This project showcases student project work from Japan and the World, a modern Japanese history course offered at Kanda University of International Studies. It focuses on important themes and individuals from the Meiji (1868-1912) and Taisho (1912-26) periods, when Japan was beginning to open to the world after centuries of government-enforced isolation.

All submissions are researched, whether in English or Japanese, and references provided. Comments responding to and exploring ideas, suggesting connections or further reading, are most welcome. As entries are written by non-native English speakers, please refrain from non-constructive comments about language use.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Ernest Fenollosa

Ernest Fenollosa
By Yumi Okumura

Do you know the person who protected Japanese art? It was Ernest Francisco Fenollosa, an American philosopher and eastern art historian. In Meiji period, he came to Japan as an oyatoi gaikokujin [Editor's note: a hired foreign expert], and then he was fascinated with Japanese art. However, soon he was shocked that people didn’t treat Japanese art works as important things, so he tried to protect Japanese art. In his life, he visited Japan four times. In this essay, I will talk about three things; how Fenollosa loved Japanese art, how he affected people, and how he tried to protect Japanese art.

At first, I’ll introduce that Fenollosa really liked Japanese art. After he came to Japan, he was interested in Japanese art like an image of Buddha and Ukiyoe, so he started traveling old temples in all parts of the country. Also, he began collecting and studying old art works. Finally, he could collect about 20,000 Japanese art works, and now these are kept in Boston art museum. He wanted to know Japanese art and culture, so he learned Noh plays (能楽) and stayed at a teahouse. In addition, he became a pupil of Minoru Umewaka and decided to convert from Christianity to Buddhism. The more he knew about Japan, the more he loved Japanese art.

Next, I’ll talk that what effect Fenollosa had on people. At that time, Japanese people thought western art was superior to Japanese one. Then Fenollosa made a speech and changed people’s thinking. This speech was printed and handed out to all parts of Japan by new government. Fenollosa influenced many people, but especially, he really affected one person, Hōgai Kano. When Fenollosa went to the first contest of Japanese paintings, he was moved by a painting which Hōgai Kano painted. Though Hōgai refused to meet Fenollosa, Fenollosa went to Hōgai’s house every day and finally Hōgai met him. After Fenollosa could meet Hōgai, he supported Hōgai’s living and promised to buy all paintings which Hōgai drew, and gave advice about adding new style of painting. Later, Hōgai Kano became a pioneer of modern Japanese paintings.

Lastly, I’ll show how Fenollosa protected Japanese art. When he came to Japan, there was anti Buddhist movement(廃仏毀釈). People tended to break images of Buddha, temples and shrines. Fenollosa was shocked by that, so he asked Ministry of Education to create an art investigation committee. He searched more than about 450 art works and about sixty shrines and temples. Based on this investigation, the Ancient Temples and Shrines Protection Law was issued. Also, it triggered the idea of the National treasure. This notion, national treasure, was Fenollosa's. Now in Japan, there are 217 buildings and 871 art works and these are protected so that they are not lost.

In conclusion, Fenollosa found the worth of Japanese art works earlier than Japanese people at that time. Some people say that in collecting them, he drained important art works overseas. However, these still remain without being broken because Fenollosa collected them. If he had done nothing, these art works may not exist now, so Fenollosa was a benefactor of Japanese art.


“Ernest Fenollosa”(2013)-Wikipedia. Retrieved 2013.1.23.

“National treasue”(2013)-Wikipedia. Retrieved 2013.1.23.

日本の恩人 フェノロサ-Retrieved 2013.1.23.

The Contributions of Yamao Yozo to Japan

Yamao Yozo
By Yuka Tanaka

If you can say names of all the members of Choshu Five, you are quite familiar with Japanese history. Choshu Five are well-known as people who made Japan’s foundation from foreign countries. However, most Japanese people do not know the details or they know only one member, especially Hirobumi Ito. He was the first prime minister of Japan, so he is the most famous person of Choshu Five. However, it could be said that Yamao Yozo is one of the people who improved the level of Japan. He also traveled to learn and brought knowledge as a member of Choshu Five. He developed Japan infrastructure, education for industry and society and chances to work for people who are deaf and speech- impaired.


Yamao Yozo contributed to make infrastructure of Japan. He had a chance to go to London to learn. One of studies he learned was civil engineering which is a technical skill of founding bases to live. After he came back to Japan, he had opportunities to be in the Japanese government. According to Kitayama (2006), “Yamao’s policy was that a country could grow under the power industry.” He tried to make Japanese infrastructure better, and he focused on three points for infrastructure in Japan. One of his works is that he tried to adopt engineering to improve Japanese industry. He noticed that accepting the iron industry and the shipbuilding industry as government management was a quicker way to develop Japan. Also, he provided networks of roads in Japan. He became a leader of making railways and lighthouses, and they became important things to transport people and materials. In addition, Yamao took part in a plan of building a government office quarter. He became a leader of planning to make a new government office in an area in Tokyo. This area has been well-known as the government area of Kasumigaseki, where there are many buildings of government office.


Yamao tried to give chances to educate people for the future of Japanese industry and society. According to Kitayama (2006),”his thinking is that people can create workers if the basic of industry is not in Japan, and they would be people who could contribute to Japanese industry.” Yamao thought that engineers from England exactly contributed to create Japan’s infrastructure. However, he felt it was important to educate young Japanese people who would be great engineers in the future, so Japan would not need to rely on England forever. Miyoshi’s (1992) study found the following: Yamao built an engineering school, because he felt Japan needed to educate people to create independence of any Japanese technology. Also, there was no precent that a school gave a perfectly new education of engineering around the world. (p.292) Yamao’s plan for starting a school for engineering was accepted, and the school opened in 1873. Moreover, he found a school of art for industry. At the time, he had ideas of industrial designs, and he thought that industry is connected with art, so people should study art for industry. Also, he gave education and skill to persons with hearing and speaking disabilities. He tried to collect money to establish a school for them from many people and the Imperial Family, and the school started in 1880.


Yamao introduced education for persons who are deaf and speech-impaired to Japan. He felt that people could get greater skill and abilities as workers by education (, 2004). He had chances to study and work at Napier’s shipyard in Scotland from 1866 to 1868. During his stay in the place, he saw people who were workmen and did not speak at all. However, he noticed that the people could not communicate with words, but they used a sign language to communicate with each other. He thought that people who are deaf and speech-impaired in Japan also could work like the Scottish workmen. In addition, they could contribute to Japanese society as workers, so he tried to make chances to live and work in society for these people in Japan. Therefore, he built a school for them in 1880, and he proposed that the school should be in the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. Furthermore, he became the president of the Japan Association for Persons with Hearing and Speaking Disabilities, and he tried to spread sign language in Japan.

Yamao Yozo is the person who modernized Japan, especially for industry. He contributed to make infrastructure of Japan, tried to educate people for the future of Japanese industry and society, and introduced education for people who are deaf and speech- impaired. If you are Japanese or a person who is interested in Japanese history, you should know about his contributions. Nowadays, his efforts and thinking have been inherited in Japan.


Kitayama, T. (2006). Life of Yamao Yozo.  Retrieved December 22, 2013 from Toshikazu Kitayama’s website:

Miyoshi, N. (1992). A Career of Samurai-Engineer Yamao Yozo. Retrieved January 8, 2014 from CiNii Website: (2004). Yamao Yozo, His Experience in a Shipyard influenced education for persons who are deaf and speech-impaired. Retrieved January 18, 2014 from

Ernest Fenollosa

One of the famous
artworks, “Hibokannon”
By Yoshihiro Isogaya

Wherever you go in Japan, you’ll always see temples, shrines or images of Buddha. Because they are so famous now you’ll think it has been that way all the time, but actually it was the opposite. A lot of Japanese people had no interest in their own arts at that time. Some were even taken down because of that. How did their mind change from not having any interest to having interest? It’s all because of a man whose name was Ernest Fenollosa.

When he was 17, he entered Harvard University to study philosophy. He graduated Harvard University with the highest score. After he graduated, at the age of 24 he entered an art school which was built newly at the Boston Art Museum since at this time he started to have interests in arts.

In 1878 his father couldn’t get familiar with the society and killed himself. Because he lost his mother when he was 13, he lost both of his parents with this tragedy. After this tragedy, like fate, an opportunity came along: he found out that Tokyo University was looking for people to hire. Because of all he’d been through, he thought that it was his destiny to find out about that and from that he decided to go to Japan to teach.

