Heart of a Samurai Summary
Here's how things go: Manjiro, a teenaged Japanese fisherman, and his pals get caught in a storm at sea, and wind up stranded on a deserted island. Luckily, though, they get saved by an American ship—the John Howland—which is led by the good Captain Whitfield.
Manjiro and the captain hit it off so well that Manjiro goes to live in America (Connecticut specifically) with the captain. There, they become a family that eventually grows to include a new Mrs. Whitfield and a baby, William Henry.
They all live and work on a farm together, and Manjiro basically turns into an American teenaged boy, complete with school, a couple of guy friends, a girl he's into, and a class bully.
But he still misses Japan and his family there, so when he gets the offer to return on a whaling ship with an old friend from the John Howland, he takes it. Only his friend, Ira Davis, who's been made captain of that ship, turns into a crazy tyrant. The crew engages in mutiny and things turn out okay, with Manjiro eventually getting promoted to harpooner—but he never makes it back to Japan.
Instead he returns to Connecticut, where he finds out that his baby brother died. He wants to stay with the Whitfields, but his friend Terry convinces to take part in the Gold Rush in San Francisco. They go, and Manjiro strikes gold—and with this gold, he goes to Oahu, picks up his old Japanese pals, and they all return to Japan… where they get thrown into jail for a couple of years because the Japanese shogun think they could be spies. Oops.
They're eventually freed and Manjiro returns to his family. Not long after, though, he gets called back to one of the lords (daimyos), though he's not sure why. Is he going to be thrown back in jail for being a "spy" or will he become a samurai because of his knowledge and experience with Westerners? The epilogue tells us that it's the latter: Manjiro becomes a samurai and even gets Japan to end its isolationist policies; he continues to do great things up until the end of his life.
- We start with part 1, "The Unkown."
- Setting: January 1841 (12th Year of Tempo, Year of the Ox), off the coast of Shikoku, Japan
- Our story opens with five guys off the coast of Japan: Manjiro (our main guy), Denzo, Jusuke, Toraemon, and Goemon.
- They're desperate for fish because they have hungry mouths to feed at home.
- Dark clouds roll in, and Manjiro notices that something's up with the weather.
- He keeps asking questions, which—it turns out—is a major trait of his, and which also completely annoys the older guys.
- The storm comes and the guys are swept out to sea.
- The guys are out on their boat for days, with just the mackerel they caught to eat.
- Obviously, they're totally scared—not just about not making it back to their island, but of what they might meet, the "barbarians" in particular.
- It's been eight days and they've run out of fish and water.
- Luckily for them, they notice an island which has birds on it, signaling not only land, but food as well.
- The boat drifts over to the unknown island.
The Samurai of Bird Island
- Setting: June 27, 1841 (12th Year of Tempo, Year of the Ox)
- The guys have been on the island for a while, and the only thing around is nature: wind, sea, birds.
- Actually, not birds—not anymore.
- Water is scarce, too, since they've run out of their drinking water and there hasn't been that much rain.
- Manjiro thinks back to when they first got on the island; they were eating birds raw day in and day out.
- One day, Manjiro has this bright idea to cook the bird meat by pounding it into a paste and spreading it out on a rock under the sun.
- While he and Goemon wait for the paste to cook, he tells Goemon about wanting to become a samurai.
- Goemon thinks Manjiro's dreaming a ridiculous dream because they come from poor fishermen; everyone knows that fishermen can't go up the social ladder and become samurai.
- But Manjiro wants to do it because his father taught him all about being a samurai before he died.
- They end up play fighting with pieces of wood that they pretend are the long knives of samurai warriors.
- They stop immediately, though, once Denzo, the oldest guy of the group and de facto leader, comes by and sees them playing (they're supposed to be working).
- But after Denzo sees what Manjiro is making (they call it "stone roast"), he's cool with them.
- So after that day, the guys eat stone roast a lot… until the birds are all gone, that is.
- The guys have been here for months now, and all the baby birds have grown up and flown off.
- Another day, the boys go looking for water.
- Things are pretty bad, and one of their guys—Jusuke—is sick.
- Then they see graves on a hill.
- You'd think that'd be a bad omen, but Manjiro thinks of something the other guys don't: Graves don't dig themselves, and that means someone survived this place. Hey there, hope, nice to see you.
- Then one day, while Manjiro is hanging out on a ledge, he sees boats.
- Three cheers for rescue, right?
- Hold your horses, though, because when Manjiro swims out to the boats so that they won't miss him, he looks up and sees a pair of blue eyes looking at him.
- Uh-oh… barbarians.
We've made it to Part 2, "The Barbarians."
- Manjiro and his island gang get picked up by these "barbarians" who look totally different from what the boys are used to.
- The sailors have all different eye, skin, and hair colors; they have shoes made of animal skin; they have big noses.
- They're also just big in general.
- The sailors take the boys to the big ship—the John Howland—which is also huge.
- The boys notice how the rooms of the ship keep getting nicer, and then they meet Captain Whitfield, who is huge, imposing, and authoritative.
- The boys are asked to sit on benches, which is totally weird and barbaric to them since they're used to sitting on the ground.
- Manjiro starts thinking of rice and memories of home when a bowl of steaming rice is placed in front of him. Phew.
- They also get other food, like soup and this weird, crusty thing called "bread."
- They're given forks, which they're not used to, but they eat everything up despite their stranger-danger.
- After they eat, they get new clothes—with buttons and pockets. This is all new to them.
- That night, Manjiro starts practicing his English.
- Goemon thinks this is a bad idea because, you know, English is the barbarians' language and that's no good.
