Tokugawa Internationalists in Shizuoka, 1870s

From: American Missionaries, Christian Oyatoi, and Japan 1859–73, by Hamish Ion (UBC Press, 2009), 159-160:

In mid-November 1871, [Edward Warren] Clark arrived in Shizuoka as the first westerner free to teach Christianity outside the treaty concessions.

In the early 1870s, Shizuoka was by no means a simple provincial town in a prefecture well known for its mandarin oranges and tea. It was the ancestral home of the Tokugawa shoguns, and, as mentioned, it was there that Tokugawa Yoshinobu, the last shogun, retired after the Meiji Restoration. Many of his former retainers followed him there into semi-exile, and approximately six thousand ex-Tokugawa samurai were living in Shizuoka and its vicinity in late 1871.

Even though it had lost political power with the Meiji Restoration, the Tokugawa family initially hoped that it might regain its former control of Japan. For this reason, in the autumn of 1868, the Tokugawa family established the military academy at Numazu, approximately thirty miles from Shizuoka, with the leading Western studies scholar, Nishi Amane, as its first headmaster. They were able to marshal a very impressive roster of Dutch and English specialists. With less overtly militaristic aims in mind, the Tokugawa authorities also founded in late 1868 the Gakumonjo in Shizuoka, which in November 1868 began offering classes in English, French, German, and Dutch. There were two headmasters, Mukōyama (Mukaiyama) Komura and Tsuda Shin’ichi, the former a Chinese studies specialist. Nakamura Masanao was also listed as a Chinese studies specialist faculty member. The Tokugawa authorities drew some of the best Japanese foreign-language teachers so that the school would be regarded as equal to the Yokohama Gogakujo in its foreign-language offerings and to Edō Kaiseijo in its Chinese studies. There were some sixty teachers at the Shizuoka school, among them Sugiyama Sanhachi, a Dutch studies specialist. By 1871, this Shizuoka school was the higher education centre of a network of eight or nine junior schools, which the Tokugawa family had established in Shizuoka Prefecture. The purpose of the Gakumonjo was to provide education in Western studies for the sons of ex-Tokugawa samurai. Entry to the school was restricted to those of the samurai class and, importantly, tuition was free. Among the followers of the ex-shogun there was, very naturally, considerable resentment against the new Meiji government, as the déclassé samurai were living in conditions of great hardship and suffering. Katsu Kaishū and other Tokugawa elders thought that by educating the sons of ex-samurai in Western science at least, some of the former Tokugawa influence in Japan could be regained. Moreover, as the demand for experts in Western studies increased, there would be employment opportunities for these young men. In recognizing the future need for Western studies specialists, the progressive spirit of the Tokugawa exiles in Shizuoka Prefecture was clear, albeit directed toward the restoration of their own power rather than the good of all Japan.

Since the Gakumonjo’s founding in 1868, the Tokugawa authorities had wanted to hire a Western teacher for it. After all, the Gakumonjo had been founded to teach Western subjects – English, French, German, and Dutch languages; mathematics, and Western science – as well as traditional Chinese studies. The need for a Western professor became increasingly acute as the Gakumonjo expanded. By November 1871, it had grown to such an extent that it had been divided into four schools: the Shogakujo, the Denshujo, the Shugakujo, and the Shizuoka Honkō (formerly the Gakumonjo). What these divisions meant in practical terms was that Western subjects were now being offered from primary school through to the highest academic level, and to students ranging from young boys to mature men in their thirties. Compounding educational problems posed by expansion was the simply [sic] reality that English had replaced Dutch as the major language of Western studies. The shortage of English-language teachers became clear when, in 1871, the Tokugawa authorities sent Sugiyama Magoroku, the son of Sugiyama Sanhachi, to learn English in Yokohama instead of continuing his Dutch studies. As well as learning English, Sugiyama converted to Christianity and became in 1872 a member of the Yokohama Christian Band. Sugiyama was not the only convert from Shizuoka among the first group of the Yokohama Band; Shinozaki Keinosuke also came from there.

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Filed under anglosphere, education, Japan, language, nationalism, religion

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