U.S.-Japan Grassroots Summit:

Building on 179 Years of Friendship

John Manjiro-Whitfield Commemorative Center for International Exchange (U.S.)

Connecting Americans and Japanese Through Grassroots Exchange
On May 12 @ 7:00 PM EDT (Japan: May 13 @ 8:00 AM JST)

In 1841, a 14-year old Japanese boy named, Manjiro, was stranded on a deserted island with four other companions after their small fishing boat drifted 370 miles (592 km) south of Tokyo.  They survived on fish and bird eggs for months until rescued by crew of a whaling ship, John Howland, which was commanded by Captain William Whitfield.  At that time Japanese who left Japan could not return, so Captain Whitfield took them to Hawaii.  Manjiro was very bright and courageous and agreed to go to the United States with the Captain for education in his home town of Fairhaven.

The home where Manjiro lived in Fairhaven, along with the school and church he attended, still exist and have become part of the "Manjiro Trail," an historical education attraction about the life of Manjiro and Whitfield in the United States.  The Center for International Exchange in Tokyo and in the US are excited to join forces with the Whitfield-Manjiro Friendship Society to present the story of the Trail and how the humble and compassionate relationship between two persons of different races became the oldest relationship between two families from two countries in the world.

Mr. Gerry Rooney, who is President and CEO of the Whitfield-Manjiro Friendship Society in Fairhaven will lead the discussion about the Trail and will include the connections with Manjiro's birthplace in Japan and current descendants of Manjiro Nakahama and Captain William Whitfield. Mr. Jason Sardinha, Tourism Section Chief, City of Tosashimizu, will present participants with insights into Manjiro's boyhood home in Japan. The one-hour webinar on Zoom will be moderated by Mr. David Janes.  Please save the date of May 12, 2021, to view this exciting program and learn more about peace and friendship at the grassroots level. 
Register Now!


Dear Friends of CIE-US:

Throughout the USA and Japan, wishing ALL of our followers, friends, members, alumni, sponsors and associates, a MOST welcome Spring!!  Wherever you are, I hope that "Hanami and Sakura" brighten your days and bring you hope during difficult times.  

We work through "twin disasters" this year:  The Covid Pandemic has been extraordinarily difficult - tragically for so many given lives lost, and every one of us impacted.  If you lost a family member or a close friend, please accept our deepest and most sincere condolences.  And if you are a medical professional or caregiver, please accept our profound thanks - we WILL get through this because of your efforts! 

What's also deeply disturbing, and has been on a disgraceful and reprehensible rise in our country - are hate-crimes directed specifically towards people of Asian descent.  As the representative of an organization dedicated to building people-to-people ties, let me be absolutely clear that we on the CIE-US Board, whose goals are to bring people of different cultures together, absolutely condemn ALL racial and culturally-related discrimination and violence.  Do whatever we can, singularly and collectively, to help end the violence NOW!  Throw your passions into building person-to-person relationships - THIS is what we do, and in those efforts our futures are very bright, and MUCH needed!  

Please join us at CIE-US (and CIE) as we do our part to bring people of our two nations together at the grassroots levels.  Understand and appreciate our many differences, and learn from each other while becoming friends for life!!!  And try especially to imagine how and why in 1841, then 14-year-old Manjiro Nakahama was rescued by Captain William Whitfield of the whale-ship John Howland off of Tori Shima in the Pacific, and ultimately returned with Whitfield to Fairhaven, Massachusetts.  The friendship and relationship between Manjiro-Whitfield are of course the foundation and reason for our CIE-US and our Grassroots Summits/"homestay" events, alternating between Japan and the USA.  And as you see above, on May 12th our next virtual event will feature a walking tour of the key places in Fairhaven - "A Small Town With A Big History" - and explore with us not just the town, but the personal relationship that led to the opening of friendships between Japan and the USA!!  PLEASE join us - and bring your friends -- for what will be a terrific event led by the incredible Gerry Rooney and CIE-US.

