Friday, December 30, 2011

NYT: The Japanese Embassy Arrives in San Francisco from Honolulu

New York Times: April 16, 1860. Page 5.

Eleven Days from San Francisco to New York
Arrival and Reception of the Japanese Ambassadors
ST. JOSEPH, MO., Saturday, April 14.

The first messenger on the Central Overland Pony Express arrived here at 4 o’clock yesterday afternoon, with California dates to April 3, and Carson Valley dates to the 4th.

This messenger came through in ten days to a minute, his having left San Francisco at 4P.M. on April 2.

Owing to the derangement of the wires between there and St. Louis, the reports were delayed until this morning.

Under the date of April 3, we receive the following news from San Francisco:

The United States steamer Powhatan, Capt. PEARSON, bearing the flag of Commodore TATNALL, arrived on the 27th of March from Japan, via Honolulu. She brings the Japanese embassy, consisting of two principle Ambassadors, Princes of the highest rank among the nobility of the empire, and two associates, who are nobles of nearly equal rank. These four are of the Emperor’s Council. They are accompanied by a suite of sixteen officers. Among them are three interpreters and fifty-two subordinates-making seventy-two in all.

The Powhatan arrived at Honolulu March 5th, and remained there till the 18th. The Ambassadors were there received with all formal honors. Private hospitalities were extended on every hand, and the King and Queen held court at the palace for the reception of the distinguished foreigners, and welcomed them in appropriate terms. They were also entertained at a grand ball given by the officers of the Powhatan, expressing great delight at the gay and novel scene.

They bring $100,000 to defray their personal expenses, although the Embassy is invited at the sole expense of the United States. They were given the best quarters on board the Powhatan during the voyage, and arrived in good health and highly pleased.

The chief dignitaries are magnificently dressed in embroidered silk robes, each wearing a sword of beautiful workmanship. They have conducted themselves with great dignity and propriety.

The Japanese Ambassadors visited San Francisco on the 31st ult., and have remained the honored guests of the city ever since. Twenty thousand dollars has been appropriated from the city treasury to provide for them suitable entertainment. All the corporation officers, the members of the Legislature, the Governor, and citizens generally, have paid their respects in person, and on the 2s inst a grand public reception was given the strangers at the largest hall in the city, where the United States officers, both civil and military, with the foreign Consuls and State authorities, participated in the reception ceremonies.

The Japanese carry an immense amount of baggage, including many boxes of presents to the United States Government.

The Powhatan, on the day of her arrival, went to Mare Island Navy Yard, all the Ambassadors remaining on board. It will require several days to overhaul the steamer and take in coal, when she will sail for Panama. The Ambassadors will thence proceed to Aspinwall, where the United States steamer Roanoke is expected to be waiting to convey them to Washington.

They are so well pleased with the Powhatan that they express their wish to have her detained at Panama to convey them back to Japan on their return from the United States. They purpose spending about a month on the Atlantic side, although their time is not limited.

The Board of Supervisors sent a memorial up to the Legislature to-day, asking an appropriation of $20,000 to be expended in entertaining the Japanese embassy.

The attaches of the Powhatan are ordered on board on the 5th inst., and the steamer is expected to sail for Panama with the Commissioners about that time.

The Powhatan arrived up from Mare Island to-day, and a great military demonstration was taking place when the messenger left.
The Japanese steam-corvette Candinamurrah has been in the dry dock at Mare Island Navy Yard, and been put in complete order free of charge, Commodore Cunningham explaining that while he had no actual authority to render this accommodation, he felt sure he was but carrying out the intentions of his Government in doing for the Japanese steamer all that he could do for an American man-of-war.

*A few lines later the article continues with the following:
Wm. B. Garrison and others are negotiating for a line of propellers to Japan. Mr. Garrison goes East in July.

The Rover, from Japan, brings 2,700 tubs of rapeseed oil, 300 bundles seaweed, 200 bundles cuttle fish, 1,300 pieces of plank, and a miscellaneous cargo of Japanese products.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

New York Times: Candinamarrah (Kanrin Maru) Arrives in San Francisco

New York Times: April 10, 1860:
Departure of the Japanese Embassy
A Japanese Man-of-War at San Francisco
Interesting from California, Oregon, British Columbia and the Sandwich Islands
Springfield, MO., Saturday, April 7

The Overland mail coach, with regular San Francisco dates to March 19, arrived here last night.
San Francisco, Monday, March 19 -12M.

The Japanese steam corvette Candinamarrah arrived here on Saturday, the 14th, forty days from Jeddo. The vessel is of 250 tons burden, has a crew of fifty-seven men, carried ten guns, and was built three years ago for the Emperor of Japan, at a cost of $70,000. She is sent here by the Emperor to announce that the Japanese Embassy would leave Kanagawa by the United States Steamer Powhatan on the 11th of February, via the Sandwich Islands and San Francisco. 

The object of the Emperor in sending a vessel to announce the coming of the Ambassadors is to manifest in this manner his high estimation of the American Government. No other armed vessel belonging to that nation has been permitted to leave its shores.

The Candinamarrah brings the officers and a portion of the crew of the United States schooner, Fenimore Cooper, recently wrecked; and at the request of the Emperor, Lieut. John N. Brooks, U.S.N., volunteered to assist the Japanese officers in making the voyage over the, to them, untried ocean.

The Chief Admiral of the Imperial Japanese navy comes by this vessel. She will remain here until the Powhatan arrives, and then return at once to Jeddo, to report the arrival of the Ambassadors and suite thus far on their journey.

