Japan's direct relationship with America began with two people: a young Japanese fisherman, swept out to sea and marooned on a remote island in 1841, and the American sea captain who rescued him.
Captain William Whitfield invited Nakahama "John" Manjiro home to Massachusetts, and encouraged his education in America. Manjiro and Whitfield symbolically opened the doors of friendship between Japan and America. Through their eyes, two cultures discovered each other. After Manjiro returned to Japan, his command of English and salutary experience in America made him a pivotal character in negotiations following Commodore Perry's arrival in 1853.
Though the binational relationship has since become far more complex, the friendship and idealism of Manjiro and Whitfield continue to provide inspiration, and their unique story is still celebrated today.
The relationship of Boston and Japan was strengthened further when Kyoto became Boston's first Sister City in 1959. In 2009 Kyoto's Mayor Kadokawa visited Boston to re-affirm the sister city agreement with Mayor Menino.