Report of Nakahama Manjiro’s travels to US
Japanese hand-written manuscript book. An official report of Nakahama “John” Manjiro’s travels to the United States aboard the whaling ship John Howland and his return to Japan, reporting travels from 1841 up until the arrival of Commodore Perry in 1853. Manjiro, along with 4 friends, was rescued by Captain William H. Whitfield of the whaling ship John Howland on June 27, 1841. Unable to be taken back to Japan at that time, due to that country’s strict rules of isolation ( a return to Japan would have been punishable by death), Manjiro and his friends were taken to Honolulu, Hawaii. His friends stayed in Hawaii but Manjiro went on with Captain Whitfield to New England. There he studied English and navigation. He went on to work on other whaling vessels traveling to the South Seas and even became a harpooner. In September 1849, Manjiro returned to New Bedford where he was paid $350 for the voyage. Manjiro then set out for the gold fields of California, arriving in San Francisco in 1850. After having some success he decided to find a way to get back to Japan. Returning to Honolulu he purchased a whaleboat, the Adventure, which was loaded aboard the bark Sarah Boyd and reached Okinawa in February 1851. He was taken into custody, questioned for months, and finally taken to Nagasaki. Manjiro became an interpreter for the Shogun and took part in the negotiations when Commodore Perry came to Japan in 1853 and later joined the first Japanese embassy to the US in 1860. Manjiro eventually became a professor at Tokyo Imperial University and died in 1898.