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.

Monday, 4 August 2014

James Curtis Hepburn

James Curtis Hepburn
By Yuta Onodera

Life of Hepburn

"Anata wa kore wo yomemasuka?" Today, we always use this kind of typing in our daily lives, and this way of describing Japanese is understandable for both Japanese learners and non-Japanese learners. As for Japanese typing, this type of typing is always used to type Japanese words and sentences. However, who invented this useful and effective way of describing Japanese language? Some people might have heard his name: “James Curtis Hepburn”.

James Curtis Hepburn was born in 1815. After he earned a master’s degree, he became a physician. When he came to Japan as a medical missionary, he opened a clinic in Kanagawa. In addition to his clinic, he founded the Hepburn School. Also, he compiled a Japanese-English dictionary while he was in Japan. In the third edition, he adopted a new system of Romanization of Japanese language, which is widely known as “Hepburn Romanization”. However, how did he collect Japanese words and complete his dictionaries? Weren't there any difficulties collecting Japanese words and describing phonological information of Japanese?

In fact, Hepburn had knowledge of kanji because he had been in China for some years before coming to Japan, and it seemed that it was relatively easy for him to learn Japanese language because Chinese and Japanese have some common points between their languages. However, he mentioned that he had a lot of difficulties learning Japanese because that language was much different from Chinese. Thus, Hepburn collected Japanese words from Japanese people, classified those words, studied grammatical rules, idioms, etc. and finally he summed up over 20,000 entry words with Hepburn Romanization system.

Summary of Discussion

We discussed three points of Hepburn’s accomplishments:
  1. Why did he found Hepburn School? 
  2. What was the motivation for him to compile Japanese-English dictionary? and 
  3. What are the positive and negative points of Hepburn Romanization? 
For the first topic of discussion, ”Why did Hepburn found Hepburn School?”, I got some interesting responses and opinions. One of them was that Hepburn wanted not only to cure injured people in Japan, but also to give knowledge of the way to cure people. Also, some people stated that Hepburn founded the school since he wanted to collect Japanese words because the school made it easy to do that.

The second discussion was about “What was the motivation for him to compile Japanese-English dictionary”. One of the members in my group mentioned that he wanted to spread Japanese language to foreign countries because the person assumed that there were few Japanese-English dictionaries so it seemed difficult to learn Japanese things. Another opinion was that Hepburn compiled the dictionary for himself to learn Japanese. Since he had a lot of difficulties learning Japanese language, he studied Japanese hard. As a consequence, he accidentally completed the dictionary.

The last discussion topic was “What are the positive and negative points of Hepburn Romanization?” This topic was controversial. According to our discussion, there are some positive points of Hepburn Romanization, but interestingly more negative points are mentioned. One of the positive points is that Hepburn Romanization makes it easier for Japanese learners to learn Japanese language because they can learn its pronunciation by looking at Romanization. Furthermore, it also makes it easier for Japanese people to learn other languages that use Romanization because Japanese people who know this system can understand the pronunciation of their mother tongue, and they can adopt it when they learn different languages.

However, as I mentioned above, it seemed that there are more negative points of Hepburn Romanization. One of them is this system made Japanese people learn Romanization in addition to hiragana, katakana, and kanji. This made Japanese language very complicated. What I thought interesting was that this Hepburn Romanization would generate different sounds, depending on people who read. That is, if people whose mother tongue is English see the sound “/ch/”, they would pronounce it as a fricative sound as in China or Chin. However, if those whose mother tongue is Chinese see it, then they would pronounce it as an aspirate sound (strong /ch/). This phenomenon is caused by speakers’ native languages. Thus it seems impossible that Hepburn Romanization can adapt to all human languages.

Reflection on person and project

Through this project, I learned a number of things, about Hepburn, Japan at that time, the origin of Japanese-English dictionary, lessons that we can learn from Hepburn, and so forth. Before taking this class, I wasn't interested in history so much, honestly. However, once I started to study about Japanese history, I found that our current life is based on what our ancestors did in the past. The reason why people in Japan succeeded in developing Japan and Japan became one of the most developed countries came from the history of Japan. They learned everything including good and bad from the past, and they tried to follow good points, and tried to improve or never repeat bad things.

Talking about Hepburn, he gave massive knowledge to Japanese people. Not only did he give medical knowledge, but also the Japanese-English dictionary which enables us to study foreign languages easily than the past. Some surprising things are that these seemingly recent inventions or events happened 200 years ago. I stereotypically feel that the life at that time was not so stable to live comfortably, so people couldn't afford to spend much of their time studying. Hence I believe that those who contributed to Japan, such as Hepburn whom I researched, really contributed and that we have to appreciate their works. I’m sure that things in this world are continuing to be improved and made more sophisticated. Namely, we contemporary people have to inherit our ancestors’ works and make them more sophisticated. I believe that we live in more comfortable and wealthier world than the past era, so we can inherit and improve their works if there are some points that we can do. Furthermore, what we can learn from Hepburn is that it is more important to do anything for others without reward. Hepburn treated people for free, even if he did some surgery, he didn't get any money from people. Meiji Gakuin University, which is established by Hepburn, had a lesson “Do for others”. We also should follow his lesson.