- Eventually, they fall asleep, but Manjiro wakes up in the middle of night to see blue eyes staring meanly at him.
- Manjiro shuts his eyes and tries to calm himself, but the whole thing is freaky to him.
- The next day, the boys decide that Denzo is the only one of them who has enough authority to talk to the Captain.
- But Manjiro has so many questions, so he decides to ask questions of the first person he sees.
- And that happens to be the Captain, who, surprisingly, gets irritated at Manjiro for being shy about asking questions.
- He tells Manjiro that asking questions is the only way to learn.
- (If you're like Manjiro, you're starting to like the Captain at this point.)
- He also tells Manjiro to stop bowing.
- Manjiro is so overcome with thoughts and emotions that he decides he needs some me-time in this isolated spot on the boat.
- Only this secluded spot happens to be another, small boat that some of the sailors and the Captain are taking out onto the ocean.
- So the Captain tells him to start rowing with the other men.
- While they're rowing, a guy called Jolly starts tossing racial slurs Manjiro's way.
- Manjiro just keeps on doing what he's doing, though; he can't understand what the guy is saying anyway.
- But the Captain keys into Jolly's words and tells him to get back to work: There's a whale to catch, yo.
- The men hook the whale, which takes the little boat for a bumpy ride, and lots of water splashes on board.
- Manjiro quickly takes a bucket and starts to throw water out of the boat; he also throws a bucket of water on some rope that's burning up from all the whale's tugging.
- The Captain is impressed by Manjiro's quick thinking.
- By the way, Jolly may be a jerk, but dude can seriously harpoon a whale—which is what he does to the tugging whale.
- The men bring the whale back to the John Howland.
- Manjiro's disturbed, though. The way the whale was killed seems so wrong to him (he's a Buddhist).
- The whale is such a large and amazing animal; it deserves respect, and shouldn't have to die the way it did,
- At least, that's what Manjiro thinks.
- But then, he can't get over the thrill of being out at sea and catching the whale.
- While they're rowing back to the ship, Jolly's ramping up his racist taunts toward Manjiro.
- The other guys come to Manjiro's defense, though, and so does the Captain, who tells everyone to treat Manjiro with respect because he's proved himself.
- Then they start asking for Manjiro's name.
- Eventually, after some bad translation, they come up with Manjiro's new whaling name: John Mung.
- Everyone's happy about it except for Jolly.
- Everyone on the ship celebrates because the whale is a total cash cow.
- Except, that is, Manjiro and the Japanese boys; they're horrified by the dead whale and the way it's being used, getting hacked up by the sailors who are saving its blubber for oil and taking its ambergris (used to make perfumes).
- But the rest of the whale? The meat and all? Tossed away.
- The work of hacking up the whale and turning its blubber into oil goes on for days.
- Manjiro wants to help out, but Denzo and Goemon stop him; they think he's being "poisoned" and "corrupted" by the "barbarians."
- Manjiro heads back to his bunk to think about all of this.
- He looks for his box where he keeps all the little souvenirs he's acquired from his time on the ship—a bit of cheese, a tack, nothing big—but when he opens the box, it's empty.
- Jolly's the guy who stole the stuff from Manjiro's box.
- The jerk.
- He's also the one who first tells Manjiro that Captain Whitfield won't be taking them back to Japan.
- The news does not make Manjiro happy.
- In fact, when the captain calls Manjiro over to his stateroom and invites Manjiro to drink tea with him, Manjiro isn't exactly thankful.
- Manjiro even snorts at the captain once (although he covers it up pretty well).
- But it turns out the captain isn't trying to swindle or lie to Manjiro about their destination; instead, he tells Manjiro why they won't be heading toward Japan.
- Because Japan is so hostile to foreigners, even if the captain seeks to return Manjiro and his friends to Japan, he and the ship risk getting shot at by the Japanese.
- He's totally sympathetic to Manjiro's misery and hopes that one day Manjiro will be able to return home.
- Meanwhile, there's a violin to play. No, really: The captain distracts Manjiro from his sadness by playing a song.
- Then, because Manjiro sees a book, the captain picks up the book and starts reading a poem out loud.
- Manjiro is stunned. Who knew a "barbarian" could play music and appreciate poetry?
- Manjiro sees a picture of a woman; it's the Captain's wife, who has already passed away.
- Manjiro finds out the captain has no children, so he points out that he doesn't have a father.
- The two bond over these facts, and Manjiro leaves the room with mixed emotions—including happiness.
- Manjiro's getting good at helping out on the ship. He might as well be a sailor, too.
- He's also getting pretty good at English, which means he's getting to know the other sailors.
- They're a pretty cool bunch.
- There's Edward, who plays the pennywhistle; Parden, who's an artist at heart; Mr. Q, the gentle giant; Josiah, the big eater; Biscuit, the gossip; Isaiah, the black, funny guy; and Francis, who climbs the quickest.
- They're mostly American, although some of them are from other countries, too.
- Manjiro's never heard of America, so the guys have to school him on that.
- Later, he asks Captain Whitfield about America, and they end up talking about Manjiro's "hopes and dreams," which Manjiro's never really had (up until now).
- Now, though, Manjiro can only think of "opportunity."
- Setting: December 1841, Oahu, Sandwich Islands
- They've landed at Oahu, and the Japanese fishermen are overjoyed.
- The captain has found them places to live in Oahu, which means they can wait around until they can find a boat going to Japan.
- Only Denzo has something more to say to Manjiro: The captain has invited Manjiro to stay on the John Howland as his son.
- It's up to Manjiro to decide, but he can't come to a decision.
