About this project
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.
“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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
These are images from the first draft of the book.
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!
Misc travel expenses & other publishing costs (ISBN, book proofs) $400
Kickstarter & processing fees $300
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.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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