they are
beginning to see for themselves. Fm glad to tell you that
my country has recently opened her long-closed doors to the
outside world and is ready to adopt Western civilization."
Then Manjiro told them more of the strange customs and
manners of his country, which they all thought fascinating.
When he told them that Japanese men have a strange
hairdo somewhat resembling a pistol, they all laughed.
Then Manjiro gave Captain Whitfield and his family and
all his former friends many presents which he had brought
along from Japan lacquer boxes, silk cloth, kimonos,
Japanese color prints. They all admired the beauty of those
"I sometimes think how I wish I could go with Captain
Whitfield to catch whales again!" said Manjiro a little later.
"My dear John, perhaps, you are thinking of those good
old days but you must know that times have changed a
great deal since then," said the captain with a little bitter-
138 MAN; IRQ
ness. "You see, the discovery of oil fields in the Western
States, and the Civil War in which we lost many ships, have
dealt us a hard blow from which it will take a long time to
"That accounts for the fact that the harbor was so quiet,"
"Now that the sperm whales are getting scarce," the old
captain continued, "both in the Atlantic and the Pacific,
some of our ships are planning to go whaling in the Arctic
Ocean in great force next year. They say that that ocean
is well stocked with bowhead whales, but it would be risky
business to catch whales in a sea full of icebergs. Let young
whalers go where they will. Fve done enough dangerous
whaling in my time."
That night when the visitors had all gone home and the
family had retired to bed, the old sea captain and his former
cabin boy talked on and on far into the night. They rem
inisced over their bygone adventures and discussed other
subjects in which they were mutually interested. The time
they could spend together was too short.
The following day, Manjiro, with tears in his eyes, said
goodbyes to Captain Whitfield, his family and friends who
were on hand to see him off, and let the town for New York.
On the train back to New York, he thought to himself, I am
glad that I took this opportunity to revisit Fairhaven and
see those nice people again.
The Morning Mercury of New Bedford reported Man-
jiro's revisit to Fairhaven under the date November 1, 1870,
Personal: We had the pleasure of a call, yesterday, from
Nakahama Mungero, a Japanese and one of the commission
A REUNION 159
of seven appointed by the government of Japan to visit Europe
and observe the warlike movements there. Mr. Mungero, with
his associates, arrived in New York in 42 days from Yedo . . .
Arriving at New York, he lost no time in coming here to
visit his old friends Capt. Whitfield and wife, for whom he
expresses the most affectionate regard and to whose kindness
he refers his success in life.
Mr. Mungero is 45 years of age, of short stature, but erect
and vigorous, and with a face full of intelligence. He is fully
fitted for the part assigned to him in the commission, the result
of whose observations abroad cannot fail to benefit Japan. It
is interesting to note in these facts the important and intimate
connection between the whaling enterprise and the opening
of Japan to the commerce of the world. The education of the
wrecked Japanese boy at a public school in Fairhaven, through
the kindness of a whaling captain, contributed materially to
the establishment of the relations existing between this coun
try and Japan.
The party, headed by Iwao Oyama, reached London
safely on November 17 when the Franco-Prussian War
was at its climax and the city of Paris itself threatened.
But while the party was staying in London, just before it
proceeded to the Continent, Manjiro was taken ill with
a tumor which had developed in one of his feet. It turned
out to be a rather serious case so that he had to be con
fined to the hotel room while the rest of the party set out
on the last lap of their journey. He meant to rejoin the
party as soon as he got well But his strength returned too
slowly, and he had to return to Japan alone in the spring
He recuperated in his residence in Fukagawa and in
a few months he was fairly strong again. He again con-
140 M A N J I R O
ducted a class in his residence where many students came
to study English and navigation. Before the year was out,
however, he had a slight stroke which was followed by
a paralysis in one of his legs and an impediment in his
speech. He again became an invalid, resting either in his
villa at Kamakura or in a hotel at Atami hot springs. Soon
he became fairly well but never was active again. When
he was living in retirement, he revisited Tosa to see his
mother and again in 1875, when he went to see her, he
took with him his eldest son, Toichiro. The old woman
was happy and proud beyond words to see her grandson,
who was a promising medical student at the Tokyo Imperial
University. She tried to make their stay as pleasant as pos
sible, serving every day the crisp sashimi of sea bream or
broiled sea bass or lobsters freshly caught from the Bay of
Tosa. While there, Manjiro often took his son fishing and
demonstrated his skill by catching several big sea bass every
time they went.
The son later studied medicine in Germany and be
came a successful practitioner, founding several hospitals
in Tokyo. When he visited America in 1917, he went to
Fairhaven and saw Captain Whitfield's son Marcellus and
the people and places associated with his father to express
his gratitude in person. Later, in 1918, he presented the
town of Fairhaven with a beautiful and historical samurai
sword as a token of gratitude.
