It’s fun to delve into history and see what interesting people you can find, like Nakahama “John” Manjiro, the first Japanese to visit the U.S. back in 1841, or six Christian samurai who decided to settle permanently in Spain in 1617, which has blossomed to 700 descendants today. Then there’s the lone Japanese passenger on the Titanic. Masabumi Hosono was an employee of the Japanese Transportation Ministry sent to Russia to study railroads, and after finishing his assignment, he prepared to cross the Atlantic on the Titanic. When the ship had its fateful collision with an iceberg at 11:40 pm on April 14, Mr. Hosono was asleep, and didn’t wake until someone knocked on the door of his second-class cabin to tell him to put his life-vest on. He eventually made his way to the lifeboats and, hearing an announcement that there was room in lifeboat no. 10, he jumped in. His life was saved, but he might have wished it hadn’t been: he was attacked in the Japanese press for living when so many others had died, and fired from his job at the ministry, and some even called for him to commit suicide to atone for his dishonorable act. If he’d died, the world of music would have been less bright: he was the grandfather of Haruomi Hosono, one of the founding members of the influential band YMO, which helped bring Ryuichi Sakamoto to the world stage in the 80s.
His failure to die on the Titanic caused his family decades of dishonor.