Last year about this time I had just appeared on the Japanese Television Show “Sekai Fushigi Hakken” (Discovering the World’s Mysteries) on Tokyo Broadcasting and was basking in the limelight of press interviews and email Q&A. My role as a guest historian developed when producer Akihiko Nomura while surfing the internet discovered the story of 19th century American adventurer Ranald MacDonald (1824-1894). MacDonald was born in Astoria, Oregon in 1824 and arrived in Japan as an intentional castaway in 1848 where he resided for about a year and became known as the first teacher of English in Japan. Recent books about MacDonald include: “Native American in the Land of the Shogun: Ranald MacDonald and the Opening of Japan” by Frederik Schodt (2003) and Ranald MacDonald: Pacific Rim Adventurer” by JoAnn Roe (1997). There is a Ranald MacDonald Birthplace Monument at Fort Astoria Square in Astoria, Oregon and that is what brought producer Nomura and his TV crew to Astoria in October 2006. As it turns out I happen to be the current chairman of Friends of MacDonald, a sub-committee of the Clatsop County Historical Society and organizers of projects that develop around the story of our castaway adventurer hero and usually end with friendly exchanges between Americans and Japanese. I met the television crew in Astoria and reporter Mika Sakamoto interviewed me at the Astoria Public Library followed by our visit to the top of Coxcomb Hill where the view from the Astoria Column reaches “halfway to Japan.”
The television show is now archived as “Mystery 988″ at the TBS web site.
Japanese press articles articles about the show appeared in the Hokkaido Shimbun, Rakunan Times, and Hokubei Hochi also known as the North American Post (Seattle’s Japanese language newspaper-see below).
It is a good thing they filmed in Astoria last year when the weather was merely rainy. This past week Astoria suffered a major storm and my friends there reported electricity out, missing shingles, broken windows, trees down. etc