- He takes the next few days to mull the thing over and gets Goemon to walk with him on the beach.
- He starts discussing Longfellow's (or "Long Fellow," according to Manjiro) poem that Captain Whitfield recited earlier.
- Of course, Goemon needs a lesson in what the poem means, so Manjiro tells him the gist of what he thinks it means: that they can go on to do "great things."
- But Goemon's not down with the idea because he still buys into the belief that only the upper-ups can do anything important or big; he thinks the captain has totally perverted Manjiro's thought process and values.
- Manjiro thinks about what Goemon says, and he also can't help but feel bad about his mother and family. What would she do if he didn't return?
- But then there's Captain Whitfield and all their great conversations—these two are definitely becoming good friends.
- Decisions, decisions.
- The Captain gets an invitation to his friend's house in Hawai'i, and he decides to extend it to Manjiro and the rest of the Japanese guys.
- Once they get to Dr. Judd's house, Manjiro can't help being curious about all the stuff around his house, like foreign coins and a smoking pipe.
- Turns out Dr. Judd collects this stuff from guys like Manjiro, a.k.a. dudes stranded and trying to get back to their home country.
- He takes out a map and the Japanese fishermen are in awe of what their country looks like.
- They think it looks so tiny, when they thought it was the hugest, most important place.
- The Captain makes a comment about how the Japanese may not have the best perspective on their country given how closed off the country is. Yep—he just dissed them.
- But they don't understand the Captain since he's speaking in English.
- Manjiro hears him, though, and decides not to translate.
- Instead, he goes on and views his friends as narrow-minded about Japan; he wants to know all about the world, which the map allows him to see.
- And which the Captain is willing to show him.
- He remembers what his mother told him: A decision should be made in the space of seven breaths.
- So he takes seven breaths and decides: It's time to go to America.
- The Captain gives all the Japanese guys a new set of clothes and five half-dollars because the ship is about to take off.
- Manjiro hasn't told the Captain about his decision yet, so the Captain just tells him that he hopes to see him on the ship.
- Manjiro wants to tell Goemon about his decision first, so they go walking along the beach with their new stuff.
- Goemon and Manjiro get into a deep discussion about the differences between the Japanese and the foreigners.
- Goemon really doesn't think Manjiro should go with the "barbarians" because everything they do is just so weird, but Manjiro tries to explain that the stuff the Japanese do isn't exactly normal or smart either: It's all a matter of custom and habit.
- Goemon's not convinced, though; he thinks Manjiro will be turned into a slave.
- Manjiro doesn't think so, though, and he wants to try to explain to Goemon why he wants to go to America, but he doesn't know how.
- Meanwhile, Goemon notices that people are following them.
- He tells Manjiro to run, but Manjiro gets caught by a huge hand around his neck.
Thieves and Murderers
- Manjiro and Goemon have just been jumped by a bunch of random whaling guys.
- Except one of them isn't random: Jolly.
- Jolly has a thing against Manjiro (if you hadn't noticed by now), so he tries to blackmail Manjiro.
- How? Jolly has stolen the Captain's favorite pocket watch and plans on telling the captain that Manjiro stole it (yeah—Jolly's a total jerk).
- But… if Manjiro gives Jolly his money and never shows up on the boat again, then Jolly won't tell the captain about Manjiro's "thievery."
- Only Manjiro doesn't have his coins. His pockets are empty (except for some random stuff).
- Jolly is not happy and demands that they shake Manjiro upside-down—literally—but nothing's coming out of Manjiro.
- Manjiro picks up a piece of wood out of a fire and sets Jolly's beard aflame.
- Jolly and the other dudes take off, leaving the Captain's watch behind (which Manjiro picks up).
- Once Manjiro is alone with Goemon, Goemon really tries to convince Manjiro not to leave with the Captain.
- Instead, Manjiro just puts his five coins into Goemon's hand.
- Goemon's totally surprised (as are we): Where did the money come from?
- Turns out Manjiro learned a couple of disappearing tricks from one of the sailors.
- Goemon warns Manjiro that there will always be guys like Jolly, but Manjiro can't help being enraptured by the sunrise (they've been out for a while).
- The two part ways, with Manjiro promising that he'll see Goemon again.
- Manjiro's on the boat, and everything's grand, except he's worried about bumping into Jolly.
- He's also worried about what Jolly might have told the Captain about the Captain's stolen watch.
- In fact, he's so anxious that he can't even be his normal, inquisitive self around the captain.
- He hides as much as he can for the next few days in order to avoid Jolly.
- But hey, happy day—it turns out that Jolly's not even on the boat.
- Manjiro can't exactly understand why, but it seems like Jolly just doesn't show up.
- Manjiro's not all that happy about this, though, and he feels guilty because he thinks he's at fault even though, duh, he isn't.
- One day, he gets tasked to be up on a pole as lookout.
- The waves are so big that, while he's looking at the captain's watch, it gets tossed overboard.
- Now Manjiro's really screwed.
- One morning, Davis—one of the sailors—comes and wakes Manjiro up.
- He wants to show Manjiro some "treasure."
- Manjiro's thinking gold, but what he sees instead is a skinny dead whale.
- But the sailors hack up the whale and reach into it for this gross looking glob.
- That's their treasure: ambergris.
- Manjiro doesn't get it, but the sailors explain that ambergris is used for perfumes and is totally valuable because it's so hard to get.
- Then, as they're about to head back to the ship, one of the sailors reaches into the belly and pulls out—wait for it—the Captain's watch.
- Whoa—what a coincidence, huh?
