Episode 242 – Castaway

This week, the story of Nakahama Manjiro, the castaway turned American whaler turned gold miner turned samurai turned English professor.



Kawada, Ikaku, et al. Drifting Towards the Southeast.

Preus, Margi. Heart of a Samurai.

A Japan Times feature on the life of Nakahama Manjiro.


Torishima, the island upon which Manjiro and company were shipwrecked.
The map included in Manjiro’s description of his voyages, made for the Tokugawa bakufu in 1853.
William Whitfield, the captain who rescued Manjiro from Torishima.
Manjiro as an older samurai.
The reception of Japanese diplomats by the Mayor of New York City in 1860. Manjiro was a part of the 1860 delegation sent by the shogun to the US, though he is not clearly marked out in this image.
Whitfield’s old house is today the home of a museum dedicated to the Manjiro story.

2 thoughts on “Episode 242 – Castaway”

  1. I think you might have mixed up Torishima with Minami Torishima. Minami Torishima is the one whose closest to Hawaii. Technically, it’d be closest to Wake Island if they went farther west. Torishima, part of the Izu Islands, is much closer to Honshu.

    1. The shipwreck was on Torishima, not Minami Torishima — they were, in fact, quite close to Honshu. However, the lack of deep ocean ships in Japan at the time meant that it was unlikely they’d be rescued by other Japanese. No Japanese (at least to my knowledge) ever made it to Minami Torishima until the early Meiji Era. See Drifting Toward the Southeast by Kawada Ikaku, The Life and Times of John Manjiro by Donald Bernard, or the other two sources from the episode posting.

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