The project this time was composed of a short presentation and discussion. Because I have to spare time for discussion, I didn't make long presentation, but rather, I made three discussion questions so that the audience or participants can join the discussion and talk a lot. Since I didn't prepare for long presentation, I needed less time for practicing presentation than last time, but instead, I used more time for gathering information about the person for whom I made presentation so that I can answer any questions or doubts that the listeners had. During my presentation, I thought that I need more slides of my presentation to tell more details so that audience can get knowledge of him and join the discussion more smoothly. In contrast to my thought, every member in my group joined the discussion very actively. Sometimes after one member in my group told her opinion, one of other members asked her about what she said. This way of discussion was good and valuable. Before discussion, I was worried that this discussion would be one-way communication, like I asked questions, one member answered, and then finished. However, this two-way communication made the discussion more controversial. I have to thank them for making the discussion like that.

There are some good points and bad points in my project. One of the good points was I prepared for questions that audience would have. Although they didn't have questions, I used that knowledge and started to talk in order to not make quiet or silent atmosphere during discussion. I heard that this utterance gave them additional knowledge of the person, which made them easy to join the discussion. This is a good point but also it implies that this is a bad point. “The additional information made it easy for them to join the discussion” meant that they didn't get enough information from my presentation, I should have included more information in my presentation. Also, some people feel that my English was fluent, while others feel too fast. Presentation is not for me, but for listeners, so I should have spoken a little bit slower so that every listener of my presentation could understand what I said. Through this project, I got much knowledge of my focus person, confidence in presentation skills, delivering discussion, and so on. All of these achievements are thanks to my teacher Caroline and my peers. I would like to say “thank you” to them. Thank you.


Meiji Gakuin University. (n.d.). James Curtis Hepburn. Retrieved from

Meiji Gakuin University. (2014). The Birthplace of James Curtis Hepburn. Retrieved from

Michio, T. (n.d.). James Curtis Hepburn. Retrieved from

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Georges Ferdinand Bigot

Georges Ferdinand Bigot
By Yui Yamamoto

Life of my focus person

Most Japanese people have seen before the picture called “gyou fu no ri (漁夫の利)”. It is one of Bigot’s masterpieces which shows the complicated international situation among Japan, China, Russia and Korea. It is drawn by a famous French cartoonist, Georges Bigot. Bigot was born and raised in Paris and learned at École des Beaux-Arts. After he started working as an illustrator, he was interested in “Japonisme” and decided to come to Japan in 1882. He learned Japanese and lived in Japanese community and frequented red-light districts (yukaku gayoi) to know more about Japan.

Although Bigot is generally known for cartoons in Japan, there are plenty of genre paintings which showed daily life and social conditions faithfully at Meiji period. For example, in a drawing of voting, there are many Japanese men in Western clothes who have Western hairstyles or mustaches. It showed that only high-class men had voting rights and participated in political events. The most significant point of this picture is a man who is wearing Kimono and has a Japanese topknot. His style is really rare in that situation, as can be seen from other men. A cartoon magazine produced and released by Bigot, called “TÔBAÉ”, was published for foreign residents in 1887. It was organized his critics such as the Japanese government. At present, those works are really important historical materials.

Summary of discussion

Q1. What do you think / how do you feel about his drawings?

Q2. Imagine if you were Bigot, what would you draw about present Japan?

Initially, listeners were impressed by the works especially cartoons for the first question. They had same opinions as mine that the pictures explained as they are. I thought that they have already known his works so it was easy to think. Although the second question was a little bit tricky for them, we could share some ideas at the end of the discussion. Most of them talked about Japanese problems such as Fukushima problems, the relationships between Japan and the U.S. and so on. On the other hand, only few ideas about our present daily lives were shared. I thought that it was not easy for us to see ourselves as others see us.

Reflection on person and project

Through this project, I learned that Bigot had really critical eyes. At first, I did not know that he drew various works as well as cartoons. For example, there are “Japanese” who he admired in his genre pictures. Also, they showed real daily lives in Meiji period. Therefore, I realized again how he saw Japan clearly, calmly and carefully. I am surprised that we are in the same situation of his works. In fact, there are plenty of types of media and they are playing a major role in the sharing of information. However, the government is still strict about them even though Japanese people want to know the truth. I think the picture shows us that it is significant to have various “eyes” on your mind.