The Hour of the Dog
- Manjiro's does the right thing.
- He goes up to the Captain and tells him how the watch ended up in the whale's belly; then he goes on and tells him about how he ended up with the watch in the first place too.
- The Captain laughs. Not the expected reaction.
- It turns out that the other sailors were trying to play a joke on the Captain (and Manjiro, too).
- They said that the watch came from the whale's belly, but in reality, the sailors found the watch in the little fishing boat attached to the John Howland.
- As for Jolly, the Captain had already fired him before the ship had even left Hawai'i, so Manjiro's off the hook.
- The Captain and Manjiro get into one of their long conversations; this time, it's about time.
- As in the differences between how Japanese people tell time and the way Westerners do it.
- For the Japanese, a day is separated into twelve "pieces" rather than twenty-four hours.
- Each piece corresponds with an animal; the current time happens to be the "hour of the dog."
- The Captain wonders if the "hour of the dog" comes from the English name for the star Sirius, a.k.a. "the dog star."
- But it's not—Manjiro tells him the "dog star" in Japanese is actually called "the blue star."
- The Captain agrees that the star is blue.
- And they talk on and on for the rest of the evening.
New Bedford and Fairhaven
- Ready for Part 3? It's "The New World."
- Setting: May 7, 1843 (14th Year of Tempo, Year of the Hare)
- The John Howland finally returns home (it's been over three years).
- By now, Manjiro's sixteen-years-old and it's been two years since he's seen Japan.
- Nothing compares to the port in New Bedford—not even busy, colorful Honolulu—and everything's swell until a few white guys start making fun of Manjiro's Asian-ness.
- All of a sudden, America doesn't seem so great to him.
- But then an old, white guy comes to his defense.
- Manjiro's thrown—why would a random guy stick up for him?
- Captain Whitfield asks him why not. Why shouldn't a stranger stand up for a guy getting picked on? It's the right thing to do, after all.
- The two of them head to the Captain's house in Fairhaven.
- But the day just keeps getting worse: The Captain's house looks like it's completely abandoned, and no one's been taking care of it in his absence.
- Good thing the Captain has awesome neighbors—Mr. and Mrs. Aken—who take the two in.
- One day, Manjiro overhears a conversation between the Akens and the Captain.
- The Captain wants to give Manjiro a good upbringing, which—to him—means a farm, a horse, and a mother.
- So the Captain tells Manjiro one day that he's going off to New York for "business."
- Manjiro asks if that's where wives and mothers are found—the Captain chuckles and figures out that Manjiro was eavesdropping.
- Then he tells Manjiro that there is a special someone in New York who he hopes to make his wife.
- Manjiro tells him that he'll try to get along with whomever the captain decides to make his wife.
Samurai Farm Boy
- The Captain does come back with a wife: Albertina.
- Manjiro likes her immediately.
- The Captain also gets a farm, where Manjiro lives like a regular farm boy, with a long list of chores.
- One day, after he completes his chores, he rides his horse, Plum Duff, around and ends up falling off—a typical thing for Manjiro.
- He falls in front of this white boy named Terry while Plum Duff runs off.
- Manjiro calls for Plum Duff, which makes Terry ask him what the horse's name is.
- Apparently, even though Manjiro thinks he's saying "Plum Duff," it comes out (at least to Terry) as "prumuduffu."
- Manjiro gets Terry to help him look for Plum Duff.
- While they search for the horse, the boys become friends, and for the rest of summer they hang out and teach each other all sorts of skills and games.
- Manjiro also teaches Terry about samurai and swords.
- However, when Terry asks whether or not Manjiro will become a samurai when he goes back to Japan, Manjiro lies and says he totally will.
- Everything's going great with the new family except for one thing: church.
- Manjiro doesn't mind church, but he notices that people stare at him and seem bothered by him.
- He doesn't know quite why until the Captain brings him to another church, and he realizes people just aren't used to the way he looks.
- At one point, he notices the Captain upset while talking to two church officials.
- When he gets back to Manjiro and Mrs. Whitfield, he tells them that the argument was over where Manjiro should sit—the church elders think Manjiro should sit with the "colored people."
- One day, Manjiro fakes an illness so he won't need to go to church.
- Mrs. Whitfield quickly figures out that he just wants to skip church, though, so Manjiro explains that he doesn't want to upset people; if they want him to sit with "colored people," he will.
- Mrs. Whitfield tells him that having separate facilities for "colored people" is nonsense to begin with, especially at church where everyone ought to be equal under God.
- Then Manjiro asks about women's rights, which gets Mrs. Whitfield to go on about how the world is changing and that they—including Manjiro—need to be part of the change.
- At church, Manjiro thinks deeply about his conversation with Mrs. Whitfield and wonders if it would be possible for him to be an agent of change.
- Manjiro is super-motivated to do well at school, partly because he wants to get into the Bartlett School of Navigation, which is the best school in the area.
- He starts out at Stone House School and learns all the basics: reading, writing, math, and this thing called penmanship (you know, when people used to use pencils and pens to write).
- When he's not in school, he works on the farm with the captain.
- Then, at the end of the day, they usually get together for a long chat about their day—kind of like how they did things on the John Howland, only without the ship and the ocean view.
- One day, the captain tells Manjiro he can't stay on at the Stone House School.
- Why? Because he's way too advanced for the school now.
- So… where to next? Yep, you guessed it: It's the Bartlett School for him, but only on some special conditions—Manjiro has to be able to keep up in all the subjects, especially English, and he can't get into any trouble.
- Sounds easy for our Mr. Nice Guy, though, right?
