Samurai Voyage to America in 1860
The first Japanese ship, though purchased from the Netherlands, that sailed across the Pacific Ocean to the US is Kanrin Maru.
The ship, a 300t screw-driven steam corvette, accompanied an American ship that carried a Japanese samurai mission the Tokugawa shogun sent to Washington DC. However, Kanrin Maru returned to Japan soon after its arrival at San Francisco as its main purpose was to prove to the world that Japanese could manipulate a ship across the Pacific Ocean.
Yet the samurai owed their success to an American Naval officer on board Kanrin Maru with 10 or so his men to support Japanese crews.
In the middle of February, 1860, the Kanrin Maru and the Powhatan set out from the Bay of Yedo for America. It was not long before Lieutenant Brooke's journal entries began to complain not only of the inadequate training but of the indifference of the officers and crew of the Kanrin Maru; only Manjiro continued to command the American respect. And yet, for all his misgivings, Brooke had faith that the native ability of the Japanese would somehow see them safely through.
But Brooke had failed to reckon on the violent whim of the elements. Before very long, the two ships ran into a typhoon: the worst storm ever encountered in the Pacific, reported a seasoned officer on the Powhatan. To make matters worse, the captain of the Kanrin Maru became incapacitated with seasickness; Brooke was forced to assume command. Fortunately, the American officer could rely on Manjiro, who was an experienced navigator. Had it not been for these two men and a remnant of the crew from the wrecked Fenimore Cooper, the ship might well have gone down.
From here on, Brooke's verbatim journal tells the story of the Kanrin Maru's ordeal:
Two seamen only in each watch. There does not appear to be any such thing as order or discipline onboard. In fact the habits of the [Japanese] do not admit of such discipline and order as we have on our men of war. The Japanese sailors must have their little charcoal fires below, their hot tea and pipes of tobacco. The Saki [sic] is not very carefully kept from them. Add to this that the orders are all given in dutch and that very few of the seamen understand that language and one may form some idea of the manner in which duty is carried on. The Capt is still confined to his bed, the Commofdore], also. [Brooke here refers to Kimura Settsuno Kami, Japan's Secretary of Naval Affairs, who was another of the Kanrin Maru passengers] The officers leave the doors open which slam about, leave their cups dishes & kettles on the deck to roll and slide about so that there is nothing but confusion. We must remember however that this is their first sailing cruise, that the weather is heavy, and that they were taught by the Dutch. Manjiro is the only Japanese onboard who has any idea of what reforms the Japanese Navy requires.
We are badly off for barometer; the Adie oscillates about an inch at each roll, and one of the Japanese put his hand through the face of the aneroid. I have the remnants in my room now. Another put his foot through the sky light and today we shipped a sea which nearly reached the Chronometers. Tis a high old cruise. But I like the novelty. I shall endeavor to improve the Japanese navy and will aid Manjiro in his efforts.
It blew very violently from SSE until midnight. Several times I thought the sails would leave the yard. At 12 PM it rained in torrents, the air white. Wind hauled to Westd and soon came on strong, but that being the last change to be anticipated I felt relieved. At 3 turned in. We made 96 miles from noon to midnight. I had hardly laid down before I was called again. Squalls heavy. I was much struck by the apathy of the Japanese early in the evening. There was every appearance of a gale [yet] the hatches were not properly secured and the light in the binnacle was very dim. The officer of the deck was below [and] two or three Japanese sailors [were] crouching about the deck. I sent to Manjiro and finally succeeded in getting not only the officer whose watch it was but all the officers who clustered aft.
I proposed today to watch, quarter & station men and officers. But an unexpected difficulty occurred; of 6 officers of the grade of Lieutenant some are totally ignorant of their profession. The Commo: is unwilling to give [watches to] those who are competent as they are not of as high shore rank as some who are incompetent.
Manjiro is intensely disgusted; he is forced to yield to the Commo. But he has convinced the officers of the propriety of putting them in watches. I asked him what the Commo would do if I took my men off watch and refused to work the vessel. Let her go to the bottom, he replied. He said [that] for his part he had some regard for life.