Shimizu, Isao. 2001. Bigot ga mita Nihonjin. Tokyo: Kodansha

Shimizu, Isao. 2006. Bigot ga mita Meiji Nppon. Tokyo: Kodansha

James Murdoch

James Murdoch
By Saki Kurihara


James Murdoch was born in Scotland, Aberdeen city in 1856. He grew up in a poor general store’s family. He studied a lot and he entered Aberdeen University. After graduation, he went to Oxford University, University of Göttingen, University of Paris and the college of Wooster. When he was 24 years old, he took a post as Greek professor at Aberdeen University at this young age. In 1882 he got offer from Grammar school in Australia and then he seized the chance and went to Australia.

He became aware of the concept of socialism while staying in Australia. Eventually, he quit his job and he threw himself into the world of journalism.

At that time in Australia, left-wing workers insisted to wash out the Chinese immigrants. He tried to find out what is happening to the Chinese immigrants so he got on a ship as a low-grade passenger with the immigrants.

“From Australia and Japan” is his book which was written based on his experience in the ship. In the book, he found out that left-wing Australian workers treated Chinese immigrants badly. He wrote about their evildoing and grief of the Chinese.

After finishing investigative action, he made a brief visit to Japan to meet his friend. However during his trip to Japan he was absolutely charmed by Japanese people, culture and atmosphere so he decided to be an English teacher in Japan.

In 1889 he taught at Tokyo Daiichi Koutou Chugakou (now Tokyo University) and he met Soseki Natsume there. Soseki was struck by James Murdoch and he wrote book about him. In this book, Soseki said he sometimes visited Murdoch’s home so it seems that they were in a good relationship.

One day, Murdoch suddenly handed his resignation because he heard that his friend planned to create new ideal communism country in Paraguay. He got there immediately and helped his friend to realize the new country but it failed. He came back to England with a sore heart.

At that time, Japanese people were engaged in creating modernized country with Westerners’ cynical smile but they endured Westerners and made efforts. Murdoch heard that and he started studying about Japan to find a new way how to make a country.

In 1894 he visited Japan and worked as a teacher again. In 1904 he got married to Japanese woman, Takeko, and moved to Kagoshima prefecture.

He concentrated on studying about Japan and finally, he completed writing three books, “A History of Japan”. These books are on the subject of Japanese history from 1543 (When the Lusitanian came to Japan with guns) to 1868 (End of the Tokugawa Shogunate).

Moreover, he wrote many books about Japan in his life and he introduced Japan abroad. For instance, “47 Ronin” is one of the famous books introducing Japanese Bushi [warriors, or samurai - Ed]. The book’s sources were provided by Shigeno Yasutsugu. He is the first Japanese historian who analyzed the incident. In the book, James Murdoch analyzes the Tokugawa society.

His books are read by many foreign people even now. Probably, there are academic theses analyzing Tokugawa society using his books.

In 1917 he moved to Sydney and promoted exchanges between Japan and Australia. He died in Australia in 1921, planning a trip to Kagoshima..


①If you were James Murdoch, how would you promote exchanges between Japan and Australia or other countries?

One student said that they would try to spread European information in Japan or take pictures about Japan. Another student said “When I go back to my country, I would bring something Japanese and introduce Japanese culture or become Japanese teacher”.

②If you were Murdoch, what subject could you teach for foreign students in other country?

Many students said they could teach English.


Throughout Caroline’s class, I realized that I don’t know foreign people who contributed to Japan a lot.

In this presentation, I picked James Murdoch and researched about his life and achievement. He devoted most of his life to introducing Japan and promoting exchanges between Japan and overseas. Thanks to him and his books, Japan was known by many foreign people and they thought positively about Japan at that time. Even now, his books are read by many people so I think he is still an influence on many people all over the world.

He played a significant role and I think we should study about foreign people who contributed to Japan a lot like James Murdoch.


Blog “Seisouan”

James Murdoch

The 47 Rônin are Introduced to the World

Soseki Natsume “Murdoch’s Japanese History”

Ernest Fenollosa

Ernest Fenollosa
By Aoi Hirata


Do you think what Japanese culture is? When you introduce Japan to foreigners, what do you show them? Perhaps, we think of the historical arts as one of important parts of culture. However, about 150 years ago, a movement to destroy so many of those arts was started by Meiji government because Japan thought their culture was inferior to western one and followed them to renew Japan. During this movement, called Haibutsu-kishaku, one American whose name was Ernest Fenollosa dedicated his life to rescuing Japanese arts.

Personal history

Fenollosa was born in USA, and he was a very smart person. He graduated from Harvard University and his major was political economy there. Since that time, he had interest in art, and then entered an art school in Boston. In 1878, after he graduated from there, he came to Japan to teach economy and philosophy at Tokyo University. Then he was attracted by Japanese arts a lot; however, Japan had been active in haibutsu-kishaku movement which was belief that increased respects for God instead of destroy Buddhism during his staying. He worked on activities to protect art from such a violent movement. As example, he rescued some pictures by famous Japanese artists and sent them to Boston museum. Still, some people today criticize this action, saying that he just contributed to his wallet because he could actually get a lot of money from it.


