Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Pacific Encounters: Yankee Whalers, Manjiro and the Opening of Japan

The New Bedford Whaling Museum in Massachusetts features among its online exhibits this one called Pacific Encounters: Yankee Whalers, Manjiro and the Opening of Japan. The exhibit examines the historical legacy of the 19th century whaling industry on the opening of Japan, using the example of John Manjiro. The exhibit is available in English and Japanese. Go to this link.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Friend: Shipwrecked Japanese in Hawaii Since 1814

Rev. Samuel Chenery Damon, publisher of The Friend and chaplain of the Seaman’s Bethel in Honolulu, published an accounting of shipwrecked Japanese who were returned to their homeland in the July 7, 1860 edition of his monthly news intelligencer.

The following is a transcript of that article. It provides insights into the treatment of Japanese who were shipwrecked in various locations around the Pacific Rim.

It is possible that stories of the kind treatment the Japanese received and chronicled by Rev. Damon influenced the decision to stop in Hawaii on the voyage from Japan to San Francisco. Likewise, the Kanrin Maru stopped for a few days in Honolulu Harbor on its journey back to Japan, so such accounts may also have had a bearing on the decision to come to Hawaii.

Shipwrecked Japanese Returned Home Since 1814.

A few days since, we heard the Hon. Mr. Borden, U.S. Commissioner, remark in conversation, that unquestionably the kindness which had been extended to shipwrecked Japanese seamen, was among the most powerful reasons which finally led to the opening of that country to foreigners and foreign commerce. This remark has reminded us of several notices, which we have from time to time published in our columns, and also led us to make some additional investigations upon the subject. We do not assert that the following instances are all which have occurred, wherein wrecked Japanese have been rescued and returned to their native land, but these are among the most remarkable which have occurred during this century:


The venerable Capt. Adams, formerly Pilot of Honolulu, and now residing at his farm in Kalihi, on Oahu, relates to us as follows:

“In the year 1814, I was sailing-master of the British brig Forrester, Capt. Pickett, cruising off Santa Barbara, California. We fell in with a Japanese junk, drifting at the mercy of the winds and waves. Although the wind was blowing a gale, I lowered and visited the junk. A sad sight was presented. Fourteen of the crew had died, and their bodies had been cast into the hold of the junk. Three alone survived, the captain, carpenter, and one man. These were removed to our vessel, and carefully nursed, and in a few days they were well. They were taken to Santa Barbara, and from thence to Kamtschatska, and as I understood, were sent home by the Russians.”


The following article, written by the Rev. J.S. Emerson, we copy from the July No. of the Hawaiian Spectator, published in 1838:

“They who dwell on the land know but little of the varied fortune of those who inhabit the seas; and equally unconscious are they who live under equitable and benevolent laws, of the inhumanity often manifested, under heathen governments, to persons whose only crime is that of being unfortunate.

“The individuals, a part of whose story I am about to relate, have suffered much from ignorance of navigation, much from the want of the necessities of life, and more still for – for what? For the crime of being shipwrecked on a foreign shore. A crime not known to those protected by equitable and righteous laws. The Japanese, it is well known, have been assiduous in their efforts to keep foreigners from their country ever since the expulsion of the Portuguese. And the more fully to secure their object, even their own subjects, who may wander to other and distant countries, have, as I am informed, been forbidden to return on penalty of death; probably lest they introduce discontent by telling what they may have seen abroad.

“The Japanese, of whom I am now to speak, made the shore of Oahu in a junk and anchored near the harbor of Waialua, on the last Sabbath in Dec. 1832. They cast anchor about mid-day and were soon visited by a canoe, as the position of the junk, being anchored near a reef of rocks, and other circumstances, indicated distress. Four individuals were found on board, all but one severely afflicted with the scurry; two of them incapable of walking, and a third nearly so. The fourth was in good health, and had the almost entire management of the vessel. This distressed company had been out at sea ten or eleven months, without water, except as they now and then obtained rain water from the deck of the vessel. Their containers for water were few, adapted to a voyage of not more than three weeks. The junk was bound from one of the southern islands of the Japanese group to Jeddo, laden with fish, when it encountered a typhoon and was driven out into the seas altogether unknown to those on board, and after wandering almost a year, made the island of Oahu.

“The original number on board the junk was nine; these were reduced by disease and death, induced probably by want of water and food, to four only.

“The junk remained at Waialua five or six days, when, under the direction of a Chinese, an attempt was made to take it to Honolulu; but after being at sea two days, nearly twice the time usually occupied in sailing round to Honolulu, it was cast away on Barber’s Point, on the evening of January 1st, 1833. It is stated that the vessel was becalmed and drifted on shore. The cargo, junk and all, were lost, except the crew, and very few articles of trifling value.

“The men were taken to Honolulu, where they remained about eighteen months, and at length were forwarded by one of the residents, W. French, Esq., to Kamtschatka, from whence they hoped eventually to work their way by stealth into their own country and to their own families, approaching by way of the most northern islands of the group. The men were all married except one. Their success in getting back to their country and homes we have no means at present of learning.

Near the same time with the company above named, another crew of the Japanese were wrecked on the N.W. Coast of America, a part of whom, if I am not misinformed, were cut off by the Indians; three only escaped, and were brought to Honolulu, from whence they were forwarded to England, and thence to Canton, where they arrived in the year 1836, and, at the date of my information, Dec. 1st, they were with Mr. Gutzlaff. And by means of them he had obtained a considerable knowledge of the Japanese language. Mr. Gutzlaff’s intention then was to accompany them to their own native land, if possible, and attempt to cultivate some acquaintance with the people. His success of course was doubtful.”


In the Polynesian of Aug. 1, 1840, the Rev. D. Baldwin furnishes a long and interesting account of some Japanese taken from a junk, drifting in Lat. 30 N. and Long. 174 W., or about half way between Japan and the Sandwich Islands. These Japanese were picked up by Capt. Cathcart, of the James Loper. This account was furnished the Rev. Mr. Baldwin by Capt. Ray, of the Obed Mitchell, who was cruising in that vicinity. As the article in the Polynesian is so long, it will be quite impossible to copy it. The Polynesian of Oct. 17, 1840, contains another interesting article by the same gentleman, upon the Japanese numerals. From the same paper, we quote the following short editorial: -

“The Japanese who took passage in the Harlequin, remained at Kamtschatka, under the protection of the Governor, waiting an opportunity to return to their own native country. Capt. Dominis left Kamtschatka in the brig Joseph Peabody ten days before the Harlequin arrived, for this place, via Norfolk Sound and Mazatlan.”

1840, or Thereabouts

We are unable to learn the exact date when Capt. Whitfield of the John Howland brought to the Sandwich Islands the three Japanese whom he took from a small and uninhabited island lying to the S.W. of the Japan Islands. Our readers have been made fully acquainted with the subsequent career of one of these Japanese –See Friend of June, this year. (This is a reference to Nakahama Manjiro)


In the Friend of Feb. 2, 1846, will be found a deeply interesting communication, prepared by Dr. C.F. Winslow, respecting the visit of the whale-ship Manhattan, to Yeddo, commanded by Capt. Mercator Cooper, of Sag Harbor.

