Japanese education history (日本教育史)

Japanese education history deals with the state and history of Japanese education from ancient times to the modern age; additionally, it deals with the transition of educational philosophy, teaching materials and systems. It is one department in the general discipline of pedagogy.


Education in the Nara and Heian periods

It cannot be said that much is known about education in ancient Japan. However, as seen in 'Hinkyu mondo ka (Dialogue on poverty)', made by YAMANOUE no Okura, it seems that at any period the parents cherished their children and wanted to do something for them; it is easy to imagine that even long ago, before any document was made, parents or grown-ups have given help or guidance when their children or younger people were growing up.

Among those who had administrative rights, the first person who was considered to be interested in education was Prince Shotoku (574- 622). He was a statesman in the Asuka period. His real formal name was Prince Umayado, but he was also called Prince Uenomiya, or Toyotomimi.

He intended to conduct idealistic policy based on philosophy, but he left no written theory regarding education.

His main accomplishments included the formation of Kan I junikai (12 grades of cap rank) and the Seventeen-Article Constitution, the dispatch of a Japanese envoy (ONO no Imoko) to the Sui dynasty of China, and the establishment of Shitenno-ji and Horyu-ji Temples. He studied Buddhist scriptures and wrote a commentary called 'Sankyogisho (three sutra annotations written by Prince Shotoku)'; his educational idea, 'ekayana (doctrine that only one teaching, usu. the Lotus Sutra, can lead to enlightenment),' is strongly reflected in it. Namely, it's a concept that explains the meaning of education to everyone, and it implies human equality and the realization of an ideal. It's a concept of education that was implemented for the first time in Japan.

The first educational system, Taiho Ritsuryo (Taiho Code), was the one established in 701. This was also the first codified educational system in Japan. Its framework was brought from a system of Kokushi kan (an educational system in China) (国子監制度), of Tang, China.

Its structure includes the establishment of Daigakuryo (Bureau of Education under the Ritsuryo system (a system of centralized government based on the ritsuryo code)) in the center (capital). It was under the control of Shikibu-sho (the Ministry of Ceremonial), and there were two main subjects such as Myogyo-do (Keisho), Sando (arithmetic) plus two auxiliary subjects such as Ondo (pronunciation of Chinese) and calligraphy (Daigakuryo) (the way of writing); later, Kidendo (in vernacular terms, 'Monjodo (Literature)' and Myobodo (law) were added. Therefore, 'Myo' means being 'bright' about those subjects (that those who studied them were familiar with them).

Additionally, Tenyakuryo, Onmyoryo (Bureau of Divination), Utaryo and so forth were established as training institutions for specialist technical experts. In such institutions, the following subjects were taught: medicine, pharmacy, acupuncture, massage, Onmyodo (way of Yin and Yang; the occult divination system based on the Taoist theory of the five elements), tenmondo (astrology), and rekido and gagaku (ancient Japanese court dance and music).

Most of the students in those days were resident students in Daigakuryo; a representative example is Monjoin, which was established by SUGAWARA no Kiyokimi (the grandfather of SUGAWARA no Michizane) and under the supervision of the Sugawara and Oe clans. At the same time, influential clans established special dormitories such as Daigaku-besso to house the masters and pupils. They were independent dormitories as well as laboratories. The famous examples were the Wake clan's Kobun-in, the Fujiwara clan's Kangaku-in, the Tachibana clan's Gakkan-in and the O clan's Shogaku-in. It seems they emerged from conflicts among clans about Daigakuryo, a public institution in the background of the rise of aristocracy. Moreover, that period marked the beginning of private school, in which the scholars of SUGAWARA clan educated their disciples on their private estate, providing un-official services.

However, from the latter half of the Heian period government posts were transferred by heredity, as were the instructors of Daigakuryo; in order to keep the heredity system, family education developed, in which the instructors taught only their sons or selected disciples outside Daigakuryo, for example, in their own houses. After Daigakuryo and Monjoin were burned out due to the conflagration in 1177, they were abandoned without being re-established; thus Daigakuryo as public educational institution disappeared.

