Titanic survivor Hosono's memoirs to go on display in Yokohama

Titanic survivor Hosono's memoirs to go on display in Yokohama Masabumi Hosono Wikipedia

TOKYO —

The personal memoirs belonging to Masabumi Hosono, the sole Japanese survivor of the Titanic which sunk in 1912, will be on display at the Yokohama Minato Museum for a special exhibition beginning April 19.

Hosono was the grandfather of Haruomi Hosono, also known as Harry Hosono, a member of the influential techno music group, Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO). The exhibition will be one of the featured items in the “Treasures collection,” a special collection commemorating 25 years since the opening of the museum.

On the museum’s home page, an announcement about the exhibition was posted accompanied by an antique looking photograph. The announcement reads: “On the pages of Hosono’s memoirs is written detailed accounts of both the ship’s collision with an iceberg, and his escape.”

Documents and materials that survived the Titanic disaster are extremely rare. The pages of Hosono’s memoirs were written on paper printed with the name and seal of the famous ship.

In 1912, Hosono, 42, was working for the Japanese Ministry of Transportation conducting research in Europe on the development of railway systems. After completing his work in Europe, Hosono had planned to return home via America.

After surviving the Titanic sinking, he returned home where he was vilified by the Japanese public, press and government for his decision to save himself rather than go down with the ship. He died broke and in obscurity in 1939.

His memoirs will remain on display until May 18. 

Japan Today

  • 14

    LBW2010

    Vilified by the public for his decision to save himself rather than go down with the ship?

    Wow. No words.

  • 3

    Abhorsenaube

    He wasn't the captain, nor was he one of the ships engineers so why should he have gone down with the ship? With how rare documents from the Titanic are I'd love to visit the display.

  • 13

    combinibento

    He wasn't the captain, nor was he one of the ships engineers so why should he have gone down with the ship?

    I think the phrase "go down with the ship" as chosen by the author here is a bit misleading... I thought the same thing and read a little elsewhere. Turns out he and another guy left the ship at the last minute and jumped into a lifeboat that they knew was supposed to be for women and children only, but didn't get found out because it was too dark and those in charge of the lifeboat were too busy to notice. (I remember a similar such scene in Titanic where it showed people shoving other women and kids away to get into lifeboats; they were certainly portrayed in a negative light.) Essentially he was viewed as embarrassing Japan; other western people investigating the incident did call him a coward, so it wasn't only Japan... Of course who knows what one would do in a situation like that; you see a spot on a lifeboat about to depart and you jump in it. I can't blame him...

  • 0

    Chris McMillan

    give em womens rights.... let em go down with the ship also... Children I understand....

  • 4

    CrazyJoe

    Hosono writes of the silent panic as women and children were rushed to lifeboats, and of screams of those who went down with the ship. "What had been a tangible, graceful sight was now reduced to a mere void," he wrote. "And how I thought about the inevitable vicissitudes of life!"

  • 6

    LBW2010

    Yeah I can't blame him at all. Anything goes. People who say otherwise just haven't had similar experiences. The situation on the Titanic would have been unimaginably insane. I can tell you, if I were there, I would have behaved like an absolute depraved coward in an effort to save my life. Shoving women and children aside included.

  • 5

    Mirai Hayashi

    Poor guy...Just because he was on board that ship, the only honorable thing he could have done was to die? What a ridiculous notion.

  • 0

    bruinfan

    Hypothermia killed most of the people who died. Even with the lack of lifeboats, I wonder if more people could have used furniture and other items to stay afloat. But the crew didn't want to let people know until it was too late.

  • 11

    philly1

    Turns out he and another guy left the ship at the last minute and jumped into a lifeboat that they knew was supposed to be for women and children only, but didn't get found out because it was too dark and those in charge of the lifeboat were too busy to notice.

    Some lifeboats that were being lowered were not filled. Some people were reluctant to get in because they believed the ship to be unsinkable.Can't blame anyone for seizing an opportunity sneaking into an empty space. He wasn't the only one to do it.