It was about the first of April, as Captain Cooper was proceeding towards the whaling regions of the northern ocean, that he passed in the neighborhood of St. Peters, a small island lying a few degrees to the S.E. of Niphon. It is comparatively barren and was supposed to be uninhabited; but being near it, Capt. C. thought he would explore the shore for turtle to afford his ship’s company some refreshment. While tracing the shore along he discovered a pinnace of curious construction which resembled somewhat those he had seen in the China seas. Turning his walks inland, he entered a valley, where he unexpectedly saw at some distance from him, several persons in uncouth dresses, who appeared alarmed at his intrusion and immediately fled to a more secluded part of the valley. He continued his walk and soon came to a hut, where were collected eleven men, whom he afterwards found to be Japanese. As he approached them they came forward and prostrated themselves to the earth before him, and remained on their faces for some time. They were much alarmed and expected to be destroyed; but Capt. C., with great kindness, reconciled them to his presence, and learned by signs that they had been shipwrecked on St. Peters for many months before. He took them to the shore, pointed to his vessel and informed them that he would take them to Jeddo if they would entrust themselves to his care. They consented with great joy; and abandoning everything on the island, embarked with him immediately for his ship.

Capt. Cooper determined to proceed at once to Jeddo, the capital of the Japanese Empire, notwithstanding its well known regulations prohibiting American and other foreign vessels to enter its waters. The Capt, had two great and laudable objects in view. The first was to restore the shipwrecked strangers to their homes. The other was to make a strong and favorable impression on the government in respect to the civilization of the United States, and its friendly disposition to the Emperor and people of Japan. How he succeeded in the latter object the sequel will show; and I will make but few remarks, either on the benevolence or coldness of Capt. C.s’ resolution, or its ultimate consequences touching the intercourse of the Japanese with other nations. The step decided on however, has led to some curious and interesting information, relative to this country, whose institutions, and the habits of whose people are but little known to the civilized world.


JAPANESE JUNK PICKED UP. On the 21st of April last, the Bremen whaleship Otaheite, Capt. Witung, in lat. 35 N., lon. 156 E., fell in with a Japanese junk, which had lost her rudder, and had been driven off the coast in a gale, in November, 1846, and had been drifting about for five months. He took off her crew – 9 men- and took out of her 12,000 lbs. beeswax, some iron, copper, tools, molasses, sugar, rouge, &c. Her lading was chiefly writing paper –the crew reduced to one-quarter of rice, and were then without water. She was of about 80 tons, belonged to Osako and was bound to the north. They had seen one whaleship which steered for them and then went off without speaking. Capt. Weitung kept them with him four weeks, and then put them on board a junk in the Straits of Matsmai. –Polynesian, Oct. 17, and Friend, Dec. 2, 1847.

For an interesting account of the visit of the whaleship Inez, Capt. Jackson, to the Japan Island, see Friend of Dec. 2, 1847, or Polynesian about that date; see also Friend of May, 1848, for an account of Americans shipwrecked in Japan.


This year, Capt. Jennings, commanding American bark Auckland, fell in somewhere in the North Pacific with a Japanese junk, from which he took fifteen or more of the crew, and conveyed them to San Francisco. The citizens of that city paid them very distinguished honors. Most of the company subsequently went to China, and some of them, we believe, were taken to Japan by the Perry Expedition. One of the company, Mr. Heko, was taken up by Senator Gwin, and accompanied him to Washington. He received a good education, and enjoyed very distinguished favors. He returned to Japan in 1859, a passenger on board the surveying schooner Fenimore Cooper, Capt. Brooke, and is now engaged in mercantile pursuits at Kanagawa, near Yeddo. He still retains his American citizenship. He visited Honolulu on his return to Japan.

Another of this company picked up by the Auckland, went from San Francisco to Hongkong, where he joined the “Perry Expedition,” re-visited Japan, but proceeded with the Expedition to the United States. His name was Samuel Sentharo. He was educated at Hamilton, N.Y., under the charge of the Rev. Mr. Goble, and returned to Japan with that gentleman, who is now a missionary at Kanagawa. It was our privilege to receive a letter by this Japanese, in the English language, and dated Kanagawa, April 24, 1860.

We copy the following from the Friend of October 15, 1850:

ANOTHER JUNK. –On the 22d of April, in lat. 45 N., long. 155 E., the Henry Kneeland, Clark, master, fell in which a Japanese junk, having thirteen persons on board. The vessel left Yeddo for Kuno, three or four days sail, but was driven to sea, and had been sixty-six days drifting at the mercy of wind and waves, dismasted and rudderless. For forty days their water had been out, and they subsisted on snow-water. Their food consisted most of the time of refuse fish. The junk had no cargo on board. Capt. Clark took the crew on board the Henry Kneeland. The commander and two of the crew of the junk came passengers to Honolulu on board the H.K. Two of the crew are on board the Marengo; six were taken to Petropaulski, and were taken charge by the Russian authorities, and two came passengers by the Nimrod.

See also Friend, Nov. 1, 1850.

JAPANESE ARRIVED. – Captain West, of the Isaac Howland, informs us that on the 15th of April in lat. 31 N., and long. 150 E., about 300 miles N.N.E. of Guam, he fell in with a Japanese junk. It was small and destitute of cargo. Only four persons were found on board. It did not appear that any had died. They had evidently been a long time without much food, being very much emaciated. Their only remaining food was a little oil. As near as could be ascertained, the vessel had been out of her reckoning forty-nine days. At the time of the discovery, the tiller was lashed, and the ship’s company appeared to have given themselves up to die. Capt. West took them on board his vessel, judiciously administered nourishing food, and they soon recovered their health and spirits. Having taken from the vessel a few spars, Capt. W. set her on fire. It is not yet determined what will be done with them. Two of them Capt. W. would be glad to take to America, and if some vessel about to cruise in the vicinity of the Japan islands, will take the other two, it will be a good and satisfactory arrangement. –Friend, Nov. 2, 1852.

We are unable to learn what subsequently became of these Japanese.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Nakahama Manjiro (John Manjiro): Returns to Honolulu on the Kanrin Maru

I first learned about Manjiro years ago from reading Seamen’s Chaplain: Reflections on the life of Samuel C. Damon, by George Cooper, of Rev. Samuel Chenery Damon, Seamen’s Chaplain in Honolulu, pastor of the Fort Street Church and publisher of The Friend, a newspaper that still exists today under the auspices of the Hawaii Conference of the United Church of Christ.

In this Japan Times article, dated March 21, 2004, Tai Kawabata correctly refers to Manjiro as "one of a kind," and, "when shipwrecked 16-year-old Manjiro became the first Japanese to go to the United States, his life was set on an action-packed course that would shape Japan both then and now."

Manjiro was shipwrecked at age 14 off the coast of Japan in 1841. An American whaling ship captained by William H. Whitfield picked up the young Japanese boy and brought him to his home in New England, where he was educated in American schools. In 1848 young Manjiro and Rev. Damon met in Honolulu for the first time. An entire chapter of Damon’s biography is dedicated to Manjiro.

As it turns out, Nakahama Manjiro was a crewmember on board the Kanrin Maru that steamed out of Japanese waters in 1860 with the Embassy. Though the embassy delegation stopped in Honolulu on board the U.S. Streamer Powhatan in March, the Dutch-built Kanrin Maru continued nonstop to San Francisco, where it was later joined by the Powhatan and the Japanese Embassy.

