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Japanese students tour in the spirit of Ranald MacDonald

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014
~Edward Stratton; Reprinted from The Daily Astorian, Oct. 17, 2014

The “MacDonald’s Encouragement Study Fund”, in honor of historical English teacher and former Astorian Ranald MacDonald, sent over, from left standing, English instructor Mayumi Nakanishi and students Ren Miyashita and Takeru Oshima. Hosting and touring them around are Astoria High School student Bryce Nurding, second from right, Masaru Yatabe, Chairman of FOM, right, and Kaheawai “KK” Kaonohi, founder of the high school’s Japanese club.

The educational exchange between Astoria and Japan, foisted on the Asian nation 166 years ago by a native Astorian bent on leaving his whaling vessel and joining its relatively closed society, restarted earlier this week.

Honoring the spirit of Ranald MacDonald, an Astoria native and Japan’s first English teacher, the ’MacDonald’s Encouragement Study Fund’ sent two students and their English teacher from Rishiri Island to Oregon this past week. The group has been sightseeing around Portland and shadowing their host students at Astoria High School.

“I like talking, speaking English,” said Ren Miyashita, one of the two students visiting Astoria. “I’ve never been abroad before this time.”  Miyashita, in his second to last year of school, and Takeru Oshima, a senior, both come from Rishiri Island, located 12 miles west of northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. The island, reachable by ferry and one flight a day, boasts a population of about 5,100. Miyashita and Oshima attend Rishiri High School, which with a total of 93 kids is about 16 percent of Astoria High School’s enrollment. Rishiri Island also includes three elementary schools and two junior high schools.

“The whole objective is to internationalize the future generations of Rishiri Island by having a couple of students come over each year so they will be ready for life in a global world,” said Masaru Yatabe, chairman of the Friends of MacDonald.

MacDonald, who was born at Fort Astoria in 1824 to a Hudson’s Bay Co. fur trader, traded his wages on the whaler for a small boat and supplies and sailed toward Rishiri Island at age 24. Nearing some native Ainu fishermen, he pulled the plug, and in his sinking boat, he became a bona fide sailor in distress.  Originally imprisoned, MacDonald eventually started teaching Japanese scholars English. He became famous in Japan. Congressional reports note an interpreter asking incoming Commodore Matthew Perry, who forcibly opened Japan to trade with the U.S. in the mid-19th century, “Do you know Ranald MacDonald?”

Traveling Oregon

The 26-year-old Friends of MacDonald help guide the students and teacher on their trip. They started earlier this week in Portland with sightseeing trips to the International Test Rose Gardens and Multnomah Falls.  The group also met with the consulate-general of Japan in Portland, Hiroshi Furusawa. At the consulate, said Yatabe, Furusawa explained how Japan is trying to double the number of people in the Japan Exchange & Teaching Program, which sends young, college-educated English speakers to communities around Japan.

In Astoria for the past few days, Miyashita and Oshima have been attending sporting events, exploring the area and shadowing their host students, juniors Kaheawai “KK” Kaonohi and Bryce Nurding.  Kaonohi, who moved to Astoria from Bend, started a Japanese club at AHS, having traveled to Japan himself over the summer.  “I was part of the Japanese National Honor Society,” said Kaonohi, adding that his grandmother in Hawaii is originally from Japan.

Nurding, who’s hosted cyclists from Virginia and Sweden through hospitality exchange group Warm Showers, said he was contacted by Kaonohi and is always up for hosting and learning about different people and cultures.  Miyashita and Oshima take all the classes of their host students, including math, science, language arts and other classes as they expand their English skills. They describe their peers in Astoria as freer and more open to asking questions. Yatabe and Nakanishi said that students in Japan respect the teachers more and are much less likely to speak up, often to the detriment of their own social skills.

This is the second year of the exchange through the MacDonald’s Encouragement Study Fund. Last year, students Tatsuya Koujiya and Yuuki Komatsu arrived in Astoria with their principal, Hiroyuki Tsukamoto.  For 2016, said Yatabe, Kaonohi is trying to organize a similar trip to Rishiri Island, where he and Nurding can experience life there, although the effort will likely require raising the funds. “Then the exchange will be complete.”

