San Francisco History

First Japanese

AN HOUR WITH THE JAPANESE.—Through the politeness of C. C. P. Parker, Esq., custom-house inspector, we had an opportunity, yesterday afternoon, to visit the barque Auckland, on board of which vessel are seventeen natives of Japan, picked up by the Auckland nearly five hundred miles from their native land. They are a fine looking set of people, the oldest seventy years old. The information we gathered from Capt. W. F. Jennings, and Mr. H. S. Salters, the mate of the Auckland, was that on the 22d February, in latitude 31 54 N., and 105 14 E., they discovered a dismastled junk, which they endeavored to board. Those on board the junk took to their boat, and were received on board the Auckland. They had been blown off-shore in a gale of wind, had been dismasted, and their vessel thrown upon her beam-ends. She was about 600 tons burthen, and was filled with a valuable cargo. By signs, we gathered that when they were picked up, they had been at sea nearly fifty days, and were in great distress. Among the articles which were saved from the wreck, were a sheet containing official documents, medicines, etc., a chart of the coast of Japan, and a compass, and also a quantity of coin, gold, silver and copper. They have been treated with the utmost kindness by Capt. Jennings and the officers and crew of the Auckland. We are told that they rise at daylight every morning and bathe in cold water. They worship the sun, moon and wind, and prey [sic] to the sun regularly each day. One of the men made a drawing of the junk, representing her under full sail.

We understand that they will be placed on board the revenue cutter Polk to-morrow or next day, where they will remain until orders with reference to them are received from Washington. Mr. King, the Collector, has represented the facts to the President, and it is supposed that an armed vessel will be despatched to convey these people to their homes. The steam frigate, Savannah, it is said, is now on the passage from New York to San Francisco, from which latter port she will proceed to Japan. The effect of the taking of these people to their homes cannot be predicted with any certainty. It may be the means of opening a communication with that country. They came on shore yesterday, for the first time, and appeared to be highly delighted with all they saw. We believe these men are the first Japanese who have ever set foot on the American continent. We hope the Government will provide for their conveyance to Japan as speedily as possible, and that Mr. King will see that all things necessary are provided them.

The consequences of a communication with Japan may form the subject of future articles.

Source: Daily Alta California, 17 March 1851, page 2.

The Japanese at the Ball.—The Japanese who arrived here in the barque Auckland, attended the California Exchange, last evening, in full native costume. They appeared to be very much pleased with the music and dancing of the "outside barbarians," and remained till a very late hour, being feasted and talked to by almost everybody.

Source: Daily Alta California, 20 March 1851, page 2.


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