After he went to Japan, he became to be interested in the image of Buddha and the art of Japanese woodblock prints. So he began to collect and study about historic arts all over Japan. Later on while he was studying about Japanese arts he found out something that he couldn’t believe. With all the great arts the Japanese had, almost none of the Japanese had interest nor thought their own art was important such as temples and images of Buddha. He was really shocked about that. Even some of the temples and images of Buddha were taken down because of that. To try to change this situation he started a campaign to tell the Japanese people how beautiful Japanese art is. He told them why they are so beautiful and important. Because of that he was able to change the minds of the people how they thought of their own art and he succeeded to make it the way it is now. It is now the most famous art in the world and all the people know how important it is now because of what he did for it.

He didn’t just help the Japanese art not to die but he also found the real artist, “Kanou Hougai”. He was an artist but he wasn’t famous at all because nobody had any interest in his arts, but Ernest found his art and he decided to talk him into making an art which became a real famous art later on even now. If Ernest didn’t find him this art would’ve never existed and Japanese art wouldn’t have been this famous all over the world. With all that he did it made a lot of difference and I wish more people in Japan knew about this.

Reference list

Ernest Fenollosa. (n. d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved on 09/01/2014 from

Nihon no onzin Fenollosa [Fenollosa the Japan’s benefactor]. (n. d.) Retrieved on 09/01/2014:

William Kinninmond Burton

By Shiomi Mano

William Kinninmond Burton is known as an engineer and a photographer. He was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1856. His father, John Hill Burton was a lawyer and an eminent amateur historian. His mother was the daughter of Dr Cosmo Innes who was one of Scotland’s foremost amateur photographers. Also, Burton had a relationship with Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of “Sherlock Holmes”. In 1973, he was apprenticed for five years to Messrs Brown Brothers who were Hydraulic and Mechanical Engineers of Rosebank Ironworks in Edinburgh. He left the firm in 1879 to enter partnership with his uncle in London to design water systems. In 1881, he became Resident Engineer to the London Sanitary Protection Association. 

In 1887, at the age of 31, Burton was invited to Japan as a foreign government adviser to assume the post of first professor sanitary engineering at Tokyo Imperial University. At that time, Japan was suffering from several serious epidemics, especially cholera. Cholera was regarded as powerful disease and compared to a tiger. It means a tiger is ferocious and people did not have any solutions at all.  

To solve this problem, Burton was invited to Japan. As soon as he arrived in Japan, he worked as a consulting engineer in Health and Medical Bureau. He was committed to providing plans for the sanitation systems and water supply of many towns and cities. Burton thought pure water was necessary to prevent cholera because in Hiroshima, people drank water which was not clean water from the river. Then, people got diarrhea and nausea. Therefore, he prepared plans for modern water plans for many Japanese cities like Hiroshima, Okayama, Sendai, Nagoya, and Kobe. Burton invented hand pump to get pure water. In Hiroshima, citizens had a ceremony to congratulate the accomplishment of water works. Also there is still pure water bottle with Burton’s picture on the label today in Shimonoseki city. He also gave a lecture of sanitary engineering in Tokyo Imperial University as a special teacher and inspired famous sanitary engineers in the future.

Burton was famous for the designer of Ryounkaku, the first western-style skyscraper in Japan. Ryounkaku was located in Asakusa and opened in 1890.

Ryounkaku was designed to attract working men and their families to visit Asakusa and became a landmark of Asakusa after the opening in 1890. It was a 225-foot (69m) tower, twelve stories and made from red bricks. The shape was octagonal and the two electric elevators served the first to the eight floor with a ten-person capacity each. These were invented by Ichisuke Fujioka, who is a founder of Toshiba, and were the first elevators ever installed in Japan. At the time, Ryounkaku was the tallest building in Tokyo. Ryounkaku was known widely as it appeared in the literary of contemporary authors such as Tanizaki Junichiro, Ishikawa Takuboku and Kitahara Hakushu. Although it survived the earthquake in 1884, it was seriously damaged and finally, was pulled down in The Great Kanto Earthquake of September 1923. 

Burton was also noted as a photographer as his grandfather was lover of photographry. He actually visited the disaster areas of Eruption of Bandai-mountain (1888) and Noubi Earthquake (1891) immediately after the earthquake and took pictures. Then, he published the photo book “The Earthquake of Japan” (1891) and “The volcano of Japan”.

In 1896, Burton visited Taiwan to develop the sanitation there. At the time, Taiwan was the territory of Japan. However, he got epidemic disease and passed away on 14 August 1899 in Tokyo of a fever. He was only 43 years old. He devoted his life to development of Japan.


W K Burton, Engineer extraordinaire” (December 2001), attributed December 5, 2013:

William Kinninmond Burton / Edinburgh South West” (January 24, 2013), attributed January 16, 2014:

Rounkaku-Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia” attributed January 16, 2014:

W.K.Burton-Wikipedia, the encyclopedia” attributed December 5, 2013:

Natsume Soseki

Natsume Soseki
By Seina Suzuki

Soseki was the sixth child and unwanted child by his family, because he was born to his mother late in her life. His mother was 40 years old and father was 53 years old. In 1868, he was sent to childless couple named Shiobara Masanosuke and his wife. However they divorced, therefore Soseki returned to his real family when he was 9 years old. His family welcomed him, except for his father. He didn’t have good relationship with his father. His mother died when he was 14 years old.

He attended the First Tokyo Middle school (now Hibiya High School) and while studying there, he became enamored with Chinese literature and he dreamed of becoming a writer. When he told his old brother about his dream, his family strongly disagreed. In 1884, he entered Tokyo Imperial University to become an architect. While at university, he study Chinese classics and also started to learn English.

In 1887, he met Masaoka Shiki and Soseki was affected by him. Soseki started singing his poems. He entered English Literature department in 1890. In 1895, he began teaching at Matsuyama Middle School and he also published haiku and Chinese poetry in that time.

In 1900, he was sent to study in Great Britain as “Japan’s first Japanese English literary scholar” by the Japanese government. However he didn’t get his scholarship by government. He studied instead at University College London. Before he arrived in London, it took 2 months to get there. He visited many museums in London. He studied a lot of English and he came to have a fundamental question, “What is Literature?” He wrote “Theory of Literature.” He had to go back to Japan before he could accomplish his ambitions. He didn’t enjoy his life in London however he learned some things and wrote “Theory of Literature”.

Soseki’s literary career started in 1903. He published his haiku in some magazines. He won public admiration when he published “I Am a Cat”. His first major work was that novel. “I am a Cat” was written from the viewpoint of a cat and Soseki also a cat. The owner of the pet Mr. Kushami is a self-ironic portrait of the writer. He succeeded and published many novels like Botchan, Tower of London in 1905, and Kusamakura in 1906. His post when he wrote at the university got a position with Asahi Shimbun and he began writing full time. In that time, Naturalist literature was popular; however he was part of Yoyu-function.

In 1907, he decided to resign from his teaching job and entered a newspaper company The Asahi Shimbun as a novelist. He wrote a lot of stories in newspaper. His novels were full of humor at the first, but later changed to focus on depth of human psychology, isolation and egoism, and analyzed the contradictions in Japanese society.

He died of stomach ulcer on December 9th 1916. He was writing “Light and Darkness”, however he didn’t finish writing about it. His novels are still widely read and his major works of fiction have been translated into English.

Reference list

-Natsume Soseki, the greatest Novelist in Modern Japan'natsume+soseki'

-Wikipedia Natsume Soseki

-Natsume Soseki

John Batchelor

By Student A
John Batchelor and Ainu people


From the end of Edo to Meiji Era, Japanese people started accepting a variety of western cultures and ideas that were inspired from Europe like the UK. Later these western cultures and ideas had a great impact on things such as governmental system, foods, fashion or education in Japan. Although westerners impacted on many things in Japanese society, the governmental system was one of the most affected aspects because it led Japan to get the idea of imperialism like the UK in this time.

While the big western wave was coming to Japan, a Japanese ethnic group, Ainu, who lived in Hokkaido, was facing difficulties. At that time, John Batchelor, a Christian missionary from England came to Japan. Batchelor spent his life in Hokkaido as a missionary and he saw the difficulties that Ainu were facing; although he was not Japanese, he wanted to help Ainu. Finally, people called him “Father of Ainu”.