On Friday, after attending the Astoria-Banks football game, the exchange group heads for a similar experience in Republic, Wash., where MacDonald died in 1894.

Students trace MacDonald back to Astoria

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

Japanese teens learn about famous resident’s birthplace ~ By Edward Stratton, The DAILY ASTORIAN,  Oct. 9, 2013

Ranald MacDonald, an Astoria native born at Fort George, landed on the Japanese island of Rishiri 165 years ago, and became the first English teacher in Japan.  During October 2013, two students from Rishiri Public High School visited Astoria to improve their English skills and understanding of MacDonald’s birthplace. They departed for other locations in Washington before heading back to Japan.

Tatsuya Koujiya and Yuuki Komatsu, both 17, arrived in Astoria Oct. 6 with their principal, Hiroyuki Tsukamoto.

“The purpose of it is to encourage the students to learn English and nurture international-minded youth,” said Masaru Yatabe, chairman of the 25-year-old Friends of MacDonald and host and interpreter for the students during their visit to the U.S.

The Japanese newspaper Daily Souya reported Dec. 11 that the communities on Rishiri Island, namely Rishiri and Rishirifuji, established the MacDonald’s Encouragement Study Fund, encouraging students to learn English. One or two top students will be chosen each year from their English-language class and travel to Oregon and Washington to experience American life and encourage their English-language skills.

Tatsuya and Yuuki are the first recipients of the fund. They passed a standardized English test, wrote theses in Japanese about what their goals were during the visit and were interviewed by their principal, vice principal and English teacher.

Tatsuya, a senior at Rishiri, said he was hurt and unable to play for his school’s badminton team. So he looked into the study abroad fund and thought it would contribute to his future. Yuuki, who had never left Japan before, works part time at a restaurant and wants to improve his language skills for when he helps foreign customers.

Yuuki and Tatsuya moved in with the families of 15-year-old sophomores Clay Williams and Ben Williams, respectively (they are not related). They’ve been shadowing their hosts in class, visiting local tourist attractions and the MacDonald monument near Fort George. They also attended a 15-6 AHS junior varsity football victory in Tillamook.

Rishiri’s high school has 96 students compared with AHS’ more than 600. Yuuki said at first it was overwhelming, but that over time Ben and Clay have introduced him and Tatsuya to other students, and that they’ve been enjoying the last couple of days despite the language barrier.

“Anyone going to a new place would feel kind of … nervous and quiet,” said Ben Williams, who along with Clay Williams said their Japanese peers are particularly polite. “The language sometimes is a little bit of a problem.”

The relative freedom and individuality of AHS was something new to Tatsuya and Yuuki, who said their high school environment in Rishiri is much more controlled with a focus on group action.

“Sometimes we feel like we lack the structure, so it’s the meeting of the minds,” said AHS Principal Lynn Jackson about the differences.

The two students and their principal left for Spokane, Wash., this morning, bound ultimately for Republic, Wash., where MacDonald died in 1894. Yatabe said they’ll shadow more students at Curlew High School in northeastern Washington, pay respects at MacDonald’s graveside and visit Mukogawa Women’s University in Spokane, Wash.  Then they will spend two days getting back to Rishiri, traveling through Spokane, Seattle, Tokyo, Sapporo, Japan, and finally home.

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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.

2014年ももうじき2月を迎えようとしておりますが、FOM会員の皆様にとり、健康でスムーズな年初めであった事、そして残り11ヶ月余が充実した時になる事・・・を念じて居ります。

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

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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

今回の留学研修は自分にとってとてもためになり研修となりました。初めてアメリカに行き、たくさんの驚きがありました。特に僕が印象に残っているのは、むこうの学校に行き、生徒と交流をした事です。言葉がなかなか通じない中、身振り手振りでコミュニケーションをとり、一緒に授業を受けたことが一番楽しかったです。又、ホームステイなどでは、一人で外国人の中に入っていって何日間か過ごしました。そのなかで困ったときにも自分でしっかり対処できたことにより、少し自信を持つことができました。今回の研修で日本とアメリカの文化の違いを体験したことで、日本にいただけでは感じることのできなかった世界観や視野をこれからの進路にいかしていきたいと思います。最後になりましたが、利尻町、利尻富士町のみなさん、そしてマクドナルド基金のみなさんには、ご支援いただき、このような機会を作っていただいたことに深く感謝します。来年ももし行く機会があれば、また行ってみたいです。

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.”

