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John Man: On the Waves

About: On the Waves

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Until the mid to late 19th century, Japan’s borders were closed, and people were not free to come in and out of Japan.

On the Waves is based on the biography of John Manjiro (1827-1898), who is known as one of the first Japanese people to step foot on American soil. His life was remarkable, as, after learning English, and attending an American school for navigation and other skills that would allow him to navigate the seas, he would go on to work as a translator between the American and Japanese governments. 

The show starts at the beginning of Manjiro’s journey, when his fishing boat was wrecked and rescued by an American whaling ship. It follows his journey from this pivotal moment, through his education in the US, and his subsequent return to a Japan that was now beginning to open up.



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