Victory Without Fighting
- It's the first day of school at the Bartlett School and Manjiro's all about doing well.
- Then he spies a coin on the ground.
- His mind goes through all sorts of questions: Should he pick it up and find the owner? Should he ignore it? What's the right thing to do? Will he get in trouble?
- Finally, he decides to pick it up and find the owner for the coin, but as he does, the coin jumps away from him.
- He does this a few more times—tries to pick up the coin, the coin jumps away—until he notices the string attached to the coin.
- He glances up and notices this boy smirking at him and calls him out on the trick.
- The guy—Tom—calls out to another guy named Job and tells him he's been found out.
- And this is when the bullying begins.
- You see, Tom's a racist jerk—he's one of the guys who made fun of Manjiro the very first day Manjiro got off the ship. Oh great.
- He starts taunting Manjiro with all sorts of racist, anti-foreigner stuff.
- Manjiro knows that he can't get in trouble, so he does something else: He uses the coin (now in his hand) and plays a disappearing coin trick on the students who have now gathered into a crowd around him.
- While he's doing the trick, he catches the eye of a girl, and makes the coin appear from behind her ear. He even touches her slightly. Ooh la la…
- The students are amazed and the tension from Tom's bullying fades away.
- Plus, Mr. Bartlett himself comes up and breaks up the crowd.
- Thereafter, Manjiro gets along well with the other students—all except Tom and his friends.
- By the way, Job ends up being one of Manjiro's friends. He, Terry, and Manjiro hang out and even help Manjiro out at the farm.
- But the better Manjiro does at the school, the more Tom and his crowd dislike him, you know, because jerks are like that.
- Tom continues to say a bunch of junk about Manjiro, and once, Job almost gets into a fight with Tom over Manjiro.
- Good thing a teacher comes by and breaks them up…
- It's spring and the boys are fishing.
- Terry and Job are discussing Tom and how he keeps bullying Manjiro.
- They think that Manjiro needs to go on the offensive and fight Tom, but Manjiro's not down with that idea because he's too worried about getting thrown out of school.
- Terry comes up with the idea of a sword fight since Tom won't know how to handle all those sword moves.
- Then the guys get on the topic of what happens when a sword cuts off a head.
- Manjiro contends that the body can still do some stuff after the head's been cut off and the other guys joke around about what the body does.
- It just so happens Mrs. Whitfield overhears their conversation and asks what's going on.
- The boys tell Mrs. Whitfield that Manjiro's being bullied at school.
- Mrs. Whitfield—taking it all in stride—tells Manjiro he should probably tell Mr. Whitfield about it.
- Manjiro, though, won't admit to the bullying.
- When the boys leave, he goes to Duffy (shortened from "Plum Duff") and tells the horse his troubles in Japanese.
- What should he do?
Fall Down Seven Times
- Manjiro decides on a horse race with Tom, the guy who's been riding since he was a kid and whose dad has the fastest horse around.
- Terry and Job know Manjiro—who still can't stay on a horse—needs help, so they start after-school riding practices immediately.
- They only have two weeks to teach Manjiro how to ride a horse.
- Manjiro starts to feel the pressure of the race, too, and he starts to hope that something will happen to him so that he won't need to race Tom.
- The whole school knows about the race now, so that means Catherine—the girl he met on the first day of school—might see him get humiliated, which would just totally stink.
- At one of their practices, Manjiro continues to keep falling off of Duffy; on the final fall (into a pile of straw), Manjiro gets up laughing.
- The other boys aren't laughing—after all, Manjiro keeps falling—but Manjiro just repeats an adage his mother used to tell him: "Fall down seven times, get up eight" (3.21.24).
- It's the day of the race and nothing's going to stop it from happening.
- At breakfast, Manjiro's totally gloomy.
- Captain Whitfield picks up on it and starts talking about some changes that will occur.
- First, he's secured Manjiro an apprenticeship with a cooper (a guy who makes barrels); Manjiro will start in the spring while going to school at the same time.
- Manjiro's pretty happy about this and tells the captain why he's been so down.
- The captain already knows of Manjiro's troubles, but there's more he has to say: He's going to go back to sea.
- The captain's taking a position on a new ship because the farm just can't cover all the bills.
- Manjiro misses ship life and he'll miss the captain, too; it's a lot to think about.
- So much, in fact, that when Manjiro and Tom start racing, Manjiro takes the race as time to ponder all the stuff the captain tells him.
- On the bright side, Manjiro stays on Duffy.
- On the down side, it doesn't matter because Tom still wins the race.
- While Tom is celebrating, a big man walks up and interrupts everything.
- In front of everyone, he starts yelling at Tom.
- Turns out, Tom didn't get a chance to ask his father if he could take Lightning, the horse he rode.
- Tom's father beats Tom up in front of the crowd, then drags him and the horse away.
- Later, as Manjiro is walking home, he spies Tom in a ditch.
- Tom is bloody and crying, but he glares at Manjiro.
- Manjiro figures out that all the bruises and black eyes Tom always has probably have nothing to do with getting into fights; they probably come from getting beaten by his father.
- Tom tells Manjiro he's just fallen.
- Manjiro holds out his hand and repeats his mother's words: "Fall down seven times, get up eight."
- Manjiro's the man of the house now that the captain is gone.
- Things are sad and lonely for a while, but then Manjiro finds out about The New American Practical Navigator, this navigation magazine that's full of navigational knowledge.
- Manjiro's obsessed and spends his days earning money off of odd jobs just so he can buy his copy of the Navigator.
- Then there's the baby.
- Yep—the captain left a little someone behind.
