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