|12-11-2014, 07:26 PM||#31 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jun 2013
The Golden Gate Bridge has its own foghorn network.
The fog comes on little cat feet.
It sits looking over harbor and city on silent haunches and then moves on. --Carl Sandburg
Concerning Sandburg's 1919 poem "Fog", it expresses a great deal in only 21 words. Clearly, he was influenced by haiku when he wrote it. The fog may be a metaphor for confusion or despair or isolation which can come upon us cat-like at any moment and hover over us a while like a cat surveying its territory. But sooner or later, it leaves.
Some foghorn samples, some rather eerie:
The goal light flashes as the puck enters the net. The loud, blasting tone that accompanies the light is a foghorn.
Foghorns are vanishing now as electronic technology makes tricky navigation effortless. There simply isn't a need to spend the money on something that no longer serves its purpose. But the hole its absence leaves in the psyche is never filled.
|12-12-2014, 01:34 PM||#33 (permalink)|
Join Date: Jun 2013
In 1841, five Japanese fishermen had run afoul a storm and ended up stranded on a barren island. To survive, they caught fish, foraged for turtle eggs and drank rainwater. They lived this way for a couple of months when a New Bedford whaleship happened upon them. The ship was called the John Howland and the captain was William Whitfield. Since Yankee whaleships needed as many hands as it could bring aboard, the ship picked up the stranded men and put them to work helping them bag whales.
One of the fishermen was a 14-year-old boy named Nakahama Manjiro from the fishing village now a city called Tosashimazu. He was very intrigued by the seafaring life these New England sailors lived. He was fascinated by how they knew where they were going and how to get back from where they started. While the other fishermen went about their work waiting for the moment they could disembark, young Manjiro struggled to learn English and impressed Captain Whitfield with his progress. Whitfield made Manjiro his
cabin boy and taught him the basics of navigation which Manjiro picked up quickly.
By the end of the whaling season, the ship put into Honolulu and the fishermen could now disembark. Manjiro, however, had no wish to leave the ship. He was fond of Captain Whitfield and enjoyed the seafaring life. He begged Whitfield to keep him on and train him as a navigator. Whitfield was fond of Manjiro but was reluctant to keep him on. He was just a young boy and surely his family would be worried about him. Manjiro explained that Japan had an isolationist policy so strict that any contact with foreigners was forbidden and punishable by death. Neither he nor his compatriots could ever go home again. When Whitfield learned this, he felt terribly sorry for this cruel fate and agreed to grant the boy his wish. Whitfield was as yet unmarried and Manjiro was like a son to him.
When the ship went back out for more whales, Whitfield instructed his navigator to teach Manjiro everything he knew about navigation, which was considerable for a New Bedford sailor. Manjiro absorbed the lessons and impressed the crew with his abilities and willingness to learn. With the ship’s hold filled to capacity, the John Howland set sail back to New England and arrived in New Bedford in 1843. When Manjiro stepped off the ship, he officially became the first Japanese to set foot in America. One would think that the first Japanese would have stepped ashore on the West Coast but not in this case.
Manjiro later in life.
One can only wonder what Manjiro’s impression of this new land was like. Certainly the New Englanders were very curious about him. They had, of course, never seen a real Japanese before much less spoken with one. He impressed people with his intelligence and his good Japanese manners. He took the first name of John in honor of his ship and used Manjiro as a surname but when some people had trouble pronouncing it, he would tell them to call him John Mung. Whitfield knew he had only a short time to find a wife before he would be obliged to put to sea again. He put Manjiro up with friends and had him enrolled in school to learn English and navigation. Manjiro’s teachers taught him American and English history and taught him to read and write English. He was taught navigation from Bowditch’s texts. He was an eager student. He was also taught shipwrighting. When Whitfield got married and bought a house, he sent for Manjiro who came to live with them. Mrs. Whitfield, like her husband, regarded Manjiro like a son.
Captain William Whitfield.
When they attended social functions, they would take Manjiro with them and he would regal people with stories of his native Japan. Eventually, he and Whitfield again put to sea and Manjiro worked as a navigator’s assistant but on subsequent voyages became a third mate then a second and finally a first as well as becoming a very capable chief navigator. One voyage in which Manjiro served as chief navigator and first mate actually circumnavigated the globe. All agreed that he would make a great captain.
House where Manjiro lived in New Bedford.