FOM Annual Membership Meeting May 2011

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

The annual membership luncheon of the Friends of MacDonald, chaired by Mas Yatabe, was held on May 14, 2011 at the Baked Alaska Restaurant in Astoria, OR.  Notable people among the attendees were Consul General of Japan Takamichi Okabe and his wife, Kozue, Dr. Stephen Kohl, author and retired professor of East Asian Languages & Literatures at the University of Oregon and his wife, Katie, and representing the Chinook Nation, Councilman Charles Funk and his wife, Mary.  Also in attendance were McAndrew “Mac” burns, Executive Director of Clatsop County Historical Society and his daughter.

The agenda included a State of the Organization and financial report presented by Chairman Mas Yatabe. Also discussed was a plan to distribute Unsung Hero, written by Atsumi McCauley and illustrated by Mariko King.  Unsung Hero, a bilingual children’s book about the young adventurer, Ranald MacDonald, is written in both Japanese and English text with full-page, color illustrations.  It is the intention of Friends of MacDonald to present gift copies to local Astoria elementary schools as well as to selected elementary schools in the greater Portland/Clark County area.  Councilman Charlie Funk brought news that the Chinook Indian Nation, the State of Washington, and the National Park Service are working together to develop a new national park unit. This unit, named “Chinook Middle Village – Station Camp”, and authorized by Congress in 2004, will focus on the first 30 years of the relationship between the Chinook and the United States, a period of time that encompassed the Lewis and Clark Expedition as well as the founding of Astoria, and will most certainly focus on the life and times of Concomly, the principal chief of the Chinook Confederacy and grandfather of Ranald MacDonald.

This new national park unit will be directly adjacent to Fort Columbia State Park and is hoped to be open in 2011.

Alice Yatabe, who developed the website for Friends of MacDonald, discussed the organization’s original mission, reading from a letter written in April 1991 by Donald Sterling, FOM Charter Member, long-time journalist and past-President of the Oregon Historical Society.  Yatabe quoted Sterling as calling Ranald MacDonald “the personification of the early contacts between the West and Japan in the mid-19th Century”, and encouraged the Friends to continue to assemble and disseminate information about a wide range of related subjects rather than concentrate only on MacDonald’s own life and adventures.  Yatabe pointed out that FOM was currently doing this by re-connecting with the Chinook Nation as well as with  Clan McDonald, both in the USA and Scotland – and by FOM’s on-going close relationship with Friends of MacDonald Japan.

As the informal luncheon came to a close those in attendance were treated to a beautiful solo rendition of Chidori No Kyoku performed by Mrs. Kozue Okabe on koto before everyone moved to the MacDonald Birthplace Monument on the corner of 15th and Exchange Streets, the site of the original Ft. Astoria, for a group photo.

2011-05-14-fom-group-photo-cropped

January 2010

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

Friends of MacDonald extends its congratulations to Fred Schodt ~~~~~


FOM extends its congratulations to Fred Schodt, whom we agreed most deservedly received a prestigious award from the Japanese government in 2009.  The presentation of the “Order of the Rising Sun with Gold Ray Rosette” was held in San Francisco at the Official Residence of the Japanese Consul General, Mr. Yasumasa Nagamine. The award is given on behalf of the Japanese government, and signed by the Prime Minister and emperor.  Read Fred’s speech here.

