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A photography book about the life and legacy of Nakahama "John" Manjiro, the first Japanese person to live and work in America.
A photography book about the life and legacy of Nakahama "John" Manjiro, the first Japanese person to live and work in America.
A photography book about the life and legacy of Nakahama "John" Manjiro, the first Japanese person to live and work in America.
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73 backers pledged $4,440 to help bring this project to life.

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John Manjiro: The First Japanese Person in America

$4,440

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Without him, we might not have Toyota, Nintendo, bullet trains, or anime.
This is the amazing story of John Manjiro, the first Japanese person in America.

Statue of John Manjiro in Kochi Prefecture
Statue of John Manjiro in Kochi Prefecture

“Though Japan is nothing but an island in the world...there is none among those Japanese who were wrecked abroad and drifted to a foreign country that did not yearn for their native traditions and to return home.”
--Drifting Toward The Southeast, John Manjiro's memoir

Kickstarter Staff Pick!
Kickstarter Staff Pick!

I'm Ger Tysk, a writer, photographer, and sailor. Eight years ago, I started an ambitious project to chronicle the life of John Manjiro, the first Japanese person in America. Manjiro was a humble fisherman who made an incredible journey from Japan to America in the 1840s, while Japan was still closed to Western trade. He sailed around the world, learned English, and lived with an American family. When he finally returned to Japan, he convinced the shogun to open Japan and sign the treaty of Kanagawa with the United States in 1854, bringing about the Meiji Restoration and the fall of Japan's feudal system.

Museum banner of Manjiro's voyages
Museum banner of Manjiro's voyages

Manjiro's life is a life of firsts. He was the first Japanese person to live and work in the United States. He became the first English teacher in Japan, the first Japanese navigation and sailing expert, and the first Japanese person to ride on trains and steamboats. More importantly, his friendship with his American foster family continues to this day through both families' descendants, even through World War II.

Me steering the brigantine SSV Corwith Cramer through the North Atlantic
Me steering the brigantine SSV Corwith Cramer through the North Atlantic

I've spent the last eight years researching Manjiro's life and taking photos of places connected with his adventures. I've traveled all over New England, visited his hometown in Japan twice, and crossed the Atlantic on a tall ship. In the summer of 2014, I sailed on board the Charles W. Morgan, the last remaining wooden whaleship in the world. Now, I'm ready to put everything I've learned into one awesome, beautiful photobook. Nothing But An Island will be a hard cover photobook, with the story of Manjiro's life illustrated in full-color photos from my travels around the world following in his footsteps.

Kongofukuji Temple, Cape Ashizuri
Kongofukuji Temple, Cape Ashizuri

The money from this Kickstarter will bring this book and Manjiro's epic story to life. All funds raised on Kickstarter go to ordering, printing, and shipping this book to backers. I've been working for eight years to publish this book, and I know that Manjiro will inspire readers as much as he's inspired me. Thank you so much for all your support! 

The Charles W. Morgan sailing into Boston Harbor
The Charles W. Morgan sailing into Boston Harbor
Kochi Castle
Kochi Castle

BOOK SPECS

This is a limited printing. The hardcover book will not be for sale online after the Kickstarter ends. If you would like a hardcover book, please pledge for the $70 or above levels here!

  • Hardcover, with dust jacket
  • 8x10" landscape format
  • 110 pages
  • signed for Kickstarter backers


BOOK IMAGES  

These are images from the first draft of the book.

Book cover render
Book cover render
Watercolor map of Shikoku
Watercolor map of Shikoku

KICKSTARTER COST BREAKDOWN  

As with my previous book, I'm printing one small order of books through a printing press. This is called a short-run order. Presses need a certain number of copies per order to make it worthwhile for them to print, so my numbers below in the cost breakdown reflect this. If I can't get $1800 or more worth of orders, I can't take this book to press. It's all or nothing!  

Printing: $1800
Shipping $1000
Misc travel expenses & other publishing costs (ISBN, book proofs) $400
Kickstarter & processing fees $300 

TOTAL: $3500 



REWARDS

Risks and challenges

Obviously, publishing a book can come with a lot of risks, including unfamiliarity with the publishing process, book layout, and how to find a good printer. Since I've already previously crowdfunded and successfully published a photobook, none of the above risks should be a problem. I've already completed the first draft of the book and sent out for a proof, which should arrive around April 26th.

The only snag might be timing on the part of the printer, if it takes longer than quoted to print and ship the books. Although I plan to send the books in to print by early July, I've adjusted the date on the rewards accordingly to account for a printing delay.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    WALLPAPERS!

    Get 3 exclusive digital wallpapers of images from the book - perfect for your computer desktop.

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    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    EXCLUSIVE PRINT

    Receive one high quality 8x10" photo print of an image in the book.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    DIGITAL HERO

    Receive a digital PDF copy of the entire book and your name listed in the back of the book as a supporter! You'll also get 3 exclusive digital wallpapers of images from the book.

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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    SHODO SUPPORTER

    Receive a digital PDF copy of the entire book and your name listed in the back of the book as a supporter! You'll also get 3 exclusive digital wallpapers of images from the book, a custom Japanese calligraphy card, and one 8x10" high quality photo print.

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    Pledge $70 or more About $70

    SIGNED BOOK

    The real deal! Get one signed copy of the hardcover book and your name in the back of the book as a supporter!

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    33 backers
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $90 or more About $90

    SIGNED BOOK+!

    Get one signed copy of the hardcover book and your name listed in the back of the book as a supporter! You'll also get 3 exclusive digital wallpapers of images from the book, a custom Japanese calligraphy card, and one 8x10" high quality photo print.

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $115 or more About $115

    DOUBLE IT!

    Get TWO signed copies of the hardcover book and your name listed in the back of the book as a supporter! You'll also get 3 exclusive digital wallpapers of images from the book and one 8x10" high quality photo print.

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    GOING BIG

    Get one signed copy of the hardcover book and your name listed in the back of the book as a supporter! You'll also receive:
    - 3 exclusive digital wallpapers of images from the book
    - custom Japanese calligraphy 3-card set
    - one 8x10" high quality photo print.
    -2 signed 11x17" high quality photo prints
    - one exclusive map print from the book

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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $450 or more About $450

    LIMITED DELUXE EDITION

    Get one signed copy of the limited edition hardcover book* in a custom clamshell box and your name listed in the back of the book as a supporter! You'll also receive:
    - 3 exclusive digital wallpapers of images from the book
    - custom Japanese calligraphy 3-card set
    - one 8x10" high quality photo print.
    -2 signed 11x17" high quality photo prints
    - one exclusive map print from the book

    [*limited edition book will be hand-numbered and printed on 100lb archival paper with custom endpapers, embossed cover linen, and debossed clamshell box]

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Funding period

- (30 days)