The people of San Francisco are delighted at this manifestation of good feeling on the part of the Japanese government, and will do everything possible to entertain their visitors, hoping thereby to stimulate the lucrative trade which has already commence between this country and the Empire of Japan.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

New York Times Announces Kanrin Maru's Arrival in San Francisco

View of San Francisco, 1860

New York Times: April 11, 1860

Arrival and Reception of a Japanese Warrior Propeller-Narrow Escape of an Irish Riot-Death and Marriage of Newspapers-News from the North-Items from China-Town Topics-Missionary Intelligence, &c., &c.

From Our Own Correspondent.
San Francisco, Cal., Tuesday, March 20, 1860.

Day before yesterday our people were informed that a snug, neat craft was steaming through the Golden Gate and up the harbor, bearing at her mizzen a white flag with a red ball in the centre, and at her main a white lozenge ground in a circle of red. The telegraph has shuttered and stammered and told untruths enough about the stranger to excite extraordinary curiosity.

As the steamer came to an anchor the news flew about town that she was a Japanese corvette, the Candinmarruh, a three-year-old Dutch-built vessel, from a land that never sent a craft abroad before, having on board an Admiral with an outrageous name, a full complement of officers and seventy men; also, Lieut. Brooke and Mr. Keno, (artist), and nine of the crew of the little schooner Fennimore Cooper, that was wrecked some months ago on the Japan coast.

The object of this unheralded visit was to announce the approach, and, on their arrival, to return with tidings of the safety of the grand Embassy, now every day due by the steamer Powhatan from the Japanese Government to ours.

It seems that the Candinmarruh was sent ahead because our Lieut. Brooke was there to pilot her over and to insure a gracious reception of her representative officers and crew. A visit on board was like a trip to Kanagawa. The Admiral KEMAURATONOKAME -who, by the way, is no sailor, but a Provincial Governor, of the rank of Commodore, and was selected for this mission that our high and mighty men-of-war might feel that they talked with their equals when they met him- sat on the floor of his cabin as we entered, enjoying the attentions of a hair-dresser. The Captain, (KATSINTARBOH) was in but poor health. He looks marvelously like COL. FREMONT, talks English intelligibly, and has a great reputation, at home, of being a great astronomer.

The officers all wore two swords, of polished steel, with milk-white, shark-skin covered handles. Except for their elaborately dressed hair and their embroidered sandals, in their undress they looked not very unlike the uniformed officers of our navy. The marines were clothed in dark blue frocks; each with his rank and style of his service written on a patch between his shoulders, and in blue flowing trowsers. The sailors looked much like Chinamen, but all were cleanly, active, curious, and polite.

To the Americans on board, the after cabin and servants n abundance had been surrendered on the voyage, which was 37 days long, and to the American sailors, who had helped work the ship, the Admiral came down liberally with the coins, as a present, on leaving. There were no idols on board, of course, no hints of any religious faith, though prayers in the forecastle, our people say, they had often heard. Chairs and tables were no part of the furniture. They fed on cured fish, rice, vegetables and tea. The chopsticks stood instead of knives and forks.

Some of the officers came on shore under guidance of Lieut. BROOKE, on Saturday night, eat a Christian dinner at a hotel, and experienced the luxury of ice creams. When invited to a bath, they declined, on the ground that the Admiral must precede them in any such privilege.

Next day was Sunday. Our city officials knew scarcely what to do. If they invited the distinguished Pagans to Church, it might alarm their sensitiveness, for they have had a national experience with Jesuits; if they ignored all church going, it would scarcely be the thing for a Christian city's fathers. At last, four of the Supervisors, headed by their President, TESCHEMAKER, (we have no Mayor, you know,) were rowed off of the corvette- were announced as of rank enough to talk familiarly with even the Admiral, were graciously saluted, and then invited the strangers to see the city under their escort. The Admiral agreed, but it took half an hour to manage the order of the going. The Admiral proposed to take his own boat and certain of his men; he invited TESCHEMAKER to ride with him, but would not hear of the proposition that "his men" should go too. Lieut. BROOKE had a hard job of it to convince his Honor that TESCHEMAKER was no better than "his men," to wit, the other Supervisors. Finally, the Admiral and the President were rowed off together, and "the men" of the two officials dispatched in another boat.

On landing, our President politely leaped out ahead, to help the Admiral out, and had a narrow escape of giving offense by thus taking the precedence. The two walked up side by side mutely; the others, in careful order of rank- the democratic crowd humoring the strange notions of etiquette by opening for the noble gentlemen to pass to their carriages. Here another half-hour was spent in getting the right order of rank.

Then up to the International parlors. Fortunately our modest little Irish Governor, DOWNEY, was in town. Hearing what was up, he went over to honor the occasion. Entering with a single companion, it took all the faith of the strangers could command to believe that a little man with a black coat, with no retinue, could be a genuine Governor. When it was fairly comprehended, and the interpreter had turned certain classical Japanese into broken English and sundry Californian Executive compliments into Japanese, the Admiral expressed a desire that the Governor would order a dry-dock prepared to give the corvette a thorough overhauling -explaining so clearly that no interpreter was needed to render it, that the Yankees should not be out of pocket for their courtesy in this business. His Excellency, with a straight face, signified that it should be done as promptly as the lumber-schooners now occupying the dry-dock could be got ready to launch.

While these two high grands thus consulted, the other officials, returning to the carriages, were being conveyed through the principle streets, in sight of the crouching lions, past the churches and hotels, around the plaza, over Rincon Hill, and to Steamboat Point. Here is being constructed a magnificent boat for the Sacramento route - a sort of a New World or Isaac Newton. One glance sufficed for their expression of admiration, and then they returned to business. The whole corps of foreigners pulled out note-books and pencils, divided into companies, cut the boat into sections and each sketched his share. They made measurements, took drafts, copied curves, and did not cease until satisfied that putting their work together, they could construct the counterpart of the Crysopolis at home.