Why did he dedicate himself to saving their cultures? What happened in Ainu communities in Hokkaido in this time? In this report, I would like to discuss the reason why Batchelor wanted to help the Ainu ethnic group and how he contributed to protecting Ainu people and their culture.

Ainu’s suffering

To know about Bachelor’s works I will explain what happened to Hokkaido and Ainu. After Meiji Restoration [1868], government introduced new polices to develop Hokkaido because they government felt the need for stronger national defense and the territorial extension against powers like China or Russia. Hokkaido became a place of national land development. The government wanted to develop Hokkaido because Hokkaido was a big island and it had a lot of natural resources.

Hokkaido Development Commissioners started to cultivate the land, Non-Ainu people recognized that Ainu ethnic group was not “Japanese” and considered them to be inferior beings. Ainu people were discriminated against and they faced difficult and awful environments.

Because hunting and fishing were banned, Ainu people faced inadequacy of food because they got their foods from nature. They needed to work to get “money” to survive. They started to work under government, however local public officers foully abused them. In addition, by losing Ainu’s traditional ways to survive, Ainu people became very poor and physically weak because of weakening of resistance to get through the hard winter. For those reasons a lot of Ainu people passed away and got serious diseases.

Why did Batchelor come to Japan, Hokkaido?

After Batchelor finished studying theology in seminary in England, he moved to Hong Kong as a Christian missionary to witness people.

However, he got endemic diseases there. By doctor’s advice, he moved to Japan to cure his illness. Japanese weather was like England's, and Hong Kong’s one did not fit him. He arrived in Yokohama at first and took medical care. After that, Batchelor moved again on medical specialist’s advice and next place was Hokkaido. The doctor thought that cold place like Hokkaido was good for medical care. Finally Batchelor came to Hokkaido but until this time he hadn’t known what Ainu was.

Why did Batchelor focus on “Ainu”?

By Meiji governmental policy, Ainu people lost their land and culture for the reasons above. After Batchelor came to Hokkaido and cured his disease, he started missionary activities locally. He got a great shock from the hard discrimination against Ainu people by non-Ainu people. Batchelor started to want to save their hearts by Christian idea gradually.

To understand Ainu, he stayed at a local Ainu community leader’s house for over 3 months at first and tried to learn Ainu language. Gradually, Batchelor knew Ainu’s holding idea for God and nature; he recorded what he learned from them. He respected Ainu culture and thought deeply how they can find the joy of life in this suffering situation.

Batchelor’s achievements

Batchelor was called “Father of Ainu” by local Ainu people. He became the first Ainu culture keeper. There are two main big achievements about Ainu. I will introduce Batchelor’s ethnological study achievements in here.

Study achievement

Batchelor deeply studied Ainu and he conducted his mission telling about Christianity by Ainu language. At the same time, he focused on saving poor Ainu people with charity works like building hospitals, a children’s home for girls who lost their parents. Many local Ainu people witnessed Batchelor’s attitudes, and then those people become Christian.

During his mission, he published “Today and past story in Ezo” (蝦夷今昔物語) in 1884. It was about Ainu culture customs and life styles. He knew true Ainu’s things by local Ainu, not local non-Ainu who make a border for Ainu. Also Batchelor could tell for public true Ainu and their beautiful and respectable culture in nature.

A dictionary named “Ainu, Japanese and English dictionary”(蝦和英三対訳辞書) was published in 1889, and finally he published part of the New Testament in Ainu while he was in England temporarily to do dedication works in the local church in 1890.

It is difficult to decide if Batchelor’s missionary activities were good for local Ainu, because even though they had their local nature faith in Hokkaido, introducing western religion changed this local faith. However, the new idea of God and faith saved part of the Ainu people's damaged hearts.

Also Batchelor left a lot of studying and communication records like diaries or books. Those materials are very valuable today. We can know how local Ainu people spent their life and how they lived with hard nature in Hokkaido. Bachelor cultivated new study fields in Hokkaido historical culture and he expanded the being of true Ainu. Batchelor retired in 1923. He spent over 46 years in Japan and dedicated his life to trying to save internal and external Ainu culture.


『HOMAS (北海道マサチューセッツ協会) 日本語版ニューズレター 』



2011年12月10発行記事 北海道マサチューセッツ協会 



 早稲田大学大学院教育学研究科紀要 別冊 19号―2 

2012年3月 早稲田大学大学院

Patrick Lafcadio Hearn (Koizumi Yakumo)

Lafcadio Hearn
By Mio Yamada

Patrick Lafcadio Hearn was born in Greece on June 27, 1850, and he passed away in Tokyo when he was 54 years old. He died of the heart failure. In 1865, he lost his left eyesight because of the playground accident, so he always hid his left side of his face when he had his picture taken. He was one of the people who affected Japan so nicely. He was an international writer, and he was interested in Japanese culture and Japanese ghosts.

First, Hearn was a cosmopolitan. His father was Irish, and his mother was Greek. After his parents divorced in 1854, he was well-educated in France and England. In 1859, he was sent to the U.S. and succeeded as a journalist using foreign language when he was in his twenties. He lived in New Orleans for nearly a decade, and he wrote about New Orleans. He was little known at that time, and even now he is little known for his writing about New Orleans. Finally, he came to Japan as a correspondent of America in 1890.

Second, after he came to Japan, he was fascinated by Japanese culture so much. Thus, he canceled a contract, and he started to work as an English teacher in Japan. Next year, he got married to a Japanese woman, Koizumi Setsu. He became naturalized Japanese, assuming the name Koizumi Yakumo. He got Japanese last name from his wife and first name from the region where he lived. Also, he published a lot of books for introducing Japanese culture to American people. Although Japan was unknown and exotic to Westerners at that time, Japanese style became fashionable in Western countries thanks to his books about Japan.

Finally, when he was a little boy, he believed in ghosts, so when he came to Japan, he was really interested in Japanese ghosts. He published not only books about Japanese culture but also books about Japanese ghosts. His major work is Kwaidan. It has a lot of stories such as The Story of Mimi-Nashi-Hoichi, Yuki-Onna and so on. Today, many people still set a high valuation on these stories. Also, Koizumi Yakumo Kinenkan was established, which is Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum, in Matsue, Shimane Prefecture in 1933. It has an interesting content called “Matsue ghosts tour.” Guests can go around the places which are associated with Kwaidan story.

To sum up, Patrick Lafcadio Hearn had an international sense because of his childhood. He knew about lots of different cultures, but he was fascinated by Japanese culture most. Also, he decided that he would spend the rest of his life in Japan. He affected Japan so much, but he was also affected by Japanese culture. He was also interested in Japanese ghosts. There are many books about Japanese ghosts which are written by Lafcadio Hearn on Japanese subjects. People in recent years still love his books. Also, his books about Japanese life style from non-Japanese person’s eyes were loved by both Japanese people and Westerners. Hearn changed the image of Japan for Westerners at that time. Therefore, he is absolutely an important person in Japanese history.


Lafcadio Hearn. (2014). Retrieved from

小泉八雲. (2004). Retrieved from

小泉八雲記念館 Lafcadio Hearn Memorial Museum. (2010). Retrieved from

Ito Hirobumi

By Yasuda Minori
Ito Hirobumi

In Japan, the first Prime Minister was a man who was born as a low class samurai, and the man is Ito Hirobumi. I presented about him in the class before, but I’m still interested in him. The reason why I think he is interesting is because he lived from Edo period to Meiji period. The lifestyle had changed a lot comparing both eras, but he adapted to it, and also he became one of the people who changed Japan at that time. Therefore I’d love to focus on what he did in his life.

Ito Hirobumi was born in 1841 and named Risuke at first. His family was very poor, and his father was a common foot soldier, so his father was adopted to help their family budget. Since they were adopted by Mr. Ito, who was a member of Choshu domain, the family changed their last name from Hayashi to Ito. At the same time, Risuke also changed his name to Hirobumi.

When he was 16 years old, after the arrival of Perry, who tried to push Japan open the country, Hirobumi began to work as a member of Uraga security because Japan’s feudal government ordered Choshu domain to do so, and his boss was Kurihara Ryozo. He introduced Yoshida Shoin’s cram school to Hirobumi, and he worked for the principle of advocating reverence for the Emperor and the expulsion of foreigners with Katsura Kogoro and Takasugi Shinsaku. Hirobumi was influenced by Shoin a lot, but after his trip to England in 1863, he changed his thought to be in favour of opening the country and overthrowing the government.