On its return voyage to Japan from San Francisco, the Kanrin Maru briefly stopped in Honolulu in May, 1860. Manjiro was aboard, and during his brief stay reunited with Rev. Damon and other friends while in port. Damon published the following article about Manjiro’s conversations with him in the June 1, 1860 edition of The Friend.

Manjiro is spelled “Mungero” or referred to as “Mung.” The Kanrin Maru is referred to in this article and others published at that time as the “Candinmarrah.” Also noteworthy is Manjiro’s translation of Bowditch’s Navigation, and that Rev. Damon and others were “very kindly welcomed on board the Candinmarrah, and were introduced to the Admiral and Capt. Katslintarro.”

When I read this article one of the other curiosities was the mention of the “Loochoo Islands,” which are presently known as the Ryukyu Islands, the most prominent being the island of Okinawa.

Among my list of links are various friendship associations inspired by Manjiro. Please click those for further information.

Finale of the Boat Expedition to Japan: The Friend June 1, 1860. Page 44-45.

In order that our readers may understand some remarks which we have to make upon the visit of Capt. Mungero, Itche-ban-funi, attached to the Japanese steamer Candinmarrah, we copy the following paragraphs from an old number of the Friend, published January 9th, 1851:

EXPEDITION TO JAPAN. –Japan seems to be the terra incognita that now the busy world desires to know more about, and anything relating to that country is interesting. Shipwrecked Japanese have, from time to time, found their way to the Sandwich Islands. A few weeks since the whaleship Copia took several to China; but some remained at Honolulu. Three of these have since sailed in a Sarah Boyd, bound to Shanghai, China. Capt. Whitmore promised that, on his route to Shanghai, he would pass near the Loochoo Islands, and there leave these three Japanese, whose names are John Mung, Denzo, and Goeman. According to a statement made by Mung, before the United States Consul (Judge Allen), they have been about ten years from their native land. Their statement was to this effect:

We left the S.E. part of the island of Niphon, in a fishing vessel, and were wrecked. After remaining on an uninhabited island for about six months, we were taken off by Capt. Whitfield, master of the ship John Howland, and brought to the Sandwich Islands. Denzo and Goeman remained here. Mung went to the United States and was there taken care of and educated by Capt Whitfield. After being absent several years, Mung returned to the Islands, and here found his former companions.

On learning that Captain Whitfield would land them at the Loochoo islands, Mung, with the assistance of a few friends, purchased a good whaleboat, oars and sails. Having learned the science of navigation sufficient for all practical purposes, he supplied himself with a quadrant, compass, charts, &c. It is not expected that the Sarah Boyd will come to anchor at the Loochoo, but launch the whaleboat off the islands, and leave the three Japanese to make the best of their way to land. Al though when at the Loochoo, they may be far from their native shores, yet Mung (whom we shall now call Capt. Mung) thinks that he knows enough of the relative situation of the Loochoo and Japanese islands to find his way across. He says that annually a large Japanese junk visits the Loochoo Islands, for the purpose of receiving tribute money, and that the junk leaves Japan in February and returns in June. He supposed they might get passage in her –at any rate they would make the trial!

We shall anxiously wait to learn the success of Capt. Mung’s expedition. He is a smart and intelligent young man, and has made good use of his opportunities, being able to speak and write the English language with tolerable accuracy. Should he succeed in reaching his native land in safety, his services may be of importance in opening an intercourse between his own and other countries. He would make an excellent interpreter between the Japanese and the English or Americans.

Success to Capt. Mung, commanding the whaleboat “Adventurer!”

During the last nine years we have made diligent inquiry of various persons, but especially of the officers of the Perry Expedition, respecting Capt. Mung, his companions, and the boat “Adventurer,” but no information whatever could we obtain; judge then our great surprise, on the arrival of the Japanese steamer Candimarrah, to have one of her officers, the Acting Interpreter, with the rank of Captain in the Japanese navy, make us a call, and introduce himself as our old friend Capt. Mung, of 1851. How changed his lot- now the Japanese official, with “two swords,” but formerly the poor Japanese shipwrecked sailor, seeking to return home, although trembling lest if he should return he might be beheaded. After friendly salutations were exchanged, we said “please be seated, give us a full account of your wanderings-tell us all about your boat “Adventurer,” and how you got home.” Capt. Mung, formerly of the “Adventurer,” but now Captain Mungero, of the Imperial Japanese Navy, replied as follows:

“In Jan., 1851, Capt. Whitmore, of the Sarah Boyd, launched the boat “Adventurer” from his deck, off Great Loochoo, wind blowing fresh from N.W., accompanied with hail. The ship was about five miles from land. After rowing hard for ten hours, we anchored near the land. Next morning I sent Denzo on shore, but he returned with a ‘tear in his eye,’ because he had forgotten his native language, and was unable to communicate with the people. We all went on shore, and I took a loaded pistol; we made signs to the people for water, and they conducted us to a pond; we now boiled our coffee and ate some beef and pork, ‘American fashion.’ The people gave us some sweet potatoes and rice. As we could not speak to the people, we were conducted to a government office, about one mile off, where some rice was given us, in order to see if we could eat rice with two chop-sticks! We showed them that we knew how to handle the chop-sticks, and this exploit settled the question of our nationality, for we were pronounced Japanese!

“A messenger was then dispatched to a city about ten miles off, and after some bantering and threats, we were taken under the care of the King of Loochoo, who treated us very kindly. We spent six months in Loochoo, when we were conveyed in a junk to the island of Kiusiu, near the southern point of the island; we were there taken under the care of the Prince of Thiztumar; we remained at this place forty-eight days. The Prince made very many inquiries respecting America and American people, and our treatment. This prince has great influence; he treated me with much kindness.

“We were then removed to Nangasaki, where we were joined by five more shipwrecked Japanese sailors, who had been forwarded from Honolulu to their country via China. At Nangasaki we were detained thrity months, not however being confined to a close prison, but allowed large liberties. At the end of two and a half years, we were allowed to proceed to our homes, and, so far as I know, all my companions safely reached their homes, and we welcomed by their friends. I went to Xicoco after thirteen years’ absence, I was joyfully welcomed by my mother. My father died before I left home. My mother had mourned for me as dead; under that impression, she had built for me a tomb. I remained at home ‘three days and three nights’; I was then removed, with my good boat ‘Adventurer,’ to Yeddo, where I was promoted to the rank of an Imperial officer, wearing two swords! For several years I was employed in Yeddo. I was for a long time occupied in translating Bowditch’s Navigator; it was a long and laborious work. I have built many boats after the model of my American whaleboat ‘Adventurer.’ –My old whaleboat is now in a government storehouse at the city of Yeddo. I have been very often consulted respecting questions relating to Americans and foreigners. I have had charge of some of some of the presents which were brought by Commodore Perry. I was in Yeddo at the period of Commodore Perry’s visit, but was not introduced to any of the officers of the expedition. I am thirty-six years old. I am married, and have three children. I am captain in the navy, and, at home, have charge of a vessel.”

By no means were these all the interesting statements which he made, in answer to our many inquiries about Japan, its government, its religion, its institutions, its people, &c.