On the 1st [of March], I had an understanding with the officers & Capt. It has been necessary heretofore to keep a constant lookout myself and to have our men on watch as the Japanese are totally incompetent. The wind being ahead I proposed to show the officers how to tack ship. They were too lazy to come on deck, made various excuses etc. I therefore , called all my men and sent them below with orders to do nothing without my consent. I then informed the Capt that I should not continue to take care of the vessel unless his officers would assist. He gave them a lecture [and] put them under my orders, and I sent my watch on deck.
Manjiro tells me that the Japanese sailors threatened to hang him at the yard arm last night when he insisted upon their going aloft. I told him that in case of any attempt to put that threat into execution to call upon me, that in case of mutiny on the part of the Japanese sailors if the Capt. would give authority I would hang them immediately.
So great was the fury of the storm that the Powhatan changed course and headed toward Honolulu for repairs. Meanwhile the Kanrin Maru plodded ahead; on March 17, after a voyage of thirty-seven days, she finally dropped anchor in San Francisco harbor. The Powhatan did not arrive until twelve days later.
Writing to the Secretary of the Navy, Isaac Toucey, Lieutenant Brooke related without rancor the difficulties encountered during the voyage. He also took the opportunity to praise Manjiro, whom he described as a Japanese of singular ability.
In his journal, however, Brooke was even more lavish in his praise of the man who had been the first from his country to see America. Manjiro, Brooke wrote, he is certainly one of the most remarkable men I ever saw. He has translated Bowditch [Nathaniel Bowditch's New American Practical Navigator] into the Japanese language He is very communicative and I am satisfied that he has had more to do with the opening of Japan than any man living.
Kanrin Maru is taught in all the Japanese schools. Every Japanese citizen knows Kanrin Maru, the first Japanese ship, though purchased from the Netherlands, that sailed across the Pacific Ocean to the US while being piloted an run only by Japanese crews. But only few people knew that this feat in the Japanese history was only made possible with support from an American Naval officer.
The captain of Kanrin Maru was Katsu Kaisyu who is very popular in Japan as every textbook describes him as a great hero on Meiji Restoration of the Imperial Authority in 1868, though Katsu was a high-ranking samurai officer on the Tokugawa shogun side which was against the imperial samurai camps. Katsu also contributed to modernization of Japan in the Meiji Government after the fall of the last samurai regime he served so honestly.
On board Kanrin Maru was also Yukichi Fukuzawa, a great educator of the Meiji era, and the very unique Japanese hero (John) Manjiro who was originally a young fisherman but faced a shipwreck to be saved by an American ship, go and live in America for years, finally come back to Japan in the samurai era and contribute to dissemination of information about the US among samurais and later education in the Meiji era.
So, if all these key Japanese in the era of Meiji Restoration had sunk deep into the North Pacific Ocean with Kanrin Maru, the Japanese history must have been more low-key. Lieutenant Brooke really helped Japan in 1860.
Eventually, Brooke joined the Civil War, but finally became a professor at the Virginia Military Institute, at Lexington, Virginia.
http://tozenzi.cside.com/brooke.html (University of Press of Virginia, 1980)
Finally, it took 40 years for Japanese to learn and master the modern naval art and technique to fight and defeat the Imperial Russian Navy in the Battle of Tsushima (the Naval Battle in the Sea of Japan). In this context Katsu Kaisyu and Manjiro are still today highly regarded as early founders of the Imperial Navy of Japan and subsequent success of the Japanese shipping industry.
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Recently many small earthquakes have occurred around Tokyo.
They mostly happened northeast of Tokyo or specifically in the region between the epicenter of the 3/11 M9.0 earthquake and Tokyo Bay. The Pacific Plate sinking into the North American Plate on which the east part of Japan is situated seems to be still pushing the Japan's main island Honsyu to the southwest. Sooner or later a relatively large earthquake might occur around Tokyo.
Yet, Japan is a country that has survived numerous disasters and tragedies like any other countries. Indeed, God does not bless a person twice. So, Japan enjoys peace and prosperity while suffering so many perils natural and man-made.
Luk 2:17 And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
Luk 2:18 And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
Luk 2:19 But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
Luk 2:20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.