Ito Hirobumi was thought to be the great person in Japanese history and you may think in the same way. However, he is also known as an emboldened young man joined to the movement of overthrowing a government. One of the most well-known cases he was involved in was attacking with fire the England legation being built in Shinagawa in 1863. In those days, he was still a teenager of low birth. In addition to this, Mr. Ito is said to have assassinated a waka poet, Kato Kojiro, and the fourth son of a Japanese classical scholar, Hanawa Hokiichi.

As seen above, it seems that Ito Hirobumi would be called a terrorist if he was alive now because his movement was too revolutionary, but he certainly did the very important job for Japan. And one of the biggest jobs is making Meiji Constitution. Ito left Japan in March 14, 1882 to search the constitutions in foreign countries. Additionally, he searched about imperial courts, parliaments, the Cabinets, laws, and local government systems. His studied them in Germany, Austria, Britain, and Belgium, and his visit to Europe lasted for a year and 2 months.

His actions should be seen as dangerous and strange. He was assassinated in Korea because he was the leader of Japan which had occupied and invaded Korea. These days, I heard about the news that a memorial hall was being built for the man who killed Ito, An Jung-geun. In Korea, he is thought to be a hero, but in Japan, he was just a killer. So Japanese governors said that building the memorial hall made them angry because An Jung-geun was a criminal. Responding to these comments, Korean governor got angry. However, for me, neither side should care about such actions or comments. That’s because the hero of a battle between two groups must be a criminal or an enemy for the other group, a loser. The most important thing here is how a movement a person did has influenced and changed one country. Thinking of that helps people not to be angry and to look back on a part of their history.


(2010). そのとき伊藤博文は、どうしたか. Retrieved January 14, 2014, from J-Net21:

(2010). 伊藤博文. Retrieved January 14, 2014, from 日本歴史巡り:

(2013). 日韓、今度は安重根と伊藤博文で波紋?. Retrieved January 14, 2014, from HUFF POST WORLD -国際-:

立憲政治を確立した初代首相 伊藤博文. Retrieved January 14, 2014, from 小・中学生のための学習教材の部屋 知識の泉 from:

Georges Ferdinand Bigot

By Minami Kikuchi

Have you ever seen Picture A? Probably, most people have seen this picture in the textbook of history. This picture expresses Japan and China which are going to get Korea, and Russia which plans to seize it, in the Sino-Japanese War age. This picture was drawn by Georges Ferdinand Bigot who is famous as cartoonist, illustrator and artist.

Georges Ferdinand Bigot was born in Paris in 1860. His father was a government official and his mother was a painter. Under the influence of his mother, he began to draw a picture when he was very young. He entered École des Beaux-Arts (School of Fine Arts) in 1872 and studied pictures. However, he quit school in 1876 in order to help the family budget. Then, he began work of the illustration. He went to the salon many times, and he got the knowledge about Japanese arts there. He encountered Ukiyoe [Editor's note: woodblock prints] for the first time in Paris Exposition in 1878, and he got interested in them. In this time, he was already well known to many people in France. However, his thought about Japan was strong so he came to Japan in 1882, when he was 21 years old.

In order to know the life of Japanese people, he did not live in a foreign settlement but he lived in the town in which Japanese people live. Moreover, he went to the licensed quarter (遊郭) often in order to know Japanese society. Based on them, he drew and put many caricatures about Japanese politics in the caricature magazine "TÔBAÉ" which was first published in 1887. After that, his work became stable, and he got married to a Japanese woman in 1894. However, after Japan won the Sino-Japanese War, he started to worry about his livelihood because the photograph developed from that time and work of news painter decreased sharply. Moreover, he held distrust for Japanese administration of justice and police. Therefore, he divorced and returned to France in 1899. He remarried French woman immediately after the homecoming and he died because of a stroke in 1927, when he was 67 years old.

He drew the social trend of Japan of those days which Japanese people did not get interested in because it was too natural for Japanese people to make their subject matter. Therefore, his works has become valuable Japanese data now. The picture which he drew about the Sino-Japanese War often appears in the school history textbook which we used. In his work, there are many picture which are put into two or more segments of frames (コマ) and have a story, like Picture B. Someone said, "He brought the style of the long segment comics of Europe to Japan."

He had dissatisfaction with the Japanese government and there were depictions which can be thought to be government criticism in TÔBAÉ. However, I think that he liked Japanese tradition and culture because it is said that he made the Japanese garden at the house in France and looked at it every day. It may be a reason why he was criticizing Europeanism of Japan strongly, although he loved Japanese culture.

Picture A - Sino-Japanese War

Picture B - Sample of Japanese comic style


France no huushi gaka, Georges Bigot ga mita nihonjin [The Japanese which is a French caricaturist Georges Bigot looked at.] (2013, September 9). Yuunayun Retrieved 2013, Jan 6 from

Georges Bigot (2010, October 13). Hongo mura dayori Retrieved 2013, Jan 6 from

Georges Bigot (2013, May 1). LAMBIEK Retrieved 2013, Jan 6 from

Natsume Soseki

Natsume Soseki
By Mihiro Suzuki

If asked "Do you know Natsume Soseki?", every Japanese person would say yes. Soseki was great author at Meiji period, so his works appear in Japanese text books. In addition, Soseki was symbol of Japanese 1,000yen note until 2014, so most Japanese people know him. However, how many people know his background and his studying abroad? This paper will show 3 points: studying abroad, his childhood, and his thinking.

How many people know that Soseki had been abroad to London for studying? He went to London to study when he was 32 years old. However, this trip was not suitable for Soseki, because his character is very sensitive. When he heard that he was to go abroad, he was already married and had a child, and he was teaching at school in Kumamoto. Therefore he hesitated to go aboard. In addition, at that time the Japanese Ministry of Education said that this purpose of studying abroad is research of English, but Soseki’s interest was English literature, so he was not interested in going to London. However, the Ministry of Education said that you are able to grasp more widely if you take this trip, so Soseki decided to go abroad and study. However, his studying abroad was not successful and something unusual. He suffered from neurosis, paranoia, and weak digestion. This is one of Soseki’s stories: he had such deep paranoia. His friend recognized his condition was not good. One day his landlady said to Soseki “You should go on bicycle trip to relax”, but Soseki misunderstood her as wanting to give him pain, so land lady sent to letter to Japan saying “Soseki has gone crazy”.

This was not the first time he experienced a persecution complex. The cause of persecution complex was his childhood, because when he was born, his mother was 41, so his mother felt really sorry and could not bring up him [Editor's note: he was the sixth child]. Therefore Soseki was fostered out very poor family. One day, Soseki’s sister found him in the trash, so she took him back in, but his real father was not welcoming. When he was 10 years old, he was fostered out to another family. This family’s father always gave him whatever he wanted. However, Soseki thought it is not interesting because he cannot see his father always do coaxing. Finally his father cheated, so Soseki was returned to his real family, but also this time, his real father did not welcome Soseki. Therefore, Soseki did not open mind to his real father until his father died. He was starving for love.

However, if he had not experienced, he would not have completed his principles. After he returned to Japan, he lectured at university. At that time he said that “I became stronger, because I got the word; it is “EGOTISM”.” This word was understood by everyone to mean that I am OK, I only feel OK. However, Soseki said this egotism meant to respect other people and also respect oneself, and love my freedom and also respect other people’s freedom. He did not like London, However he learned about freedom of western culture and individualism. Soseki said that he learned that no matter how many times people say this work is wonderful, unless I think it is good, it is not good in my opinion.

After such painful experiences, finally everything is his treasure and his foundation of his thinking. He was not interested in going to London, but he learned western people's thinking, for example egotism. This thinking did not exist in Japan. Therefore, Soseki got strong impression from this. Finally, his studying abroad was successful.


夏目漱石 - NPO法人 国際留学生協会/向学新聞 (2013/1/26)

James Curtis Hepburn

James Curtis Hepburn
By Kohei Ishizuka

James Curtis Hepburn was born in America in 1815. He was a missionary and also medical scientist. He was influential with Japanese people because he did lots of good things in Japan, such as making hospital, cram school, Meiji Gakuin and Japanese-English dictionary. He died when he was 96 years old. In that time, that age was really old. I think he was a doctor so he could live long years.

