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Moriyama Monument Dedicated

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015


For the past 20 years, there stood a lonely monument of Japan’s very first “Native-Speaking English Teacher”, Ranald MacDonald, along Matsunomori Street of Kaminishiyama-cho in Nagasaki-City.  It was erected in 1994 by the Nagasaki-Minami Rotary Club as part of their 30th Anniversary Project under then-President, Dr. Masami Obama.

Ranald MacDonald was captured as an illegal intruder on the shores of Rishiri Island in 1848; however, because of his good attitude and respectful behavior toward the Japanese people and its culture and traditions – unlike other foreign sailors who were washed ashore – he was “merely” placed under house arrest at Daihian.

At that time, the Tokugawa Shogunate was feeling the need for trained interpreters who could be effective in the English language rather than the traditional Dutch-oriented interpreters.  The arrival of MacDonald, who had received a good education because of his Scottish father, Archibald MacDonald, was quite timely, and the Shogunate immediately arranged to use him as a temporary teacher of English, primarily for “conversation and pronunciation”.

The Dutch interpreters, 14 of them, commuted to Daihian for the next 7 months for Ranald’s English lessons till Ranald was forced to return to go back home. The leader and best student among the 14 was Einosuke Moriyama.

Several years later, when Commodore M. Perry of the US East Indies Squadron came to Japan to demand the Shogunate to open its door to America, Moriyama acted as a chief interpreter on behalf of the Shogunate. Subsequently, Moriyama worked hard to interpret and negotiate with the British, French, Russians, etc. Much praise of Moriyama’s language and negotiation skills were written in the records of foreign governments.

A monument dedicated to Einosuke Moriyama was (finally) dedicated on September 12, 2014 – it can be found along Matsunomori Street of Kaminishiyama-cho in Nagasaki-City, right next to the MacDonald Monument – and it is quite appropriate that the two monuments of MacDonald and Moriyama were erected side by side. Be quiet and listen! You might hear the exchange of laughter and conversation between the two.  I am confident Ranald is no longer lonely there.   ~ Mas Yatabe






今回、師弟関係にあったラナルド・マクドナルドと森山栄之助の顕彰碑が並列して建立された事は、実に喜ばしい! 耳を澄ますと、二つの碑の間で往時を偲ぶ会話と笑い声が交わされているのが聞こえてくるようにさえ感じられる。 察するに、今ではラナルドも寂しさから開放されたに違いない。- 谷田部 勝

Moriyama Monument Nagasaki

(from L to R) Dr. Masami Obama, Mas Yatabe, Kazukuni Yamazaki(Sculptor), Michi Goto, Yuji Aisaka  小濱正美医、谷田部 勝氏、山崎和國氏(彫刻家)、後藤 道女史、逢坂祐二氏

FOM members gather for Moriyama monument ceremonies

It was a gathering of FOM members from Hokkaido, Tokyo, Aichi, Kyoto, Osaka, Nagasaki and even Holland and the U.S.A.  “It was fun and enjoyable – just like a class reunion,” per Ms. Yumiko Kawamoto.  記念撮影: 森山栄之助顕彰碑除幕記念晩餐会出席者一同 出席者は北海道、東京、愛知、京都、大阪、長崎、更に海外のオランダ、アメリカ・・・と「和やか、且つ楽しく同窓会みたい!」とは河元由美子女史の弁。



Happy 2014 A Little Bit Late

Friday, January 31st, 2014

2014 is already approaching February! I sincerely hope the beginning of everyone’s year has been smooth and that you all are in good health and that the year ahead will be everything you want it to be.


At 3:00 p.m. on October 6th, 2013 three Japanese – along with several Americans – were at Fort Astoria (Ft. George) National Historic Site. The three were gazing at the stone monument entitled “The Birth Place of Ranald MacDonald”. The scene was not unusual, but it was quite historic! 時は2013年10月6日午後3時、数人のアメリカ人に混ざって3人の日本人がFort Astoria 史跡公園を訪れていた。3人はその一遇に建つ「マクドナルド生誕の地」と刻まれた石碑に見入っていた。それ自体珍しい光景ではなかったが、それは大変歴史的な出来事であった。

