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.

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