- Manjiro falls in love with little William Henry, whose blue eyes remind him now of the sea, not of the devil. Aw.
- Manjiro dreams of the day that William will man his own ship proudly into a Japanese port in order to visit Manjiro.
- Oh—and there's a girl, too. (You knew this was coming…)
The May Basket
- It's May Day and Manjiro's supposed to fill a basket with flowers and a note, then drop the basket off on the front step of a girl's house. If she opens the door, she's supposed to chase him down and kiss him.
- It's an American custom.
- So he's trying to write a small poem, with Terry's help.
- After Terry leaves, Manjiro finally comes up with something: a poem about how she shouldn't pick up the basket but should chase him (in a bit of mangled English).
- Manjiro leaves the basket on Catherine's step but isn't sure about knocking on the door because what if she opens it and gives chase? What if she doesn't want to kiss him? Wouldn't that be awkward for her (and him)?
- He does it anyway, but once he hears voices behind the door, he takes off before anyone can see him.
- Later that day, everyone is in the woods "a-Maying," which is basically all about girls gathering flowers and boys playing at fighting with tree branches.
- Manjiro overhears Catherine talking about Manjiro's basket.
- Everything's good—she loves it and is really into him; in fact, she might even consider marrying him one day.
- But one of her friends gives her a reality check: What would her parents say? After all, Manjiro is Japanese.
- That's all Manjiro needs to hear to get really upset.
- He runs off to a rocky cliff and ponders what he heard.
- Then his thoughts turn negative: America isn't all that it's cracked up to be, and people aren't as welcoming and free as they could be. Some people even have slaves.
- His romance with the country is definitely over.
- There's not much to say about Manjiro's work at Mr. Hussey's shop.
- That's because Manjiro hated being there.
- At first, things were okay, but then cold weather set in and the shop turned drafty and chilly.
- On top of that, Mr. Hussey wouldn't or couldn't feed Manjiro or the other apprentice enough.
- Manjiro doesn't remember much about his time at the shop because he was always sick and fevered.
- He had fever-dreams about his mother and being at sea.
- It's during his last dream that he opens his eyes to see Mrs. Whitfield—she's taken him back to the Whitfield house—but Manjiro's still feels down because even though it's home, it's not exactly home.
- And onto Part 4: "Returning."
- Setting: Late summer 1846 (3rd Year of Koka, Year of the Horse)
- An old friend from the John Howland returns to see Manjiro.
- It's Mr. Ira Davis, and he wants to offer Manjiro a position on this new ship called the Franklin.
- Manjiro's not really down for the job, though.
- The position is a steward, which is low, plus there's the farm to tend and baby William to look after. What with the captain away…
- But Ira tells Manjiro that the ship will be in Japanese waters; there's a chance for Manjiro to go home.
- He tells Mrs. Whitfield about the opportunity and she tells him that he just has to go, even if it kind of stinks for her.
- So that's it: It's goodbye to America for Manjiro.
- Once Manjiro gets on the boat, he runs into someone else he knows: Jolly.
- But things are more evenly matched this time.
- Jolly only has one working eye, and Manjiro's a lot bigger and stronger than he used to be—Jolly still warns him that he has time to leave the boat yet, though.
- But the thing that's strange about the warning is how indifferent and calm Jolly is about the whole thing.
- It's almost like he's warning Manjiro about something or someone else…
Whistling Up A Wind
- Setting: August 1847 (4th Year of Kokoa, Year of the Sheep)
- Things aren't all that great on the Franklin.
- First, he has this young guy around, bugging him with all these questions… Gee, sound familiar?
- Second, all the men (except Ira—now captain—and Itchy, the first mate) ignore and talk about him.
- Plus, Ira has a real temper, which isn't exactly the best way to run a ship.
- Suddenly, there's this shout from the deck. Manjiro can see some small ships in the distance—they're Japanese—so he scrambles onto the whaleboat and goes out to greet them.
- But they're scared of him and the white dude next to him, and they also speak a different dialect than what he knows.
- So what seems like his way home ends up not—the Japanese boat sails away.
- So this is going to be weird.
- Remember when Ira (or Captain Davis now) hired Manjiro to be a steward on the ship and told him it could be his chance to go back home to Japan?
- Yeah… let's just say that Captain Davis can't remember what he promised Manjiro.
- Manjiro wants to take the whaleboat and some crew members out to sail after the Japanese boats, but Captain Davis won't have it.
- He doesn't want to lose a boat and crew members to some random side trip for Manjiro "to China."
- Not only that—he threatens to punish Manjiro if he tries to leave the ship again.
- (Yeah, we're wondering if this Captain Davis character is the same guy as Manjiro's old friend Ira.)
- Setting: February 1848 (1st Year of Kaei, Year of the Monkey)
- A year goes by and whale hunting just isn't where it's at—no one's in a good mood on the ship, and the wind isn't even blowing.
- The guys more or less blame Manjiro for all the bad luck; he's the "Jonah." Or at least that's what he thinks.
- Or it could be Captain Davis the crew is against.
- No one would blame them: Captain Davis is a tyrant who's taken to waving a gun around on the deck. And that's on top of all the constant yelling.
- Now Captain Davis is looking for Manjiro. He thinks Manjiro's the "Jonah" and is threatening to throw everyone overboard until he finds Manjiro.
- Manjiro reveals himself, but right afterward, the crew spots a huge sea turtle.
- Someone throws a knife and maims the turtle, which goes underwater, and before Davis can get to him, Manjiro jumps in and goes after the turtle.