    The notion that men went down with the ship allowing women and children to go first is a popular myth that has survived the facts. More men in first class were saved than women and children in second and third class. By orders of the captain, passengers in the lower classes were locked below so that there wouldn't be "panic" and that the top-tier passengers could be saved first. They were only let on deck after most lifeboats had been lowered.

    Walter Lord's 1955 account A Night to Remember is an excellent overview of the event. Specifically, he outlines how regulations at sea were changed. Afterwards, there had to be enough lifeboats for all passengers, for example. It's a fascinating read and still available.

  • 4

    ka_chan

    I wish articles would explain more. But we don't really have good journalists today.

    http://metropolis.co.jp/features/feature/sole-survivor/

  • 2

    timtak

    Hosono claims that 3rd class passengers and foreigners in second class were forcibly kept from boarding the boats. In the face of this discrimination he jumped into a boat when there was a call "room for two more." https://groups.google.com/forum/#!searchin/rec.arts.movies.current-films/hosono$20diary$20titanic/rec.arts.movies.current-films/foFKv22392o/ZXFRCWFkS-cJ There is an urban legend that like a young third class passenger, Daniel Buckley, who had been hiding in a boat, but was given a shawl by lady Astor so that he could keep his seat, that Mr. Hosono, thin not only in name, may have been mistaken for a woman, but it is difficult to see how with that moustache. Hosono's 4300 character diary of the event, written as they sailed away on another ship, is the only one written on RMS Titanic stationery.

  • 2

    bass4funk

    Fascinating and so very sad. I would love to read his memoirs. They should make a move or a document about this brave man.

    Hypothermia killed most of the people who died. Even with the lack of lifeboats, I wonder if more people could have used furniture and other items to stay afloat. But the crew didn't want to let people know until it was too late.

    Most people that were alive (NOT the initial survivors) were too cold to cling to anything, the water was about 5 degrees Celsius, it was pitch black, mass hysteria, bodies everywhere. Hypothermia comes quickly, the the hands and feet, constricting blood flow and I don't believe that anyone had enough time or the strength to hold on. I think you are picturing the scenario as the same as the movie. No Kate or Rose here.

  • 3

    Raymond Chuang

    The story of Masabuni Hosono was a interesting, but still a tragic one because of the Japanese moral code of the time effectively made him a pariah in Japan. Indeed, it was lucky he got his old job back at the Ministry of Transportation due to the great destruction of the railway network from the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923.

    Yet, a lot of good things did come out of the sinking of the Titanic. Not only were more lifeboats mandated on all ships, but every passenger had to undergo a mandatory evacuation drill, passengers ships were redesigned and built with better quality steel to withstand even a glancing blow against and iceberg, and a multinational consortium created the International Ice Patrol in 1914 to closely monitor icebergs drifting into the Atlantic sea lanes and establish protocol for 24-hour iceberg monitoring.

  • 7

    HaraldBloodaxe

    I think it is a great pity that moustaches of that magnificent calibre went out of fashion.

  • 1

    1glenn

    From what I have read, almost all of the lifeboats were only partially filled, and some were half empty. If he saw a lifeboat leaving with plenty of unused space, what harm was there in getting in?

    Although there were not enough lifeboats for all of the passengers, that does not explain why the lifeboats that were available left the Titanic only partially filled.

  • 0

    toshiko

    If I were on sinking ship, I would try to survive, not suicide with the ship.

  • 0

    Ciaran McVeigh

    By orders of the captain, passengers in the lower classes were locked below so that there wouldn't be "panic" and that the top-tier passengers could be saved first. They were only let on deck after most lifeboats had been lowered.

    There's no evidence Captain Smith or any crew member made such an order.

  • 0

    philly1

    Hosono claims that 3rd class passengers and foreigners in second class were forcibly kept from boarding the boats. In the face of this discrimination he jumped into a boat when there was a call "room for two more."