By the way, Mr. KENO says the Japanese, in coming over, showed themselves experts in every department of engineering, but not extraordinary as sailors. It was not until they had been several days at sea that they consented to divide into watches, -it was a new idea to them; but when they had tried it a day, they seemed to relish it wonderfully. They had Dutch chronometers on board, and gave evidence of a Dutch education. Back to the hotel, they dined, rather awkwardly handling our unequal and barbarous chopsticks, but managing notwithstanding to do justice to their dinner. They marched back after dark to the boats, their path illuminated with paper lanterns.

Yesterday, a grand salute was fired in their honor, and returned in sort. The officers visited several foundries and ship-yards. To-day they inspect the fortifications of the harbor and the national vessel in port. They will, while here, be publicly received and be subjected to the inevitable hand-shaking of the Democracy.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Looking Back 1840: Shipwrecked Japanese in Hawaii

I was recently perusing the microfiche copies of The Polynesian at the Hawaii State Library. This publication was considered the "official voice" of the Hawaiian royal government starting in 1840.

It was in the June 6, 1840 edition of this paper that I found one of -if not the first published story- of shipwrecked Japanese in the Hawaiian Islands. In subsequent editions there are longer, much more detailed stories which at least for now I've not transcribed.


There are in town, under the care of Dr. Judd, four Japanese who were taken by a whaleship from the wreck of a junk, on which they had been driven about, by wind and wave, for many months and suffered great hardships.

Their story is full of interest, and which we hope to receive for a future number, from Dr. Baldwin of Maui, in whose family the most intelligent of their number has resided for some time.

They are now here with the hope of obtaining a passage to their own country, either by way of Kamschatka, or through the Expedition.

Some of the coin which they brought with them is in circulation in the village, consisting of gold and silver pieces, of an oblong shape, from the value of a real to four dollars, and very neatly stamped.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

'Castaway Becomes Ship’s Captain'

This is the third and final of the Star Bulletin stories I found this past weekend at the Hawaii State Library. This story provides some details of the life of John Manjiro, who I have posted about before in this history blog.

Castaway Becomes Ship’s Captain

Star Bulletin: Thursday, September 22, 1960. Page 24.

‘Voyager to Destiny’

The dramatic story of John Manjiro Nakahama is told by Emily V. Warinner, a former Star Bulletin staff member, in her book, ‘Voyager to Destiny.’

(Click here for the Google Books edition online and

On February 10, 1860, Japan’s first modern man-of-war, the Kanrin Maru, left the port of Uraga, Japan, for San Francisco.

The ship was commanded by John Manjiro Nakahama, who had been marooned as a young man on a desert island in 1841.

After he was rescued by men aboard a New England whaling ship, Manjiro was taken to Hawaii, then to New Bedford, Massachusetts.

There he studied English, received instructions in vocational education and the art of navigation.

In Ocober, 1849, Nakahama left for Japan by way of Hawaii and the Ryukyus. When he returned home after 12 years absence, his mother welcomed him with tears. She had given him up for dead and had built a tomb in his memory.

It was this same Manjiro who, a year after his return, was to serve as interpreter during negotiations between the United States and Japan that led to the opening of Japan to the outside world.

It was exactly a hundred years ago this year that Nakahama returned to Honolulu as Captain Manjiro of the Kanrin Maru.

Reports indicate Nakahama probably was the first Japanese to acquire a knowledge of the English language.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

'Family Owns Heirlooms of Early-Day Interpreter'

In my previous post I mentioned that in September, 1960 then-Crown Prince Akihito and Princess Michiko came to Hawaii. The occasion was the 100th anniversary of the arrival here of the Japanese Embassy on the USS Powhatan, but also commemorate the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the first large group of immigrants from Japan. They came to work in the sugar plantations.

Below is the text from a story I found in the Thursday, September 22, 1960 edition of Honolulu’s Star Bulletin. A picture that I was not able to reproduce shows “The mother of Mrs. Chiyo Izumi is shown with her grandparents." It turns out that Mrs. Izumi featured here is the granddaughter of Gohachiro Namura, who served as an interpreter with the Japanese ambassadors:

Family Owns Heirlooms of Early-Day Interpreter

Star Bulletin. Honolulu, Thursday, September 22, 1960

Items once owned by Japan’s chief interpreter in the United States-Japanese commercial treaty ratification of 1860 are treasured heirlooms of a Honolulu family.

The interpreter was Gohachiro Namura, who went with the Japanese diplomatic delegation to Washington, D.C., 100 years ago.

The owner of the heirlooms is Namura’s granddaughter Mrs. Chiyo Izumi, 70, who lives at 2719-C Laniloa Road, Pacific Heights.

Namura, originally a Dutch interpreter, learned English from a Scotsman in Nagasaki, Japan.

Among Mrs. Izumi’s possessions are Namura’s wallet, a medicine case about the size of a cigarette lighter, scraps of writings and pictures of Gohachiro Namura and his family.

Mrs. Izumi and her husband, Chomatsu, have lived here since 1947 when they moved from San Francisco.

Monday, August 22, 2011

"A Friendship That Grows"

Over this past weekend I was at the Hawaii State Library perusing the microfiche records of Honolulu’s Star Bulletin, today known as the Star Advertiser.

In September, 1960 Crown Prince Akihito and Princess Michiko (now Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko) came to Hawaii. The occasion was the 100th anniversary of the arrival here of the Japanese Embassy on the USS Powhatan, but also commemorate the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the first large group of immigrants from Japan. They came to work in the sugar plantations.