Photobucket

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FOM Donates 30 Books Unsung Hero: Ranald MacDonald Story to Elementary School Children of Nagasaki

As of this writing, there are over 80 elementary schools in Nagasaki, Japan.  To celebrate the Nagasaki-East Rotary Club’s 40th anniversary, the Rotary Club sponsored a gathering of elementary school children called “Let’s Talk English” on Dec. 19, 2009.  The coordinator was Mr. Minoru Maeda, a former English teacher and a current International Member of Friends of MacDonald.  It was Mr. Maeda’s idea for each participating student to receive a copy of the book Unsung Hero: Ranald MacDonald Story, a biography of Ranald MacDonald written for children by Atsumi Tsukimori McCauley of Spokane, WA and illustrated by Mariko King.  [Friends of MacDonald would like to thank Ms. McCauley for selling us copies of her books at cost.]

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Mihama Delegation Visits Makah Nation

Mr. Koichi Saito and his wife, Yuriko, led a “Goodwill” Friendship delegation of 28 Otokichi-no-kai members to the annual Makah Day Festival in Neah Bay, WA on August 29, 2009.  Mr. Saito is the former Mayor of Mihama (Aichi Prefecture).

2009-08-otokichi-tour-hojun-maru


The day began with a brief visit to the Makah Cultural Research Center in Neah Bay – which is recognized as the nation’s finest tribal museum – and the group was able to enjoy the replica of the Hojun-maru, donated by Hyogo Scout Council, Boy Scout of Nippon in 2006. It was the Makah ancestors who saved the lives of three sailors from Mihama who were washed ashore on Cape Alava in the disabled ship named Hojun-maru in the winter of 1834. The delegation from Mihama came to express their appreciation to the present day people of the Makah Nation for saving the three sailors from their hometown and to exchange goodwill with them by not only observing the parade, canoe racing, dancing, etc., but also actively participating in their day-long “Makah Day” festivities – the biggest annual event for the people of the Makah Indian Nation.

2009-08-otokichi-tour-gift-exchangeThe delegation was first treated to a traditional Baked Salmon lunch near the center stage of the festivities before Mayor Saito and Michael Lawrence, Chairman of the Makah Tribal Council, exchanged gifts. Some of the Mihama delegation members could not help but envy the scene where more than one hundred little boys and girls under the age of 12 dressed in their traditional costumes and danced proudly on the outdoor center stage. It was a beautiful sight that sent a message to everyone that the Makah Nation will continue for many more generations to come.

makah-childrens-dance

The next day the entire group from Mihama hiked through the Olympic National Forest for few miles to reach the shores of Cape Alava where the ancestors of the present-day Makah saved the three shipwrecked sailors, Otokichi, Iwakichi and Kyukichi in 1834.  Mayor Saito talked about how hard it must have been for the three sailors in the frigid weather, surrounded by strangers who wore ‘odd’ clothing and spoke an unfamiliar language. It was noted and stressed by Mayor Saito that the three sailors were able to regain their health under the care of Makah people and eventually they were able to sail to England.

What the Sankichi experienced with the Makah people then was what we call these days a true “home stay”. “We must not forget that!” former Mayor Saito stated – and everyone heartily agreed.

otokichi-tour-at-cape-alava-2009_0

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Membership

Friday, January 1st, 2010

Through your memberships and/or donations you contribute to the building of ties between American and Japanese citizens who have an interest in history, education and people-to-people exchange. Recent membership activities have included historical reenactments, tours of historical sites and exchanges between scholars, historians and writers.

FOM, through the story of Ranald MacDonald, encourages American students of Japanese and Japanese learners of English to engage in the adventure of cultural exchange. Foreign language and cultural studies enrich the citizens of both countries and further mutual understanding between peoples.

FOM provides a window to learning about a unique trans-pacific heritage by conducting lectures and seminar programs, exhibits at public libraries and museums, and participation in ongoing efforts to interpret and preserve the history of the Pacific Northwest.

We invite you to join us! Establish your new annual membership, gift membership or donation in the appropriate category:

Family or Individual Membership [$15.00 annual]
International Family or Individual Membership [$20.00 annual]
Corporate Membership [$100.00 annual]

Please contact:

Friends of MacDonald
c/o Clatsop County Historical Society
P.O. Box 88
Astoria, OR 97103

Or

amm@friendsofmacdonald.com

Chronological highlights from past Gates Ajar

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009


The third issue of the newsletter, Fall 1989, introduced its distinctive title of Gates Ajar.  It comes from page 98 of MacDonald’s 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.”   Below are listed memorable activities as reported in the newsletters.

