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Memorial service held in Katsuura to mourn victims of Hermann shipwreck

  • February 14, 2021
  • , Yomiuri Boso edition , p. 29
  • JMH Translation

Vice Consul Walter Nightingale delivers remarks at a memorial service in Katsuura City on Feb. 13.

A memorial service was held in Katsuura City on Feb. 13 to remember those who died in the shipwreck of the Hermann, an American steamship which sank off the coast of Katsuura 152 years ago. The ceremony was held at Kangunzuka in the Kawazu district of Katsuura City.


On Feb. 13, 1869, the Hermann was on its way [to Hokkaido] on a mission to subdue Enomoto Takeaki [a retainer of the shogun] and others who were holed up in the Goryokaku Fortress in Hakodate. But the steamship, which was carrying a total of about 430 feudal retainers from the Kumamoto domain and American crew members, ran aground during a storm and sank. Local [Katsuura] residents rescued about 200 passengers but some 230 others died in the accident.


This year, the memorial service was held on a smaller scale than usual due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. Vice Consul Walter Nightingale of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, who attended the event, said in his speech, “I am touched (that the people of Katsuura saved so many lives).” Katsuura Mayor Hajime Tsuchiya said: “One year ago today, we safely sent home Japanese nationals who had returned from Wuhan, China [and had been quarantined in Katsuura due to the novel coronavirus outbreak]. We want to carry on this spirit of helping others as a model for all the world.”

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