By Beth David, Editor
The crazy wind pushed some activities up the street, but it didn’t stop Fairhaven’s Japanese Cherry Blossom Friendship Festival from happening on Sunday, 5/7. Sponsored by the Whitfield-Manjiro Friendship Society, the festival celebrates Fairhaven’s unique relationship with Japan, especially one small fishing village.
In 1841 a 14-year-old boy was stranded on a desert island with four shipmates. Six months later, Capt. John Whitfield of Fairhaven rescued Manjiro and his companions. The youngster returned to Fairhaven with Capt. Whitfield and became the first Japanese person to live in the Untied States. Japan was a closed society at the time and Manjiro became instrumental in opening Japan to the West, even earning himself a last name and becoming Manjiro Nakahama.
On Sunday, Japanese Consul-General Rouichiro Michii joined members of the WMFS and the public for a traditional Bento picnic box lunch, Japanese drumming and martial arts demonstrations, paper theater (the Manjiro story), origami and names written in Japanese.
A chorus also led the crowd in song in front of the WMFS house on Cherry Street, which is where Manjiro lived while he was in Fairhaven. The Colonial Club’s Coggeshall Memorial house across the street was also open for tours.
The martials arts and drumming demonstrations were held at Cooke Park, despite the cool weather and high winds. Organizers said the other events had to be moved because the wind kept knocking down the tents.
The park is home to six cherry trees that were a gift from Tosashimizu, Manjiro’s home village and Fairhaven’s sister city.
To learn more about the Manjiro story, visit Whitfield-Manjiro.org or http://fairhaventours.com/manjiro-nakahama/
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