But by the late ‘40s, Manjiro was homesick and longed again to see his mother. In 1849, he bid the Whitfields and all his New Bedford friends goodbye. He planned to prospect for gold in San Francisco, he said. He sailed to Nantucket and from there he enlisted on a ship bound for San Francisco. Manjiro’s ship sailed all the way around Cape Horn to the West Coast. I have no information on whether Manjiro navigated this ship but he almost certainly would have been consulted—he was well known to the New England sailors.
Once in San Francisco, Manjiro tried his hand at prospecting for a few months but he was only waiting for a ship that could get him to Hawaii. He eventually ended up back in Honolulu. I have no information on whether he saw any of his fellow fishermen who apparently never returned to Japan but lived out their lives in Hawaii.
Eventually Manjiro signed aboard a whaler bound for the Pacific. He had a plan: he knew he was risking death, but he was going to return to Japan even at the cost of his life. To bolster his position, though, he had his navigation books, maps and instruments. He would take these with him and impress upon the Japanese authorities that he knew how to use these, how to read English, knew Western history, knew their customs and their lands, knew how to build their ships and could teach others. He figured that they would simply find him too valuable to execute.
As per the agreement with his ship, when they neared the Japanese islands, they dropped him off on a small island close to Japan. Manjiro made his way from there to his homeland. Sure enough, he was arrested and interrogated. He showed the authorities his books, maps and instruments and told them about the schooling the New Englanders had given him. As he predicted, the authorities were not about to execute him. The Japanese were very curious and perplexed by the Western ships sailing practically through their backyards, especially the steamers, which Manjiro had experience with. He told them what he knew. He also told them the Japanese could never withstand an invasion or assault from these Western peoples with their vast armies, navies and armaments. They were not all bad people, he said. After all, they rescued him, took him under their wing and gave him all their knowledge. But not all the Western people were like the Quaker whaler folk with their notions of goodwill and equality. Some would definitely like to take over Japan, something many in the Japanese government were fearful of. But what the West wanted mostly was to have Japan act as Pacific coaling station for their steamers. If Japan agreed to this, Westerners would be happy with that arrangement.
The Japanese government began preparing for an eventual confrontation with the West and put Manjiro in charge of training people. They knew the isolationism could not be maintained and many of the big players had no intention of maintaining it and had long been planning to find a way to get rid of it. Manjiro gave them the perfect impetus—either they open up willingly and they will be forced open. When Commodore Perry’s black ships arrived in Japan in 1853, the Japanese did not resist knowing such a course was doomed to fail. They welcomed Perry ashore and the official greeting the Commodore received as he stepped onto Japanese soil was delivered to him in perfect English by none other than Nakahama Manjiro.
Perry’s black ships arrive in Japan, 1853.
Manjiro went on to teach at a Japanese university. He taught English, navigation and shipwrighting. In the 1890s, a group of Japanese sailors set sail to America and arrived in California. The navigator was Manjiro. Eventually, Manjiro got in touch with the Whitfields. By this time, both men were married and had children. Manjiro and his family journeyed to Fairhaven with gifts including a samurai sword which they presented to the Whitfield family. These artifacts are now housed in the Millicent Library in Fairhaven. They remained on display throughout World War II when anti-Japanese sentiment ran high. The sword was eventually stolen but a Japanese professor from Seton Hall donated a replacement.
Tosashimazu and Fairhaven signed a sister city pact in the 1980s and every few years the descendants of William Whitfield and John Manjiro get together—sometimes in Fairhaven and sometimes in Tosashimazu. When I visited the Millicent Library in 1996 (where I first learned the story), there were signs on the walls written in Japanese originally intended for when Manjiro’s delegation visits but are now kept up all year.
The Millicent Library built by Henry Huttleston Rogers and named after his daughter. Rogers hailed from the area but also put it out of business by successfully drilling for petroleum which is good because he largely saved the sperm whale from extinction.
Sea Songs from the Far East
Soran Bushi - Japanese Folk Dance - YouTube
“Soran Bushi” the Fisherman’s dance is called a Japanese shanty although I have only encountered in instrumental form. It’s very popular in Japan as an aerobic dance exercise with teched-up versions with emphasis on the drumbeats. This is a more traditional approach.
Song of the Imperial Japanese Navy—“Our Souls Go Away to the Sea”:
Chinese fishermen’s song at dusk.
A Korean sea song.
|12-19-2014, 06:50 AM||#34 (permalink)|
Join Date: Dec 2012
Thank you SO much Lord Larehip I would literally love taking a class on this material with you our awesome professor presumably So fascinating and it's clear you put a lot of work into this. I love Japanese culture and ate this right up. Songs are so awesome, too.