Encyclopedia Titanica

Masabumi Hosono

Masabumi Hosono

Masabumi Hosono, 42, a civil servant from Tokyo, was the only Japanese passenger on the Titanic. He joined the vessel at Southampton and was rescued in lifeboat 13 (?10)

Hosono began to write a letter in English to his wife on Titanic headed notepaper but after his rescue, he wrote in Japanese of his experience.

Hosono was woken by a knock on the door of his second-class cabin. He raced outside but, as a foreigner, was ordered to the lower decks, away from the boats. 'All the while flares signalling emergency were being shot into the air ceaselessly, and hideous blue flashes and noises were simply terrifying. Somehow I could in no way dispel the feeling of utter dread and desolation,' Hosono wrote.

Making his way back to the upper deck. 'I tried to prepare myself for the last moment with no agitation, making up my mind not to leave anything disgraceful as a Japanese. But still I found myself looking for and waiting for any possible chance for survival.'

His chance came when an officer loading lifeboats shouted 'Room for two more.' A man jumped in. 'I myself was deep in desolate thought that I would no more be able to see my beloved wife and children, since there was no alternative for me than to share the same destiny as the Titanic. But the example of the first man making a jump led me to take this last chance.'

'After the ship sank there came back again frightful shrills and cries of those drowning in the water. Our lifeboat too was filled with sobbing, weeping children and women worried about the safety of their husbands and fathers. 'And I, too, was as much depressed and miserable as they were, not knowing what would become of myself in the long run.'

Hosono was rescued in lifeboat 10 but was attacked in his own country for doing so when so many others had died. His ministry sacked him, Japanese papers calumnied his cowardice, textbooks cited his survival as a model of shameful behaviour, and a professor of ethics denounced him as immoral. When a Japanese liner sank in 1954, Hosono was again dragged through the mud. Hosono died in 1939, a broken man.

His family had known for years that this diary existed but it remained hidden at the bottom of a drawer until recently. Hosono's granddaughter Yuriko made the find public.

Hosono is buried in Tama Cemetery, Tokyo, Japan, burial place, 10 Wards, 1 Species 18, Side 81.

References and Sources

The Guardian (UK), December 13 1997

Research Articles

Margaret Mehl Titanica! (2003) The Last of the Last
How Masabumi Hosono's Night was Forgotten
Search archive online

Comment and discuss

  1. Mike

    Recently Mr. Hosono's memoirs have surfaced. They seem to indicate that he escaped by jumping into boat 10, rather than in boat 13 (which was assumed from Colonel Gracie's book listing a "Japanese" man in boat 13). Somehow his family feels that this exonerates him from charges of cowardice that ruined his career. I don't understand: If he had entered boat 13, it would have been perfectly allowable (as was the case with Beesley, Dr. Dodge, and many others). Instead, he jumped into boat 10, which was reserved for women and children only, and was later forced to row. In what way does this... Read full post

  2. Chris Dohany

    I don't understand their logic either. I believe some of it stems from a "report" that the Asian in boat 13 behaved poorly, rushing the boat or some nonsense. Steward F.D. Ray, in his U.S. testimony, commented that he remembered a Japanese in the boat, but made no mention of his conduct. I myself haven't seen any actual sources saying the man (probably one of the Chinese sailors) acted badly. Hosono, as it seems, leapt into boat 10 after seeing another man do so. While don't have a problem with the man's determination to survive, I can see how others may still say he acted cowardly. Chris... Read full post

  3. leonard schwartz

    hi wasnt there a japanese gentleman on board the tit anic??who was he and what was his name?? lenny

  4. Bob Godfrey

    He was Masabumi Hosono, travelling as a passenger in 2nd Class. Because he left Titanic in a lifeboat he was branded a coward in his native Japan, and both he and his family arguably suffered more as a result of his survival than if he had died.

  5. Hydie Cheung

    Hydie Cheung

    That's sad, Bob. I feel sorry about this man. RIP, Mr. Hosono. - Hydie

  6. Zachary Lee

    In Walter Lord's book "A Night to Remember" he says that a lifeboat found a "Japanese" steerage passenger tied to a door. I looked on the website here but there were no Japanese steerage passengers. Who could this passenger have been? Please tell me if anyone knows. Thanks.

  7. Inger Sheil

    This would be the man found by the crew of lifeboat 14. He was very probably one of the 8 Chinese sailors from Hong Kong travelling in steerage. There was a Japanese passenger on board - Masabumi Hosono. His story can be found here in an . Btw - Welcome to the board, Zachary!

  8. Jason D. Tiller

    Sadly, Masabumi Hosono was branded a coward in his own country and died a broken man in 1939. Just to add to the link that Inger provided, here is also his biography, right here on this site: Welcome aboard, Zachary!

  9. Dave Gittins

    The "Japanese" derives from the libelous account of Lowe's activities by Charlotte Collyer and her ghost writer. This appeared in The Semi-Monthly Magazine after the sinking. However, Collyer was never in a position to see what Lowe did. It's more than time for her tale to be laid to rest. It's often said that the passenger was the Chinese seaman, Fang Lang, but I've never seen a primary source for this.

  10. Inger Sheil

    I think we largely agree on the veracity of Collyer's account in this and some other regards, Dave Lowe had a copy of the story - it was given to him by Marjorie Collyer many years after the disaster. Lowe apparently made some comment on this aspect of the article, or of the rescue, as his... Read full post

  11. Roy Kristiansen

    Re: "Masabumi" Hosono. Are we 100% confident over the spelling of Mr. Hosono's first name? Back in 2001 I was working with a young woman from Tokyo. When I showed her his bio, her first comment was, "Oh, it must be "Masafumi." Just curious. Roy

  12. Inger Sheil

    Might be an interesting angle to follow up, Roy. Margaret Mehl was working from Japanese sources and was in touch with with Takahisa Furukawa, a professor at Yokohama City University and descendant of Hosono Masabumi, so I'd tend to go with her preferred spelling, but I suppose it's possible for errors to creep into the record (certainly wouldn't be the first time it happened with Titanic passenger and crew names).

  13. Zachary Lee

    Thank you all very much for helping me find out who this passenger was. I really appreciate it!

  14. Roy Kristiansen

    G'day, Inger! I agree, it would be worth following up and here are a couple examples of why. I worked with a Vietnamese friend whose married last name is Quach. One day she received a piece of mail addressed to Mrs. "Quack". (Aarrgh!) If I had a friend named Chuck and someone told me his name was "Cluck", I'm sure my ear would tell me the person was in error. One incorrect letter can make a world of difference, can't it? '-) Roy

  15. Grant Woollacott

    Is anything else known about Mr. Masabumi Hosono other that what is on ET? Dose he have any relatives?

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Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mr Masabumi Hosono
Age: 41 years 6 months (Male)
Nationality: Japanese
Last Residence: in Tokyo, Japan
Occupation: Civil Servant
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 237798, £13
Destination: Tokyo, Japan
Rescued (boat 10)  
Disembarked Carpathia: New York City on Thursday 18th April 1912
Died: Tuesday 14th March 1939 aged 68 years
Buried: Tama Cemetery, Tokyo, Japan

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