1989 – 1990

–  FOM held a seminar in Portland.  Principal speaker was Jean Murray Cole, Canadian author and editor and also the great-great granddaughter and biographer of Ranald’s father, Archibald McDonald. Sharing the podium was David Hansen, curator at Fort Vancouver Historic Monument.

–  Vice-chairman Stephen Kohl reported on his year in Japan during which he visited with Japanese FOM members in Tokyo, Nagasaki, and Rishiri.

–  A four page bibliography of Ranald MacDonald materials in English was published.

1991

–  A second edition of MacDonald’s autobiography was published by Oregon Historical Society Press with a grant from Epson Portland Inc.  It featured an introduction by Donald Sterling and an epilogue by Jean Murray Cole.

–  Gift copies of MacDonald’s autobiography were sent to 110 major libraries in U.S., Canada, and Japan.

1992 – 1993

–  Members participated in bicentennial of Capt. Robert Gray’s discovery of the Columbia River by sponsoring Pacific Rim friendship awards.

–  Bruce and Mark Berney visited MacDonald places, making valuable contacts in Lahaina, Tokyo, Nagasaki, Sapporo, and Rishiri Island.

–  Mas Tomita reported on his trip to Toroda to see Ranald’s grave.

1994

–  FOM co-sponsored with Oregon Historical Society a chartered bus trip from Portland to Spokane and Republic, WA to attend a ceremony at Ranald’s grave to mark the centennial of his death.  Many letters of greetings were read, such as from Washington Gov. Mike Lowry, Hokkaido Prefecture Gov. Yokomichi, and Consul General Masaki Saito.  OHS head Chet Orloff gave a talk, and bagpipes played for the assembled crowd from the Ferry County Historical Society of Republic, WA.  Author Frederik Schodt of San Francisco was aboard, planning a book on MacDonald.  At Spokane, Ed Tsutakawa (d. 2006) gave us a tour of the Ranald MacDonald Building at Mukogawa Fort Wright Institute.

–  Hosted a film crew from TV / Nagasaki which was making a documentary on Ranald’s life.

–  Hosted five FOM Japan members at dinners in Astoria and Vancouver, and Yuji Aisaka who visited later.  They told of the unveiling of the Ranald MacDonald monument at Nagasaki.

–  Mas Tomita represented FOM at the rededication of the Sea Drifters (Sankichi) Monument at Fort Vancouver.

1995

–  Traditions begun: birthday luncheon in Astoria, followed by placing a floral tribute at birthplace monument.

–  Statue of Ilchee, Ranald’s aunt, erected by City of Vancouver, Washington.

–  Mas Tomita attended US-Japan Friendship exchanges held by the Cascade Council of Boy Scouts and the Hyogo Scout Council, Boy Scouts of Nippon at the Japanese Sea Drifters (Sankichi) Monument at Fort Vancouver and visits the Ilchee statue.

1996

–  FOM grieved for the loss of our leader, Mas Tomita, who died in July 1996 of congenital hepatitis.

–  Charter member Steve Kohl became chairman.

1997

–  Jo Ann Roe’s book Ranald MacDonald: Pacific Rim Adventurer was published by Washington State University Press.  She was an FOM charter member who attended the monument dedication. The book is particularly good with Canadian sources.

1998

–  Charter member Jim Mockford, former high school Japanese language teacher, became chairman.  A maritime historian, Jim is also active in the group which preserves the tall ship Lady Washington.   On June 27 he led an FOM group reenactment on the Lady Washington of Ranald’s leaving his whaling ship to become a castaway.  Jim also became editor of Gates Ajar.

–  150th anniversary tour of MacDonald’s teaching in Japan, Sept. 10 to 23.  Ken Nakano, (Seattle) guided four other FOM members (Fred Schodt, San Francisco; Atsumi Tsukimori McCauley, Spokane; Massie Tomita and May Tomba, Seattle) to Tokyo, Sapporo, Rishiri, Matsumae, Mihama, and Nagasaki.

