According to the tale told in this account, the Japanese ship Eidu Maru set sail from Japan in 1841 with a crew of 13 and a cargo of sake, sugar, salt, incense sticks, flax, and other goods. Soon after leaving port it was caught in a series of storms that damaged it and drove it East, until the crew lost sight of land. With no sails, the ship drifted in the currents for 4-5 months until the crew spotted "2 white mountains" that turned out to be the sails of a Spanish ship off the coast of Baja California. The Japanese sailors and remaining cargo were brought aboard the other ship which then unloaded them near Cape San Lucas, following which, they traveled overland to San José del Cabo. A few years later, crew member Hyozen Togen Takichi wrote this account of the abandoning of the ship and the experiences of the crew in Mexico, illustrating the manuscript with beautiful watercolors showing the rescue, the landscape, and scenes of Mexican life.
Hyozen Togen Takichi was a 48 year old crew member from Shimabara, Hizen Province [Nagasaki Prefecture]. His representations of Baja California's landscape and people in a traditional Japanese 19th century style of drawing are remarkable and the detailed descriptions of life in mid ninteenth century Mexico and how it compared to Japan are often funny, and always engaging. Although the original manuscript is in Japanese, it is accompanied by an English transcription which is definitely worth a read!
This first image is a detail showing the Eidu Maru crew unloading their cargo into the dinghy belonging to the larger Spanish ship, the prow of which can be seen in the upper right-hand corner.
To the right are the crew members just after being brought ashore in Baja California. The Mexicans are riding horses and some are sharing their saddle with a Japanese sailor.
Here, a man, possibly a crew member, addresses a group of men and women wearing traditional Mexican garb.
From Mekishiko shinwa: Strange stories from Mexico (BANC MSS M-M 1902)
-- E. Van Lith
The Bancroft Survey Project began in February 2008. Funded by grants from the Andrew W. Mellon and the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundations, the survey project is intended to be a simultaneously broad and in-depth survey of all manuscript holdings of the Bancroft Library, which has been collecting for over a century. Four archivists were hired to scour the collections for a three year term, during which they will review the vast myriad of manuscript materials and use a survey instrument designed to gather data on collection scope, subject categories, and physical condition. The survey archivists are Marjorie Bryer, Amy Croft, Dana Miller, and Elia Van Lith, and they are also the authors of this blog.