Virtually nothing was substantively reported on the Japanese Embassy. More coverage was given to the arrival of the Japanese sugar workers. This somewhat surprises me, given the visit by members of the imperial family from Japan.

Below is the text from various stories mentioning the first Japanese diplomatic mission from 1860.

A Friendship That Grows

Star Bulletin: Thursday, September 22, 1960

A century ago, Hawaii, then an independent kingdom, entertained representatives of Japan on their way to Washington to sign a treaty of commerce and amity with the United States.

Today, Hawaii, now a full partner in the sisterhood of states, welcomes with even more enthusiasm than that displayed 100 years ago the Crown Prince and Princess of Japan, on a good-will state visit commemorating the important centennial.

Crown Prince Akihito and Princess Michiko also will help celebrate the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the first large group of immigrants from Japan to work in Hawaii’s booming sugar industry. Sugar had made rapid gains after King Kalakaua negotiated a trade treaty with the United States in 1875.

The contribution of the Japanese to Hawaii’s growth is self-evident. Today the children and grandchildren of the early immigrants are among the business, professional and civic leaders of the community, and hold positions of high trust in our government.

Hawaii has been charmed by Prince Akihito before. He won our hearts in 1953 as a modest youth of 19. Today and tomorrow we expect to be charmed also by his attractive young princess, whose marriage into the royal family attracted almost as much notice in this country as it did in Japan.

The Japanese royal coupe will find Hawaii hospitable and friendly, eager to make their visit as pleasant as possible. For they are more than a personable young couple, they are symbols of a people with whom Hawaii has inseparable links.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Research Update

It's been a while since I blogged on this site. Summer has hardly been a time of rest and calm repose on my end. If anything, this has been one of the busiest summer seasons in years. As my friends will attest, I find it better to be productively busy than bored.

Starting this week I will be on a sabbatical of sorts from my teaching duties at Hawaii Tokai International College. This is my first break in five years. I have joined the adjunct faculty of the University of Hawaii's Kapiolani Community College Arts and Sciences. So far, it has been a delightful adventure in learning and working with short-term visiting groups from various places in Eastern Asia, most notably South Korea and Indonesia.

This allows me some needed flexibility in terms of time. My passion and interest in the 1860 Japanese Embassy's visit to Hawaii -and that of the American's on board the U.S.S. Powhatan- has not diminished. Stay tuned! I sense that the best is yet to come!

With regards,

Jeffrey Bingham Mead

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Team of Rivals: U.S.S. Powhatan and the Attack on Fort Sumter...

Lately I have been reading Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln authored by Doris Kerns Goodwin. It was in the chapter entitled “Mystic Chords of Memory” that I found references to the U.S.S. Powhatan -the same steam-powered ship that brought the ambassadorial delegation from Japan to the Hawaiian Islands in March, 1860, and thenceforth to San Francisco.

Many are familiar with the crisis involving the secession of South Carolina from the United States and the federal installation –still in Union hands- at Fort Sumter in 1861. Supplies were running low. Lincoln’s cabinet debated whether or not to re-supply it. In addition, Fort Pickens in Pensacola Bay, Florida remained in Union control and debate ensued about what to do to avert civil war. There were concerns about the number of “navy men who were openly disloyal to the Union.” As Goodwin reports, the President signed orders on April 1 to Commandant Andrew Foote of the Navy Yard in Brooklyn NY to “fit out the Powhatan without delay” for was to be a secret mission by the Powhatan to Fort Pickens, not Fort Sumter. The Powhatan was under the command of Lt. David Porter.
Goodwin states that, “The Powhatan was the U.S. Navy’s most powerful warship,” on page 343. “Under no circumstances” should “the fact that she is fitting out” be disclosed to the Navy department, Lincoln emphasized. Both Navy Secretary Welles and Captain Fox, whose plans for the relief of Sumter depended on the Powhatan, remained unaware of the secret orders. With its mighty guns and three hundred sailors, the Powhatan was supposed to play an essential role in backing up the tugboats carrying supplies to Sumter.”

In a move that had serious repercussions, President Lincoln signed orders without reading them carefully that committed the Powhatan to both Fort Pickens and Fort Sumter. Gideon Welles, the secretary of the Navy, wrote to Samuel Mercer who was commander at the time of the Powhatan. Goodwin wrote that on April 5, Mercer was instructed to depart New York for Charleston with the goal of arriving there by the morning of the 11th. “If the supply boats were permitted to land at Fort Sumter, he should return to New York at once. If their entry was opposed, then the Powhatan and its supply ships should be used to open the way,” Goodwin writes.

With conflicting orders for the Powhatan to be essentially at two places at once the president’s strategy was “embarrassed by conflicting orders from the Secretary of the Navy.” Discovering the conflicting orders, Navy Secretary Welles and Secretary of State Seward went to the President. Seward was ordered at almost midnight to send Commander Porter a telegram “ordering him to return the Powhatan to Mercer without delay” so that the Sumter expedition could proceed. The Powhatan had already begun its voyage to Florida, not Charleston Harbor. When a Union fast ship finally caught up with the Powhatan, Porter continued to Florida anyway –assuming that “the previous order signed by the president had priority.”

Meanwhile, the Confederates had intercepted orders regarding the Powhatan and the attempt to resupply Fort Sumter. Brig. Gen. Pierre Beauregard sent a note at 3:30 a.m. on April 12 to Commander Anderson that he would commence an attack.

Goodwin wrote, “[Gustavus] Fox lamented, without the Powhatan’s men, howitzers, and fighting launches,” the Union forces had no chance at all to successfully defend themselves.

