The Whitfield-Manjiro Museum in Fairhaven, celebrating the first Japanese person to live in the United States, is requesting volunteers who'd be interested in becoming tour guides.

What qualifications are needed?

"People ready and eager to learn the Manjiro story and be willing to pass it on," said Gerry Rooney, who along with his wife, Ayako, and many supporters gave life to the museum and trail through the Whitfield-Manjiro Friendship Society.

Courtesy Gerry Rooney
Courtesy Gerry Rooney
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"A unique piece of Japanese history, is right here in Fairhaven," he said. "Imagine, Manjiro was the first Japanese person to ever live in the USA."

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Rooney said there's an international interest in the Manjiro story, that includes the Whitfield-Manjiro Museum, the Manjiro Trail and the eight locations of where Captain Whitfield and Manjiro shared time and space.

"And with that, we are currently seeking volunteer tour guides who can make their own schedule, and convey this rich history to visitors from around the world," he said.

Courtesy Gerry Rooney
Courtesy Gerry Rooney
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The Manjiro story is original and rare. Visitors from around the world have taken back a little bit of this one-of-a-kind story.

"In the past 11 years, we've hosted approximately 12,000 visitors," Rooney said.

William Whitfield, a whaling captain from Fairhaven, rescued Manjiro, a shipwrecked Japanese fisherman, on a deserted island. Manjiro accompanied Whitfield back to Fairhaven, where he learned to speak English and later distinguished himself as an interpreter and government advisor during the opening of Japan to the West.

Courtesy Gerry Rooney
Courtesy Gerry Rooney
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The Manjiro story is about a castaway who became a Samurai. A 14-year-old Japanese boy, whose boat was caught in a terrifying storm, which blew the boat off course, crashing into a desolate island, and the rest is an unparalleled local story.

Call for more information on becoming a tour guide at (508) 269-4659, (508) 858-5303 or (508) 995-1219, or email Gerry@WMFriendshipHouse.org.

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