Gates Ajar – March 1998

150th ANNIVERSARY RANALD MacDONALD TOUR OF JAPAN

Friends of MacDonald in Japan are organizing to host an unforgettable tour of Japan to commemorate the 150th anniversary of Ranald’s arrival in 1848.  Unlike commercial travel packages, this event avoids luxury hotels and full-course dining.  We can only promise that you’ll see more than MacDonald did in his travels in Japan, and know that the friendly faces you meet will keep their heads.  FOM member Ken Nakano had built the following two-week itinerary which accommodates you if one week is all the time you can allow.

9/10     Leave Seattle on NWA.  Cross International Dateline.

9/11     Fly from Kansai Airport on ANA to Sapporo

9/12     Free day in Sapporo to pamper your jet lag.

9/13     Sapporo bus tour.  Party with local FOM members.  All night train ride (sleeper available at additional cost) to Wakkanai (NW tip of Hokkaido).

9/14     Boat trip from Wakkanai to Rishiri Island, where MacDonald first made contact with Japanese people.  Tour the island and party with local FOM group.

9/15     Return to Sapporo by boat and train.

9/16     1-week option travelers return to Seattle; 2-week travelers take train to Hakodate.

9/17     Ride bus or rental car for trip to Matsumae where MacDonald was kept for several weeks.  Return to Hakodate.

9/18     Take train to Tokyo.  Party with local FOM group.

9/19     Free morning.  See Moriyama’s gravestone.  If lucky, meet briefly with Ambassador Tom Foley.  Stay second night in Tokyo.

9/20     Short train trip to Mihama, home port of the three Kichi sailors who were rescued by Hudson’s Bay Company and learned English at Ft. Vancouver.  Spend night in Japanese style inn.

9/21     Take train to Nagasaki.  Party with local FOM group.

9/22     Tour Nagasaki and stay second night.

9/23     Take train to Kansai airport and return to Seattle.  Those who wish may stay in Japan longer and return by themselves.

HIGHLIGHTS:

~ Parties with local FOM groups.  If you’ve never been a VIP before, here’s your chance!

~ Sapporo is sister-city with Portland, OR.  It is Rishiri Island’s “county seat”.

~ Rishiri Island is a jewel.  Two fishing villages share their pride in MacDonald’s story.  You’ll see an impressive stone monument near Ranald’s landing place, and displays in the local museum, whose director, Eiji Nishiya, edits an FOM newsletter in Japan.

~ Matsumae;  another fishing village.  If you don’t see it now, chances are slim that you ever will, for, like Rishiri Island, it is off the beaten path.

~ Tokyo.  Seeing the gravestone of Ranald’s favorite student, Moriyama, is a thrill.  The hoped-for greetings from Ambassador Foley is an important symbolic event.  Thanks to our Spokane members for the idea!

~  Mihama is well-known to our tour-organizer, Ken Nakano.  He has worked closely with them in his projects of placing the monument to the three Kichi’s as Ft. Vancouver and establishing a relationship with the Washington cost Indians.

~ Nagasaki, where Ranald taught English, is well aware of his story.  The original documents are in the Prefectural Library.  The Nagasaki South Rotary Club recently erected a monument on the street in front of the house where Ranald’s hermitage was.  You will see it.

As for cost, Ken says this is a low-budget tour.  Round trip air to Japan is about $800.  Utilize Japanese rail pass.  Stay in business hotels near rail stations for $60 to $80 per day, avoid expensive Japanese meals.  It is too soon to know the fare for air travel within Japan because of fluctuating exchange rates.

At present we think the group will be an intimate seven to twelve people.  If you are the least bit interested in going, please contact Ken Nakano for more details.  He will tell you when and how to register.

*****

AKIRA YOSHIMURA

Of authors who write historical fiction, James Michener may be the first to come to mind.  Ask a reader of Japanese, and Akira Yoshimura may be ichiban.  About a dozen years ago Yoshimura wrote a novel, Umi no Sairei (Festival of the Sea) based on the life of Ranald MacDonald.  It was in a magazine that FOM co-founder Mas Tomita read a serialized version which inspired Tomita’s interest in Ranald.  It refers to MacDonald’s birthplace correctly as Ft. George.  Mas Tomita had no idea that Ft. George was another name for Ft. Astoria until Bruce Berney asked the Japanese businessman’s organization, Shokookai of Portland, to pay half the cost of the birthplace monument.  not only did Tomita give support to the project, he telephoned Berney to say, “Let’s start a Friends of MacDonald organization.”

Now, you’ll be glad to learn that former FOM chairman, Dr. Stephen Kohl who teaches Japanese language and literature at the University of Oregon, has agreed with Yoshimura to translate Umi no Sairei.  Some of us non-kanji readers are very eager for its publication.

A letter from our Kyoto correspondent, Yuji Aisaka, reports that Yoshimura has an article on MacDonald in the February 1998 issue of Captain [ カペタン ].

