Komehyappyo (a hundred straw rice bags) (米百俵)

Komehyappyo (a hundred straw rice bags) is a historical episode regarding the education by Torasaburo KOBAYASHI, a vassal of Nagaoka Domain Echigo Province, who was active from the end of Edo period through until the early Meiji period. Later, it became famous for the play written by Yuzo YAMAMOTO. This episode is often quoted as a story which tells that present pains lead to future benefits.


The territory of Nagaoka domain, which lost the Boshin War, was reduced from 74,000 koku crop yields to 24,000 koku crop yields. Since Nagaoka domain lost 60% of real income, they were in financial difficulties, and retainers of Nagaoka domain were struggling to even find something to eat for a day. The branch domains of Nagaoka domain; the Echigo Nagaoka Domain and Mineyama domain, were compassionate and they decided to give a hundred straw rice bags to them.

The retainers of Nagaoka domain became happy, expecting that their life would be easier. However, Daisanji (second to a governor) of Nagaoka domain, Torasaburo KOBAYASHI decided to sell the given rice and found a school (it is also said for school facilities) with the money instead of sharing out them to the retainers. The retainers of Nagaoka domain were amazed to have heard his notification, and rushed to Torasaburo's place and protested.

In response, Torasaburo persuaded them and carried through with his policy saying, 'a hundred straw rice bags will be gone after eating them up, but if they are used for education, they will turn into ten thousand or million rice bags.'

The school opened with the money gained from a hundred straw rice bags was 'Kokkan gakko School.'
The department for Western studies and medical department were established at the school. Although this school was founded by warrior class, children of the common people, who reached the certain academic ability, were allowed to enter the school. Kokkan gakko School became the predecessor of present Sakanoue Elementary School, Nagaoka City and Nagaoka High School, Niigata Prefecture. It is said that the medicine department of Kokkan gakko School is the predecessor of Nagaoka Red Cross Hospital, but Kokkan gakko School should be considered as its spiritual predecessor. The direct predecessor of Nagaoka Red Cross Hospital was 'Nagaoka Kaisha Hospital' which founded in 1873 by Okujiro MISHIMA.

This episode came to be expressed in the word, 'the spirit of Komehyappyo' (a hundred straw rice bags). This word became famous after Junichiro KOIZUMI (the former prime minister) quoted it in his policy speech before the Diet after he formed his first government, and it even became a buzzword for 2001.

Made into Kabuki (traditional drama performed by male actors)

In 2001, at Kabuki-za Theater, September Grand Kabuki "Komehyappyo" (a hundred straw rice bags) played by main actor, Kichiemon NAKAMURA (the second generation); the former prime minister Junichiro KOIZUMI viewed the play and was impressed.

[Original Japanese]