Then, I asked my group members two questions “Do you think such Japanese art should be in Japan?” and “Do you agree with him or not?” To the first question, one student answered that it depends on the reputation of pictures because if they can attract foreigners, it will affect Japanese popularity too. Otherwise if they would not be valued in other countries, they should be in Japan today. On the other hand, there was an opinion that arts should be in Japanese museum. We have learned Japanese history with pictures since we were in elementary school, but it is difficult to see some of them because Japan does not have them. In her opinion, they should be in Japan for Japanese to see. Next, about the second question, most people agreed with his work for Japanese arts. One of my classmates felt that even though he got money, those pictures exist today. We should notice how precious that truth is.


From this discussion, I think Fenollosa did well in total. I feel sorry that Japanese could not save our culture and be proud of it because I think culture is built by history of all people's lives. In that confusion of history, various eyes from abroad let people realize later what was Japan and what great things we had. Without Fenollosa, we could not have learned some important piece of Japanese history. Therefore, we needed him.


Wikipedia. Ernest Fenollosa. Retrieved from

近影. Bungei-Jankie paradice Retrieved from

Hannah Riddell

Hannah Riddell
By Shota Inoue

Life of Riddell

Hannah Riddell was a British woman who devoted her life to caring for patients of leprosy in Japan. When she was younger, she and her mother established private school, because they need money. The school sometimes succeeded, but in 1889 it went into bankruptcy. Then, her next job was as superintendent for the YMCA (Young Women’s Christian Association). In 1890, she was selected as missionary to Japan. At the same time, she heard about Japan from her friend. She got good impression of Japan. Therefore, she decided to go to Japan.

In 1891, she saw the leper at the Honmyoji temple in Kumatmoto. When she saw the leper begging for mercy (like “help me”), she made up her mind to devote her life to their care. She decided to establish Kaishun hospital. Then, she did donation work. But Japanese didn't know about her. She behaved like upper class and attended upper class party. She was also supported by British, in and 1895 Kaishun hospital was complete. Next she set the policy, but she was not doctor. She didn't know about leprosy and way of cure. At that time nobody also knew about that. She thought that the best way of cure for leprosy was sexual abstinence and to quarantine these patients in Kaishun hospital. Because she didn't like sexual relations, and her idea is that men and women didn't get along with each other.

In 1918 she established institute (lab) of leprosy in Kaishun hospital, thanks to a lot of donations. Plenty of famous persons donated to this hospital, because Riddell made efforts for helping leper. She gathered scholars and doctors to search and look for a remedy. She was sometimes greedy, but lepers had good impression of her, because although many people despised lepers, she interacted with them with a smile. After her death, the effort was continued by niece “Ada Hannah Wright”.

Summary of discussion

My questions were “If you were healthy person in this time, would you help the leper?” and “What do you think was the best kind of cure?”

My discussion member’s idea is to help them. It stands to reason that people should help them, because we are people. If you help the leper, you might be ignored by other healthy person. Most people are influenced by others but some people have a strong heart.

We don’t know about leprosy and medical science. Maybe we would try to do donation work and encourage to them. We would also establish medical facility. And then, we spread that the leprosy is safe.

The discussion is important for me, because member’s views were different from mine. I can soak up other information.


I think Riddell was great person, because in this time most of people ignored and despised lepers, but she devoted her life to caring for them. Then, nobody knew whether this flu infected other people or not. In addition, Japan is not her hometown, but she helped them. Thanks to her efforts, all of Japanese minds was becoming better for medical treatment. Therefore, Japanese government attached importance to the medical treatment and supported medical facilities. Now Japan has good medical technologies.

“Hannah Riddell” Wikipedia, accessed July, 2014

“Hannah Riddell by Jingo Tamotsu”, accessed July, 2014

William Kinnimond Burton

William Kinnimond Burton
By Akari Soneta

Summary about my focus person

Today, we, Japanese can get clean and safe water from taps, and Japan is proud of their high quality water system. We may think it is natural thing but let’s think about the past time. Until the Meiji period, Japan’s water system was in bad condition and Japan was suffered from several serious diseases, especially cholera. This is a disease that can lead to rapid dehydration and electrolyte imbalance and death in some cases. So, Meiji government decided to invite a sanitary engineer, William Kinnimond Burton from Scotland. He worked at Tokyo Imperial University as an unofficial professor to teach sanitary engineering and developed some superior engineers. Also, he had an important role in health office at Department of the Interior to build a base of Japan’s water system. These bases are the origin of today’s public health engineering or environment engineering. We can say that he is a great person who made Japan’s water system.