You can read about this and more about the U.S.S. Powhatan in pages 343-45 of Goodwin’s work. Highly recommended.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

CHINA AND JAPAN , by LT James D. Johnston, U.S.N. (1860)

(Picture Credit: Naval History and Heritage Command of the US Navy. The uniform is a Confederate States of America one; he joined the CSA when the Civil War started in 1861).

The number of historical books, journals and diaries available in online formats continues to rise daily, much to my satisfaction. As the co-founder of History Education Hawaii, Inc., recently designated as the official "Hawaii Council" of the National Council for History Education, I see the increased use of the Internet as a vehicle for increasing historical literacy in the USA.

US Navy Lieutenant James D. Johnston was the executive officer of the USS Powhatan, a state-of-the-art steamship that brought the Japanese ambassadorial delegation to the west coast of the United States via the Hawaiian Islands in 1860. I was delighted to find that his first-hand account of his voyages to China, Japan, Hawaii and back to the United States is available online:

"James D. Johnston, lieutenant, U.S. Navy, executive officer of the Steam-Frigate Powhatan, wrote an account of the trip of the Powhatan to open diplomatic relations with China and to transport the first Japanese ambassadors to the United States less than seven years after Commodore Matthew C. Perry forced his way into Japan in 1853. These were also the last years before the Civil War, before Southerners such as Johnston entered the Confederate Navy.

"This book is now annotated to show what was meant by passing references which were much clearer at the time it was written, and also to trace events in the lives of the participants after the voyage.The preliminary part of the book includes a table of contents explaining what the various chapters listed below actually cover. Or just start reading the book from the beginning."

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

“My Dear Uncle Zake” from “Your affectionate nefew, Jonathan Slick.”

I found this article, transcribed and post here in its entirety without alterations. By 21st century standards the text does contain words and phrases that are considered offensive and racist -so do be warned. Should its inclusion be taken as an endorsement of the letter’s sentiments? 

Or, as I suspect, it is a satirical, sarcastic work not aimed at the Japanese but at Southerners on the eve of America’s civil war? Most of Honolulu’s American community were from the North, especially its Congregational missionaries and their families.

The piece is in the form of a letter address to “My Dear Uncle Zake” from “Your affectionate nefew, Jonathan Slick.” It is longer than the article I posted in sections on the Japanese Embassy visit to Washington, DC featured six months later in the same newspaper. This piece is unique in its use of regional slang, misspellings -which for authenticity’s sake I’ve not altered.

The Pacific Commercial Advertiser was published weekly by Henry M. Whitney in Honolulu. This item was published in its March 29, 1860 edition.

Under the headline ‘Highly Interesting Correspondence’ this text appears in brackets:
[We found the following somewhat humorous production on our table a day or two since, which purports to be a copy of a letter forwarded by the Yankee. The Japanese, to whom, it refers, have already taken up much of our space, but this account will prove about as readable as any of them. Brother Jonathan thinks that his story ought to appear in print as well as the others.]

Here is the rest of the text:
OWHYHEE, March 26th, 1860

MY DEAR UNCLE ZAKE: -I have been intendin ever since I arrived at these islands to let you know how I got here safe and sound. Some how a rather every time a mail-boat has left for your parts, I could’nt scare up pluck to write you, but this time the “regular” boat has been a waiting and a waiting so tarnally long, that I reckon that perhaps she was a holdin on to take one more letter, and so I starts off for the beach to find the Captin, and sez I “Captin, if you’ll jist hold on till to-morrow I’ll write a long pistle to my uncle Zale, who lives out west there in Tennessee, and tell him all about what’s goin on of late here in these diggings. I know the folks out there’s a cussin and snarlin because I don’t write, but that can’t be helped nohow.” The Captin laughed right out and being a good natured feller, sez he’ll wait one day and take my letter, as ‘twill add two cents to his freight list.
I tell you what ‘tis, uncle Zake, we’ve been a havin a grand time here of late in looking at them are Japanese, what they call an Embassy, who have been stoppin’ here, and are now on their way to Uncle Sam’s farm, via Frisco and Darien. They came here in one of his big pleasure boats, with the Admiral aboard. It seems kinder hard to take away these feller creeting from their homes in Japan, where they’ve been penned up all their lives like so many niggers, and not allowed to see nor hear anything of outside barbarians, as they call us civilized people. I didn’t know nothing at all about them bein here till I hear’d the papers making such a tarnal fuss about them, that you could’nt see or hear anything else but the Japanese. So I concluded I’d come into town and take a look at them. And you’d a laughed right strait out to have seen them are fellers as I did, all dressed in wimen’s fixins, and their hair all tied and stuck up with a sort o’ varnish, and skivered up jist like a pig’s tail, only it was cut square off. And everybody was a starin at them, and they was a starin at everybody else, as if they were half frightened, jist like so many skeered grisleys. And I reckon it was so, for the very next day they all cut sticks for the ship, and you could’nt find a soul on ‘em anywhere about the town, and all you could hear about ‘em was what the papers had to say.

I found everybody was a goin off to the big ship which they called the Powhatan (after old John Smith’s Indian gal, I spose) and so thinks I, I’ll go too, for I’m a rael Yankee, and have got as good a right to see Uncle Sam’s visitors as any od ‘em. I warn’t ‘specting to go till some day after Sunday, but when I heard that they was a goin to sail right straight off on that day, I detarmined I’d put on my best coat, with brass buttons, which they told me officials required, and start off for the boat instead of goin to meetin; for, sez
I, if Uncle Sam allows his boats to go to sea a Sundays, he can’t blame me if I make my official visits on a Sunday too, not by a long chalk.

