The lengthy voyage of Yamamoto Otokichi
August 13, 2013 12:18 PM   Subscribe

In the autumn of 1832, 14-year old Yamamoto Otokichi was aboard the cargo ship Hojunmaru when a storm hit. 22 years and a trip around the globe later, he finally got back to Japan.
posted by Chrysostom (6 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Pretty interesting! I wonder what happened to the other four former castaways, the ones who didn't make it back in the first attempt.
posted by tavella at 12:46 PM on August 13, 2013

I can understand why he didn't choose to permanently stay in Japan once he did make it back: he'd spent most of his life elsewhere, he had no close friends or family there anymore; he DID have that wife and their four children in Singapore, as well as a life he was used to, where he was known and esteemed for his skills.

It would be interesting to see what became of his kids: did they simply assimilate and disappear from history?
posted by easily confused at 1:31 PM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

Nakahama Manjirō's story is somewhat similar, although he returned to Japan and even got his name on an asteroid, 4841 Manjiro.
posted by Twang at 3:42 PM on August 13, 2013

14 months adrift is an unusually long time for being lost at sea. The modern record is 10 months by three Mexicans. The longest on a life raft is Poon Lim, 133 days. Steven Callahan became famous for surviving 76 days and he had a solar still, fishing line etc..
posted by stbalbach at 4:11 PM on August 13, 2013

What a fascinating story, thanks for sharing. Maybe the fact that they were all pretty young, and were a group, helped them survive so long.
posted by bleep at 5:33 PM on August 13, 2013

Apparently he had a son and one or two daughters who presumably provided descendants in Singapore [Singapore Infopedia]. Still, it took a while to find his remains when his hometown became interested, due to a relocation of the Japanese cemetery. They were found in 2004, and a portion of his cremains were repatriated to Japan with another staying in Singapore.
posted by dhartung at 6:17 PM on August 13, 2013 [1 favorite]

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