Since writing the above, we have returned the call, and been very kindly welcomed on board the Candinmarrah, and were introduced to the Admiral and Capt. Katslintarro. Our surprise and astonishment were great when Captain Mungero presented us a translation of Bowditch’s great American work upon Navigation. The translation, with the logarithmic tables, had been made by Captain Mungero. He said is tried his patience, and made him grow old by about three years faster than he should! He remarked that about twenty copies had been made into Japanese, one which was deposited in the Royal Palace. It had not yet been printed in Japanese style. The copy before us is most beautifully executed. It is surely a most credible performance, and evidently shows that Captain Mungero is a man of decided ability. He is the first native of the Japanese Empire who navigated a vessel, out of sight of land, according to scientific principles. We hope, when our friend, Capt. Whitfield, of Fairhaven, reads this statement, he may feel rewarded for his trouble and expense in educating this Japanese sailor-boy. He speaks in the most grateful manner of those who befriended him, when a stranger in a strange land, and has left with us a letter and present, to be forwarded to his friend and benefactor, Capt. Whitfield. –We could add much more, gathered during our present interviews.

Captain Mungero returns to Japan, taking with him many curiosities and works of art, procured in San Francisco; among them a daguerreotype apparatus, for the purpose of taking the likeness of his mother; “and when that is done,” he said, it will be useless!” –a most beautiful instance of filial affection.

It is most gratifying to learn that the views we entertained and published nine years ago respecting Capt. Mungero, have been fully realized. He did return to his native land, and there acted no unimportant part in preparing the way for the opening of Japan to intercourse with foreign nations. The end is not yet. If we live a few years, other events equally worthy of record will have occurred. We shall anxiously await the development of the future.

Nine years ago, we wrote, “Success to Capt. Mung, commanding the whaleboat ‘Adventurer,’” but we now add, Success to Captain Mungero, of the Imperial Navy of Japan, Acting Interpreter of the Candimarrah, and Translator of Bowditch’s Navigator. Long may he be spared to benefit his native land, to the interests, prosperity, civilization and progress of which, he is most ardently devoted. His love for Japan is great.

“Cast thy bread upon the waters, for thou shalt find it after many days.”

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Polynesian Reports: Interesting from Japan (Opposition to Foreigners)

Interesting from Japan
The Polynesian, Honolulu: June 2, 1860, page 2, col. 4

By the arrival of the Zoe from Kanagawa in consequence of a portion of the people being opposed to foreigners coming there to trade, and great fears are entertained for the safety of the foreigners there residing. Two Dutch Captains were most horribly murdered a few days ago. This was an act of wanton cruelty on the part of the rebels for which no reason can be assigned, and the Prince Gotairo, who is in favor of foreigners, has also been attacked by the rebels and so badly wounded that there are no hopes of his recovery.

The American Minister, resident at Yeddo, and all the foreign Consuls at Kanagawa, have advised all foreigners to keep within doors as much as possible, especially nights, and at all times go armed, which they have done. It is stated after the murder of the said captains, the authorities had arrested some thirty of the rebels, all of whom were executed at Yeddo, by having their heads cut off.

The government notifies all foreigners that whenever they desire to walk or ride out they can always have a guard accompany them, and it is their wish that they will not go about without them.

The accounts from Yeddo show proof of the good faith of the government. They state that the Prince Gotairo is not yet dead, and there is every hope of his recovery. H.B.M.’s Enjoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary in Japan offered his services surgically if needed. During the attack on the Gotairo one of the assailants was so badly wounded that he could not escape, so one of his friends in order to prevent detection cut off his head and run away with it in his hand, making his escape through the gate, close at hand. In consequence of this the Tycoon ordered the head officer in charge of the gate to commit the “Hara Kari,” which he accordingly did, and the Daimo, whose men the police were, was ordered to be confined to his house, and it is said, he will probably lose half his estates, in consequence of his negligence.

The Gotairo on getting home, sent off to his provinces, 110 miles away from here, for a reinforcement of soldiers to guard him, all heavily armed. The news traveled in 24 hours. The Gotairo is one of the most powerful men in the empire, and rules over thirty-five provinces.

The latest official accounts are contained in a dispatch to the U.S. Consul, from the governors of Kanagawa and Yokohama, which is as follows:

“WE, Mizokortsi Sanoe Kino Kami, and Kakemoto Dzoesiono Kami, would announce the death of the Gotairo and the cessation of the period of Ansei. The period now commencing is that of Mansen.”

At the present writing, affairs seem to be quiet, but there is no doubt but the trouble will end in a civil war.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Book Publishing Announcement

Those who share my interest in the March 1860 stopover in Honolulu of the first Japanese Embassy to the United States of America –as well as Commodore Josiah Tatnall and the crew of the U.S. Steamer Powhatan- will welcome this news.

I am writing and publishing a book on all this. To say the least I am very excited about this. Presently I am weighing several publishers.

In the meantime my research continues. The book, like this history blog, will rely substantially on primary and secondary sources such as newspaper accounts, journals, diaries, government communiqués and letters. This book will highlight the personalities, perceptions and misperceptions, too.

All this happened at a tumultuous time in history. About a month before the Embassy’s departure John Brown staged his raid on the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia. That was followed by Jefferson Davis coming out in favor of secession from the United States. Abraham Lincoln was photographed by Matthew Brady, and then delivered his famous Cooper Union Speech as both the U.S.S. Powhatan and the Japanese Warship Kanrin Maru navigated rough seas on their way to Hawaii and the west coast of the United States.

One wonders if the Japanese knew what celebrities they would become not only in the Hawaiian Kingdom yet also after their arrival in the United States. And one wonders what fate would hold in store for those personalities from disparate cultures and traditions? Stay tuned!

"Blood is thicker than water" was coined by....

... the same Commodore Josiah Tatnall III who brought the Japanese Embassy in 1860 from Japan to Honolulu, and subsequently to San Francisco. This historical fact comes courtesy of the Bonaventure Historical Society near Savannah, Georgia. In 1859 Tatnall was in command of the American East India Squadron. On June 25, 1859 the Commodore violated American neutrality by coming to the aid of the British during an attack on Taku forts at the mouth of the Pei Ho River in China. This phrase was stated by him in the investigation afterward.

Interestingly, when the Civil War started in 1861 Tatnall resigned to "assume Confederate naval defenses 1861-1864." He was also responsible for the burning of the ironclad ship Merrimack to prevent its capture by Union forces.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Polynesian Reports: Departure of the Kanrin Maru from Honolulu: June 1860

The Saturday, June 2, 1860 edition of The Polynesian reported the departure of the Japanese Steamer Kanrin Maru (spelled "Candinmarruh") for Japan. In its journey to the United States with the U.S. Steamer Powhatan it continued on to San Francisco, while the Powhatan changed course for Honolulu:

Japanese Steamer Candinmarruh

This steamer sailed for Japan on Saturday last, at the early hour of 7, A.M. Promptness is evidently one of the virtues of this singular people. On leaving the harbor she fired a salute, which was returned by the battery on Punchbowl Hill.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Sale of Japanese Goods: Honolulu June, 1860

The June 2, 1860 edition of The Polynesian featured news of an auction sale of Japanese goods. These items were shipped from Kanagawa to Honolulu on board the Bark Zoe. This was one of the first -if not the first- occasion in which Japanese products were sold in Hawaii in such a manner:

Sale of Japanese Goods

There will be an auction sale of the lacquered ware ex Zoe on Tuesday evening next, at the Armory of the Honolulu Rifles, A.P. Everett, Esq., officiating as knight of the hammer. Lots of beautiful things tempting to the eye will be exposed for sale, and we advise any one who don’t want to buy to keep away; for once there, with the auctioneer’s eye on you, in his winning manner, you’re gone in and nod before you know it. The mammoth lanterns and transparencies alone will be sights of themselves.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Polynesian Describes the Kanrin Maru

The Saturday, May 26, 1860 edition of The Polynesian featured a description of the Kanrin Maru and its three-day voyage from San Francisco to Honolulu:

NAVAL. The Japanese steam Corvette Candinmarruh, Capt. Kats Cintaro,* left San Francisco on the 8th inst. Had good weather on the passage down; steamed only three days. She is a pretty, bark-rigged propeller, of about 472 tons measurement and 100 horsepower, was built by the Dutch for the Japanese Government, and mounts twelve guns; four long 32s, six 32s carronades, and 2 swivels. She has 14 officers, (besides the Admiral and Captain*,) 60 petty officers, seamen and marines. In addition to her regular crew there are 4 American quartermasters and their cook, it being the duty of the former to take the weather wheel, or to con the ship. They are still in the U.S. service, having been wrecked in the Fennimore Cooper, and will leave the steamer on her return to Japan. They draw their pay from the U.S. Government and have their own provisions on board. The navigating, engineering, and in fact all other duty is performed by Japanese alone, who have shown themselves capable of rapidly acquiring our western civilization. All orders relating to the working of the vessel are in Dutch. As near as we can understand, the Japanese navy now comprises 45 sailing vessels and 5 steamers. The latter were built, 4 by the Dutch and 1 by the English. The Kaninmarrah is the flag ship of Admiral Timurrah-Seto-no-Kami. (Timurrah, Prince or Lord of Seto.)

*The captain was Rintaro Katsu (Kaishu Katsu).

Monday, September 13, 2010

Crew of the Japanese Steamer Kanrin Maru Meet Kamehameha IV

The Saturday, May 26, 1860 edition of The Polynesian featured news of a meeting between the Admiral of the Kanrin Maru, Yoshitake Kimura, and Kamehameha IV. Also present was David Kalakaua, future monarch of the Hawaiian Kingdom:


On Thursday the Admiral of his Imperial Majesty of Japan visited officially the King’s Ministers, by a special delegation of two officers of rank, the Admiral himself being unable to come on shore, owing to the necessity of his superintending the arrangements for the prompt dispatch of the steamer “Candinmarruh.” The officers he delegated, after their visit to the King’s Ministers, were specially charged to express the Admiral’s great desire to pay his personal respects, and present his officers to his majesty before his departure, if the King, taking into consideration his limited time, could so arrange as to receive his visit.

The King was pleased to appoint Friday, at 11 A.M., for the reception of the Admiral.

At 10 A.M., on that day, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, for himself and colleagues, returned the visit of the Admiral. He was received with the most marked courtesy, the Admiral explaining that as the Candinmarruh was lying at the wharf he could not salute.

Commander Brooke, of the U.S. Schooner ‘Fennimore Cooper,’ had the courtesy to inform the Minister of Foreign Affairs, by the previous mail, of the intended visit of the ‘Candinmarruh,’ and of the high rank of the Admiral on board, as well as the rank of the other officers.

On Friday it pleased his Majesty the King to grant an audience, at 11 A.M., to Kim-moo-ra-set-to-no-cami, Admiral of his Imperial Majesty of Japan, and Commander-in-Chief of his Imperial Majesty’s Naval Forces in the Pacific Ocean.

The Admiral was presented to the King by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who afterwards presented to his Majesty, Yeo-se-oea-uwo-hae and Na-ca-no-tua-Mungere, officers of his Staff, and Hooko-soya, Ukeokei and Si-tow Tomasu, Officers of his Household.

The Admiral expressed his thanks to his Majesty for the honor of the audience, and for the kindness and courtesy with which his Imperial majesty’s steamer Candinmarruh had been treated, and his hope that a treaty might be made regulating the friendly intercourse of two nations so contiguous to each other.

The King assured the Admiral that his policy being peace and friendship with all nations, he was glad to see the flag of his Imperial Majesty of Japan in his waters, and to welcome the Admiral and his officers to his kingdom. He requested the Admiral to inform the Emperor that he desired the most friendly relations with his empire; that from the contiguity of the two nations, he looked forward to a mutually profitable commercial intercourse between them, and desired a treaty to regulate that intercourse and perpetuate friendly relations of mutual respect, friendship and advantage forever. The King added that all Japanese subjects thrown upon the shores of his islands by misfortune at sea, had been treated with the utmost kindness, and that his wish was to treat them all in future with the kindness and hospitality extended to the subjects of the most favored nation.

The Admiral and the Officers of his Suite seemed much pleased with these sentiments of his Majesty. The Admiral expressed much regret, that having to sail so soon, he could not receive his Majesty on board in a proper manner, but expressed the hope that he could soon make another visit to this kingdom.

After the Admiral with his suite had taken leave of the King, the Captain of the steamer, Kats-Im-ta-ro, with his chief officers, arrived, and were presented to his Majesty, who received them in the most courteous manner. After some friendly conversation with the King, they were shown over the Palace.

At the reception the King was attended by the Chancellor and Chief Justice, Mr. Allen, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and David Kalakaua.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Polynesian Reports: Mr. Charles Wolcott Brooks Commercial Agent for Japan in California

The Saturday, May 26, 1860 edition of the Polynesian featured news in another story the about the appointment of Charles Wolcott Brooks as commercial agent for Japan in California:

JAPANESE COMMERCIAL AGENT –We learn from our San Francisco exchanges that the Admiral [“Timmurah-Seto-no-Kami, Timurrah, Prince or Lord of Seto” was Admiral Yoshitake Kimura, Lord of Settsu, Superintendent of Warships] of the Japanese Corvette Candimarrah has appointed Mr. Charles Wolcott Brooks Commercial Agent for Japan in California. The appointment of Consul would have been conferred, but for the fact that the Admiral lacked the power. He stated, however, that the Emperor would probably make the appointment hereafter.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Royal Reception for the Japanese Ambassadors and Officers of the U.S. Steamer Powhatan

In Honolulu a first-of-its-kind reception was held at the old royal palace (pictured). A Court Reception was held in which the ambassadors from Japan by Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma. Various members of the Hawaiian royal government were in attendance. In addtion, Admiral Tatnall and the officers of the U.S. Steamer Powhatan were also received.

The Pacific Commercial Advertiser reported on this occasion in its March 15, 1860 edition. This is my transcript of the article appearing on the second page:

Audience at the Palace

A very interesting ceremony took place on Friday last, being the reception at Court of their Excellencies, the Ambassadors from the Emperor of Japan to His Excellency the President of the United States, which, we believe, is the first time that persons holding the rank of Ambassadors have visited this kingdom. Besides the King’s Ministers and the prinicpal officers of the government, a number of foreigners were present on the occasion. The audience was granted in response to the request of his Excellency the Commissioner of the United States to present the Japanese Embassy, Admiral Tatnall and the officers of the Powhatan.