Furthermore, Burton had another achievement. He was active as a photographer. His grandfather was a famous photographer in his hometown. Because of his grandfather’s hobby, Burton also had a detailed knowledge of photography. So, he used his knowledge and his skills to take photos of Japan’s various scenes. He took the photos of beautiful views such as scenes of Hakone or Mt. Fuji, Japanese costumes or daily life of Meiji period. Not only did he take pictures of these usual things, but also many photos of times when Japan was attacked by some disasters. For example, in 1891, the great earthquake called Noubi-Jishin (濃尾地震) occurred in Gifu prefecture. This disaster was really massive, and it destroyed many buildings that were built in Meiji period, so Japanese government set up the institution to research the situation after earthquake struck. Burton joined the institution and left a lot of photos.

Summary about my discussion

I prepared some discussion questions, and they were “Do you think he had done great work for Japan? Which part?”, “What kind of historical photos would you like to see?” and “If you could go to Meiji period, what kind of photos would you take?” In the first discussion question, “Do you think he had done great work for Japan? Which part?” we all agreed he had contributed to Japan a lot. The reason is he made the base of Japan’s water system and brought clean and safe water to Japan. Then, for the second question, “What kind of historical photos would you like to see?” one of us answered they want to see the photo of lower-class daily life because they would like to see another aspect of Japan. In the final question, “If you could go to Meiji period, what kind of photo would you take?” a member said that she would want to take a photo of the countryside's situation because she has seen only the scenes of developed and modernized Japan.


When I look back on my presentation, I have some reflections. First, I didn't prepare some detailed slides, so it was little hard for my audiences to understand deeply. Also, I needed to learn more about Burton. When the audience asked me some questions about him, I couldn't say the right answers because my preparation was not enough. Finally, I didn't make so much eye contact because I’m shy. But, when I give a presentation, it is important thing to attract my audiences and to check the audiences’ understanding. So, having these reflections, I noticed that I should have more detailed slides to give more clear information for my audiences and I need to research more about my focus person to answer the questions from other students. Also, I have to make eye contact with my audiences. I hope I will be able to make presentation better with these reflections.


Japan Association of Drainage Environment (2006,1,1). The activity related with W.K. Burton.

Wikipedia(2014,5,13). William Kinnimond Burton.

Jearr MarieMahieu (2004). The great earthquake in Japan.

James Murdoch

James Murdoch
By Shiori Haba

Do you know that Natsume Soseki, considered Japan's greatest modern writer, studied English? Yes, he learned English at university. Who was the teacher? The answer of this attractive question was in Australia. His name is James Murdoch.

In 1986, James Murdoch was born in Stonehaven in Scotland. He went to Aberdeen University to study. In 1881, he moved to Australia and lived here from this time to 1889. When he lived in Australia, he became a journalist and wrote about the class of Australian laborers. In 1889, he was invited to Japan and began to teach English and European history in high school. He married Okada Takeko when he taught in a commercial high school (now Hitotsubashi University). In 1917, he went back to Australia and he became an adviser of policy to Japan. Then he could visit Japan many times.

Murdoch had several faces. One was as a teacher and another face was as a journalist. He was also an adviser of policy to Japan. When he came to Japan, he taught at high school and one of his students was Natsume Soseki. At same time, he published some books. One of his books was “Ayame-san” which was the romance story. He also published books about history of Europe, Australia and Japan, but his way of writing was sometimes not good for people to read because his style of writing was unpleasant and sometimes there were strange comical parts. In addition, he became an adviser of policy to Japan, so he could come to Japan every year to get the information about Japanese people and how foreign policy was changed. Therefore, he was a mediator between Australia and Japan.

We had the discussion and I could get some interesting opinions. We talked about two topics. First one was “If you would work for foreign policy, how would you like to help Japan become close friends with the foreign countries?” There were two main opinions. First of all, student A and student B wanted to try to understand foreign culture and introduce Japanese culture for foreign people. In addition, they wanted to learn not only foreign culture but also Japanese culture to introduce about it. Secondly, student C wanted to try to have Japanese people and foreign people get to know each other. For example, they wanted to organize some events and give the chance to exchange their cultures and get to know each other more than before. I think all ideas are fantastic for making friends with foreign countries. The most interesting point is that they want to learn Japanese culture. I agree with this because in order to understand culture of foreign countries, we have to know our culture more.

The second topic was that “If you could show off Japanese strong points for foreign countries, which point would you like to introduce?” There were three opinions. The first one was that they want to introduce about Japanese traditional and modern culture such as temples in Kyoto and high technology in Tokyo. Secondly, student B wanted to show Japanese characteristics such as being kind to other people. The last one was about four seasons. Japan has spring, summer, autumn and winter, so it is tasteful. I like these opinions because they look at the good points and they are pride of Japanese culture and characteristic. I think it is important to know and find good points our country to know other countries. Therefore, we need to know ourselves more than before if we would like to understand foreign countries.

