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Kanrinmaru Ship

I am going to be talking about the last Samurai who went to San Francisco. This was an essay written for the Bay Area Architecture history class.



As it is hard to make connection with my hometown with San Francisco, I researched broader history of connection between Japan and the U.S. which happened during the Gold Rush time. I am going to talk about the Kanrinmaru which was a Japanese ship arrived at the time. During the Edo period, Japan was in the national seclusion until Perry Matthew Calbraith came to Uraga bay (now Kanagawa pref.) to open the country in 1853. At that time, Japan has only relationship with China and Holland. Edo Bakuhu, Shogunate government, established Navy force to fight both with the last Samurais who against the government and foreigners, so they order Holland the Kanrinmaru. When Perry came back next year again, they resisted a while, but Japan decided to sign the Treaty of Amity and Commerce at the Ryosen-ji temple in Shimoda (bay) on July 29, 1858.

On 1960, in order to exchange instruments of ratification of the Treaty of Amity and Commerce, Kanrinmaru ship left Uraga. The first treaty was an unequal, so Japanese last Samurai governors went to talk again with them in San Francisco. Katu Kaishu (as ship captain), John Manjiro (who was a fisherman’s boy and shipwrecked and saved by an American whale ship and raised by the ship captain. He went as a translator.), Fukuzawa Yukichi (a thinker, educator, went as a translator. His picture later be on the Japanese bill.) and other 96 Japanese sailors and the American officer John M. Brooke traveled together. This voyage became the second official Japanese embassy to cross the Pacific Ocean, around 250 years after the embassy of Hasekura Tsunenaga to Mexico.

They arrived the San Francisco, Pier 9. They talked with American governors and tour around San Francisco with Samurai style with Kimono and swords. The voyage was quite hard (see picture) and some of the sailor died after arriving in San Francisco. They were buried at Coma grave, San Francisco. I heard that some group of Samurai family from Northern part of Japan, joined together with their journey and settled in at North part of the Bay also. Otherwise, they knew that they were going to genocide the whole grope of tribe by rebel. They tried to grow vegetable there, but it didn’t go well, so most of them went back later or some of them died there also. Only houses were left, but some American family who has lived there knew about the history. Even though the first Perry’s attempt was surprising attack, their visit to San Francisco brought friendship of their relationship, and affected all aspects of the Japanese Westernization after Meiji Period (after the Samurai era).

100 years later of their visit, in 1960, as sister city of San Francisco, the mayor of Osaka city donated a monument. It says, thank you for the USS Powhatan which accompanied Kanrinmaru to across the Pacific Ocean. This monument was built for a friendship between Osaka and San Francisco of the memory of 100 years relationship and more development to come. (Translated and summarized from the Japanese website) It should be built at the Pier 9, but they are at the hidden place at the Lincoln Park, behind the parking lot of the Palace of Legion of Honor. When I visited the museum, I just strolled around and found the monument. (see photo) I thought it should be more visible to many people, but at least the monument looking towards Japanese Uraga Bay, where they left. At Uraga Bay. There is another monument saying the same thing on the other side of the Pacific Ocean kind of facing each other across the ocean.


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