First Encounters Between the U.S. and Japan - John Kendrick and John Manjiro

日米の出会い ~ジョン・ケンドリックとジョン万次郎

The year 2021 marks the 230th anniversary of the arrival in Japan of John Kendrick, considered the first American to set foot in Japan, and the 180th anniversary of John Manjiro, considered the first Japanese to land on the U.S. mainland rescue by an American whaling ship.
The stories of these two men who made first contact between Japan and the United States are as follows.

First American to Sail to Japan:
John Kendrick

In 1791, an American trader, Captain John Kendrick, after visiting China to trade furs, knowing that he could not trade with Japan, took two U.S. merchant ships, the Lady Washington (Boston flag), of which he was captain, and the Grace (New York flag, Captain Douglas) to Japan, stopping at Kushimoto Oshima Island in Wakayama Prefeccture "for shelter due to bad weather".
Captain Kendrick thought that he might have a chance to sell his sea otter pelts at a high price, so he tried to trade, but the pelts had no value in Japan at that time, so trade negotiations failed.
Although he was only there for a few days, this is believed to be the first encounter between the United States and Japan recorded in official documents (e.g., the "History of Massachusetts Maritime Affairs").

(Source and Photo: Kushimoto Town, Wakayama Prefecture)

First Japanese to land on the U.S. mainland:
John Manjiro

In January 1841, Manjiro and his four companions went fishing, but three days later they encountered choppy seas. Six days later, they drifted to Torishima Island, an isolated island in the Pacific Ocean 760 kilometers south of Tosa-Shimizu City in Kochi Prefecture. They lived there for about six months in harsh conditions, until they were found and rescued by the American whaling ship John Howland, which had stopped at the island in search of the eggs of sea turtles.
At that time, Japan was under national isolation and it was difficult for foreign ships to even approach Japan. Therefore, Captain William H. Whitfield took the five castaways to Hawaii where they were safe. In 1843, the ship returned to New Bedford, Massachusetts, the largest whaling station in the United States, and Manjiro became the first Japanese to land on the U.S. mainland.
After studying English, mathematics, surveying, navigation, and shipbuilding in the U.S. and sailing around the world on a whaling ship, Manjiro returned to Tosa in 1852. When the Shogunate sent the first official overseas mission to the U.S. in 1860 to ratify the Treaty of Amity and Commerce between Japan and the United States, Manjiro served as an interpreter aboard the accompanying ship, the Kanrin Maru, and made many contributions as a bridge between Japan and the United States.

(Source and Photo: Tosashimizu City, Kochi Prefecture)