The Honolulu Rifles, under the command of Capt. Brown, turned out on the occasion, and arrived at the Palace at 1 ¼ , forming in line on each side of the palace steps. A company of Hawaiian infantry was also on duty, and was stationed at the gateway. His Majesty, accompanied by His Ministers and nobles in full uniform, entered the hall about half past one o’clock, and soon after, seven carriages arrived with officers of the Powhatan. In the first carriage, we noticed Admiral Tatnall, His Ex. J.W. Borden, Capt. Pearson, and Dr. G.P. Judd. As they alighted, the band of the steamer, which was stationed on the Portico, struck up the soul-enlivening national air of America, and the guests were conducted by His Ex. Mr. Whyllie and the chamberlain into the awaiting room, from which they were ushered into the reception room, and presented to the King individually by Mr. Borden.

At 2 o’clock, the carriages, two of which were the King’s, returned, bringing the Japanese Ambassadors and officers, accompanied by the aids of His Majesty and of Prince Lot, as guard of honor, on horseback. With the Embassy were Capt. Taylor and several officers of the Powhatan. Admiral Tattnall, Mr. Borden and Mr. Wyllie, to show the highest honor to them, received the Ambassadors from the carriages and led them into the awaiting room.

From this room, the first Ambassador, Sime-Bujen-no-kami, walked with Mr. Borden, and Muragake-Awage-no-kami, with the Admiral arm in arm, into the presence of the King, where they were presented to him. We noticed that not only the Ambassadors, but also each of the other Japanese, as they entered the throne room, bowed three times very low, according to their own custom on such occasions. His Majesty addressed them in substance as follows:

“I feel very much pleased to welcome you to my kingdom, and it affords me great pleasure that circumstances have favored me, through the kind permission of the United States Commissioner and the gentlemen in whose charge you as present are, to receive you as Ambassadors of the great Emperor of Japan, while on your way to the friendly government of the United States of America, a nation to which my people are so much indebted. I shall feel much gratified if your visit to these islands is agreeable to you, and hope that when you return to Japan you will express to your Sovereign the friendly meeting which I have had the honor of having with you, and the high esteem I entertain for His Majesty and His People.”

His Excellency, Sime, first Ambassador, replied, his words being translated into Dutch by Namura, and then into English by Mr. Banning:

“I am greatly obliged for the friendly reception with which your Majesty has honored us, and I beg to express my thanks for them. We have been pleased to take on our behalf and shall not forget the kindness with which we have been received in this city, not only by your Majesty, but by the inhabitants of your capital.”

At the conclusion of the addresses the Censor, Vice-Governor, and others in the Embassy, were presented, and after them a number of the officers of the Embassy. Each of them recorded in name in the autograph book of the Palace, which already contains those of many dignitaries of foreign countries; few, however, of them will be examined with more curiosity than these.

His Majesty, having retired, the Queen soon after appeared, accompanied by the Princess Victoria and some ten or twelve foreign ladies. The Ambassadors, as well as the Admiral and officers of the Powhatan, were presented individually to Her Majesty, and we must say that her bearing on the occasion was graceful, and left but one impression on all that she nobly filled the high place she occupies. Queen Victoria never entertained a royal embassy with more grace and suavity than did Queen Emma on this occasion. His Majesty also appeared to be in the best spirits and certainly received his royal visitors, the Japanese, in a style which must have given them favorable ideas. The special attention and kindness which he has shown them during their stay will not pass unnoticed. It was a spontaneous impulse of the generous heart of our Sovereign and can only be construed as a mark of respect not only to the President of the United States, but to the Emperor of Japan.

After viewing the apartments a short time, the Japanese Ambassadors and officers were conducted to the carriages with the same respect as on their arrival, and escorted back to their apartments by the guard of honor as before.

The whole ceremony was conducted with credit to all concerned. When the Ambassadors reached the Royal standard, the band struck up in honor of the Emperor of Japan, ‘God save the King.’ During the proceedings it also played the national airs. The Rifles never appeared in better trim. There were some thirty-five turned out, and they fully sustained the reputation so long enjoyed of being the star corps of the Pacific.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Japanese Steamship Kanrin Maru Leaves San Francisco for Honolulu

The U.S. Steamship Powhatan was not the only ship to cross the Pacific Ocean in 1860 with the Japanese Embassy. A state-of-the-art Dutch-designed ship called the Kanrin Maru accompanied the Powhatan. It did not stop in Honolulu with the Powhatan and the Japanese Embassy. Instead, it continued on to San Francisco.

The May 19, 1860 edition of The Polynesian featured the following about departure of the Kanrin Maru for Honolulu on its journey back to Japan.

In this and subsequent stories the ship is referred to as the Candamarrah or Kandinmurrah:

FOREIGN NEWS. By the arrival of the clipper bark Comet, Capt. Smith, in 13 days from San Francisco, the regular Atlantic mail of April 5 arrived, and also telegraphed dates from New York to April 19, and St. Louis, Mo., to April 20, San Francisco dates to May 1.

The Japanese steam frigate Candamarrah it is said would leave San Francisco in a few days after the Comet, for Honolulu, on her way home to Japan.

And also:

COMMERCIAL. Friday, May 18, 1860. By the arrival of the Comet we have dates from San Francisco to the 1st of May, which brought us intelligence of the expected sailing of the Japanese steamer Kandinmurrah, on the 6th for this.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Results of the Embassy Visit: Steam Communication with Japan Begins

One of the significant results of the Perry Expedition, the visit of the Japanese Embassy and the ratification of treaties and agreements was increased commerce. The following is from the May 12, 1860 edition of The Polynesian, published in Honolulu, quoting a news story out of San Francisco:

STEAM COMMUNICATION WITH JAPAN. –A company of gentlemen of this city, possessed with the means, have it in contemplation to establish a line or propellers between this port and Japan, by way of the Sandwich Islands. They have collected together all the statistics possible to obtain in regard to the trade present and prospective, between the two countries, and seem to be satisfied that the enterprise will prove a paying one, that is, if the money to build the vessels can be obtained at New York rates of interest.

W.R. Garrison, Esq., of C.K. Garrison & Co., is one of the gentlemen having the matter under consideration, and will soon proceed to New York, for the purpose of laying such data as may be obtained before merchants and steamship men there. The present impression among those having the matter in hand is that it will prove successful.

For our part, we can see no good reason why a line of say three propellers of moderate size should not prove a paying investment. The trade between this port and the Sandwich Islands, together with that of Japan, is amply sufficient, we judge, to freight at least two vessels a month; in addition to this, the passenger trade would be considerable. The project has our hearty wishes for its success, and we doubt not it also has the earnest wishes of every Californian. –San Francisco Paper.

Monday, September 6, 2010

1860: The Japanese Visit Castle & Cooke's Hardware Store

Recently, I was reading Amos Starr and Juliette Montague Cooke: Their Autobiographies Gleaned from their Journals and Letters, by Mary Atherton Richards.

On page 450 there is a transcript of Mr. Cooke’s journal referencing the arrival of the Powhatan and a visit by the Japanese:

“Mch. 6, ’60 –This morning the U.S. Steamer Powhatan, Josiah Thrall, has come in our harbor with Japanese ambassador attended by a retinue of about 72.”

“Mch 9, ’60 – 4 Japanese called into the store & bought a pocket knife.”

“Mch 10, ’60 – This afternoon we have shut the store, for most have gone on board the steamer Powhatan, but I have written two pages to Mother. Yesterday I paid to Capt. Holdsworth $200 being 10% on two shares of Haiku Sugar Co. The same for A. Wilcox.”

