Sunday, October 09, 2005


Descendents from historic voyage meet


The Japan Times
October 09, 2005

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) A group of Japanese whose ancestors were aboard the Kanrin Maru, Japan's first modern warship to cross the Pacific Ocean, expressed their appreciation Friday to the grandson of a U.S. naval officer who helped the crew members during their difficult voyage 145 years ago.

Thirty-four members of the group, made up mainly of Kanrin Maru descendants, including Sumiko Gomi, the 82-year old great-granddaughter of Capt. Katsu Kaishu, met George Brooke, Lt. John Brooke's grandson, and his family in Lexington, Va.

They expressed their gratitude to George Brooke, 90, who once taught at Keio University in Tokyo, saying the crew members could have died in the Pacific in the middle of winter if they had not received his grand-father's help.

The vessel, which was carrying officials to ratify the 1858 U.S.-Japan Treaty of Amity and Commerce, was accompanied by the U.S. Navy frigate Powhattan, one of the "black ships" formerly under the command of Commander Matthew Perry.

Brooke said he believes his grandfather was proud of his deed and showed his visitors Friday some items related to the screw-driven steamer, including a portrait of the Japanese captain drawn by a U.S. crew member.

Under the command of Capt. Katsu, the Dutch-made vessel made the adventurous voyage from Uraga in Yokosuka, southwest of Tokyo, to San Francisco in 1860.

Also on board was Yukichi Fukuzawa, a philosopher and founder of Keio University, and Nakahama Manjiro, a famous linguist better known as John Manjiro.

The crew members suffered from seasickness amid poor weather conditions. They managed to reach San Francisco thanks to the work of Brooke and 10 other U.S. sailors.


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