Ranald MacDonald was born at Fort Astoria (Fort George) on February 3, 1824 the son of Archibald McDonald and Princess Sunday, a daughter of Chinook Indian Chief. In 1848, Ranald – a grown to be a strong 24 year-old sailor – succeeded in landing on an a small island in the Sea of Japan off northern- most Hokkaido. At that time it was generally regarded as an unattainable venture to enter Japan; however, with the careful planning of a “faked shipwreck”, Ranald was saved by Ainu people and the result was a successful landing onto Japanese soil. Soon after that, Ranald was arrested as an unlawful intruder and was transported to Nagasaki under “house arrest” at Daihian, where the translators of Dejima were taught English by Ranald. That is why Ranald is regarded as the first Native English Teacher in Japan. ラナルド・マクドナルドは、スコットランド人アーチボルド・マクドナルドを父に、チヌーク族族長の娘、プリンセス・サンデーを母とし、ここFort Astoria (Fort George) で1824年2月3日に産声をあげた。そして1848年、24歳のたくましい船員に成長したラナルドは北海道北端の日本海に浮かぶ利尻島への単独上陸に成功した。当時鎖国令を敷いていた日本への入国は無謀・・・と思われていたが、ラナルドは緻密な計画に従い遭難を偽装、かけつけたアイヌに救助され、結果的に目的を果たしたのだった。しかし、その後不法入国者・・・として幕府に捕えられ長崎へ護送された後、座敷牢大悲庵に幽閉されたが、そこで出島の通詞達に英語を教えた事が今日マクドナルドを「日本で最初のネイティブ英語教師」と位置付けている所以である。

The three Japanese at Fort Astoria were two students, Yuuki Komatsu and Tatsuya Koujiya of Rishiri High School and their principle, Mr. Hiroyuki Tsukamoto. The three had arrived at Portland International Airport a day earlier, October 5, 2013. So it was that 165 years since Ranald landed on Rishiri Island, three people from Rishiri came to visit Astoria, the birth place of Ranald MacDonald. There are only two towns on Rishiri Island: Rishiri-cho and Rishirifuji-cho. In December 2012 the citizens, the businesses and other groups in both towns got together and established “A Support Group for MacDonald Scholarship Funds” in order to support the only high school on the Island, Rishiri Senior High School. The objective is to send a few students annually to the US, in particular, to Oregon and Washington states, where Ranald had close ties – and thus encourage students to study English and assist students to acquire an International mind and etiquette”. The next few pages are copies of newspaper articles, photos and the comments by Yuuki-kun and Tatsuya-kun from Rishiri Senior High School:

Fort Astoria に居た3人の日本人は北海道利尻高校から前日(10月5日)ポートランド国際空港に到着した留学生の小松祐希君及び糀屋達也君と付添いの塚本宏之校長先生であった。オレゴニアン、ラナルド・マクドナルドが利尻島に上陸して以来、実に165年間を経た2013年に利尻島からの3人はラナルドの生誕地、アストリアへやって来たのであった。利尻島内には利尻町及び利尻富士町という2つの町が在るが両町の町民や企業、団体が島の将来の為協力し同島内唯一の利尻高校を支援し元気付けようと2012年12月に「マクドナルド奨学基金支援の会」を立ち上げた。その趣旨は毎年何人かの利尻高校生を米国(特にマクドナルドゆかりの地、オレゴンとワシントン州)へ短期留学させ、生徒達の英語学習欲を促し、同時に国際感覚養成に役立てるというものだった。 以下、小松君及び糀屋君のオレゴン及びワシントン州への第1回留学に関する新聞記事や写真、両君の感想等を掲載させて頂く:

ご報告: 2013年5月11日のFOM年次総会席上ご承認頂きました「FOMよりマクドナルド奨学基金    支援の会への寄付10口分として¥50,000」を実行致しました。

Report: We have donated 50,000 yen to The MacDonald Scholarship Fund in Rishiri Island from FOM General Funds per approval during the annual luncheon meeting in Astoria on May 11, 2013.