- As he goes deeper, he starts to hallucinate and hear a Japanese fairytale about a guy who becomes a prince but then leaves his princess because he just wants to go home; he also hears his mother voice telling him to swim up.
- He does, and when he cracks the surface of the water, everyone's cheering for him, even Jolly.
- Well, everyone except Captain Davis that is.
Sailing Close to the Wind
- Manjiro wakes up and the ship is moving.
- The rest of the crew is on deck and everyone's friendly to Manjiro.
- Why? They think his dive after the sea turtle turned their luck.
- Manjiro sees a few of the guys huddling and whispering, but it's not about him—nope, they're planning mutiny.
- All of a sudden, the captain interrupts the conversation with a blast of his musket.
- He forces Manjiro to get into one of the whaleboats because he thinks Manjiro was going to steal one anyway (even though they're way far from Japan).
- Manjiro doesn't really have a choice—Davis is pointing the gun at him.
- It's mutiny, but Manjiro's too angry to be scared.
- He confronts Davis and then jumps him, and the other guys follow and bind Davis up.
- But then someone sights whales.
- For real? The crew can't believe it—they've been whale-less for so long.
- Then Mr. Aken (Itchy) takes command.
- Instead of going against the crew, he backs them (because it's clear Davis is completely crazy anyway) and tells them to go get the whales.
- But before that, they have to choose new officers.
- Aken nominates Manjiro to be the harpooner and—lo and behold—everyone, including Jolly, backs Manjiro. Yay.
- Manjiro doesn't really even have time to think about his new position; they're off to get the whale.
- When they see the whale, Manjiro throws the harpoon and hits the whale.
- But it's a weird moment for him: He can't help but think back to the first time he saw a whale die; it was a barbaric, cruel death and now he's doing the same thing.
- It's time for him to go home. And by home, he means Japan.
- But he has a vision: America wasn't exactly what he expected, but if he could change people's minds about him—like Jolly for example—then maybe he can do that in Japan, too. Maybe he can get the Japanese to open up to America.
- But he'll need money for that.
- And he needs to pick up his old Japanese pals in Oahu.
- After that, it's homeward-bound for all of them.
- Setting: February 1849 (2nd Year of Kaei, Year of the Hen)
- They're on an island to refuel and restock.
- The crew dropped their captain back in Manila and things are all good now.
- Manjiro's going around looking for a present for baby William Henry, who will now be five; when he hears a parrot say "Konichiwa!" he buys it for William.
- He also hopes to find the person who trained the bird.
- But before he can, his crew is all excited—there's gold in California.
- So guess where they're off to now?
- They head to California, where Manjiro will use the gold he finds to fund his trip back to Japan.
- But before that happens, they all head back to New Bedford, Connecticut.
- By now, Manjiro's taught the parrot—called Tori—all sorts of Japanese and English words.
- When they get to New Bedford, the Whitfields are waiting for him; it's a good welcome back.
- Except for William Henry—apparently, he died of a fever some years ago.
- Manjiro's depressed.
- He's also sad that he took Tori away from his island home to go with him to Connecticut; the bird is kind of like him.
- But what can he do about everything now?
- Setting: October 1849, Fairhaven
- Manjiro's still in Fairhaven.
- He can't leave the Whitfields right now, not with the news about baby William.
- One day, Terry comes by and gets Manjiro to go with him to this photographer—or really, this guy who does daguerreotypes (an early form of a photograph).
- Terry's all into it because it's this amazing new technology.
- He tells Manjiro that he's going to California for the gold rush and wants Manjiro to go with him.
- Manjiro doesn't feel he can leave the Whitfields, but Terry tells him they'll be fine and that Manjiro is a man now; it's time to head out on his own.
- The photographer, meanwhile, is trying to get Terry to shut up and be still—which Terry just can't do—so he offers Manjiro 1/half off on a daguerreotype if he can get Terry to be still.
- Which Manjiro does.
- At the same time, he's hatching a plan to get back to Japan via California and the gold rush.
- They get their daguerreotypes back and Terry's is a blur, like he's already moving away.
The Gold Fields
- Setting: Spring/Summer 1850 (3rd year of Kaei, Year of the Dog)
- Terry and Manjiro are in California (passing through Sacramento to be exact) on a railroad.
- Manrjiro can't believe it: He's never been on anything so fast.
- The guys get to a spot at a river and start panning for gold.
- Manjiro thinks he's hit it big right off, but everyone around him laughs; he's just found fool's gold.
- Months go by, and Manjiro gets into a rhythm. It's all about shaking, scooping, sluicing, stirring…
- Guys all around quit because the conditions are really tough on the body.
- Good thing Manjiro's used to hard work.
- One day, Manjiro's doing the same old same old when everything sort of stops for him and he realizes he has a lump of gold in his pan.
- To him, this means he and his friends are going home.
Between Two Worlds
- Part 5 is called "Home." Let's dive in.
- Setting: January 1851 (4th year of Kaei, Year of the Boar)
- Everything goes according to plan: Manjiro goes from San Francisco to Oahu, finds his old pals, buys a whaleboat, and gets a captain to take them and the boat close to Japan.
- The plan from there is to row the boat into Japan's port.
- There are only three of them: Manjiro, Goemon, and Denzo.
- Toraemon decides to stay in Oahu and Jusuke died a while ago.
- At sea, the waters are rough and the weather is stormy, but they finally see land; it's home.
- Manjiro's already missing America, just like he missed Japan, but he knows that that's just how things will be—he'll always be missing one or the other.
- They get to land and they are so grateful to be on familiar territory.
- Until, that is, they see men coming to arrest them…
- The guys are on the defensive: What if these people hurt them?
