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John Manjiro: Japan's great man and cross-cultural pioneer

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A magnificent story of John Manjiro, a great man who connected Japan and America from Tosashimizu City. Explore his life, contributions, and legacy.

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A statue of local great John Manjiro awaits visitors as they head to Cape Ashizuri Observatory in Tosashimizu City, Kochi Prefecture, in the southern Shikoku region of Japan. He was born and raised in this seaside town, where his descendants still live.

Coming from a humble family of fishermen, his life has been full of pioneering spirit and natural optimism . His every move speaks for itself.

His second home is far away in the small town of Fairhaven in Massachusetts, USA. How did Manjiro get there from rural Tosa, where he had no chance of getting an education, how did he learn English and work as an interpreter? The story of becoming the first English professor of

Cape Ashizuri: Birthplace of John Manjiro

Manjiro was born in Nakahama, Tosashimizu City in 1827 , during the Edo period, when Japan was living a peaceful period under the Tokugawa shogunate. The house is still there today. He lost his father at an early age and started working at the age of 10 to support his family. When he goes out to sea for the first time at the age of 14, he and his five companions are forced to drift in their boat due to sudden changes in weather and currents.

After drifting for seven days, they landed on the uninhabited island of Torishima. With little food on Torishima, they used their survival knowledge to survive. 143 days later, she was rescued by an American whaler . However, they were taken to Hawaii instead of Japan, as Japan at the time restricted exchanges with foreign countries.

The youngest of the five, 14-year-old Manjiro, according to the whaling ship's captain's records, positively adapted to his new surroundings, unlike the other four. He soon took on a role as a sailor.

Living and Learning in a Foreign Country with John Manjiro

When they arrived in Hawaii, they were supposed to live there, but Manjiro received a special offer from Captain William Whitfield. He said, "I want to take you with me as a sailor," and this changed his life. As a sailor, Manjiro traveled around the world and made new friends. And he came to be called "John Mung" .

Our next port of call was Fairhaven , a small town in Massachusetts. Manjiro's heart must have been filled with anticipation and excitement for the voyage to unknown lands and the new life. His journey from rural Tosa, where he had no opportunity to receive an education, to the unknown United States was truly a series of adventures.

In Fairhaven, Manjiro attended a local school and learned English. He experienced different cultures while doing things like fishing and doing household chores, and his hard work earned him the respect of the locals. His efforts paid off, and his English education progressed rapidly.

John Manjiro's Return and Influence

It was in 1851 that Manjiro returned to Japan after a long voyage and life . He brought back Western knowledge and experience to Japan and acted as a bridge between Japan and the West.

Manjiro became one of the few Japanese who was fluent in English, and was sought by the shogunate and feudal lords for advice on English education and Western knowledge. His English proficiency and international perspective were important tools for Japan to deepen exchanges with the West and move toward modernization .

He later opened Japan's first English school and taught as its first English professor. This was the parent school of the later University of Tokyo, and many future leaders learned English and Western knowledge from him.

Legacy of John Manjiro

The story of John Manjiro is a revelation to those who rise from adversity, find possibilities beyond themselves, and have the power to change the world in the process. He played a role in connecting Japan and the West, contributing to the modernization of Japan through his own experiences and learnings.

Even today, his influence extends not only to his hometown of Tosashimizu, Kochi Prefecture, but throughout Japan . A statue of him stands at Cape Ashizuri, honoring his achievements and telling future generations of his courage and adventurous spirit. There is also a memorial to him in Fairhaven, USA, which marks important milestones in his life.

Manjiro's story shows that no matter how big the world is, each person has the power to transform. His story is also a symbol of the courage to pursue new experiences, improve oneself, and face challenges.

To relive the story of John Manjiro and start your own adventure, why not visit his hometown of Cape Ashizuri in Tosashimizu City, Kochi Prefecture? Your own story awaits with breathtaking scenery.


Click here to make a reservation for staying at TheMana Village, where you can see the sea where John Manjiro traveled.

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