Before he came to Japan, he went to two universities in America. In 1828 he entered Priceton University. In that university he learned about pedagogy. When he was a child, he was interested in pedagogy. However, while he was attending that university he became interested in medical science so after he graduated that university he went to another university to learn medical science in 1832. He graduated that university in 1838. After that he had a dream. It was to tell about Christianity to foreign countries. He decided to go to foreign country. Before he went there, he met Clara, the woman who was to be his wife. She was also Christian and had the same dream. In 1840 he married her. After he got married he decided to go to China.

In 1843, James and Clara went to China to tell Christianity but at that time, there was Opium war in China so they got disease because of that. They decided to go back to America. Actually they got their child in there. However their child was dead before their child was born because of the war.

In 1846, James went back to America and started hospital in New York. There were so many people who immigrated there and many sick people, so many people went to his hospital. James graduated university which was for learning medical science so he was a good doctor there. In 1858, he decided to go to Japan with Clara because of Nichibei Shukoutsushou Jyouyaku.

In 1859 James and Clara arrived in Yokohama in Japan. At first he started hospital like in New York, but he couldn’t speak Japanese so it was difficult to see sick people. However he had a good skill about medical science. After few months so many people went to his hospital. In one day he saw 100 sick people in his hospital. At same time he and Clara started a cram school because they wanted to spread Christianity, but Bible was all written in English so he decided to translate to Japanese. At first he made Japanese-English dictionary which is to learn English for Japanese people, but Japanese people couldn’t read English. He made Romaji [Editor's note: Japanese uses a pictorial alphabet. Romaji are a way of writing Japanese phonetically in Latin characters] in 1866, and because of that Japanese people could more easily read English. In 1880 he translated old testament from English to Japanese. He also made university which is Meiji Gakuin in 1887. In 1892 he and his wife went back to America because his wife got disease. In 1911 he died in America.

If there was no dictionary and not so many information about country which I have never been to, I wouldn’t go there and I may not have the idea of creating a dictionary so I really respect him.

Reference list

The Chōshū Five

The Choshu Five
By Ken Hashimoto

For us, it is really easy to study abroad in our time, compared with the last days of the Edo era. When Japan was closed country, five young Japanese men were dispatched from the Choshu domain to search for the ideal methods of the future of Japan. They would be called “The Choshu Five” later, respecting their courage. Their tremendous will was very strong and amazing. It is often said that their attitudes are just like “live instruments”. I suppose that the simile means to sacrifice even their private feelings. I assure that it can not be explained as simple heroism. I was very interested about people who sought abroad for the way to lead their nation and formed the present Japanese social system. In this article, I will refer to their characteristics and the environment which made their strong will before the voyage first, and then the social background of the last days of the Tokugawa shogunate, and lastly their contribution to Japan in their lifetimes.

At the time the principle of advocating reverence for the Emperor and the expulsion of foreigners was spreading [Editor's note: despite the nominal power of the Emperor, Japan had been ruled since 1600 by the Shogun, and had been closed to most foreign trade and influence]. In those days, the Choshu domain fired at the foreign ships hard and was definitely the base of that movement. Surprisingly, such a domain sent five young people off abroad, breaking a system of national isolation to get the information of the Great Powers of the world. Actually, scholars who had progressive ideas about Japanese foreign relations existed in the Choshu domain. I assure you that the domain was a base of flowering of culture as well as anti-foreign movement.

I should refer to Shoin Yoshida, who was the prime mover of flowering of culture and influenced the Choshu five. Before opening the country, when a fleet which was headed by Commodore Perry came to Japan to get the answer of a treaty of peace and amity, Yoshida hid in an American ship and entreated them to let him to make a voyage to America. Although his action met with failure, the necessity of getting the knowledge of foreign countries was raised.

After his death, many followers who succeeded to his idea stirred up the heads of the Choshu domain, and focused on bringing up able people. I am sure that this factor was one of great motive powers behind fulfilling the Meiji Restoration. The Choshu domain planned the secret passage of the Choshu Five, supported by cooperation of the British consul in Japan.

In the background, the five young men were selected to study abroad to London.

The members of the contingent were as follows.

  • Itō Shunsuke (later Prime Minister as Itō Hirobumi), 
  • Inoue Monta (later Foreign Minister as Inoue Kaoru),
  • Yamao Yōzō (later Engineer, Pioneer of education for persons who are deaf and speech-impaired),
  • Endō Kinsuke (later Engineer of Coinage)
  • Nomura Yakichi (later made the first railway in Japan )
Itō was a pupil of Yoshida and was very close to his teacher. Taking over teacher’s will, the voyage was successful.

The Choshu Five were overwhelmed when they arrived in London and saw many huge steamships, trains or big factories. As soon as they arrived, their exclusionism was blown away in an instant. Deploring reckless exclusionism, Ito and Inoue would make every effort to open a country to foreign trade and diplomatic relations later. The others also would be leading figures in the foundation new Japan.

Studying a little, I found that many people’s strong desires had supported the Choshu five. I think that it needed huge bravery to change a nation. I was very moved by their enthusiasm and thought that I also wanted to get strength in my mind like them. I realized that it is important to have a wide vision and be confident in my own will.

Fukuzawa Yukichi

Fukuzawa Yukichi
By Kana Suzuki

I will talk about Fukuzawa Yukichi by presenting a brief introduction of his background, what he wanted to do for Japan, and the mediation he used to spread his thought.

Nowadays, Fukuzawa is famous for his portrait on the ten-thousand-yen-note. He was born in January 10, 1835 in Nakatsu, which is in present-day Oita. His father was a low-ranking samurai, therefore he had strong feelings about the class system in Japan from an early age. His father died when he was 2 years old, so his mother brought him up. When he was a child, he was an urchin and disliked reading books. However, when he was 14 years old, he began to fret about that everyone studied hard except him, so he started studying. Soon after he started studying, he distinguished himself in the study.

When he was 19 years old, he went to Nagasaki, and learned Dutch studies there. One year after, he visited Osaka, and decided to learn at Tekijuku, under Ogata Koan. While he was suffering from sickness, he finally reached the top of that school when he was 22 years old. After that, he went to Edo, and opened a school. When he visited Yokohama in the next year, he felt the strong necessary of English, and started studying it. In 1859, he went to America as an attendant of the captain of “Kanrinmaru” (咸臨丸). And in 1862, he went to Europe with a mission, and learned about European circumstances, history, and thoughts. After coming back to Japan he published “Seiyou Jijou” (“Conditions in the West”, 西洋事情). In 1867, he went to America as a member of the shogunate, and wrote “Seiyou Jijou Gaihen” (“Conditions in the West, vol. 2”, 西洋事情 外編) and “Sekai kunizukushi”(“Countries of the World”, 世界国尽). In 1868, he moved his school to Shiba, which is present Mita, and named the school Keioh gijuku [Editor's note: this was the forerunner of Keio University]. He wrote “Gakumon no susume” (“An Encouragement of Learning”, 学問の進すゝめ) in 1872, and “Bunmeiron no gairyaku” (“Outline of a Theory of Civilisation”, 文明論之概略) in 1875.

He is said to be an Enlightenment thinker. Firstly, he tried to introduce Western civilization to Japan, and make Japan modernized. In addition to this, he came to develop his own ideas. He insisted that the Japanese needed to be independent. He believed that national independence leads people to be independent, so he promoted business because financial independence of each person was connected to Japan’s development. At that time, he focused on tradition of Japan, spirits of samurai, which is diligence and loyalty. On the other hand, he criticized the traditional disproportion of power in Japan, and he thought new spirits could change this situation. When he proceeded to reform Japanese traditional idea, he noticed the importance of samurai. He thought that samurai could improve Japan’s industry with their animation, responsibility, and wide view. To conclude, his idea was based on asking a spirit of independence and self-respect for everyone.