Through this project, I could learn the connection between Japan and foreign countries especially Australia by researching about James Murdoch. We learned about some travelers to Japan in Meiji and Taisho period, but I could learn and understand Japan though these foreign people. I think that researching foreign people who are related to Japan and looking at Japan through their eyes is a better way to know more about Japan. We thought about this in the discussion and I got various opinions. I would like to consider these opinions when I research the history of Japan and foreign countries. I’m interested in the history of the connection between Japan and foreign countries, so I would like to continue to learn it.


James Murdoch (2014) Wikipedia Retrieved July 3, 2014 from

Australian Dictionary of Biography Murdoch, James (1986) D.C.S Sissons Retrieved July 3, 2014 from

我輩は日豪パイオニアある (2010) 考えRoo Retrieved July 4, 2014 from

Georges Ferdinand Bigot

Georges Ferdinand Bigot
By Hatsumi Yoshino

His background

Have you ever heard the name Georges Bigot, or seen his art works? He was famous as an artist and a cartoonist. He was born in 1860 in France. His mother graduated from a famous artist school and he lived around arts so he was interested in arts and paintings. After graduating from art school, he met a French artist known to be a Japanese art enthusiast and he learned about Japanese arts or Japan from him so he became interested in them. In 1882, he came to Japan and he worked at Japanese military as a foreigner employee. After that, he taught French at Nakae Chomin’s school and he contacted Chomin’s apprentices, so he learned of campaign for democratic rights. Because of this experience, he began painting critical cartoons. In 1887, he published “TOBAE” to criticize Japanese government for foreigners living in Japan. In 1893, before coming back France, he moved to Inage, Chiba and in same year he followed Japanese military to record Sino- Japanese war. In 1889, he came back France.

Three elements influenced his life. First is his mother and his friend, second is Nakae Chomin and third is Sino-Japanese war. I suggested that the first influence was his mother and his friend. His mother graduated from a famous art school so he was interested in arts. When he was 8 years old, he drew states of the Paris commune. His art style of painting real life also came from this experience. In addition he met his friend who liked Japanese arts. At first when he met his friend, he was taught Japanese ukie, not critical cartoon. However he could know Japanese art, he wanted to go to Japan.

Next is Nakae Chomin. Bigot taught French in Chomin’s school. Its school was attended by students who achieved the campaign for democratic rights. So Bigot could know Japan’s politics and he began to paint critical cartoons. At that time Japanese government wanted to change a treaty between Japan and other countries. However Bigot disagreed with this opinion, and thought it was too early to change them. So he criticized Japanese government with his cartoons.

Last influence is Sino-Japanese war. Bigot followed Japanese military to record this war. He painted hospitals of the battlefield or soldiers who did trivial works. In Russo –Japan war, he was asked to paint its war.

My influence

Indiscriminate imitation
I saw Bigot's pictures when I was a junior high school student and a high school student in history classes. At first I was surprised that a foreigner painted these pictures. Because I think they could not directly criticize Japan but he painted them like a cheating. However they were true viewpoints which foreigner had. My favorite picture is “Indiscriminate imitation”. This picture shows Japanese couple wearing dress and they think this dress suits them, but two monkeys are reflected in the mirror. According to this picture, Japanese is equal to monkey and they did not really westernize. They just imitated western country. I think Bigot looked at Japan critically. Some other foreigners also expressed criticisms in their books or pictures. Bigot’s picture was easy to understand, because people who did not know English could not understand books in English, but pictures did not have letters so they could understand artist’s feelings easily.

Explaining our discussion

I would like to explain our group discussion. My first discussion question was “If you lived in that time, and you saw Bigot’s picture, what would you have felt?’ Second is “Bigot was not famous in France but he was famous in Japan, so do you think he was happy or unhappy?” Last question is “what are differences between Edoardo Chiossone [an Italian portrait artist described in other posts on this blog - Ed] and Bigot?”

First discussion question was “If you lived in that time, and you saw Bigot’s picture, what would you have felt?’ A group member said if I could understand that the pictures looked down on Japan, I would have gotten angry. Other members said they would have got angry or sad.

Second question was “Bigot was not famous in France but he was famous in Japan, so do you think he was happy or unhappy?” A member said he might have been happy because he was interested in Japan and loved Japan. In addition I explained that he got award for his picture which he painted in Inage, so after hearing this fact, members said he was so happy because he painted his favorite view in Japan, so he was happy.

Last question is “what are differences between Chiossone and Bigot?” My group member introduced Chiossone who was Italian painter and he painted Japanese good points or contributed to Japanese government. They were opposite, so what are differences? A member mentioned Bigot just joked and he did not really criticize Japan. Because he loved Japan and he wanted to introduce real Japan to foreign countries.

Thanks to this presentation, I could know details of Bigot and I want to research him more. Many foreigners who I do not know contributed to Japan. Present Japan is made by not only Japanese but also foreigners.