Education from the Kamakura to the Muromachi period
From the Kamakura to the Muromachi period, nobles in Kyoto took responsibility for studying the classics or Yusoku-kojitsu (knowledge of court rules, ceremony, decorum and records of the past). However, with the decline of the capital, Buddhist temples and learned priests came to be responsible for those studies; the most representative of them was Gozan Bungaku (Literature of the Five Official Temples), the center of which was Kamakura Gozan Temple.

A new stratum of society, the bushi class arms, also came to make arrangements for schools, being facilities where their juniors could learn; in the Kamakura period, Sanetoki HOJYO established the Kanazawa Library at Kanazawa Shomyo-ji Temple, (Yokohama City; present-day Kanazawa Ward, Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture), and collected numerous documents. Later, during the Muromachi period, Norizane UESUGI re-established the Ashikaga School in the Kanto region. This was called 'the college of Bando' by Christian missionaries, and in those day it was thought as a central school in Japan. Mt. Koya-san and Mt. Hiei-zan were thought as other representative schools by Western people in those days.

Among ordinary people, their accomplishments and hobbies began to be refined, and the following perspective was also a product of the era of the bushi class arms: they had the insight into practice by superposing their accomplishments on their lives as expressed in "Fushikaden."
(Geido ron (theory on accomplishments)

Education in the Edo period
The educational system in the Edo period was polarized, reflecting the hierarchy of samurai, farmers, artisans and merchants in Edo society. Schools for samurai status were broadly divided into the schools under the direct control of the Edo bakufu and those run by each han (domain); both were educational institutions representing the period in their scale and content. However, general education was provided to ordinary people at Terakoya. Education was given in other places as well, such as Gogaku (schools of province) and private schools.

Shoheizaka Gakumonjo, which was under the direct control of the bakufu, was given this name or was called Shoheiko, since it faced the slope of Shohei-zaka. In 1790, as part of the Kansei Reform, Sadanobu MATSUDAIRA, a roju (senior councilor), recruited the Confucians Ritsuzan SHIBANO and Kansen OKADA to teach at Yushima Seido; additionally, he ordered the Hayashi family, who worked for Yushima Seido, to protect Neo-Confucianism. Following this 'Kansei ban on other studies,' the school campus was expanded: not only hatamoto (a direct vassal of the shogun) and gokenin but also feudal retainers, goshi (country samurai) and ronin (masterless samurai) could listen to the lectures. In 1793, when Jussai HAYASHI inherited the Hayashi family and became Daigaku no kami, 'Yushima Seido,' which had been a government-backed school operated by the Hayashis, officially became Gakumonjo (a school) under the direct control of the bakufu.

At the Gakumonjo, on a fixed day of each month, lectures or discussions on scriptures were given along with short or long quizzes. For elementary learners, Kyoju-sho under the direct control of Gakumonjo were established in Fukagawa, Azabu and Kojimachi. Gakumonjo also edited documents for Bakufu: "Kansei Choshu Shokafu (genealogies of vassals in Edo Bakufu)" and "New edition of Sagamino kuni fudoki," and so forth. Thus Gakumonjo became a model school for hanko (a domain school), in the latter days of the Edo period, Gakumonjo played a role in the training of teachers for hanko.

Hanko was an educational institution that each domain established for the education of its retainers' younger people. Hanko (藩校) was called hangaku or hangakkko, or was written as 藩黌. Although the content and scale of hanko depended on each domain, every hanko made its retainers' young people enter it and would generally not accept the children of common people. In a broad sense, hanko included all the educational institutions established by each domain, such as medical schools, Yogakko (schools for Western studies), imperial schools (national schools), Gogakko (schools of province) and girls' schools. Although it depended on the domain, generally hanko aimed at 'both academics and sports': pupils entered school at the age of seven or eight and learned reading and writing at first; subsequently, they learned military art and graduated at the age of 14, or from age 15 to 20. Although the content of education differed according to each domain, general teaching focused on reading of shishogokyo (the Four Books and Five Classics of Confucianism, or the Nine Chinese Classics) without comprehension or calligraphy; in the latter half of the Edo period, Western learning and Japanese martial arts were also taught, including swordplay, spearmanship, archery, gunnery, horsemanship and jujitsu.

