Tateishi Onojiro

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Tateishi "Tommy" Onojirô as seen in an 1860 New York newspaper illustration, reproduced in a gallery label at the Museum of the City of New York.
  • Born: 1843/9/16
  • Died: 1917/1/13
  • Other Names: 長野桂次郎 (Nagano Keijirou); 米田 (Yoneda); 小花和為八 (Obanawa Tamehachi; childhood name); Tommy (nickname)
  • Japanese: 立石斧次郎 (Tateishi Onojirou)

Tateishi Onojirô was, at the age of 17 or 18, the youngest member of the first Japanese Embassy to the United States. He joined the mission as an interpreter-in-training accompanying his adoptive father, formal interpreter Tateishi Tokujûrô. Likely due in large part to his youth and attractive appearance, Onojirô, known in the US as "Tommy" after his childhood name Tamehachi, became a favorite of the US media. He was often mistakenly referred to in the American newspapers as "Jateishi Osojero" or by various other misspellings of his name.

Onojirô was born in Edo in 1843; his original family name was Obanawa, but he was later adopted into the Tateishi family.

In 1863, after his return to Japan, he took on his mother's family name, Yoneda, and became a direct retainer to the shogunate.

Following the Meiji Restoration, he took the name Nagano Keijirô. He served as a member of the Iwakura Mission, and later as an official overseeing immigration to Hawaii, and as an interpreter for the Osaka Appellate Court.


  • "Tateishi Onojirô." Digital-ban Nihon jinmei daijiten デジタル版日本人名大辞典. Kodansha, 2009.
  • Gallery labels and pamphlet from exhibition "Samurai in New York." Museum of the City of New York. 25 June - 7 Nov. 2010.