Wishing you ALL the best. Stay safe (and get your vaccine soon), enjoy your hanami/sakura (and nihonshu) when-and-where you can, and bring us together! 

Most Sincerely and ALL the best,
Jamie Kelly
President CIE-US

PS - "See You" in Fairhaven, and if you like what we do, please consider a donation to our cause!
by Matthew C. Perry

One of the great advantages of attending a Grassroots Summit is making friends that can last a lifetime.  Although Summits in Philadelphia in 2020 and Wakayama in 2021, had to be canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, individuals of past summits could still relive the experiences they had via email and other social media methods.  Their trip might have ended, but by corresponding with the host family they were able to reconnect and share their experiences together.

During the 2019 Summit to Himeji, Marilyn Wanner of Alexandria, Virginia, made lasting connections with host families in two cities, Kobe and Kanazawa.  Kobe was one of the cities near Himeji that offered homestay experiences to visitors from the United States.  Marilyn was lucky to be welcomed into the home of Junko, and her husband Masatoshi. Junko took Marilyn to her favorite building, which is the Yodoko Guest House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in Ashiya.  Marilyn said “I feel a real connection to her, and we exchange world views, ideas, and books.  Looking forward to seeing her again.  Her daughter lives in California and we are going to try to meet up the next time she’s in the US or I am in Japan.”

Marilyn Wanner (right) in home of her hostess, Junko, in Kobe, Japan.

Marilyn and new friend, Junko, while touring in Kobe, Japan, 2019.

After the main part of the summit in Himeji, Marilyn traveled to Kanazawa and was greeted by Keiko and her husband, Yoshinaro (Yo), as the host couple.  Marilyn enjoyed a tea ceremony with Keiko as part of her visit.  Keiko is a teacher, but also an artist.  Marilyn admired and bought one of her paintings.  Marilyn described Yo as an “ebullient host who managed all our communication.”  He was energetic and eager to make her comfortable.  Marilyn mentioned she liked classical music and he made sure it was playing in the room with the soaking tub when she took a bath.

Marilyn said her experiences with Keiko and Yo were just as exciting as her experiences with Junko and Masatoshi in Kobe.  One of her experiences in Kanazawa with her host family, was to visit the Ohi Pottery Museum and Gallery.  Chozaemon Ohi, who is the 10th-generation descendant, and his 11th-generation son, Toshio Ohi, are both very accomplished potters.  Marilyn learned later that they have been personal friends for many years of Peter Grilli, Board member of Center for International Exchange-US, which made another interesting connection.  Keiko and Yo surprised Marilyn with the gift of a teacup from the Ohi Pottery that they noticed she had admired during the tour.

Keiko and Yo encouraged Marilyn to get online when she returned home so they could communicate, which she did.  They exchange pictures of families, trips, and electronic birthday cards. Marilyn enjoys maintaining contact with Keiko and Yo and hopes to visit them in Japan sometime in the future.

Marilyn is a friend of Taeko Floyd of Tannery, Virginia.  Taeko is owner and manager of a Japanese style bed and breakfast named Pembroke Springs Retreat, and Marilyn has stayed at the retreat several times.  Each year Taeko participates in the Grassroots Summit in Japan, where she takes guests like Marilyn, or in the US where she acts as a host family and coordinates with other host family volunteers.  Marilyn Wanner was the first person who contributed to the CIE-US end-of-the year appeal for funds, which was much appreciated by the CIE-US Board.  It is great to have past travelers of Summits to continue contacts with Japan and to support the efforts to make these trips possible in the future for other people, and hopefully Marilyn too.

Marilyn Wanner (center) with host couple, Keiko and Yoshinaro (Yo), at the Ohio Pottery Museum and Gallery in Kanazawa as part of a Post-Summit visit.


Marilyn Wanner enjoying tea ceremony with hostess, Keiko, in Kanazawa as part of a Post-Summit visit.
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The Manjiro-Whitfield Commemorative Center for International Exchange-U.S. (CIE-US) is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization headquartered in Washington, DC. All donations are fully tax deductible to the extent allowed by law. 
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