Long years of recuperation and retirement came to an
end at last when Manjiro died quietly of a stroke on Novem
ber 12, 1898, in his son's house behind Ginza Street, Tokyo.
He was buried in the grave which had previously been
prepared in the Bussinji Temple, Yanaka, Tokyo.
Thus ended the life of a man who, when a boy, was
A REUNION 141
shipwrecked and rescued and taken to America as the first
Japanese to be educated and live there, who became a voice
in the wilderness and patiently taught his countrymen to
open their eyes to modern science and Western civiliza
tion, who participated in the slow and turbulent develop
ment of his country from feudalism to democracy.
Later, in 1925, his remains, together with the tombstone,
were moved to the Zoshigaya Cemetery in Tokyo.
In November, 1928, the Japanese Government conferred
upon him posthumously the fifth court rank of the senior
grade, in appreciation of the unique and invaluable service
he had rendered to the nation.
RECALLING some of his father's anecdotes, Dr. Toichiro
Nakahama said on one occasion:
"My father set an example to us children and taught
us to be kind to those who were in trouble, to keep promises,
to be punctual, to be brave, and to go ahead and do un
pleasant things which others hesitated to do. When he
was only a lad sailing in the Franklin, he jumped into the
sea and fought with a ten-foot-long monster turtle when
other sailors shrank from such a dangerous feat. He did
not back down, and held his own before the captain of a
certain ship who acted high-handedly and ordered him
about although he lost the chance of sailing in that ship
to Japan. Nor was he overawed and frightened into ob
sequiousness by the Japanese officials who investigated him
upon his return to Japan.
144 M A N J I R O
"It happened that a certain sailor whom my father used
to know lost his job temporarily through no fault of his
own and became a vender of refreshments and cakes for
the ships staying at the estuary of the Sumida River in
Yedo. A local boss demanded the poor sailor pay him a
large sum of protection money if he wanted to do business
in his territory. As soon as my father learned all about it,
he went to see the rogue personally and told him once and
for all not to bully the poor sailor. But when the ruffian
threatened him with violence, my father actually over
powered him and made him promise to stop blackmailing.
"Furthermore, my father always tried to be kind to the
poor and those in trouble. When he was living in the
premises of Egawa, there was a deaf-and-dumb beggar who
nightly went by, raising a plaintive, inarticulate voice. My
father had a few rice balls with red plum pickles in them
prepared always for this beggar, and as soon as he heard
the quaint voice traveling along the dark street, first faintly
and gradually growing louder and louder, he used to go to
the gate of his house to give them to the beggar. Whenever
he chanced to see a poor sick man lying on the street, he
told us children to run along to our house to get medicine
or even clothes for him.
"My father used to dine with his family at a restaurant
called Kurumaya at Myojinmae, Shiba. On such occasions,
if there was any food left on the table when the dinner
was over, my father had it packed in a chip box together
with the boiled rice and took it away with him to give it
to beggars on the street. Needless to say, it was an un
thinkable thing in those days for a respectable gentleman
to take with him the leftovers of a dinner in a restaurant,
no matter for what reason, but my father would never let
respectability come between him and charity.
AND AFTER 145
"My father spent an easy and retired life reading English
books, visiting his children and friends and dining in first-
class restaurants. He often went to see the Kabuki plays
at the Shintomiza Theater, which staged the best plays
in those days. But to sit on the floor of the theater watch
ing a play, as was the custom of the day, was too much
for him, and so he used to order a special chair to sit on
in the theater. On the stage of the Shintomiza, once, he
saw his own adventure enacted by Sadanji, the greatest
actor of the day, but as it proved to be not only untrue but
cheap and farcical, he was greatly disappointed.
"Never was my father seen, whenever he went out, with
out wearing a hakama and haori with the five crests of our
family on it, after the formal Japanese style. Even on a
hot summer day, he never failed to be seen without a fine
silk gauze haori, so that rikishamen used to call him 'gentle
man in a haori with the family crests/ Added to this strictly
formal dress, my father used to wear a derby hat and a pair
of foreign shoes, a quaint but fashionable style adopted by
gentlemen of those days/'
On behalf of Dr. Toichiro Nakahama, the eldest son of
Manjiro, Viscount Ishii, the Japanese Ambassador to Wash
ington, presented Fairhaven, Massachusetts, with a histor
ical samurai sword on July 4, 1918, in token of the son's
gratitude for the kindness shown to his father by the town.
It was a gala occasion with American and Japanese flags
and bunting to be seen on every hand in New Bedford and
Fairhaven. Soon after nine o'clock in the morning Viscount
Ambassador Ishii and his party arrived from Mattapoisett,
where they were the house guests of the Honorable Mr.
