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  • Bridging the US and Japan: The Story of John Manjiro and Capt. William Whitfield

Bridging the US and Japan: The Story of John Manjiro and Capt. William Whitfield

  • 23 Sep 2021
  • 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM
  • Online
  • 169



Bridging the US and Japan: The Story of John Manjiro and Capt. William Whitfield

co-hosted with

the Japan America Society of Chicago

Thursday, September 23, 2021

7:00 - 8:00 PM EDT (6:00 - 7:00 PM CDT)

Hosted online via Zoom

(Zoom link is in your registration confirmation e-mail)

On May 6, 1843, a young Japanese boy named Manjiro sailed into New Bedford harbor, setting his eyes on the U.S for the first time and getting a glimpse of what would become his second home. After being shipwrecked on a deserted island during a fishing expedition, Manjiro and his crew were rescued by American whaling ship captain William Whitfield and taken aboard the John Howland. Because of Japan's closed-door policy, Manjiro and his crew were not allowed to return home to Japan. After sailing together for several months, Capt. Whitfield brought the crew members to safety in Hawaii, but he wished to take Manjiro back with him to his home in Fairhaven, MA, where he educated young Manjiro and welcomed him as a son. Years later, Manjiro returned to Japan as a fluent English Speaker and was critical to future U.S.-Japan relations.

As the first Japanese man to live in the U.S., Manjiro was the first bridge between American and Japanese cultures. His bond with Captain Whitfield has spanned generations, and in 1987, a delegation from New Bedford/Fairhaven traveled to Tosashimizu (Manjiro's hometown) and signed a Sister City Agreement which has been active ever since.

Please join us in honoring the history of this powerful, lasting friendship in our online event with the Japan America Society of Chicago. We will hear from Gerald P. Rooney, President and CEO of the Whitfield-Manjiro Friendship Society, who is central to keeping the Manjiro-Whitfield legacy alive.


In collaboration with  


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