1999

–  Canadian author Peter Oliva won a prestigious literary award for his novel City of Yes (McClellan & Stewart, Toronto) which recounts MacDonald’s experience.

2000

–  FOM members, especially Atsumi Tsukimori McCauley, participated in the erection of an interpretive sign at Ranald MacDonald’s Grave State Park, 18 miles northwest of Curlew Lake.

–  Vancouver Volkssporters named a volkswalk for Ranald MacDonald.

2001

–  Ferry County had a Ranald MacDonald Day.  A seminar included Eiji Nishiya, curator of Rishiri museum; Jean Murray Cole, Atsumi Tsukimori, and Fred Schodt.  The day continued with a picnic, parade, barbecue, and a country western dance.

2002

–  Jim Mockford created an FOM display at Multnomah County Library, Portland OR, and at the public library in Battleground, Washington.

2003

–  FOM Japan member Yuji Aisaka went to Australia and uncovered information about Ranald’s boxing prowess.

– Jim Mockford presented a lecture about Ranald MacDonald at Joyo City, Japan, sister city of Vancouver, Washington.

–  Frederik L. Schodt’s book Native American in the Land of the Shogun was published by Stone Bridge Press (The dust cover features MacDonald’s face as found on his monument in Nagasaki).

2004

–  OHS hosted Ranald’s 180th anniversary with a seminar featuring Prof. Yumiko Kawamoto, lecturer at Waseda University, and Frederik Schodt.

–  Gifts of books, 100 copies of Jo Ann Roe’s and 100 copies of Fred Schodt’s, were sent to libraries throughout the U.S., Canada, and Pacific islands.  (See Winter 2007 Gates Ajar for complete list.)

2005

–  Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission selected Ranald’s (OHS) autobiography for inclusion in Oregon State Library’s centennial “100 best history books.”

2006

–  Consul General of Japan in Portland & Mrs. Akio Egawa visited Astoria for Ranald’s 182nd birthday celebration.

–  “Who Is Ranald MacDonald” seminar held in Honolulu.  Panelists included Dr. Kawamoto, Schodt, and Honolulu historian Dwight Damon.

–  Tokyo Broadcasting’s “Discover the World’s Mysteries” (Sekai Fushigi Hakken) filmed Ranald’s story in Astoria and was seen by millions of viewers.

– Consulate General of Japan in Seattle sponsored Jim Mockford’s lectures about

Ranald MacDonald at the 30th Annual Seattle Cherry Blossom and Japanese

Cultural Festival.

2007

–  The Economist, with a circulation of 1.3 million, featured an article about Ranald on Dec. 19.  (See Winter 2008 Gates Ajar.)

2008

–  Charter member Masaru “Mas” Yatabe, vice-president of the Azumano Group in Portland, was appointed to be new chairman of FOM.

–  Atsumi Tsukimori published a bilingual story of MacDonald for children, Unsung Hero, featuring illustrations by Mariko King.

–  Ranald MacDonald enthusiasts from Holland circumnavigated the world.  Fred Dijs and Josje-Marie Vrolijk visited sites in Long Island NY, Toroda, Astoria, Vancouver, Rishiri, Nagasaki, etc.

2009

–  Mas Yatabe visited Nagasaki to see MacDonald sites and meet FOM Japan leaders, including Dr. Obama.

–  Fred Schodt received Japan’s “Order of the Rising Sun” award.

2010

–  200 Unsung Hero books were sent to eighty elementary schools in Nagasaki.

–  Mas Yatabe visited Rishiri Island.

–  Mas Yatabe helped create the FOM website.

Gates Ajar — Fall 1998

Tuesday, October 6th, 1998

150th Anniversary of MacDonald’s Trip to Japan Celebrated in 1998 — FOM Members Tour Japan in September

1998 has been an active year for Friends of MacDonald and one that was full of events including Ranald MacDonald’s birthday luncheon held in Astoria on February 3rd., an educational outreach at the Japan-America Society of Oregon’s “Glimpse of Japan Workshop” in May, a sailing adventure and historical reenactment on board Lady Washington in June, and a members’ tour of Japan in September.

