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February 11, 2004

Japan's First EFL Teacher

Columbian.com, a local news Web site in Washington, recently ran a piece on the little-known story of one of Japan's first EFL teachers. American adventurer Ranald MacDonald (1824-1894) arrived in Hokkaido in 1848, 20 years before Japan ended its period of isolationism. He planned to be an interpreter and teacher and that he could make his fortune when Japan finally opened up to the outside world. As an "illegal alien," he was captured by samurai but ended up being allowed to teach English to the Imperial court. After ten months in Japan, he was allowed to leave. He travelled the world for several years before returning to the US, where his memoirs remained unpublished until after his death. One reason for his failure to make the history books is thought to be his American Indian parentage - he was the son of the Chinook princess Raven and Archibald MacDonald, a Scot. He was buried in Washington state, near the Candian border. The recently published book "Native American in the Land of the Shogun" (Frederik L. Schodt, Stone Bridge Press) has finally brought us one of Japan's earliest EFL adventure stories.Columbian.com | Article by Frederik L. Schodt

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