MNN Galleries

8 incredible real-life castaway stories

By: Bryan Nelson on March 20, 2014, 4:47 p.m.
9 of 10


Otokichi was a 14-year-old Japanese crew member on a rice transport ship that wrecked in a storm in 1832. Though the ship was originally set to port elsewhere in Japan, the wrecked vessel washed ashore 14 months later on the westernmost point of Washington state's Olympic Peninsula, all the way across the Pacific Ocean.

Soon after coming ashore, Otokichi and two other survivors were enslaved by a local Indian tribe. Eventually they were handed over to John McLoughlin, the Chief Factor for the Columbia District of the Hudson's Bay Company, who sent the trio to London in the hopes of softening trade relationships with Japan. Remarkably, after being shipped nearly all the way around the world, Otokichi finally returned to Japan in 1849, 17 years after his ordeal had begun.

Otokichi died in Singapore in 1867, and the tombstone pictured here commemorates him in the Japanese Cemetery Park of Singapore.