Memorial statue commemorating the landing of John Manjiro unveiled at Odo Beach in Itoman

Memorial statue commemorating the landing of John Manjiro unveiled at Odo Beach in Itoman

The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the John Manjiro Landing Memorial, attended by his direct descendant Kei Nakahama (3rd from the right). February 18, 2018, Odo Beach, Itoman


February 20, 2018 Ryukyu Shimpo


Itoman – A statue commemorating the landing of John Manjiro on Odo Beach in Itoman, Okinawa, aptly named the, “John Manjiro Landing Memorial,” was unveiled at a ceremony hosted by Itoman City February 18. The day marked the anniversary of his return to Okinawa, and around 220 people gathered to celebrate the completion of the statue.


Tatsuo Wada, 70, born in Kochi Prefecture but currently living in Itoman said that the construction of the monument came about from the urgings of volunteers in the community, adding, “I want the later generations to learn many things from the voyage of John Manjiro as well as the way he lived his life.”

In 2012 a committee was formed and engaged in activities such as petitioning the city in order to get the statue built.


The statue has a panel embedded into the pedestal that explains the path of Manjiro’s journey, and above is a bronze statue of Manjiro pointing towards his hometown of Tosashimizu, in Kochi.


Also in attendance at the ceremony was Kei Nakahama, a direct descendant of Manjiro, who addressed the crowd, saying, “The completion of this memorial is very moving. I think he would be happy as well.”


John Manjiro was born in what is now called Tosashimizu, Kochi.

In 1841, when he was 14, his fishing boat was wrecked, after which he was rescued by an American whaling vessel and taken to Hawaii.

He studied things like English and navigation in America, and is said to be Japan’s first exchange student.


After earning some money in the Gold Rush, Manjiro was able to pay for his travel back to Japan.

On the journey home, he landed on what is now known as Odo Beach in Itoman (also known as John Man Beach). After an 11-year absence he returned to Tosa, after which he worked as a translator, surveyor, and as an English professor at the Kaisei Academy, the predecessor to Tokyo University.


(English translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)



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