The Americans in Japan (Yoshida Shoin)



Title: The Americans in Japan: an abridgement of the Government
narrative of the U. S. Expedition to Japan, under Commodore
Author: Tomes, Robert, 1817-1882.
Publisher: New York, Appletn, 1857.


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On their reaching the deck, the officer informed the Commodore of their presence, who sent his interpreter to confer with them and learn the purposes of their untimely visit. They frankly confessed that their object was to be taken to the United States, where they might gratify their desire of travelling, and seeing the world. They were now recognized as the two men who had met the officers on shore, and given one of them the letter. They seemed much fatigued by their boating excursion, and their clothes showed signs of being travel-worn, although they proved to be Japanese gentlemen of good position. They both were entitled to wear the two swords, and one still retained a single one, but they had left the other three in the boat which had gone adrift with them. They were educated men, and wrote the mandarin Chinese with fluency and apparent elegance, and their manners were courteous and highly refined.

The Commodore, on learning the purpose of their visit, sent word that he regretted that he was unable to receive them, as he would like very much to take some Japanese to America with him. He, however, was compelled to refuse them until they received permission from their government, for seeking which they would have ample opportunity, as the squadron would remain in the harbor of Simoda for some time longer. They were greatly disturbed by this answer of the Commodore, and declaring that if they returned to the land they would lose their heads, earnestly implored to be allowed to remain. The prayer was firmly but kindly refused. A long discussion ensued, in the course of which they urged every possible argument in their favor, and continued to appeal to the humanity of the Americans.

A boat was now lowered, and after some mild resistance on their part to being sent off, they descended the gangway piteously deploring their fate, and were landed at a spot near where it was supposed their boat might have drifted. On the afternoon of the next day, Tenoske, the chief interpreter, who had arrived from Tedo, came on board the Powhatan, and requested to see the flag lieutenant, to whom he stated, that ” last night a couple of demented Japanese had gone off to one of the American vessels,” and wished to know if it had been the flag-ship ; and if so, whether the men had been  guilty of any impropriety. The flag-lieutenant replied, that it was difficult to retain any very precise recollection of those who visited the ships, as so many were constantly coming from the shore in the watering boats and on business, but he assured the interpreter that no misdemeanor could have been co mitted, or he would have been aware of the fact. The interpreter was then asked, whether the Japanese he referred to had reached the shore in safety, to which the very satisfactory answer that ” they had ” was received.


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