*****

MEMBERSHIP REPORT

Unpaid former members names have been purged from our database.  Instead of 150 members – which we once claimed – we now can boast of about forty [many include spouses].  From Oregon, there are about 20; Washington, 14; and one each from Canada, Japan, Michigan, Georgia, California, and Indiana.  Strangely, none are named MacDonald.

We need you, our members, to help recruit new members — others who are interested in Japanese friendship activities.  Please ask for new membership packets (pamphlet, return envelope, a newsletter back copy, and two post cards).  Write to Friends of MacDonald, c/o Clatsop County Historical Society, 1618 Exchange Street, Astoria, OR  97103.

*****

BIRTHDAY PARTY

Fifteen Clatsop County FOM members and friends met for lunch at Golden Star Chinese restaurant in Astoria on MacDonald’s birthday, February 3rd.  Sharing the Happy Birthday song with Ranald, Bruce Berney was served a ball of sticky rice topped with a birthday candle.  FOM secretary Mike Seaman spoke about his year as a student of Waseda University in the 1970’s and his former job of property manager for several Japanese corporations in Los Angeles.  He now is commercial properties specialist for AREA Properties real estate firm in Astoria.  Following lunch, they reconvened at the Birthplace Monument to leave floral offerings.

*****

WASHINGTON SECRETARY OF STATE

In September we received a letter from Washington Secretary of State Ralph Munro stating: “I do want you to know that we are actively pursuing the preservation of the cabin where Ranald MacDonald spent the closing days of his life.  As you may know, it is located across the valley from the grave site in Northeastern Washington State.  Our historic preservation people and our heritage resources people are now collaborating as to how we can best preserve this cabin.  Although the building is pretty far gone, I believe we will be able to put together a program that will gain the support of the legislature.”

We wrote a letter of support, but as yet have not heard of any outcome.  Washington members may wish to inquire.  Munro’s phone number is 360-902-4151; his address is PO Box 40220, Olympia, WA  98504-0220.

*****

BOOK REVEALS STORY OF NORTHWEST ADVENTURER

Such was the headline of the review of Jo Ann Roe’s new book about Ranald MacDonald as featured in North American Post, the Seattle Japanese/English newspaper.  its editor, Kamilla Kuroda McClellend attended the September FOM membership meeting at Portland where Jo Ann Roe was presented a framed copy of the cover of the book Ranald MacDonald: Pacific Rim Adventurer by Washington State University Press publicist Beth DeWeese.    Jo Ann Roe reports the book is selling well.  It is reviewed in the Fall 1997 issue of Oregon Historical Society Quarterly, pages 375-377.  It notes that the author is a member of Friends of MacDonald.  The book and the review together give our organization long-lasting, valuable publicity.

*****

HISTORICAL SOCIETY HONORS BERNEY

Clatsop County Historical Society presented a framed expression of esteem to Bruce Berney at its annual membership luncheon in January at Astoria Country Club.  The Daily Astorian reported that :  “Jeff Smith, executive director of the society said the award marked Berney’s work as a librarian, his efforts on historic preservation and his service on the society’s Friends of Ranald MacDonald committee, which promotes international understanding.”

*****

JIM MOCKFORD IS NEW FOM CHAIRMAN

Members attending the meeting in September selected Bruce Berney, chairman; Michael Seaman, secretary; and Barbara Peeples, publicist/recruitment.  Unfortunately, two months later Bruce suffered sudden hearing loss.  Unable to use the telephone, re resigned as chairman, but volunteered to continue being active as FOM archivist and membership clerk.  Jim Mockford has agreed to be chairman during this meaningful 150th anniversary year.  Formerly Japanese language teacher at Camas High School, he now is a Japanese affairs consultant working with high technology businesses.  He and Mas Tomita were good friends and worked closely on many projects.

*****

>.>.>.>.>  CHAIRMAN’S CORNER <.<.<.<.<

It was on June 27, 1848, as the whaling ship PLYMOUTH lay off the coast of Hokkaido, about five miles away from the nearest island, that Captain Edwards received the request from Ranald MacDonald to leave the ship.  The had prepared for this adventure by rigging a small boat for sailing and stowing in it provisions for about thirty days:  a quadrant for observations, a box of books, stationary, and a few clothes.  Then into the launch stepped young Ranald, and while the crew shouted “God bless you Mac,” he dipped a small white flag in salute to the Stars and Stripes and parted ways from his friends for Japan.

This summer, on Saturday, June 27, exactly 150 years from the date that MacDonald’s adventure began, I would like to invite FOM members and friends to join in a reenactment of this historic passage on board the brig LADY WASHINGTON during its interbay sailing from Aberdeen to Westport, Washington.  As the new chairman of FOM and a member of the Advisory Council of Grays Harbor Historic Seaport, I propose a cooperative project between these two historical societies with important ties to maritime history and early US-Japan relations.  Further information will be forthcoming as we get closer to the date of our commemorative launching of MacDonald’s boat and salute to Ranald’s “Japan story of adventure!”  To make an early reservation on the passenger list for the June 27 sailing, contact the Gray’s Harbor Historic Seaport office at 1-800-532-LADY.

~~ Jim Mockford, FOM Chairman

*****

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.