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.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Nitobe Inazo

By Osamu Kuroki

Nitobe Inazo
Nitobe Inazo

In this essay, I’m going to write about how Nitobe Inazo is depicted by some writers who specialize in him. Nitobe Inazo is known as one of the most intelligent Japanese agronomists, educators and philosophers. However, I was wondering which subject he wanted to learn the most before he died. Nitobe Inazo had contributed to the society as a bureau chief of the League of Nations since he experienced overseas life during Meiji era. Also, he is a symbol of 5,000 yen bill in the Japanese bank and his famous work, Bushido: The soul of Japan is still read today. According to Kikuto Matsushita, a professor of Nitobe Inazo, Bushido is proper manners of morals that samurais should obey, which is taken over from a feudalistic idea of samurais in the past. Actually, this moral is deeply related to religion so it seems how Nitobe Inazo could have accomplished the spirits as Bushido for samurais through his background. I will focus on his youth until he became agronomist, educator and philosopher.

According to a part of the complete works of Nitobe Inazo, Reminiscences of Childhood, Nitobe Inazo was born in a southern domain in 1862 and his parents taught him samurai soul and morals early, before he went to school to learn common education. For Nitobe Inazo, in the first school, Tsukiji International English School, he was an excellent student regarding mainly English and other subjects so his father took him to Tokyo International School which changed his life. In Tokyo International School, Nitobe Inazo would meet two important people. Kanzo Uchimura and Kingo Miyabe motivated and inspired him a lot because the three people wree not only friendly rivals, but also close friends from Tokyo International School and Sapporo Agriculture School generation. Among current eminent scholars like Kikuto Matsushita, they are called Sapporo Torio – The Sapporo Trio. It is said that their personalities were quite different. Kanzo Uchimura was good at studying so the whole average score on each test was always top from Tokyo International School. He succeeded in expanding the significance of religion between Japan and overseas during Meiji era. Kingo Miyabe followed Kanzo Uchimura for the whole average score on each test. He contributed to Meiji society as a botanist. Both were very clever and influential. Compared to them, although Nitobe Inazo’s whole average on each test was not so high, his ability was remarkable for English, agriculture and religion. He was always top in those subjects. When Nitobe was interested in something keenly, he made efforts a lot.

Actually, the reason why he wanted to go abroad was to learn and join the Quakers. Although it is said that Nitobe Inazo was inspired to decide to go abroad by William Smith Clark, who famously said 少年よ大志を抱け [Editor's note: “Boys, Be Ambitious!”], actually it was another person, Mr. Marrion M. Scott at the Tokyo International School, that changed his mind into the idea of internationalism first. According to the complete works of Nitobe Inazo, Wayland’s Moral Science, nobody appears more in the past and future than Mr. Scott, who put into his mind the love for studies. We found how much Nitobe Inazo respected him. Nitobe Inazo learned his future contribution from Mr. Scott and two rivals, Kanzo Uchimura and Kingo Miyabe a lot.

While he was abroad in America after he graduated from Sapporo Agriculture School, he thoroughly studied about Japanese inner spirit at Johns Hopkins University. He learned overseas spirits by joining Quaker and it was said overseas culture and spirits would be modern and new so he reflected on himself and Japan. Nitobe Inazo remembered what Mr. Scott said to him, which was that Japan would not evolve in development of religion overseas. After that, he wrote Bushido during his time at Johns Hopkins. Although he became famous as an agronomist, educator and philosopher, through those subjects, what he wanted to do may have been to expand the importance of spirits and manners of morals from Quaker and Bushido directly to people through his position and works.


松下菊人 (1987) 国際人 新渡戸稲造 published by Mitsumi Printing Corporation, Tokyo, Japan p. 3-22, p. 46-59, p. 206-230

鈴木範久 (2007) 新渡戸稲造全集 published by Iwaba Bookstore, Tokyo, Japan p. 25-130

大田愛人 (2006) 「武士道」を読む published by Heibon Corporation, Tokyo, Japan p. 13-26, 55-78