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Polynesian Reports: Japanese Embassy and Currency Exchanges

Japanese Embassy and Currency Exchanges

The Polynesian. Honolulu: Saturday, March 10, 1860, Page 3.

The arrival of the U.S. steamer Powhatan with this Embassy, which is destined to produce such an important effect upon the trade of the world with this powerful, industrious and hitherto comparatively unknown nation, has been a topic of conversation in business circles.

The question of currency still continues a vexed one, and more difficult to settle than the five-franc and American half dollar on here. The relation of gold to silver, which existed at first upon the opening of trade, being so much less than that of the European standard, was eagerly seized upon by foreign traders, and large amounts of money were made on the interchange of treasure; but the Japanese have now raised their standard more in unison with that of the Outsiders, and put a stop to the efflux of this precious metal.

We learn that Mexican dollars have been adopted as a medium of currency, and with the aid of a Japanese government “chop” stamped on them, after the fashion of Spanish authorities in Manila pass in trade. On the return of the Embassy we have no doubt but the same preference will be shown to the American dollar.

The Polynesian Reports: The Ball at Dr. Guillou’s

The Polynesian. Honolulu: Saturday, March 10, 1860, Page 2.

Last evening Dr. Guillou gave a ball at his residence in Hotel Street, in honor of Admiral Tattnall and the Officers of the U.S. Steamer Powhatan, now in port. It was a gay and brilliant affair, and will long be remembered.

The decorations of the rooms were exceedingly tasteful and chaste, being festoons of the national American colors studded with silver starts throughout. Three complimentary portraits adorned the principal room; George Washington, within the folds of his country’s flag, His Majesty the King, within the Hawaiian flag, and Her Majesty Queen Emma, within a shield of evergreens and roses. The refreshments were ample, sumptuous and recherches. And there was nothing wanting that the experience, taste and attention of the host and his lady could provide for the enjoyment of their guests.

Their Majesties the King and Queen and H.R.H. Prince Kamehameha honored the ball with their presence. Some of the Japanese dignitaries were also present and appeared to enjoy the gay and novel scene before them with great pleasure.

To judge by the great number who did themselves the honor of attending the ball, Dr. Guillou is the most popular man in town; to judge by the result, it was a great success. Besides the great personages already mentioned, and Admiral Tattnall and the officer of the Powhatan, to whose honor the ball was specially given, it would be easier for us to enumerate those of good society who were absent, than to attempt the faintest outline of those who were present.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Polynesian Reports: Arrival of the Powhatan

The U.S. Steam Frigate Powhatan
The Polynesian: Saturday, March 10, 1860, Page 2.

The above steam frigate, bearing the broad pennant of Flag Officer Josiah Tatnall, arrived here on Monday last from Kanagawa, Japan, having on board the Japanese Embassy to the United States. The Powhatan, we understand, is bound to San Francisco, where she will undergo some repairs at Mare Island, rendered necessary by hard service and bad weather encountered during her cruises in the Chinese and Japanese waters. From San Francisco she will proceed to Panama with the Embassy, which will thence be transferred to Aspinwall and embarked on board of the U.S. Roanoke for some port in the U.S.

On Tuesday salutes were exchanged with the Battery on Punchbowl Hill.

The Powhatan left Japan on the 13th of February last, and has had much stormy and bad weather on the passage. When north of these islands, she changed her course and run down here, to take in additional supplies of coal, water, etc., to last her to San Francisco. It is thought that she will remain here another week.

We acknowledge the following list of officers on board, kindly furnished us by Mr. B.F. Gallaher, the Purser:

Flag Officer: Josiah Tatnall.

Captain: George F. Pearson.

Lieutenants: James D. Johnston, Stephen D. Trenchard, Wm. W. Roberts, Alexander A. Semmes, Charles E. Thorburn, Robert Boyd, Jr.

Fleet Surgeon: W. A. W. Spotswood.

Passed Asst. Surgeon: Chas. H. Williamson.

Assistant Surgeon: John W. Sanford, Jr.

Purser: B. F. Gallaher.

Chaplain: Henry Wood.

Marine Officer: Captain A.S. Taylor.

Chief Engineer: William H. Shock.

First Asst. Engineers: Wm. W. Rutherford, Richard C. Potts.

Second Asst. Engineer: George W. City.

Third Asst. Engineers: Wm. H. King, E.R. Archer, Wm. W. Dungan, George S. Bright.

Boatswain: Edward Kenney.

Acting Gunner: Henry Fitzosbourne.

Carpenter: Joseph G. Thomas.

Sailmaker: Augustus A. Warren

Commodore’s Secretary: T. A. Nicholson.

Captain’s Clerk: Leonard W. Riley.

Purser’s Clerk: Chas. P. Thompson.

Master’s Mates: Chas. R. Betts, Augustus Stebbins, Gilbert M. L. Cook.

Update: Japanese Suit of Armor and Josiah Tatnall... in Georgia?

After I posted my blog post yesterday about the Japanese suit of armor Commodore Josiah Tatnall brought with him on the U.S. Steamer Powhatan I decided to contact the Georgia Historical Society.

Nora Lewis, d
irector of Library and Archives of the Georgia Historical Society, responded with the following:

Dear Mr. Mead:

Thank you for your interest in the collections of the Georgia Historical Society. Unfortunately, the Japanese suit of armor was lent, in the 1960s, to a museum that ultimately went out of business and it was never returned to the Georgia Historical Society. As far as I know, no one has ever been able to track it down and it is considered lost from our collection.

I'm sorry I don't have better news. If you ever hear anything about it's current location, please pass that information on to us.

Nora Lewis

I sincerely appreciate the prompt attention Ms. Lewis provided. Though locating this historical artifact will be difficult at best I hope to find it.

The Polynesian Reports: Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma Hold Court

Past Week: The Court

The Polynesian (Honolulu): Saturday, March 10, 1860, Page 2.

On Friday last, the 9th inst., it pleased His Majesty the King to hold a Court at the Palace for the reception of the distinguished visitors lately arrived from Japan, on board the U.S. steamer Powhatan.

At 1 ½ P.M., His Majesty’s carriages having been places at their disposal, Flag Officer Josiah Tatnall, commanding the United States East India Squadron, accompanied by the Commissioner of the United States near this Court, Hon. J.W. Borden, and Captain Pierson and Officers of the steam frigate Powhatan, arrived at the Palace grounds, and were received at the lower gate by the Companies of His Majesty’s Household Troops on duty, and at the stairs of the palace by the Honolulu Rifles, under command of Capt. J.H. Brown. The Admiral and suite were then introduced by Mr. Wyllie, the Minister of Foreign Relations, and presented by Mr. Borden to His Majesty, who was pleased to offer them a welcome and express his gratification at meeting with the gallant Admiral.

As soon as the reception of the Admiral and the officers of the Powhatan was ended, His Majesty’s carriages and the Guard of Honor were sent to the Japanese Ambassadors, who arrived at the Palace with their suite a little under 2 P.M., and were received with the same military honors as the Admiral; and the four principal gentlemen of the embassy, occupying distinguished ranks in the Japanese Empire, were presented by Admiral Tatnall and Mr. Borden to His Majesty, who welcomed them to his Court, and expressed his desire to make their stay in this place agreeable. In reply, the Ambassadors expressed their acknowledgments for the courteous attentions paid them by His Majesty. The conversation being held in Dutch, Mr. Banning, of this town, acted as interpreter of His Majesty, who spoke in English.