- But it turns out, the people are bringing the guys food—sweet potatoes—and they even fill their flasks with water.
- Manjiro's optimistic that these people aren't into hurting them.
- However, the crowd soon parts for a group of officials who look pretty serious.
- The officials make the guys march through the night, in rain and muddy ground, before they finally stop and make a small camp.
- Denzo wants to know what they should do since the officials think they are spies.
- Manjiro tells the guys to do as the men say.
- Setting: Fall 1851 (5th year of Kaei, Year of the Rat)
- Manjiro's in prison.
- It's a nice prison; in fact, it's more like a peaceful Zen garden. But still… it's prison.
- A couple of seasons have passed already.
- The guys have been denied their families; they can't even send messages to them.
- Officials interrogate and observe them.
- The guys manage to tell the officials things like how thunderstorms and the Milky Way exist or can be experienced in other parts of the world.
- One day, Manjiro is ushered into a room for a solo interrogation.
- Lord Nariakira—a daimyo—wants to know about America.
- Manjiro gives simple information, like how American women look like and how American toilets are, but the daimyo isn't satisfied.
- So Manjiro tells him about the technological innovations America has made, like the telegraph and the railroad.
- Manjiro gives details at length about whaling ships, as well as the structure and philosophy of the American government and military.
- The daimyo really wants to know about weapons, though.
- Manjiro tells the daimyo how fortified America's ports are, but he adds that America's too busy building itself to go on the offense against other countries.
- Then he shows the daimyo the map and what Americans want: The ability to land in Japanese ports in order to refuel and restock.
- The daimyo says that the weather is changing.
- Manjiro adds that so is the world, but that this is going to be a good thing.
- The daimyo has sent them to Nagasaki; he assures them it's not a big deal and that he's written in support of their release.
- But once the guys get to Nagasaki, they're back in prison again, only this time, it's worse.
- The officials are cruel here, and they don't just interrogate, they torture.
- They even tell the men to stomp on an image of the Madonna and child. Which the men do.
- But that isn't enough either.
- In the cells, there are other castaways.
- They pass rumors—stuff like how all this torture is what's done right before release, that China has fallen to the West, how the shogunate is disintegrating, that America is a rising world power.
- There are rumors that Japan might descend into civil war and that they may war with the West, too.
- The guys just can't believe this: What have they returned to?
The Road Home
- Setting: June 1852 (5th Year of Kaei, Year of the Rat)
- Finally, Manjiro and his friends are free.
- They're given most of their belongings, some money, and told to walk home; they're also told not to talk about their experiences in the West.
- Manjiro has already walked with the other two to their hometowns, so now he's on his own.
- The road he's on is busy. Manjiro notices all sorts of folks riding or walking along and how people bow to the samurai and daimyos who go by.
- Manjiro's tempted not to do anything, but he doesn't want to go back to jail either.
- This guy he talks to thinks he's crazy because he says that whole worlds are sailing in the direction of Japan.
- When he gets to his village, he wonders whether anyone will even recognize him; he's totally different now, a man…
- The village looks exactly the same, but it still feels a little unfamiliar, too.
- He's greeted by village children, who want to know if he's famous and who he is.
- When he gets to his house, he just says in Japanese that he's home.
- Instead of the faces of his siblings, he sees adults, but he recognizes his mother.
- They have a touching reunion.
- He gives everyone some small souvenirs; his mother gets a small box of shells.
- She's touched and says that they're beautiful.
- Manjiro tells her that the shells represent all the people of the world: diverse and beautiful.
- Manjiro goes outside after everyone falls asleep and thinks deeply about Japan and the coming changes that are inevitable.
- He can't help thinking that Japan's been this sleepy little country while America's been innovating and speeding ahead.
- He wonders if Japan will be like America one day—at least technologically.
- One morning, a messenger comes for Manjiro.
- He says that Manjiro has to go to Kochi on the orders of the lord of Tosa.
- Manjiro's mom wants to know why, but the messenger knows nothing. He can only say that there are rumors: Either Manjiro will be thrown back into jail for being a spy or he'll be turned into a samurai for all of his knowledge about America.
- Manjiro doesn't know what will happen to him; he just knows who he is—a fisherman at heart, but someone who's been weathered by all the events he's gone through… maybe just enough to make him a samurai.
- Here's the real-life scoop on what happened to Manjiro after returning home.
- He became a teacher.
- Then Commodore Matthew Perry and his American ships entered Edo Bay in July 1853 and asked for access to Japan's ports.
- Manjiro was asked to go to Edo and turned into a samurai for his knowledge and expertise about America.
- Manjiro eventually advised the ruling government to end its isolationist policies and open itself up to America—after all, it wasn't like they had any weapons that would scare America off.
- On March 31, 1854, Japan and the U.S. sign a treaty of peace and friendship, thereby ending Japan's isolationism.
- Even though Manjiro was so influential with the shogun, for the rest of his life, people were suspicious of him; he even hired a bodyguard due to the threats against his life.
- Even so, he achieved many things: He wrote and translated some major books; he taught math, English, and sea navigation.
- He began the whaling industry in Japan and served as an interpreter for the first embassy to the U.S.
- He also managed to visit the Whitfields again, when he was forty-three years old.
- He was married three times and had three kids.
- He wore a hybrid of Western and Japanese fashion, and he always had a breakfast of toast and coffee.
- The friendship between the Whitfields and Manjiro lives on in a broader context through the Japan-America Grassroots Summit. Fairhaven and Tosashimizu (a city near Manjiro's hometown) are also sister cities.