In the early stage of the Edo period, government by the military was changed into civilian government, Hanabata Kyojo Classroom, which was established by Mitsumasa IKEDA, the lord of the Okayama domain; in 1641 at the background of that change was the first hanko. However, it was after the Horeki era (1751-1764) that hanko was established throughout the country; many domains established hanko in order to foster talented human resources for the reformation of domain duties. During the developing period, 255 schools were established all over Japan, in nearly every domain. The prosperity of hanko led to the advancement of local culture. Representative hankos were as follows: Kojokan school of Yonezawa Domain (in 1697), Nisshinkan school of Aizu Domain (in 1799), Kodokan school of Mito Domain (in 1841), Hanabata Kyojo Classroom of Okayama Domain (in 1641), Meirinkan school of Choshu Domain (in 1719), Jishukan school of Kumamoto Domain (in 1755), Zoshikan school of Satsuma Domain (in1773), etc.

Terakoya was a school for ordinary people, and the three R's (reading, writing and arithmetic) were taught there. There, textbooks called oraimono (primary textbooks in the style of the exchange of letters) were used; moreover, "Jitsugokyo,""Doshikyo" and "Onnadaigaku" were commonly used. Reading and writing were mainly taught there, and apparently the teachers and students kept in touch for a long time; in the Boso Peninsula, many 'fudeko-zuka' are found, which are the graves of teachers constructed by their students. Fudeko refers to the students at Terakoya.

Gogaku had the most diverse contents among the educational institutions of the Edo period. The young people of samurai families received education at domain-run schools, while the children of common people were taught the three R's; at private schools, which lay midway between the two, the children of samurai and ordinary people were taught; Gogaku had aspects that overlapped them in terms of educational content. Gogaku had various forms: some were like branch schools of domain-run schools, and others were established for ordinary people; some were established by domains and ordinary people, and others were established only by ordinary people. Shizutani School, of the Okayama domain, was famous as a Gogaku established by a domain.

In the latter half of the Edo period, private schools of Western learning, mainly medicine, were prosperous. Koan OGATA's Tekijuku is well known. Oppression was a factor, such as in Kansei Igaku no Kin (the prohibition of heterodoxy in the Kansei era) and Bansha no goku.

Education after the Meiji period
Due to the Meiji Restoration, Shoheizaka Gakumonjo was condemned by the new government; Gakumonjo included Kaiseijo (which had a channel of tenmonkata (an astronomer appointed by bakufu)) and Igakusho (which had a channel of shutosho (vaccination institute)); they were reopened as a Shohei school, Kaisei school and medical school in 1869; these three became Daigaku Honko, Nanko and Higashiko in the same year and were later combined to be Daigakko, which was ultimately closed due to the revision of the school system in 1870. It was decided that it would not be reopened. However, it was ultimately revived as Tokyo University in 1877. The name was changed to Imperial University according to the Order of Imperial University in 1886. Later, in 1897, the establishment of Kyoto Imperial University led to the change of its name to Tokyo Imperial University. Based on the Order of Senior High School, two high schools of the old education system were established (in 1894 and 1918).

Education ordinances, order of schools, school system
Education for every citizen, education of nationalism, Shushin education (moral training education)

School system, issuance

The postwar system of education
The new school system was established under the guidance of the GHQ (General Headquarters of the Allied Forces) and so forth. Later, Juken senso (a system of fiercely competitive entrance examinations), Yutori education (more relaxed education policy) and integrated study, etc., were discussed, leading to socio-educational controversy.

Major case examples
Report on the delegation of American education
The resolution on the abolition of education ordinance and so forth' and 'the resolution on affirmation of losing the effect of education ordinance and so forth'
Education reform
Three major principles regarding high school
Basic Education Law and School Education Act
Textbook authorization
History textbook issues
A more relaxed education policy

Chronological table

was/were established.

[Original Japanese]