So off I starts in one of them shore-boats, called “Hail Columbia,” and steered the craft right up alongside ther big ship Powhatan, which was surrounded by a host of boats, enough to have taken possession on her, if they’d jist been a mind to. It wasonly when I came alongside on her that I seed what a mighty big craft old Uncle Sam had been a sending out to get these ere Japanese. I jumped right straight up the gangway stairs, and jist as I was stepping over, a feller in eppalets and a sword met me, and, sez he, “Your name sur?” “My name sur! It’s Jonathan Slick, as everybody knows in these diggings; and I want to see the Admiral and them are Japanese that they’re makin such a tarnal fuss about here.” The feller grinned, and sez he, “This way sir.” Everything aboard there looked mighty war-like, and made me feel rael pesky, but there was no getting round it, and I had to face the music, like brother Jotham on trainin days. The deek was covered with men all dressed like so many militia men, carrying swords and guns, and all that sort of thing that I dreamed of seein on board of Uncle Sam’s boats. There were some mighty big guns that they call peacemakers, large enough to crawl into, and some fellers standin by them and a watchin them as if they’d been so many tigers. I felt kinder skeered at furst, but when the Captain met me on the deck, sez he, “How do you do, Mr. Slick,” and seemed so all-fired glad to see me, that I began to feel all-rightish again, I tell you. Well the Captain, he asked me right into the back cabin where the Admiral and big Ambassadors were a sittin with some other fellers around them, a talking about all sorts of things. I shook hands with the Ambassadors, and they seemed mighty glad to see me. I asked them all about their country and their religion, for I had heern folks say they were only a set of darned heathen after all, as they can’t convert anyhow. I had’nt more nor got fairly to talking about their gods and temples, when I heerd a tremendous rumpus and a scrapin outside on the deck as if the whole crew was a risin up in arms and a goin to slaughter us right out. And who should come along but the honorable Minister of Foreign Relatives, with the queerest old bundle of papers under his arm, all tied up with red tape and lots of big red seals. As soon as he came in, we all stopped a talking, and stood back, for we thought the King himself was a comin too. But as soon as they all got through their everlasting long bows, and got fairly seated agin, the Minister, he got up and commenced a hemmin and hawin, and a kickin up the darndest hocus pocus you ever saw, and begun a talking about some big names which nobody on arth ever heard on, and all about His Lord and Master and the Portergeese, which the Japanese couldn’t tell nothing about. They sot there as patient as old Job, till he got through his thunderin long yarns, and then they riz up and said, “Thank you” like so many gentlemen, and sot down again. That pesky lying paper printed here by the Ministers, sez they cried right out, but that’s a darned lie, for they were only laughin in their sleeves all the time he was a deliverin his dumbungeous speech. He made the most almighty fuss over it, you ever heer’d on, and you’d a laughed right out to have seen him.

Well, after he’d got through a telling about himself and a lot of other big folks he said he’d represented, then he begun to read a lot of Span-yard stuff, which he called a passport, and asked the Japanese if they would’nt like to take it along, just as if they were goin to visit the darned Spanyards. I tell you what ‘tis, Uncle Zake, he only wanted to show them that he was varsed in the dead languages, and wanted to git them to take his autograph, and show it to the Emperor. I sot right behind on the transum cushion a lookin on all the time, while he was a fussin and opening his bundle, and gettin out such a thunderin lot of old papers for them to take away. Between you and me, if they know’d as much about our political fusses as I do, they’d throw the whole lot of his darned stuff overboard, and his passport, too. One of the big Japanese then asked him if he would’nt take a drink. So they brought in a lot of liquors, some of the Japanese and some of civilied make, and they drank all standin, the health of all the Kings and Queens on arth, including Uncle Sam’s. After he got through all his talking, the Miniter took his hat and commenced a bowin and scrapin jist as when he came aboard, and so went out on the deck.

The Japanese, they grinned and looked at each other as if they thought he was a funny man, until at last they haw-haw-hawed right out, and yoa’d a thought they’d bust their sides a larfin; and they asked me if he wasn’t the Ziogoon, for he’d been a talking about Ziogoons all the time he’d been there. I answered them, he wasn’t; not by a long chalk; that the King was our Mikado and Ziogoon, and noboady else. Then I begun telling them all about our great country and my Uncle Zale, away down in Tennessee, and asked them if they would’nt like a passport to him too. They looked at one another and said something, and then they whispered to the interpreter to tell me that they would’nt care if I gave them a passport, too. So I hollered out for some paper and ink, which the Captain’s clark brought in, and I sot right down to make a passport; and to show them that the Yankees had some larnin as well as the King’s Ministers, I writ the following right straight off in Latin, and handled it to them. One of the interpreters could read Dutch and Latin, and so he read it to them. They were mighty tickled and bowed, and said they would be sure to visit you while they was goin through the country. I send you a copy of it, so that you may see it forehand:

Per navem belll permagnum “Powhatan.”
Hee scripto est permissum regio SIMMI-BOOKEN legatori primo suae majestatis terrarum Japanarum Imperatoris et bono magnoque MOORAGAKI-AWAGE, legatori secundo suae majestastis, terrarum Japanum Imperatoris, cum principe OGOOLI-BUNGO atque omnibus ilscum natis in terries Japanis; maximo optimoque avunculo mihi Sam domi in urbe Washingtonia visitato, proficisci ad mihi partum domum agrosque in Tennesseo, et avunculum mibi Zake Slick salutare. Atque omnes, quibus est auctoritas, num amici an inimici hoc instrumento obedire es parere imperantur.
Datum mea manu sigilloque in nave Selli permagna “Powhatan,” hoc solis die, quinto decimo calendas martias, Anno Domini milessimo, octingen sexagesimo.