His Majesty was attended by all the high dignitaries and Chiefs of the Kingdom, and by all prominent officers under the Government present in Honolulu, as well as by many private gentlemen who had been permitted to witness the presentation.

The King having retired, Her Majesty the Queen, accompanied by her ladies, entered the throne room and was pleased to receive Admiral Tatnall, Captain Pierson and officers, the Japanese Ambassadors, who were presented in the same order and formality as before.

Her Majesty having enquired how the Ambassadors liked the country, they expressed their perfect satisfaction with whatever they had seen, and their gratitude to both the King and Queen for their kind attentions to their wants and also for the honor of this audience.

The reception over, the Ambassadors were conveyed back to their residence with the same honor as when they arrived, as were also the Admiral and his suite.

To-day, at noon, His Majesty’s Minister of Foreign Relations, R.C. Wyllie, Esq., will return the visit of the Ambassadors, on behalf of His Majesty, at their residence.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Japanese Suit of Armor and Josiah Tatnall... in Georgia?

This morning I was at the Hawaii State Library reading through the March 1860 editions of The Polynesian, a Honolulu-based business oriented newspaper. As was the case with other news sources of the time, The Polynesian featured news of the arrival of the Powhatan with Josiah Tatnall, his crew and the Japanese ambassadorial delegation.

A transcript of an article I found caught my eye. It references an article quoted from the North China Herald about a Japanese suit of armor. The Polynesian reported that the suit described here was in the possession of Commodore Tatnall of the Powhatan, and it was his intention to donate it to the "Historical Society of Georgia." The commodore was a native Georgian.

I've contacted the Georgia Historical Society in the hopes that it may have this suit among it's collections:

Japan Armor. The Polynesian: Honolulu. Saturday, March 10, 1860, Page 2.

Of the many beautiful productions of art in which Japan abounds, none has excited greater or more deserved admiration than a complete suit of armor purchased upon his late visit to that country by His Excellency Mr. Ward, U.S. Minister to China. This curious and magnificent suit is of mixed chain and lacquered copper plate, and although evidently of great antiquity is yet in a complete state of preservation. The helmet is of polished steel, engraved and richly inlaid with gold. Upon the summit is an aperture for the insertion of a small staff with a Japanese flag. The mask and gorget are of fine elastic plates of steel. The armlets, anklets and gauntlets are likewise of steel with concentric hoops in front for the purpose of entangling and breaking a sword or lance. The cuirass (or body armor) is of copper, covered and ornamented beautifully with silk. The designs and chasings are of the most exquisite workmanship, and the entire panoply has been pronounced by those familiar with the armories of Malta and the Tower of London, the most perfect and unique specimen extant. It is said to have belonged to the grandfather of the present Emperor of Japan, and is therefore invested with an historical as well as artistic interest. Accompanying the armor are two handsome Japanese swords, and a pair of heavy silver stirrups inlaid with gold. We learn that is it the intention of His Excellency to present it entire to the Historical Society of Georgia, his native State. It is the only suit of armor ever obtained from Japan. –North China Herald.

We are informed by a person who has seen it, and is most eulogistic in his praises of its beauties and merits as a chef d’oeuvre, that the armor above described was presented by His Excellency Mr. Ward to Admiral Tattnall and is now on board the Powhatan, where the Admiral showed it to our informant. So fine a specimen of Japanese skill could fall into no better hands than the gallant Admiral’s, who has endeared himself to men of every nation by the kindness of the heart conjoined with true bravery exhibited by him towards the unfortunate Englishmen who were exposed to such ruthless slaughter at the Peiho forts.

The Polynesian Reports: Arrival of the Japanese Embassy to Honolulu

The Polynesian: Saturday, March 10, 1860, Page 2.

The arrival of the Japanese Embassy to the President of the United States, on board of the American steam frigate Powhatan, on Monday last, has imparted animation and topics of talk to the social circles of Honolulu. The Embassy, in conformity with the principle of political organization of that country, consists of two principal Ambassadors, Princes of the highest rank among the nobility of the Empire, and their Associates, nobles of nearly equal rank with themselves; these four, accompanied by a suite of sixteen officers and fifty-two of lower grade, landed on Monday and proceeded to the French Hotel, where they spent their first night in a foreign land. The following morning the Embassy removed its quarters to the Dudoit House, which had been engaged and refurbished by his Majesty, and his carriages placed at their disposal, an act of courtesy as well to the Sovereign from whom the Ambassadors are coming, as to the President to whom they are going.

Quick, intelligent and inquisitive, the curiosity of these visitors is constant and vivacious. Every object that is new to them is inspected, inquired into, described and sketched –for a draughtsman of very superior ability accompanies the Embassy for the purpose of furnishing the Official Report with the necessary illustrations; a curious counterpart, no doubt, if ever made public, to the splendid official edition of Commodore Perry’s expedition to Japan. Polite, affable and patient with the curiosity of our people in their regard, they draw freely on the same good qualities in others.

That the Japanese Empire has rescinded its policy of seclusion and entered once more into the family of nations, is one of those peaceful achievements that will redound more lasting glory, more solid profit to the United States, more wide-spread benefits to the world in general, than any other public acts beyond the borders of the Union, since the Declaration of Independence. And the confidence as well as the preference shown by the Emperor of Japan, in selecting the United States as the first country with which, and through which, to introduce his Ambassadors to that unknown world which clamored for his acquaintance, will not be lost upon a people so sensible to their own interests, so sensitive to the point of honor as the Americans.

The following is the list of the personnel of the Japanese Embassy:

Simme-bujen-no-kami, First Ambassador

Muragake-Awage-no-kami, Second Ambassador

Ogure-Bungo-no-kami, 1st Associate and Remembrancer

Morita Okataro, Vice-Governor of Yeddo, 2nd Associate and Treasurer

Naruse Gensiro, Skahara Jhugoro, Officers of the 1st rank belonging to the Ambassadors

Hetaka Keisaburo, Osakabe Tetstaro, Officers of the 1st rank belonging to the 1st Associate and Remembrancer

Matsmoto Sannojiro, Yosida Sagosaimou, Under Officers belonging to the Ambassadors

Masuda Sunjuro, Tuge Hosingoro, Under Officers of the Vice-Governor

Kuri-sima-hico-hatsiro, Sewosawa-Scogero, Under officers of the 1st Associate, etc.

Namura Gohatsiro, Tateish Tokujiro, Tateish Onagero, Interpreters

Meodake, Morayama, Cowasaki, Doctors

On Thursday last Admiral Tatnall and suite, and the Japanese Ambassadors and their suite, accompanied by the U.S. Commissioner Hon. J.W. Borden, made a call if etiquette on His Majesty’s residence of H.R.H. Prince Kamehameha, adjoining the Palace grounds. The Admiral and the Ambassadors were severally introduced to H.R.H. the Prince, to the Chancellor and Chief Justice Mr. Allen, the Minister of Foreign Relations, Mr. Wyllie, and the Minister of Finance, Mr. Gregg. On retiring the Ambassadors, according to the custom of their country, made presents to the Ministers of several articles of value.