    This is consistent with Walter Lord's account and the historical record. They were locked below and released only after very few lifeboats were left.

    Although there were not enough lifeboats for all of the passengers, that does not explain why the lifeboats that were available left the Titanic only partially filled.

    There were several reasons. In that era women who travelled First Class were not accustomed to any privation. To leave a ship they believed to be unsinkable and climb into a dinky lifeboat (wearing such an ugly life-jacket, too boot), and to be lowered into the pitch-black Atlantic was unthinkable to some. Many had never gone anywhere without their husbands, fathers or brothers. To do so now was another highly improper thing they were being asked to do.

    Thank you, Raymond Chuang for the additional details regarding the improvements made after the disaster. Another point that people may not know is that the metallurgy of the day was not up to the engineering capabilities. (Scientific American published an article on this some years ago.) This was not known at the time, but directly contributed to the disaster. In the extremely cold water the steel became brittle and shattered on impact in ways that had not been anticipated. As the quality of steel improved and double hulls were required, safety improved.

    The story is like a Greek tragedy: A great downfall on account of human hubris. How unwise to think that "only God can sink this ship."

  • 1

    ka_chan

    Since there were enough lifeboat to save every woman and child on the Titanic but many died. If he had not taken the seat would some woman or child have been saved? Maybe, maybe not. But what is certain that almost every person on the Titanic would have been save if the SS California had awaken their wireless operator when they saw the distress flares from the Titanic. That is the real tragedy.

  • 1

    Serrano

    I bet Harry Hosono is damn glad his grandfather survived the Titanic sinking.

  • 1

    OldHawk

    @HaraldBloodaxe

    I think it is a great pity that moustaches of that magnificent calibre went out of fashion.

    Indeed.

  • 0

    philly1

    Since there were enough lifeboat to save every woman and child on the Titanic but many died.

    This is not correct. There were not enough lifeboats for every passenger on the Titanic. It was not required by law at the time and was common practice. Ironically, the Titanic had more lifeboats than required by law for a ship that was marketed as unsinkable. Only after the disaster did marine laws change.

    Ka-chan is correct. The Captain of the California who refused to believe the SOS and decided to sleep through it bears a great deal of responsibility. Again, in that era, there was no 24-hour monitoring of the telegraph communications (which was new). The first SOS signal (also new) was sent by the Titanic.

    As well, officers watching the distress signals imagined that they were being launched in celebration--all because the "unsinkable" notion was lodged in their brains. Because their Captain had told them not to disturb him again, they watched the ship go down and did nothing.

  • 2

    Brigitte Amor

    Umm . . . people forget that this was in an era when young men didn't just sign up to fight in "The Great War," they practically trampled each other to get in line. When entire countries treated anyone who went to war as Magnificent Men Willing to Sacrifice Themselves for King and Country."

    No one much discusses the legions -- hundreds of thousands is probably a pathetic undercount -- of young men who actually survived yet as human wrecks, both physically and mentally. The injuries incurred alone were horrific enough to traumatize an entire generation. Yet who remembers any of that?

    "Go down with the ship, damn the torpedoes" were the watchwords of a sadly deluded catastrophe of a human generation that did everything possible with the wrongest of motivations, where men murdered wives and savaged children with impunity, where humanity was at the end of the middle ages yet not ready to step into modernity. Make no mistake -- it was a grisly time to be alive, and for a man such as Hosono to be "vilified" for saving himself is just a sad monument to the misbegotten motivations of a sadly infantilized human race.

    They proved every word I just said by repeating the entire ordeal just 20 years later. You'd better believe you're living in a more "civilized" era, though many would undoubtedly rather return to that age of ignorance and indifference to human life.

  • 1

    toshiko

    Some years ago, I watched "Titanic" movie. The theater was full. Golden Glove awards it received, then, Scary movie.

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