Findin the Ambassadors so mighty pleased with my passport, and thinking I’d show off my larnin a little more, I asked them if they wouldn’t like another in Kanaka, to which they said yes, and I sot down and writ the following in our vernacular, which I told them would let them pass free among the injuns anywhere in North America:

Palapala Ae Holo
Ma luna o ka mokuahi manuwa “Powhatan” o Amerika Huipuia.
Ua ae ka mea liekie SIMMI BOOZEN, luna kiekie o ka Moi Aupuni Lehulehu o Nipoa, a me ka mea hanohano Muragake, luna kua of ka Moi Aupuni Lehuleau o Nipoa, ai me ke 18 opio o Ogooli-Bungo, a me ko lakopu poe a ‘pau, he poa kamaaina o Nipoa, mahope nae o ko lakou hele ana e ike I ka mea hanohano “Uncle Sam,” ma kona hale maloko o ke kulana kauhale o Wasinaetona, e holo lakou I kahi mahiai o ko’u makua ma Tenesi, a e mahalo I ko’u makuakane o Samuela, a ke kauohala aku nein a luna o na aina Iauna a me na aina lokoino mai, ehoolohe I kaia olelo ae holo ohana.
Kauia ko’u inoa a me ke aiia maluna o ka mokuahi “Powhatan” I kela Ia, 18 o Malaki, 1860.

So I got through with my official visit, and I took my hat to go, and told the Ambassadors to be sure and call on you, for you’d be ready to see them. And I tell you, Uncle Zake, when you do see them, you’ll be proud of the day that I gave them passports to you. 

You’ll see that they are feller creeters, though some sez they aint, and that they are nothing but heathens. Well, jist as I got out on the deck all the soldiers were mustered in injun file, and makin the most infarnal noises with their muskets. “What on arth’s the matter?” sez I. “You aint makin all this ere fuss for me, are you? You might have saved that fuss jist as well as not, and a tarnal sight better, for there’s no use of musterin the soldiers on a Sunday for nothin.” Jist then, the Captain comes up, and sez he, “Mr. Slick, don’t be in haste, wait a minit till the Minister is gone, for we’re a showin off to him.” That quieted my feelins, and then I walked with the Captin all around the deck and he showed me the rooms where the Japanese servants slept, and all their curious fixins. I was raely surprised at the injernuity of these fellers, for they had all sorts of the curiosest fixins that ever I see, and you never seed the like anywhere. The Captin through as I did, that they were genuine feller creeters, and that we ought to treat ‘em as such.

After they’d got through a driilin, I bid the Captin good bye, and jumped up agin over the gangway, when that feller with eppalets touched me on the shoulder, and sez he, “Mr. Slick, we shall be happy to see you on board agin.” “Yes sir,” sez I, as I stepped down the stairs into the boat, mighty glad to get rid of the pesky smell of powder and tar, for I began to feel a leetle rily about the stomach, and was glad enough to get ashore agin.
Write me soon, and tell me all about the visit of this ere Embassy to Uncle Sam’s residence in Washington, and what he thinks of the fellers.

Your affectionate nefew,

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Pacific Commercial Advertiser Reports: Japanese Embassy in Washington, Part Nine Conclusion

Six months after the Japanese ambassadorial delegation arrived in Honolulu the Pacific Commercial Advertiser featured further news of their travels in the United States. ‘The Japanese at Washington: Incidents of Their Visit’ was featured in the August 2, 1860 edition of the paper.

The following is the final section of the news story. No author is listed, so I am at this point assuming that the text was taken from various newspaper sources that managed through the mails to reach Honolulu.


A good joke is told of one of the second order officers. On Saturday he went into a barber shop near the hotel in order to have is tonsure fresh shaven, which was accordingly done, and quite to his liking. On leaving, he paid the barber, in strict accordance with tonsorial prices in the empire from which he came, taking from his pouch and placing in the hands of the barber one copper cash, eight of which are equal to one cent. So doing, he walked leisurely away.

Pacific Commercial Advertiser Reports: Japanese Embassy in Washington, Part Eight

Six months after the Japanese ambassadorial delegation arrived in Honolulu the Pacific Commercial Advertiser featured further news of their travels in the United States. ‘The Japanese at Washington: Incidents of Their Visit’ was featured in the August 2, 1860 edition of the paper.

The following is a transcript of the eighth section of the news story, focusing on the habits of the Japanese as observed by Americans. No author is listed, so I am at this point assuming that the text was taken from various newspaper sources that managed through the mails to reach Honolulu.


THEIR HABITS –Their baggage fills the concert halls at Willard’s Hotel, and presents a strange appearance. Each quaint-looking package and box is marked in their peculiar characters, nor can anything be removed by its owner without a written order to the custodian. This is but a specimen of the perfect order and system with which their movements are regulated. One each door of the rooms which they occupy is a bit of paper, inscribed with the name of the occupant, and the servants of the party perform their duties in accordance with written orders issued every morning.

Each of the twenty officials of the party wears a sword; most of them two swords. These are short, straight, and thrust through their girdles on the left side, nearly horizontally. There is no guard to the hilt, which is of metal inlaid with gold or silver in figures, or of shagreen. The scabbards are of wood, lacquered. They go bareheaded, but hats hang in several rooms, huge straw affairs, some of them waxed on the upper portions, and made to be tied on the head by a harness-like arrangement, which comes beneath the nose, around the ears, and under the chin.