These highlights – among a calendar of conferences, lecture programs and book presentations – provide more news than can be fully told in this newsletter.  So we hope that readers will come to FOM events planned for 1999 and take part of the 150th Anniversary year of Ranald MacDonald’s stay in Japan.

In September a delegation of five FOM USA members set foot on Rishiri Island to view the place where Ranald MacDonald set foot in Japan as an intentional castaway in 1848.  The tour was organized by Mr. Ken Nakano who led the 1998 adventure from Hokkaido to Nagasaki in the footsteps of MacDonald.

Participants included: Atsumi Tsukimori of Spokane, Fred Schodt of San Francisco, Massie Tomita and May Namba of Seattle, and FOM tour adviser and tour leader Ken Nakano.  FOM is especially grateful to Ken for his efforts at organizing a most successful trip to Japan.

FOM is also deeply grateful for the warm welcome our members received from so many friends during their tour of Japan.  For a first-hand account of the trip see the story by Atsumi Tsukimori inside this newsletter.

*****

MacDonald’s Castaway Arrival Reenacted on Board Lady Washington on 150th Anniversary

On June 27th, 1848, as the whaling ship Plymouth lay off the coast of Hokkaido, Japan, a young adventurer named Ranald MacDonald launched a small boat from the ship and sailed toward Japan.  He intended to arrive as a castaway in order to enter a feudal kingdom where no foreigners were allowed and foreign trade was outlawed by the Tokugawa Shogun.  But MacDonald was convinced that the Japanese people would welcome him and so he equipped his boat “Little Plymouth” with provisions for thirty days and carried books for purpose of teaching the Japanese about the world from which he came. . . 150 years later, on June 27, 1998, the scene was reenacted for members of FOM and passengers on the Lady Washington during the Saturday afternoon sail on Gray’s Harbor from Westport, Washington.  Young Ranald MacDonald was portrayed by Captain Les Bolton, Executive Director of Grays Harbor Historical Seaport.  Dressed in 19th century sea-faring attire, the bold adventurer climbed into the small boat “Little Plymouth” and rowed off for “Japan”.  Then he rocked his boat and took on water so as to appear as a castaway as MacDonald actually did 150 years ago.

Departing from historical accuracy at the end of the day, Captain Bolton rejoined the ship to greet guests such as Consul Rikio Minamiyama and family from the Consulate General of Japan Seattle Office, Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Berney from Astoria and Friends of MacDonald Chairman Jim Mockford with Cheryl and Jenny Mockford, too.  A full charter of ship passengers joined in on the fun.

*****

JASO Glimpse of Japan Workshop

On May 1, 1998 the Japan America Society of Oregon (JASO) organized its Glimpse of Japan Workshop at the World Trade Center in Portland.  FOM Chairman Jim Mockford presented “The Adventures of Ranald MacDonald” as one of the many workshops that students and teachers attended during the day.  Because a large number of participants were Japanese language students, the presentation included an exploration of Ranald MacDonald’s study of Japanese.  FOM has a copy of Kenji Sonoda’s publication , “Ranald MacDonald’s Glossary of English and Japanese Words” which was utilized as a resource for the Glimpse of Japan Workshop.

The annual event is attended by hundreds of students in the Portland area.  Friends of MacDonald founder Mas Tomita enjoyed presenting the story of Ranald MacDonald at this event in 1994 and FOM was delighted to continue to participate in this informative and important educational program.

*****

ASPAC Conference

“Bridges:  Early Ties Between Japan and the United States” was the title of a panel presentation by FOM members at the ASPAC ’98 Conference held at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington in June 1988.  ASPAC is the Asian Studies on the Pacific Coast chapter of the Association of Asian Studies and the FOM panel was chaired by Dr. Stephan Kohl, Professor of Japanese Literature at the University of Oregon.  FOM Chairman Jim Mockford discussed his paper, “Maritime Explorations of the Coast of Japan”, and was followed by Peter Morris who presented “MacDonald, The Intentional Castaway”.  Dr. Kohl described the story of Japanese castaways whose adventure took place in 1815.

