Kumagusu got aboard the City of Beijing at Yokohama in December 1886. Next month the ship arrived at San Francisco and he soon entered Pacific Business College just to experience American life because business was by no means his favorite subject.
In August 1887 he moved to Lansing via Chicago and was enrolled at the Michigan State School of Agriculture, where he was immersed in his study. One night in November 1888, however, he was in trouble for a drinking binge with a couple of Japanese and American friends in the dorm. He took the responsibility alone to save others from expulsion and early next morning left for Ann Arbor.
Kumagusu met bright Japanese students in Ann Arbor, home of the State University. While keeping company with them, he stayed away from university and studied on his own by reading books and collecting plants in the mountains, particularly cryptogams including fungi and lichens. In October 1889 he read a biography of Conrad von Gesner, a Swiss naturalist and a leading figure of modern biology, and swore he would become Japan’s Gesner, which was when his quest for the wonders of cryptogam began.
When he heard from William W. Calkins, a retired American colonel and a collector of lichen, that many undiscovered plants were in Florida, Kumagusu was ready to go. With two microscopes, books, a pistol, insect catchers as well as a medicine box and a plants press that he had just bought in Ann Arbor, Kumagusu came to Jacksonville in April 1891. He collected plants and animals while staying at Jiang, a supportive Chinese vegetable storekeeper. After three months’ collecting plants and animals enthusiastically he moved to Key West, the southernmost city in US, then to Havana in Cuba in mid September.
After a month in Havana a Japanese circus rider suddenly visited him. That encounter brought him to a new adventure of traveling in Port-au-Prince in Haiti, Caracas and Valencia in Venezuela, and Jamaica with the circus working as a mahout’s hand, and enabled him to collect precious fungi and lichens in the West Indies.
In January 1892 he returned to Jacksonville and worked on the plants he had collected in Florida and Cuba at Jiang’s. When Jiang wound up the business in August, Kumagusu moved to New York for his cherished dream to be realized. In September he put an end to six years in America and got aboard the City of New York bound for UK.
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