Despite his appreciation for all that had been done for him, Manjiro kept the memory of Japan and his mother close to his heart and longed for the day when he would be able to return there. As well, he was anxious to explore the possibility of Japan re-opening seaports to ships from many countries in need of supplies. The fishermen were immediately afraid of the sailors who were so big and rough looking. Their fear mounted as they realized they could not communicate with them. They thought they would all die at the hands of these strange men, but had no means of resisting.
Following the orders of their commander Captain William Whitfield , the sailors brought all of them to the ship carrying Jusuke who was injured. With the five shipwrecked sailors aboard the small boats, the sailors of the John Howland brought them to the ship and presented them to Captain William Whitfield, a kind and just man. He quickly allayed their fears by making sure they were fed and clothed properly.
They appreciated that Capt. Whitfield had the cook prepare many rice dishes, which he thought they would enjoy. Through gestures and signs he learned that they had come from Japan. The five sailors were amazed by the huge ship and diverse crew.
For the next several months they cruised the north Pacific waters catching whales and processing their oil and blubber. The five strangers were well received by the locals and settled in to a new lifestyle.
Soon Captain Whitfield was preparing to leave and he wished to take Manjiro with him to the USA so he could be educated. The other four fishermen were afraid to break up the group after all they had been through together. However, they felt that they had to honor the person who had saved their lives.
THE MANJIRO STORY
They left the decision up to Manjiro who quickly agreed to continue on the John Howland with Captain Whitfield. They headed south in the direction of home during which the Captain decided that Manjiro should shorten his name to Mung and added John to it.
Thus, he was known to the crew as John Mung.
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As they stopped at south Pacific islands Manjiro became aware of several other cultures expanding his knowledge of the world. As time passed in Fairhaven Manjiro longed for the time when he might return to Japan.
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One way in which he thought this might be possible was to go to sea on a whaler and possibly he would sail near Japan. He found his chance with Captain Ira Davis on the whaling bark Franklin. Thus, on May 16, they sailed from New Bedford for the far reaches of the globe including Japan. They traveled east and eventually came to the area of Japan. When they encountered some Japanese fishermen Manjiro tried to talk to them but they did not understand his language and he ultimately had to stay on the Franklin and return to New Bedford.
On the way they stopped in Hawaii and re-met his former crewmates. He was saddened to learn that Jusuke had died of the original injuries he received to his leg when they were shipwrecked. Instilled with the Japanese virtue of filiality he never lost hope to return to his honorable mother. Manjiro contemplated how he might return to Japan given that the whaling industry was declining.
About this time gold was discovered in California and "gold fever" was sweeping the nation. Manjiro looked to this opportunity to earn enough money to take him and his companions back to Japan. Returning to San Francisco he booked passage to Hawaii on the steam-powered merchant ship Eliza Warwick. He found his former companions divided as regards returning to Japan. Manjiro's plan was to purchase a small boat and have it loaded on a ship headed for China. With the help of their good friend, Rev.
Damon, they raised money and purchased a boat they named Adventurer. Clearly fired by a spirit of adventure, Manjiro then heard about the gold rush in California. That October, he and a friend named Terry embarked at Fairhaven to earn their passage to California as crew members on a ship called the Stieglitz. In California, where they saw a steamboat and a railroad for the first time, Manjiro and his friend went to Sacramento before heading for the gold mines in the North River area of the Sierra Nevada.
With that enormous stash, he decided to go to Oahu to pick up his Tosa shipmates and return home to Japan. Having evidently decided that Manjiro and his companions were neither spies nor willful escapees from shogunal Japan, the trio were eventually released by the Nagasaki magistrates and made it home to Kochi in July , where they underwent a final interrogation. Undoubtedly, as well as listening intently to what Manjiro had to say, his inquisitors must have been intensely interested in the English world map he brought back. Far more accurate than any map in Japan at the time, it was diligently copied by Kawada, who had Manjiro translate the words on it for official use.
Then that December, in token of his usefulness, the former poor fisherboy from Shikoku was elevated to the rank of jikisan, a samurai in the direct service of the shogunate.
Indeed Kitadai — who has studied Manjiro for more than 40 years — is in no doubt that he occupies a significant place in the history of the formation of the modern Japanese character. Through living alongside Americans, he learned the American way of life. Hence on his return to Japan, Manjiro was forced to undergo fumie — treading on a bronze plate of the Madonna and Child to prove that he had not become a Christian. This he duly did, though in Fairhaven, Manjiro had attended services at the Unitarian Church.
The word God appears many times in his writings. And the Bible he used has also been handed down. Whether Manjiro was a Christian at heart or not, Kitadai suspects that when he became a samurai he must have experienced severe reverse culture shock, if not a complete identity crisis. He must have had intense psychological conflicts while adjusting to samurai society.
The idea was not acted upon. Nonetheless, stupid he was not. That same year, , the irrepressible Manjiro — one of whose dreams was to introduce American-style whaling to Japan — was appointed captain of the whaling schooner Ichiban Maru. His vision, though, never came to fruition. In , however, both Manjiro and Fukuzawa were aboard the steamship Kanrin Maru, the first ship under Japanese command to cross the Pacific, as part of a shogunal delegation to the U. Meanwhile, Japan itself was in turmoil as the Tokugawa Shogunate teetered before finally falling in In , Manjiro made his last great foray onto the world stage.
This was when he was included in a government mission to observe the war then being fought between Prussia and France. While on this mission, Manjiro managed to make an overnight visit to Fairhaven, during which, at age 43, he had his last meeting with Capt. Historic New England's Casey Farm. Oct 13, Nov 3, Nov 5, 8: Nov 8, 5: Nov 10, 1: Nov 12, Dec 1, Dec 3, 8: Dec 8, Dec 8, 1: Dec 8, 3: Dec 8, 7: Jan 7, 8: Jan 11, 7: Jan 26, 8: Feb 4, 8: Feb 16, 7: Feb 22, 6: Feb 23, 8: Mar 4, 8: Mar 9, 7: Mar 15, 6: Mar 16, 8: Search Events Submit Yours. Skip to main content. Connect with Us facebook twitter linkedin instagram RSS.
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