*****

NASOH Conference, Vancouver Heritage Lecture,

WSU-Nishinomiya Japanese Educators Program

The North American Society for Oceanic History (NASOH) invited FOM Chairman Jim Mockford to present his paper “Maritime Exploration of the Coast of Japan in the Late 18th Century” at the NASOH ’98 Conference held at the San Diego Maritime Museum in April.  Mockford’s lecture was adapted to include the story of Ranald MacDonald’s Adventure in Japan.  A presentation copy of Ranald MacDonald’s biography was presented to the Naval Historical Center.  In September Mockford gave a lecture to the Vancouver heritage Program at the historic Marshall House on Officer’s Row, Vancouver, Washington. MacDonald was one of the first six students at the Fort Vancouver school in 1834.

In October Washington State University-Vancouver Branch Campus hosted educators from Nishinomiya, Japan.  Mockford told Ranald MacDonald’s story in Japanese and accompanied the teachers to Fort Vancouver where they visited the Japanese castaway’s monument and toured the site where young Ranald MacDonald attended school.  Only two months after MacDonald left for Canada in the spring of 1834 the three Japanese castaways arrived at the fort and attended school.  It is said that their story influenced Ranald MacDonald to become a castaway in Japan.

fort-vancouver-1854-fsdm2

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ATSUMI’S JAPAN TRIP REPORT~Participating in the Ranald MacDonald 150th Anniversary Tour

Ever since I read an article about “Explorer’s Smile Led to Japan Trade”  in the local newspapers about five years ago, I was charmed by Ranald MacDonald.  I visited Toroda, Washington right away (MacDonald’s grave site) and I have dreamed about a possible trip to see the historical sites which mark his legacy.  This September, the dream came true.

This September I was lucky enough to be included in the 150th Anniversary trip to Japan organized by Ken Nakano and completed the two-week visit with wonderful memories and great satisfaction.  Traveling from the northern tip of Hokkaido where Ranald MacDonald first landed to the southern tip of Kyushu where he spent most of his time teaching English was not an easy task.  There was one ferry boat ride, one local airplane flight, many bullet train rides, not to mention two underground tunnels.  It was a miracle to accomplish so much in so little time – despite the Northwest Airlines strike!  I want to thank Ken Nakano for organizing and working hard through the entire trip.

There were four heart-warming meetings with Japan’s MacDonald Society in Sapporo, Rishiri, Tokyo and Nagasaki, and three other just as wonderful meetings including one organized by the Japan-America Society of Hakodate, one in Matsumae with Matsumae towns people, and another in the town of Mihama, Aichi, where the Japanese castaway Otokichi is remembered today.  Our group of five, Ken Nakano and Massie Tomita, May Namba, Fred Schodt, and myself, felt as though we had known our Japanese hosts our whole lives.

We visited the actual landing site at Rishiri Island and then saw the town of Era in Matsumae where Ranald MacDonald spent 22 days before he was shipped to Nagasaki.  Then we went to Nagasaki to see the spot where he lived for seven months and taught English.  We also visited Ranald MacDonald’s original student Moriyama’s grave in Nagasaki.  There are two other of Moriyama’s graves in Tokyo – one is “owned” by Moriyama’s son from his second marriage and this one now keeps Moriyama’s bones; the other is “owned” by Moriyama’s daughter from his first marriage.  We visited all three and dedicated flowers.  In Tokyo we paid a courtesy visit to the American Ambassador to Japan, The Hon. Tom Foley, and the Canadian Embassy.  Then we attended a meeting with Tokyo Friends of MacDonald group including Torao Tomita and Akira Yoshimura.

In those two weeks in September  I went to so many places and met so many wonderful people.  O learned a lot about true friendship and I cried a lot when I departed from each place.  I thank all the people I met who also love Ranald MacDonald, and Ken Nakano who made this dream trip come true.  ~ Atsumi Tsukimori McCauley

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Gates Ajar – March 1998

Friday, March 20th, 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

*****