the japanese robert pattinson... in 1860

The is fascinating article in the New York Times, reaching way back into New York history. Once upon a time, the city threw a big ass party for a bunch of samurai: Dusting Off a 150-Year-Old Ode to the City's Favorite Samurai.

It's about 17-year-old samurai Tateishi Onojiro, aka "Tommy," the youngest of 76 samurai who toured the United States in 1860 on Japan's first diplomatic venture beyond its shores. He was apparently a bit of a heartthrob:
Tommy was a visiting Japanese samurai, Tateishi Onojiro. The name was an awfully big mouthful for the locals. In short order, it morphed into Tommy. All of 17 years old, he was the youngest of 76 samurai who, swords and all, toured the United States in 1860 on Japan's first diplomatic venture beyond its shores after more than two centuries of near-total isolation.

Tommy was sort of the Robert Pattinson of his day, a heartthrob who had women swooning. "From Washington Heights to East Broadway, Tommy is already a household word,"Vanity Fair gushed. Lapping up the adulation, the young man mugged for the crowds and blew kisses to them, in stark contrast to the iron faces who formed the rest of the Japanese delegation. And so he had a tune dedicated to him. (This was long before Orson Welles in "Citizen Kane"dismissed such New York tributes, saying, "You buy a bag of peanuts in this town, they write a song about you.")
Interest in Tommy and the traveling samurai was so high, they even wrote song about him, "Tommy Polka" -- apparently a hit tune in its time. 150 years later, it seems impossible that America would roll out the red carpet like that today for any kind of foreign visitors.

There's definitely an interesting movie in this story, somewhere. But hopefully, Tommy would not by played by Robert Pattinson.

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