Mainly he showed his thought in his books. For example in “Gakumon no susume” (学問のすゝめ), he said that whether rich and high-class or not, all people needed education, and that this connected to independence of themselves and nation. In “Bunmeiron no gairyaku”(文明論の概略), he was comparing Japan and another country, and explained that improvement of public sentiment by interchanging and competing freely could make Japan independent as a civilized country. In addition to this he made a school, “Keio gijuku”(慶応義塾), which declares his policy of education for everyone. As he focused on this school as a core, through aspects of politics, economy, society, and speech, he spread the movement of involving ideas. In 1874 he made a meeting hall in his school to show the importance of speech for public. In another way, food like milk and eating meat was introduced. He was said to be the first person who brought the word “curry” to Japan. And he did not like to be seen as domineering, so he did not dress up formally.

What he tried to do was modernize Japan. He was really familiar with western culture and social conditions, and understood them well. Then, he thought that to take some good points from them would help Japan modernize. The one of the most important focuses of his opinion was independence and self-respect. To spread this idea, he built a school, and wrote many books. It is said that we Japanese can learn a lot from Fukuzawa even now.


[Yukichi Fukuzawa-NAVER conclusion] <>

[About Yukichi Fukuzawa-words] <>

[Wikipedia] <>

Hutchinson.C. Personal communication (course materials)

Georges Ferdinand Bigot

By Hikari Kozono


Have you ever heard of a non-Japanese painter who drew not only luxury life of Japanese upper class but also ordinary life of masses? Georges Ferdinand Bigot was the French painter who depicted Japan in Meiji period. He really liked beauty of Japan and Japanese people. He was born in France in 1860. His mother encouraged him into art. At the age of twelve, he was accepted by the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, where he was trained by artists such as Jean-Léon Gérôme and Carolus-Duran. He was interested in Japonism and Japanese art by number of collectors of Japanese art in school and he decided to work as an illustrator of newspaper to pay for the trip to Japan. 

He came to Japan at the beginning of the Meiji-era to study Japanese and Japanese art. After that he worked at the imperial Japanese army academy where he taught water color paintings to his students as an Oyatoi Gaikokuzin [Editor's note: a non-Japanese person employed by the Japanese government to teach necessary skills for Japan's modernisation] for 2 years. After he was done with his teaching job, he was allowed to stay in Japan by drawing pictures for French people in Japan. Eventually, his works became popular among those who were interested in Japanese life and against revision of treaty. His main customers were French people who lived in the foreign settlement Japan. However many of them were opposed to revision of treaty and went back to their home countries. That made Bigot worried about losing a lot of his customers. He also worked as a journalist by drawing scenes he saw but since photo technology developed at this time, his work gradually decreased. He thought it would be difficult to publish magazines freely in Japan and decided to go back to France. Before he went back to France, he divorced to his Japanese wife Masu Sano. In France he kept working as a painter for some French magazines and newspapers. He died in 1927 while he was walking in the Japanese style garden in his house.

Satirical cartoon

Although his first interest in Japanese art was Japonism, his main style of painting was satirical cartoons. Satire means to use humor to show how foolish some people’s behavior or ideas are. He mostly illustrated scenes of everyday Japanese life of masses and upper class but also ridiculed Japanese politicians, revision of treaty, and what he felt to be too much westernization in Japan in his famous satirical newspaper, Tobae. He published it for French people who lived in Japan but he put Japanese captions on his works in order to impress Japanese journalists, and sent them to Japanese newspaper publishing companies. He watched Japan’s rapid westernization with a mixture of curiosity and affection, producing a lot of pictures of the scenes he saw and tried to introduce these to the West.

Affection for Japan

While Bigot criticized too much westernization in Japan, he loved and respected Japanese tradition, culture and the everyday life of ordinary people. He especially expressed affection towards Japanese woman who are calm and obedient to men. In Tobae, he wrote “The best thing in Japan is women. Japanese women should keep being Japanese.” It is said that Bigot saw Japanese women as symbol of Japanese tradition. The picture below is the one of his satirical cartoons about westernized Japanese called “Rokumeikan’s lady”. He depicted westernized upper class Japanese women smoking in the dance hall as looking like monkeys. 

Bigot could draw pictures from the same point of view to Japanese masses. That is because he assimilated into Japanese masses easily by living outside of foreign settlement and carefully observing Japanese ordinary life. He drew various looking Japanese unlike many painters who drew only Japanese people with glasses, slant eyes and buck teeth. I guess that would change the image of Japan for those foreigners who knew only stereotype of Japanese. Some of his work didn’t receive good evaluations because he drew too ordinary scenes. However, he definitely played an important role in telling people about real Japanese life. I think his drawings will be great resources to tell people life of Japanese masses and upper class in Meiji era.


Simizu, I. (December 8, 2006). Bigo ga Mita Meiji Nippon. Tokyo: Ko-dan sha

Georges Ferdinand Bigot. (December 9, 2013). Retrieved on January 23, 2014. From Wikipedia:

Natsume Soseki

Natsume Soseki
By Haruka Takenawa

I would like to present Natsume Soseki’s growth, experience and the effect on his character, and his contribution to society at that time and this time. The reason why I chose him is I was interested in his literature when I was junior high school student. I would like to know his personal side. I think his personal background and experience must have influenced his works, and have given a lot of ideas to his works. That is why I chose him.

Firstly, I will mention three main points about Soseki’s growth: his family, study in Japan, and study in Britain.

Soseki was born in 1867. At that time, Japan was full of upheavals. The Meiji Restoration [Editor’s note: defeat of the Shogunate and restoration of rule by the Emperor] had happened, and Sakamoto Ryouma and Nakaoka Tarou had been killed by Bakufu [the ruling Shogunate]. His father was a village head, so Soseki’s parents’ home was rich. His mother had many children. He had four brothers and three sisters. However, Soseki was not a wanted child. His parents’ treatment of him was terrible. His parents had never treated him as their child. Soseki was born in rich family, but not an amiable family. He was sent to a merchant family by his father as soon as his birth. Unfortunately, his adoptive father and his father had a trouble, so he went back to his house where he was born. The trouble between them continued until Soseki entered ASAHI press when he was 40 years old. That experience, and his domestic environment, gave him the ideas for “Michikusa”.

He acquired culture at ten different schools and Universities. He changed his learning place many times. He mainly learned English literature, because he was really interested in English. When he entered Nishyougakushya University, he learned ethics, the western sense of beauty, and Edo’s sensitivity. He had an outstanding brain, so he was the head of his class in all subjects especially English. He became an honor student of Tokyo University. As a result of his outstanding work, he got job from his professor to translate “Houjyouki” (Kamakura era masterpiece). He met Masaoka Shiki at Tokyo University, and they became best friends and haiku companions.

Governor let Soseki to study in Britain. Soseki was inspired by European thoughts, education, and their way of living. Also he could concentrate on his study of English literature. “MY INDIVIDUALISM” was inspired by their ideas of “Freedom”. British freedom meant one had to have the responsibility to be free. However, Japanese freedom was totally different. Through his studying in British, he found that an ideal English teacher is a person who has studied overseas then mastered English as a communication tool. Furthermore, he got many ideas about educational style.

Secondly, I will mention his experiences and the essential points to build up his character. I will focus on the literature, his friends, and illness.

He loved not only writing but also reading. He is famous for loving foreigner’s literature. When he went abroad to Britain, he read Jane Austen’s literature with pleasure. It is not an exaggeration to say that his literature was influenced by her works.

He had a lot of precious friends. When he was 22 years old he met Masaoka Shiki at Tokyo University. Soseki was impressed by Masaoka’s haiku and became his haiku companion. They improved each other so that Masaoka is necessary for Soseki’s works and Masaoka was too. Thanks to Shiki’s friend Takahama kyoshi (literature companion), Soseki became a full time writer. Soseki had neurasthenia (a nervous breakdown) so Kyoshi believed that if Soseki focused on his works, he would be able to forget his uneasiness. He had not only literature companions; he also had friends for boat race, and gymnastics. He was really interested in boat race and good at gymnastics. He had good relationships with them.

Soseki had really poor health. He had serious illnesses more than fifteen times. He suffered from illness from only three years old to when he died. His one-year-old fifth daughter died when he was forty-four years old. Her cause of death was uncertain, because of that, Soseki decided to ask his doctor to examine his body by dissection after his death.

Lastly, I will mention his contribution to Japanese society at that time and this time, focusing on his works, his educational style, and his famous speech at Gakushuuin University.