FOM Chairman 谷田部 勝/Masaru “Mas” Yatabe

* * * * *

朝日新聞 Asahi Shimbun

Asahi Shimbun

Our Overall Impressions

3年 小松 祐希/Yuuki Komatsu, Senior

僕は今回、アメリカ研修留学に行って本当によかったと思っています。 それは、たくさんの人に出会い、たくさんの事を学び、広く視野を広げることが出来たからです。ですが、1つ後悔をした事が在ります。それは「もっと英語の勉強をしておけばよかった」ということです。 アメリカでの生活の中で1番困ったのが「英会話」でした。あまり英語が話せなくても楽しく8日間をすごすことができましたが、ちゃんと英語が話せればもっともっと楽しく充実した8日間になったのかな。と思うととても悔しく思いました。来年度からもこの事業が続いて行くという事なので、次回の留学生には僕のように後悔をせず心からアメリカでの生活を楽しんできてもらいたいです。なので、学校での英語勉強の徹底をした方がいいと思いました。このような体験ができたのもマクドナルド奨学金支援の会の方々や利尻町、利尻富士町両町のご支援ご協力があったからです。今回学んだことを残りの高校生活、そして卒業後の学生生活に活かしていこうと思います。この度は、本当にありがとうございました。

I am truly glad that I went to America to study this time. It enabled me to meet many people, learn many things and gave me a broader perspective. However, I do have one regret: I should have studied English harder. The most troublesome thing for me was English conversation. It made me feel sorry when I realized the 8 days would have been a lot more enjoyable if I had had better command of English – even though those 8 days were fun days. I understand that this program will continue on to next year and beyond; I hope future participants will enjoy the experience fully and without regret. Therefore, it will be a good idea to make sure the student(s) study English seriously and with diligence. I was able to have this valuable experience because of the assistance and cooperation of the people of ‘MacDonald Scholarship Fund Support Group’ and the Towns of Rishiri and Rishirifuji. I intend to apply and utilize what I learned to the rest of my High School life and my life after graduation. Thank you very much.

2年 糀屋 達也/Tatsuya Koujiya, Junior


Studying abroad was a very good experience for me and visiting America for the first time gave me many surprises. I will always remember going to school in America and exchanging ideas with the students I met. The most enjoyable thing was to go to class together (with American students) even though we had language difficulty and had to depend on our hands and body gestures a lot for communication. I was alone among foreigners for a few days during the home stay, and I gained confidence in myself when I was able to work out a problem by myself. In the future I hope I can apply the worldwide perspective which I gained through experiencing the cultural differences between Japan and America during the study tour, experiences I could not have enjoyed had I stayed in Japan. Last, but not least, I would like to express my deep appreciation to the people of the Towns of Rishiri and Rishirifuji and the members of ‘MacDonald Scholarship’ funds. If I could go again next year, I would love to.

Why ‘Gates Ajar’?

Friday, July 5th, 2013

2013 05 11 Astoria

In the course of explaining exactly what and who the Friends of MacDonald are to our guests and new members, the idea and concept – if not the actual words themselves – of “Gates Ajar” pops up. This expression and these words are more than just the name of our committee’s newsletter.

When asked, we usually begin by explaining that Ranald MacDonald – though not the “first” person to do so – was the first native-English speaking person to “teach” English in Japan. Following this explanation, it has often been asked just how the 14 samurai who were Ranald’s pupils could have picked up their English proficiency so quickly – in a mere 7-months time. No doubt each of these men were ‘special’ in their own way, obviously being of high rank in Japan and quite capable, otherwise they would not have been among those chosen for the special assignment of learning English from this very peculiar and unusual foreigner. The truth is, most, if not all, of these men were already ‘employed’ as translators and cold have been considered linguistics experts; each had been studying English, perhaps for years, from the Dutch translators at Dejima. Their Dutch teacher/translators, however, spoke far from ‘perfect’ English. Using Moriyama Einosuke (perhaps the best known of Ranald’s pupils) as our example, we know that when he first met with Ranald he could already read and write English with a certain amount of fluency, and history tells us that Moriyama could also “speak” English, though with such such a heavy Dutch accent so as to be frustratingly unintelligible to native English speakers. But Moriyama and the others could read and write in English; they understood basic English vocabulary and syntax – all that was needed was some rather intense work on pronunciation, and Ranald was more than up to the task.

But back to the expression “Gates Ajar”. What could this rather ambiguous catchphrase mean in the context of an historical committee?

When Ranald approached Japan in July of 1848 her borders were sealed, her windows, doors and gates closed and virtually locked tight against the influences of the outside world. But by the time he left 10 months later there was a small breach in Japan’s armor, and the gates had been left open just a bit … ajar.

The third issue of the FOM newsletter, dated Fall 1989, introduced its distinctive title of “Gates Ajar”. There really is no mystery: the phrase comes from page 98 of MacDonald’s own autobiography where he wrote: “… I came thus to play my humble part in the drama of ‘Gates Ajar’, of west and east, in the world of the Pacific.”