Captain Mercator Cooper and Manhattan Monument at Takeshiba

On our way back from the Odaiba new waterfront in Tokyo via the Yurikamome automated (no drivers!) elevated train we stopped at Takeshiba station with the goal of finding a stone monument that commemorates the visit of Captain Mercator Cooper to Tokyo Bay on the Manhattan in 1845. The monument erected by Tokyo Rotary Club is near the entrance to an open circular public square in which a tall mast stands in the middle and the monument is near some trees along the side where a bench is also placed for resting. I learned about the monument not too long after it was installed from a former neighbor in the USA who was a descendent of Captain Mercator Cooper.

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The arrival of the Manhattan in April 1845 created quite a scene in Tokyo Bay and some three hundred Japanese boats gathered around it and then with about 15 men in each boat took the ship in tow according to Cooper’s log. The Japanese took great interest in two crewmen, one named Pyrrhus Concer, the only African American on board, and a Shinnecock Native American named Eleazar whose dark skin were perhaps the first the Japanese had seen. When Commodore Perry arrived less than decade later the African Americans again were considered unusual by Japanese and illustrators captured their appearance in wood block prints and illustration including the Black Ship Scroll.See

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