He produced about 37 masterpieces in his short life. His works give his reader great impact even now. “KOKORO” is really meaningful novel because depending on the age, each generation feel differently. That is why it is difficult to understand his works. Its psychological description lets reader consider deeply. The time background is of course different from these days, however the characteristics are related to us. ASAHI press took a survey to ask audience which writer is the best writer in Japan of the past thousand years. The most popular writer was Natsume Soseki.

Soseki taught mainly English at about six different Universities, junior and high schools such as Meiji, Tokyo, and Waseda University. Soseki carefully considered not only his teaching style but also how to build up students’ character. His teaching style was incredible, because he had already found that to unite grammar and communication is the best way to learn English. That idea had just started in 2013. I was so surprised to know that. His educational style was very practical, because he thought English was a tool to communicate, not for study.

“MY INDIVIDUALISM” was a speech given by Soseki at Gakushuuin University. When I read it, I was so impressed, because he noticed that Japanese society’s fault even though it was 1914. His quote must have influenced many people even now. He told the students three main topics. Firstly, “If you want to be free, you have to accept other’s freedom.” Secondly, “If you want to use your right, you have to have its duty.” Lastly, “If you want to use your power of money, you have to think about its responsibility.” After he left such meaningful speech, he passed away when he was 49 years old.

In conclusion, I have mentioned Soseki’s growth, experiences, and contribution. I noticed that he had a lot of setbacks. Through his difficulties, he made lots of outstanding and meaningful works. I think his setbacks are his works’ essential items. He had to have serious illness. However, the motivation to produce his works was his limited life I think. In learning about his background, Soseki taught me fortitude. Even we have difficulties, we should overcome our difficulties and should not give up.


Kimura. (1998). Natsume Soseki’s history. Retrieved May 5, 1998, from Biglobe web site:

Koki, K. (2000). Natsume Soseki as English teacher. Japan: Shintyosya Institution Press.

Mizuho, I. (2004). Soseki in London. Japan: Seibundou Institution Press.

Soseki, N. (1978). MY INDIVISUARISUM. Japan: Kodansha Institution Press.

James Curtis Hepburn

By Hansol Lyu

Have you heard the name of James Curtis Hepburn? I had never heard this name before the class. In this semester, I researched about James Curtis Hepburn for my presentation then I became interested in his life. Thus, I will explain about his life in Japan.

He was born in 1815 in Milton, Pennsylvania. His father was a lawyer and his mother was daughter of minister of chapel. He entered the Princeton University, when he was 16 years old. After graduating, he entered again the University of Pennsylvania. Then, he studied medical science. At this time, he became interested in Christianity, because he was influenced by his grandfather who was a minister of chapel.

After graduating the University of Pennsylvania, he married Clara Mary Leete. In addition, in 1858, the United States start to trade with Japan. In this period, American’s Greek missionaries thought this was chance to impart thinking of the Christianity in Japan. The Christianity association decided to send missionaries to Japan. Hepburn had strong interest in Eastern Christianity, so he often checked the magazine and newspaper of missionary. Then he founded the article decision of the Christianity association and he applied for that. Therefore, he and his wife went to Japan to spread the Christianity in 1859.

James Curtis Hepburn & Clara Mary Leete

Hepburn arrived Japan in 1859 at Kanagawa prefecture. In 1859, the thinking that Japan was a closed country still remained. Many thought that foreigner should be killed or forced out Japan. This thinking was called “Jyoiron (攘夷論)”. In addition, Japan prohibited Christianity. If people did not follow the law, they might be killed by government. He was afraid of this situation. Thereby, Hepburn could not move freely and spread the Christianity. He decided to open the hospital at Soukou temple in Japan. He studied about medical science in the university, and he was famous doctor when he lived in America. He did surgery and ophthalmology treatment for Japanese. Also, he did not get the money from patients and he could treat about 3,500 people. However, the hospital closed in just 5 months because even though the hospital became famous, he was worried about the eyes of the people to have thinking of “Jyoiron (攘夷論)”. 

After closing the hospital, Hepburn’s wife Clara founded Hepburn cram school. At this time, Hepburn was busy making Japanese-English dictionary, so his wife was in charge of the cram school. She wanted to teach English to Japanese women. This cram school became the Ferris University now.

This picture shows Ferris University

Hepburn published the Japanese-English dictionary in 1867. He thought the dictionary is necessary to convey a correct meaning of the Bible, so he made the Japanese-English dictionary by using Romaji [Editor’s note: Japanese is a pictorial language – romaji is a system of writing it phonetically using the Latin alphabet]. Thereby, Americans were able to pronounce Japanese. 20 years later, he completed translation of the Bible.

In 1873, he could establish a church, his dream achieved 17 years after he came to Japan. Maybe, the church is one of the ways to spread the Christianity for him.

He related with various things in Japan. Firstly, he treated a lot of Japanese patients. Secondly, Hepburn and his wife tried to supply food education’s environment for Japanese. Finally, he made an effort to spread the Christianity in Japan and he attained it. I felt his love for Japan. He was always afraid of the Jyoiron (攘夷論), but he did not escape from Japan. Rather, he helped Japanese. I was really impressed by his action and thinking.


No name.(n.d).Retrieved January 13,2014 from A great man of Kanagawa- a great man of Japan(神奈川の偉人-日本の偉人) web site:

Seiji, N.(2011). The James Curtis Hepburn’s achievements-宣教医、教育者として日本社会に貢献したアメリカ人-, The University of Tokyo Ariakeiryou, Tokyo. website:'%E4%B8%AD%E5%B1%B1+%E3%83%98%E3%83%9C%E3%83%B3'

Edoardo Chiossone

Edoardo Chiossone
By Ayako

Edoardo Chiossone was a famous engraver. He had a strong relationship with Japan because of his talent of art. Edoardo was born in Italy in 1833. His father was an artist so he was born in an artist’s lineage. He came to Japan as an “Oyatoi” foreigner [Editor's note: foreign government advisors in Meiji era Japan were known as oyatoi-gaikokujin, or “hired foreigners”] and made paper money, stamps, and portraits. He loved Japanese arts and culture. He was a big and essential person for Japanese paper money history.

Japan’s paper money was made by a German company. However, Japan thought that if they continued to receive money requests from that company forever, it would cost a lot, so they decided to invite a person who can make paper money and teach how to do so. Edoardo came to Japan and made the paper money from his sculptor knowledge. He also taught Japanese people how to do it. When he was a child, he went to an art school and studied copper-plate engraving. He took some prizes for his art. After he graduated school, he worked at the copy company in England.

Edoardo worked as an Oyatoi foreigner for 16 years. His life in Japan was better paid than other Oyatoi foreigner. His salary was higher than others at that time and he used that money for his hobby. He liked to collect arts so he bought 3,269 Ukiyo-e [woodblock prints], 1529 copper-ware, and 1442 Tsubasa [part of a katana sword]. After he finished his term, he still stayed in Japan. He liked Japanese art and history. The most surprised thing is that he finished his life in Japan and his grave is in Tokyo Japan.

His most famous achievement was making Japanese paper money. He was the person who brought the Japanese paper money to Japan. He also made stamps and portraits. He designed the first stamp in Japan. The famous Saigou Takamori’s portrait [often called the last true samurai, Saigou was instrumental in overthrowing the Tokugawa shogunate and forming the new Meiji government, but was killed shortly after when he led the Satsuma Rebellion against the new government] was made by Edoardo. He had never met with Saigou Takamori, so he saw his brother and cousin and made the portraits. However, Saigou’s wife said the portrait is not similar to his face. Chiossone's art was famous in Japan, and he made more than 500 things for Japan through this term.

In conclusion, before I searched about him, I didn’t know that Japan’s paper money was made by foreigner. His job was very important for Japan so I can understand that he had the highest salary of Oyatoi foreigners. I was also surprised about Saigou Takamori’s portrait. We learned from the text book and the history book that Saigou’s face was like the portrait, but in fact it’s not his real face and it’s made from Edoardo’s guess. I think he really loved Japan and Japanese culture. If he hadn’t liked Japan, I think he would have gone back to his country after his term was finished. Moreover, from his arts collection, I can learn that he liked arts from the bottom of his heart. He used a huge amount of money to collect the arts. This is not an easy thing when people live in a foreign country. After I learned about him, he became my favorite person in the genre of visitors to Japan.


