NEW YORK (Kyodo) A museum recently built in Massachusetts in memory of John Manjiro, the first Japanese to live in the United States, will open to the public on May 7, the Japanese Consulate General in New York said Tuesday.
A Japanese civic group led by Shigeaki Hinohara, a noted terminal-care physician, collected donations to open the museum in the house in Fairhaven, Mass., in which Manjiro Nakahama, more commonly known as John Manjiro, resided in the mid-19th century.
Manjiro, a fisherman, stayed in the house after being rescued by a U.S. whaling ship in 1841 in the Pacific. The house was owned by William Whitfield, the skipper.
Various events are scheduled for opening day at the museum, renamed the Captain Whitfield-Manjiro Friendship Memorial House, with Hinohara, head of the board of directors at St. Luke’s International Hospital in Tokyo, due to attend.
After learning that the Whitfield house had fallen into disrepair and was due to be auctioned, Hinohara and other well-wishers began collecting donations and acquired the house in November 2007 for about ¥50 million.
Manjiro was born in a fishing village in what is now Tosashimizu, Kochi Prefecture, in 1827. In early 1841, he and four other fishermen were caught in a storm at sea and stranded on a small island in the Pacific. Six months later, they were rescued by Whitfield’s whaling ship, the John Howland. Manjiro’s four shipmates were set ashore at Honolulu but Manjiro chose to return with the captain to the U.S.
Manjiro returned to Japan in 1851 and was hired by the shogunate as an interpreter.
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