Hamlin. The party went to the New Bedford High School,
where exercises were held. Addresses were given by Mayor
Ashley, Lieutenant Governor Coolidge, Viscount Ishii and
When the exercises in New Bedford were over, the Am
bassador and his party were met by a committee from
Fairhaven and proceeded to Riverside Cemetery, accom
panied by members of the Whitfield family. Ambassador
Ishii placed a wreath on the grave of Captain Whitfield,
while a simple but impressive ceremony took place. Then
the party called at the home of Mrs. Akin, who was then
eighty years old, where Manjiro had spent his first two
weeks in Fairhaven.
After attending a buffet luncheon, which was held at
the Tabitha Inn, the party visited the Memorial Church,
the Millicent Library, and the town hall, where the log
book of the John Howland was shown the guests.
In the meantime, the parade, consisting of a battalion
of regulars from Fort Rodman, Naval Reserves, the State
Guard from Fairhaven, and the Naval Reserve Band from
Newport, was formed on Center Street and proceeded
through the important streets of the town to the stadium.
After the speakers and guests had ascended to the platform,
the men in uniform marched into the stadium. Close be
hind the speakers' stand was a chorus of school children
dressed in white. It is estimated that over ten thousand
people witnessed the ceremonies.
After Lieutenant Governor Calvin Coolidge made a wel
come address on behalf of the Commonwealth of Massa
chusetts, Ambassador Ishii said, as he presented the samu
"This gift may have little intrinsic value, but therein,
perhaps, you will find its real value. You are asked to re
ceive it as the concrete token of that something which is
AND AFTER 147
without price and above all other values. It is tendered to
you at a time in the affairs of a troubled world when men
are asking if the old-time virtues of gratitude and honor
still hold their places in the human heart. It conies at a
time when America and Japan stand linked and resolute in
defense of a cause which is so holy so just and right
that all other considerations vanish to nothingness.
"In this spirit I beg of you, Mr. Chairman, to accept
for the town of Fairhaven this tribute of gratitude. The
donor would say to the descendants of those who were
kind to his revered father that which the whole Japanese
people would say to the people of America: We trust
you we love you, and, if you will let us, we will walk at
your side in loyal good fellowship down all the coming
years . . ."
At that time, as Japan was fighting World War I shoulder
to shoulder with America, particularly cordial relations ex
isted between the two nations. President Woodrow Wilson
regretted very much not being able to attend the presenta
tion ceremony because he had to deliver his Fourth of July
speech at Mt. Vernon on that day. A few days later, how
ever, he wrote to Ambassador Ishii congratulating him upon
the occasion in the following manner:
The White House
My Dear Mr. Ambassador:
May I not give myself the pleasure of saying how much I
have been interested in reading your addresses at Fairhaven,
Massachusetts, and how grateful I am that the people of that
region should have an opportunity of showing you their genuine
cordial feeling for yourself and for the great country you repre
sent? The story of Manjiro Nakahama has particularly inter-
148 M A N J I R O
ested me. Such links between Japan and America are delightful
Cordially and sincerely yours,
Viscount Kikujiro Ishii,
Ambassador of Japan,
Later the late President Franklin Delano Roosevelt wrote
to Dr. Nakahama, the eldest son of Manjiro:
The White House
Washington June 8, 1933.
My dear Dr. Nakahama:
When Viscount Ishii was here in Washington he told me
that you are living in Tokyo and we talked about your dis
You may not know that I am the grandson of Mr. Warren
Delano of Fairhaven, who was part owner of the ship of Cap
tain Whitfield which brought your father to Fairhaven. Your
father lived, as I remembered it, at the house of Mr. Trippe,
which was directly across the street from my grandfather's
house, and when I was a boy, I well remember my grandfather
telling me all about the little Japanese boy who went to school
in Fairhaven and who went to church from time to time with
the Delano family. I myself used to visit Fairhaven, and my
mother's family still own the old house.
The name of Nakahama will always be remembered by my
family, and I hope that if you or any of your family come to
the United States that you will come to see us.
Believe me, my dear Dr. Nakahama,
Very sincerely yours,
Dr. Toichiro Nakahama,
More than a century has passed since Manjiro Nakahama
lived his life of extraordinary adventure and worked for the
rebirth of his country. The spirit of learning which he
upheld so courageously, the virtues of kindness and grati
tude and humility which were so naturally a part of him,
and the international goodwill he embodied in his whole
career, have survived the turbulent passage of time.
Manjiro and Captain Whitfield came from opposite ends
of the earth, spoke different languages, professed different
religions but sailed the same seas, thrilled at the same stars,
and shared many deep things.
From a wilderness, Manjiro raised a voice that will echo
and re-echo down the years.