They eat four times a day, rice being their principal dish with boiled chicken, ham, hard boiled eggs, and vegetables of every description. Tea is their constant beverage, although they betray a liking for the champagne so abundantly provided by the naval officers with them, and several have been initiated into the “fancy drinks” of the bar room. It is to be desired that this had been avoided. The officials use the sumptuous beds in their apartments, but the servants sleep on piles of blankets on the floor, a substitute for their thick sleeping mats.

Their pipes are wooden stems with metallic mouthpieces and tiny bowls, not much larger than an inverted thimble. They carry them in grass cloth pouches, to which are attached their tobacco bags, containing what smoking Americans term vile snuff, resembling the Persian tobacco sold in the bazaars of Constantinople. About three wiffs empties the bowl, which has to be frequently replenished. They are very cleanly, more so, Mr. Willard says, than the same number of our people would be. Each and every one bathes daily, and spittoons are not needed in their room. The only habit they have not pleasing to us, is the substitution of small pieces of silk paper for pocket handkerchiefs. A supply of this paper is carried in their vests, or rather in the many folds of their under garments.

Visitors and others at Willard’s Hotel state that the Japanese are always ready for a trade. They have with them an immense assortment of bijouterie of Japanese invention and manufacture –fans, purses, pictures, tobacco pouches, &c. –which they gladly exchange for trifles of American art and handicraft. They are on very good terms with the lady boarders at Willard’s, and evidently enjoy their society. One of the Ambassadors has already signified his intention to procure a full and complete ladies’ costume to carry back. So we may expect to learn that the almond eyed belles of Yeddo have adopted a more expansive style of attire. It is very obvious that some of the subordinates are rapidly acquiring the “fast” habits of Young America, and not much to the credit of those who entourage these vicious tastes. Much doubt begins to the entertained whether any practical good will result from this mission.

(Next: A Japanese in a Barber Shop)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Ka Hae Hawaii Reports "Yedo" March 21, 1860

Ka Hae Hawaii Reports “Yedo”

Once again past Saturday I was perusing a Hawaiian-language newspaper entitled Ka Hae Hawaii published in Honolulu. I came across this Hawaiian-language article entitled ‘Yedo,’ the capital city of Japan, now called Tokyo.

This selection come from the ‘Maraki 21, 1860 (March 21, 1860 edition):

Oia no ke kulanakauhale nui ma ka mokupuni o Iapana; he kulanakauhale hanohano no. Ua kukuia ma kekahi awa komo nui a me maikai; aole nae i hiki ke kookole loa na moku nui.

O ka aina a puni kela Kulanakauhale, he nani no ke nana’ku, a ue mahiia a maikai, a us nui no na laau malumalu a me na laau hua. Mauka’ku o ke kulanakauhale o Yedo, he mauna kiekie, mai ka 12,000 a ka 16,000 kapuai, aneane like me Mauna Kea; he hau no maluaa iho a me ka luapele no a liker me Mauna Loa. He mauna kapu keia I na kanaka o ka aina, hele malaila lakou e hoomana, naihi po ko lakou hewa.

Ma ke kulanakauhale o Yedo elima papu, makaukau I na pu nui; nui na kanaka, aole okanamai, paapu hio na hale, aole nae maikai ka nui o na nale, inoino no. Aole pena ia, aole hoi hoomaikai ia.
O na hale kuai hoi, ua liilii, aole like me Honolulu nei. O kekahi mau hale no nae o ka poe hanohano, he makai no; a ua puni I na laau maikai. O na alanui o kela kulanakauhale he akea no, a me ka poloei a ua maemae no hoi. Ua kapu ka hale alii malaila, aole komo na kanaka a me na wahine; aia a aeia, alaika komo. Ua puni hoi I ka pa nui a me ke kiekie. O ka loa o keia kulanahauhale he iwakalua mile, a o ka laula, he umikumamalua mile. Aohe Akaka ka nui o na kana; ua oleloia ua aneane ekolu miliona ma kela kulanahale.

O ked ala malaila eia no kea no, ua like keia me elua keneta, he dala keleawe no; he nui no kea no o ke dala.

Eia keahi pilikia o na haole kapela malaila; o ka makemake ole o na kanaka I ked ala o na aina e; o ked ala o Mekiko ka mea I makemakeia malaila; he hapa no nae ia dala malaila, a nolaila pilikia ke kalepa ana.

Pomaikai paha kela aina no ka holo mai o ko lakou mau alii naanei a me ka holo ma Amerika; ike lakou I na mea hou he nui wale, a naauao laleou malaila. I hoi hou I ko lakou aina, a hai aku I ke alii I na mea a lakou I like ai, a hoololi hoi I ko lakou aupuni mamuli o ka pono Keristiano.

Ka Hae Hawaii Reports “Manuwa Amerika” (American Warship) Powhatan

This past Saturday I was perusing a Hawaiian-language newspaper entitled Ka Hae Hawaii published in Honolulu. According to one online source, this newspaper was the official voice of the Hawaiian Kingdom’s Department of Public Instruction, I believe under Rev. Richard Armstrong.

This selection come from the Maraki 14, 1860 (March 14, 1860 edition):

Manuwa Amerika
I ka la noa o keia pule iho nei, ua ku mai ke moku manuwa nui “Powhatan,” ma Honolulu nei, he 21 na la Iapana mai, he Kamakoa maluna iho o Iosiah Tattnall knoa inoa, a o ke Kapena G.F. Pierson. Aia maluna o keia moku, he mau alii no Iapana a me ko lakou i Amerika Hui. I ka holo ana mai ma ka moana ua oleloia he poe oluolu keia poe o Iapana. Ekolu mahele olel. Elua paha pule maanei alaila holo aku i Kalifornia.