Officially March 17th is Kanrin Maru Day. On this day, in 1860, Japan’s first screw steamer warship arrived in San Francisco as part of a Japanese expedition to bring the first Japanese embassy to the United States. In San Francisco in 2010, then San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom declared March 17th to be Kanrin Maru Day.
I’m sure those of Irish decent weren’t too happy about having St. Patrick’s Day usurped. But, hey it happens – it also happens to be my late dad’s birthday. So, I can drink a sake and green beer toast to my dear departed dad on that day.
But, for me, today is my Kanrin Maru Day. I’ve spent much time over the past several months trying to dig up information on the ship and its voyage. Today, I spent the afternoon reading journal entries written by John M. Brooke who was a U.S. Navy Lieutenant assigned job of technical advisor on board the Karin Maru during that first Pacific Voyage. The text that contained his journal entries was very enlightening and gave me a tremendous insight on the ship and the voyage. More on this at a later date.
But, the big news is that I’ve received the first of a set of plans of the ship and this after trying for 4 months to acquire them. With the help of a few clues found in a Wikipedia entry on the Kanrin Maru, I managed to track down some plans after a few weeks of Internet searching and more than a few emails to foreign museums, the Japanese consulate in San Francisco, and others.
The Kanrin Maru was a screw steam corvette of 10 guns. She was rigged as a bark, but with trysails like a schooner. She was built by the Dutch for the Japanese government who ordered the ship a few short years after Perry forced Japan to open trade.
The ship carried a little over 30 tons of coal, and at a rate of about 5 tons burn per day, she could only steam for about six days, making her primarily a sailing ship.
On her voyage to the United States, she was commanded by Katsu Kaishu, a highly respected individual among the Japanese, even today. She had a crew of about 100, and had the assistance of Lt. John M. Brooke (who would later be know as a Confederate officer and developer of the Naval gun known as the Brooke Rifle) and the 10 best men who were under his command aboard the USS Fenimore Cooer.
More about the Kanrin Maru research, model construction plan and Japanese ship model kit later.