In 1841, William Whitfield, a whaling captain from Fairhaven, Massachusetts, rescued Manjiro, a shipwrecked Japanese fisherman, from a deserted island. Manjiro accompanied Captain Whitfield back to Massachusetts, where he learned English, became the first Japanese person to live in the United States, and later distinguished himself as an interpreter and government advisor during the opening of Japan to the West. Through the years, the friendship between the two men never wavered. The Whitfield-Manjiro Friendship Society celebrates and continues this storied friendship through Japanese-American cultural exchange and the conservation of historic Fairhaven landmarks that tell Manjiro’s story.
The Museum will be closed to tours until further notice.
Plan Your Visit
The Whitfield-Manjiro Friendship Society invites you to the beautiful town of Fairhaven, Massachusetts to visit historical and cultural properties instrumental to Manjiro’s early life.
WHITFIELD MANJIRO FRIENDSHIP HOUSE
Captain Whitfield’s former home, located just outside downtown Fairhaven, is the first house in which Manjiro lived after he arrived in Massachusetts.
THE MANJIRO TRAIL
In Fairhaven, Manjiro went to his first school ever. He later learned higher level math, navigation and surveying at the Bartlett School. Herein we urge you to visit those local sites which were pertinent to his life in this area.
Manjiro's incredible journey
Read more about Manjiro, his life and legacy, and learn more about our Society and all the programs and events we offer.
THE MANJIRO STORY: FROM CASTAWAY TO SAMURAI
In 1841, a young Japanese boy of 14 years named Manjiro was the man of his family, having lost his father at the age of eight. He sought to be a fisherman in order to help support his mother and four siblings. On January 7, his boat was caught in a terrifying storm, which blew it off course to Torishima Island, where it crashed on January 13th.