KOCHI--An original draft of "Hyoson Kiryaku," or "Drifting Toward the Southeast: The Story of Five Japanese Castaways," was shown to reporters on July 27 after it was entrusted to a museum for safekeeping.
The book gives the account of John Manjiro's voyage to the United States as told to Kawada Shoryo, a painter who lived with the Tosa clan during the pre-modern era and compiled Manjiro's stories into the book.
Also known as Nakahama Manjiro, Manjiro was one of the first Japanese to visit the United States, and he was a key translator during the opening of Japan toward the end of the Edo Period (1603-1867).
When he was 14, Manjiro and four friends were rescued by a U.S. whaling ship after their fishing vessel was wrecked in 1841 on the island of Torishima. Manjiro was taken to the United States where he studied English in Massachusetts and eventually made his way to San Francisco in May 1850 to participate in the California Gold Rush. In a few months, Manjiro had made $600, and in December of that year he returned to Japan.
The Matsuoka family in Kochi had been in possession of the manuscripts, but they decided to entrust the writings to the Sakamoto Ryoma Memorial Museum in the city's Urado district.
The draft, which consists of four volumes, is believed to be handwritten by Shoryo, and is one of the two drafts previously confirmed in existence. The other is kept at the Sumiyoshi Taisha shrine in Osaka.
Museum officials believe that the draft was most likely written by Shoryo because it is written on a type of paper he frequently used for his writings. The draft is also rich in content, featuring world maps that are more precise than existing copies and shows the names of countries, the officials said.
With vivid illustrations, the draft offers glimpses of the U.S. presidential election system and a port Manjiro visited.
The draft also contains a page with the signature "John Mang," another name used by Manjiro and was apparently handwritten in English by Manjiro.
"Ryoma turned his eyes to the world after he learned of John Manjiro's stories from Shoryo," Natsuki Miura, chief curator of the museum, said, referring to the visionary who led the movement to overthrow the Tokugawa Shogunate in the 19th century. "The material entrusted to us is one of the most precious items in our collection."
The draft will be displayed for public viewing at the museum from early August.
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