Bigot’s Wikipedia

Hannah Riddell

Hannah Riddell
By Kana Suzuki

Hannah Riddell was a British woman who saved many Japanese patients. But her job was not a doctor. When she came to Japan, she was shocked by Japanese situation for a certain group of people.

She was born in 1855 in North London. She managed small private school with her mother. However, after her parents passed away, she went bankrupt. She joined Church Missionary Society to make her life again. So she came to Japan as a missionary in 1891. She stayed in Kumamoto with her co-workers. As well as her missionary work, she studied Japanese and taught English at local high school in Kumamoto.

In the same year she came to Japan, Riddell saw some people who were suffering from something in Honmyo temple. And they begged passers-by for alms. They were all Hansen’s disease (leprosy) patients. At that time, the patients of this disease were discriminated against and isolated because of their appearance (symptoms) such as a rash and 2 misunderstandings.

Hansen’s disease is curable now, however, it was considered to be incurable disease. And many people believed it was contagious disease. In fact, the possibility of infection is quite low. These misunderstandings also caused suffering for the patients.

In Europe, there had been patients of Hansen’s disease, and discrimination against them, in the Middle Ages. But in modern time, this situation had improved greatly. So Riddell was shocked by this difference of situation between Japan and Europe.

Riddell decided to help them. At first, she wrote a letter about what she saw and her desire to build hospital for the patients to YMCA, which organization she joined as headmistress. She also asked support to Church Missionary Society. But both of them replied “No”, because they thought it was impossible for a foreign woman to build hospital in Japan. Nonetheless, she never gave up. She also asked support to her friends in Liverpool. Her characteristics helped a lot: she was very active to make new relationship and contact with someone who has authority. She made relationships in Kumamoto. She sometimes held tea parties with professors of school and prefectural officers. She talked about strong wish to save the patients.

By her these efforts, Hannah could get agreement for her idea and support from some people of CMS. In 1985, she finally built Kaisyun (回春) hospital for the patients of Hansen’s disease. Kaisyun means “resurrection of hope” in English. She named from her thought and wish that although patients had felt much pain for a long time, now they could get back hope again.

Riddell and Kaisyun hospital still had the problem for managing and money. So she decided to write a letter to Okuma Shigenobu who was prime minister of Japan at that time. She explained about treatment of patient and how situation was bad. Next year, the meeting about relief for Hansen’s disease patient was held. It was the first time this problem was discussed as a national problem. From this time, Japanese support system has developed quickly.

Riddell came to Japan as a missionary, however, she saved the patients of Hansen’s disease not as a missionary. She saved them just as a foreign woman. So, we discussed about “if you find someone who was discriminated against or suffered from some kind of reason or disease when you were in foreign country, what would you do?” in my group. Our main opinion was we couldn't do anything for them because we wouldn’t know anything about their situation and rules in the country. And we are just a foreigner. It is difficult problem even now. Especially, in 1890s the visit to Japan of foreigners was more limited than now. So the position of foreign women was not so stable and they didn't have social power at that time. But Riddell was so brave and active person doing something new. These attitudes for Japanese serious situation changed one aspect of Japanese society and medical situation. However I don’t think every foreigner and even local people could behave like her. All we could do and need to do is to know about the country and situation well. It is true that we couldn't do anything if we don’t know anything about it. So I think we can begin help with knowing the situation.


Retrieved June 18 2014. Wikipedia

Retrieved June 25 2014. Fukushi shinbun web



Alexander von Siebold

By Tomomi Ishizaka

Alexander Von Siebold was one of translators who were hired by Japanese government. Alexander was from Germany, so his mother language was German. However, he made a big achievement as a Japanese-English translator.

He came to Japan in 1859 with his father, Phillip Von Siebold, when he was 12 years old. From then, he started to work as a Japanese-English translator in Imperial Russian Navy. Of course, English was not his native language, so at first, his English skill was not enough. However, it was brushed up in his work.

He was appointed official interpreter to the British consulate in Edo when he was 15 years old. He assisted British consul in negotiations pertaining to the Namamugi incident, Anglo-Satsuma War and Bombardment of Shimonoseki [all decisive incidents leading to the Meiji Restoration - Ed].

From 1870, he was sent to Frankfurt and Wien by Japanese government to negotiate. And in 1875, he became an official interpreter for the Japanese Ministry of Finance. He assisted the Japanese government and succeeded in concluding Anglo-Japanese Treaty of Commerce and Navigation. Thanks to the treaty, Japan revised the unequal treaties [the Harris Treaties of 1858 opened several of Japan's ports to trade at rates unfavorable to Japan and contained extraterritoriality clauses. Japan was keen for them to be revised as soon as possible - Ed].