No name. Asemue Asia-Europe Museum Network. Retrieved on 23/01/2014

No name. International House Of Japan. Retrieved on 23/01/2014

Movement for women’s right in Taisho and Meiji era and appearance of ladies who have independent identity like “Moga”

Hiratsuka Raicho
By Anonymous

Japanese women’s lives in Meiji era were not really as comfortable as nowadays. There was a thought of domination of men over women, like women did not have right to vote, it was thought that women should be “Good wife, good mother”, and they were told that they should not cut their hair short. Beautiful ladies often could not graduate high school because they had to marry someone.

In Taisho era, there were remarkable movements for women’s liberation which were started by so-called “New Women”, and one of these was Hiratsuka Raicho. “New women” is about ladies who had an independent identity and tried to change the traditional thought of sexual role. Because Raicho grew up in a modern-thinking family, she seemed to have quite forward-thinking kind of thoughts since she was an elementary school student. However, her father turned a Europe family style into traditional Japanese one, and made her go a traditional nationalist high school, so from then she needed to have a rebellious spirit by herself. She seemed to be a humorous person and passed through it by forming a group of skipping out called “The pirate”.

When Raicho was 25 years old, she started to publish a magazine called “Seito”, which contained articles about movements for women’s rights. In this era, it was prohibited for women to join politics and the Seito Company was punished by nationalist men. According to the web site “Kokoroni Kizamu Kotoba” (January, 2014), she wrote proverbs like “Women were originally the Sun but now it turned to Moon” [Editor's note: she continues “... dependent on another, reflecting another's brilliance”]. She was criticized by society, but women supported her. It can say that she made Japanese women aware of their own value.

There were also other women who tried to form their identity in the era. “Moga” were the girls who longed for and were influenced by European cultures in late Taisho era to early Showa era (around 1920), and it is short for “Modern girls”. There were also “Mobo”, a shortened form of “Modern boys”, and both terms included an ironic sense of “easily influenced”, but most others seemed also to have longing for Moga and Mobo. They wore Western styled fashion, and especially Moga cut their hair shorter, drew on eyebrows, and put on lipsticks (Web site “Nihon zokugo zisyo”).

There are some novels in which Moga appear. Katai Tayama’s “Futon” is about a writer who thinks that woman should have a traditional sexual role. He loved a modern girl and changed his thought, but her actions were thoroughly free and modern, and because of it, she went away from him and his heart was broken. There are so many novels (e.g. Ichiro by Soseki Natsume), comics, or animations about Moga (Haikara san ga toru), and I can see that the culture or that kind of people were so familiar then. Moga and Mobo thought like “Yankees” [Editor's note: Japanese “yankii” originally referred to a subculture of delinquent teens in the '80s and '90s. The word is often used in the way we might use “chav” or “white trash”], because their style was new, wicked and also rebellious. I think it is like gals in Shibuya or characteristic fashionable people and I feel like we are in a same race. I do not think about it usually, but females are still struggling or fighting for rights or a better situation, so it is a familiar thing to us and after searching this, I felt that there was a long history.


Hannah Riddell

Hannah Riddell
By Ayaka Kamoda

Hannah Riddell was born in London in 1855. Her father was sick, so she and her mother managed girl’s school instead of father. Although she was only 20, she taught all subjects. In 1886, her mother died, and also her father died soon after, so the school went bankrupt. After that she joined CMS (Church Missionary Society), and she was send to Japan when she was 35 as missionary. There, she saw Hansen’s patients, and she decided to support the building of a hospital for Hansen’s disease, even though she wasn’t doctor. It was called Kaishun hospital in Kumamoto, southern Japan. The reason why she took part in it was that she had read the bible. It says you should help people who are not helped by anybody.

It was hard for her to achieve her purpose because she was not Japanese and people did not try to understand Hansen’s disease, but she took action actively. To begin with she started fundraising campaign. She needed money, so she pressured a Zaibatsu [Editor's note: a large industrial conglomerate in prewar Japan, with influence over large parts of the economy] to support her, and she stayed in Karuizawa during summer to meet powerful person. As a result industrialist Eiichi Shibusawa and politician Shigenobu Ookuma decided to help her.

Secondly, she had a talented for publicity work, so she gave two lectures per a day. In addition, she tried to understand about Hansen's disease. At that time nobody knew that the chance of transmission was low between humans, especially adults. She also isolated them, but she respected patients. For example, they could wear clean clothes, and they were required to control sexual abstinence, so they could not marry. Many people might think it’s not reception, but they can go out if they did not want to be there, so it’s not obligation. Therefore she really wanted to help them, she did like that. In addition Shigenobu Ookuma suggested that Hannah should build another hospital in another place. As a result she built hospital for Hansen’s disease in Kusatu and Okinawa.

She stuck to her opinion, so she had many enemies in the organization. As a result she could not work with them. There is a definitive incident that shows this. It is that Jon Bishop and Hannah were on bad terms with each other, and finally Jon became mentally deranged in 1897. When he was moving to Hong Kong for medical treatment in 1900, he died on the ship. Henry Evington, who was enemy of Hannah, said that he died because of her. Therefore she had to work far from Kaishun Hospital. It was her obstacle, but she overcame it. She looked at it from a different angle, and she thought it is chance to do freely. She was active in the front more than before.

At that time Japanese had ignored Hansen's patients because they did not try to understand Hansen's disease. Riddell had a lot of enemies, and couldn’t speak Japanese. Moreover, she could have lived in London if she had gone back, but she stayed in Japan to help foreigners. Could you be as active as Hannah in foreign country?

Tsuda Umeko

Tsuda Umeko
By Anonymous

Many people know Tsuda Umeko as an educator for Japanese girls. However, there are few people who understand her background. She surely spent a strange life compared with other people at the time, but it is the fact that all her experience made her strong as an independent woman. Therefore, we couldn’t speak about girls’ education without Tsuda Umeko, and she is one of the most important women in Japan.

Tsuda Umeko was extremely inspired by American society system through studying abroad. She was in the U.S. for 11 years when she was a child. Originally, this project was held under Kuroda Kiyotaka who was impressed by high position of women in the U.S. There were few people who thought to let their lovely daughter go, but Tsuda Sen, Umeko’s father, had a flexible idea about it. Umeko grew up in traditional Christian family, so she also became a Christian perfectly because she was really smart and noble ( In short, she spent her school days in the U.S., so she became a completely Americanized woman.

She was really surprised at a gap between men and women when she came back to Japan after her long life in the U.S. She was so excited to come back to her mother country even though she couldn’t speak Japanese. According to a letter to her friend Shige (Tsuda, 1882), Umeko was looking forward to living in Japan and thought it was like a dream. However, she was shocked, against her expectation. Of course, she understood Japanese and their culture gradually, but she didn’t understand why the position of Japanese women was low compared with men. Her feeling then made her stand up for Japanese women. It was also a big challenge to conservative Japanese society at the same time. Gender gap was a good opportunity to make a new woman for Umeko.

It was Umeko’s life project that she made an effort to modernize and improve the status for Japanese women. After she learned biology at Bryn Mawr College, she came back to Japan again. Professor Iino Masako (2009) mentioned that Umeko had both awareness about a favor against the government and what she should do ( By the way, her goal for girls’ education was not just to produce noble women. She wanted Japanese women to contribute Japan by helping men intellectually and mentally. She thought that it was true contribution to society to play an active part inside and outside the house. To realize it, she suggested that it was a good idea to mix traditional Japanese values and American ones. Then, she used “All Round Woman” when she opened Girls English School (present-day Tsuda Juku University) in 1900. It means every woman should learn English and other major subjects and broaden her range wider. Her wills took over Tuda Juku students now. It would not exaggeration even if we say that her ambitious dream almost became the reality.

Tsuda Umeko is one of the women who changed Japan, and she got stronger thorough the three life turning points. Study abroad made her not only good English speaker, but also created Christian base. The gap between men and women made her confused, but she found the way to educate girls at the same time. Finally, she succeeded in founding the girls’ school and in telling them how important the woman's independence is. This smart woman moved Japan and came to be handed down as an advanced educator for Japanese girls.


Minako Oba. (1990). Tsuda Umeko. Asahi Newspaper Co.

Nobori Kiuchi. (2013, May 19) Tsuda Umeko; be sophisticated in any environment, from Japan Economy Newspaper Web.

Yomiuri Online. (2009, April 25) Tsuda Umeko and America; the background of founding “Girls’ English School”.