Why did a German-speaking 12-year-old boy start to work as a Japanese-English translator?
The reason is that most Japanese in Dejima spoke Dutch and English speakers were in demand. At that time, there were a lot of transactions with people from Netherland, so people could speak only Japanese and Dutch. Even Commodore Perry came to Japan with Dutch speaking translator. So, the Japanese government really wanted English-Japanese translator.

Speaking of Alexander’s family, his father and his brother also came to Japan. His father was a doctor in Germany, but he was interested in the environment, such as biology and geography, so he came to Japan. He was kicked out off Japan because he tried to take a Japanese map to his home country. It was illegal in Japan to take Japanese things to other countries. After he got permission by the Japanese government, he came back to Japan again. Alexander’s brother, Heinrich, also came to Japan to study Japanese biology, geography and folklore, and he got married to Japanese woman.

In discussion, I gave two questions to audience:

1. If you were a person from Western country who had already had work like Phillip, would you want to go to Japan in Tokugawa period?

Most of audience answered “NO”. They said “because Japanese people seem barbarous from Western people’s perspective.” And some people said “living in Japan was really difficult so I would keep working in home country.” On the other hand, some people who answered YES said “I would go there because I would want to spread my idea and knowledge.”

2. If you were Phillip, would you let Alexander go to Japan?

Again, most of them answered NO. They said that Phillip was kicked out off Japan so if I were Phillip, I would not want my son to go to Japan. Another reason is that Phillip was a doctor, so Alexander could be a doctor too.

People in Meiji period called foreign people “oyatoi gaikokujin” with irony [something like "honorably employed foreigners" - Ed]. However, foreign people influenced Japanese a lot and contributed to developing Japan.

As you read the answers above, most people think that if they were Western, they wouldn’t have gone to Japan. I suppose that it was true for people of that time. But in that situation, “oyatoi gaikokujin” came to Japan and worked. Even though they got big salary, I think it’s amazing. And Alexander’s career was quite special compared with others’ because he started to work in Japan when he was only 12 years old! From researching Alexander’s career, I could know how serious problem the Japanese government had in terms of diplomacy.

Arata, I. (1937, Feb). Alexander Von Siebold. Historiography. p627-p667.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. (2014). Information about diplomacy. Retrieved from

James Summers

By Ryuichi Shitara


James Summers was a British Sinologue and Japanologist in early Meiji era. There are three foundations for understanding him, which are the following: his effort, great interest in Asia and education in Japan.

His effort will be introduced first. He was born in a poor family, which prevented him from receiving higher education. Therefore he determined to cultivate his education on his own and he went to Hong Kong with the will of becoming a diplomat when he was only 20 years old. Soon he went back to England and received a job relating to Chinese language of Kings College of London University. While he was at London University, he received two different jobs which are at the British Museum and as an assistant at a Library of department of India. Besides that, he was an enthusiastic writer. He published books called “the Repository”, an academic magazine on Asian community, and “Taisei Shinbun”, translated version from Japanese original.

Secondly, the paper will mention his great interest in Asia. As we discussed above, he was seriously eager to work on Asia. In addition to the above, the article will introduce his several works. He dedicated himself to translating the Bible into Chinese language, publishing collective grammar books on Chinese and Japanese language.

Thirdly, this post will mention his education for Japanese people. In 1873, he arrived in Japan and began to teach English language to Japanese starting with Tokyo-Kaisei School followed by Niigata English School, Osaka English School and Sapporo agricultural School. His influence was enormous, because among those who listened his lectures there are many famous people such as Okakura Tenshin, Nitobe Inazou, Kanou Jigoro and so forth. He taught English using sophisticated scripts and novels, such as Shakespeare etc.

Summary of discussion

There were two discussion questions, one of them was what do you think of his contribution as a pioneer of English education in Japan, and the other was what do you think of the English education shift from translating, reading and writing-focused to talking-focused.

In terms of the first question, two members of our group answered. They said that since a pioneer always has difficulty, there must have been difficulty on the way he tried to go. Also they said they were able to have chance to receive English education in KUIS [our university - Ed] indirectly thanks to him.

As for the other question, some members of the group seemed to agree that contemporary English education which concentrates on discussion is practical.

It was great opportunity to learn about foreign people in Meiji era because there seems to be no exaggeration when I say that modern Japan started from that period. There have been prodigious changes from that time, and without those changes, we wouldn’t live in such a cutting-edge society. As the paper wrote above, it is a part of Summers’s contribution that we can study English at KUIS. We all should appreciate him.


Fujitani, S. (2009). [Washington Irving and Japan]. Kyoto: Ryukoku University.

Miyata, K. (2012). [About references on Eclectic Chinese-Japanese-English Dictionary (1884), compiled by Gring, A.D.]. Fukita: Chinese literature course, faculty of literature, Kansai University.

Nakayama, K. (2008). [James Summers : Reevaluation as a Japanologist and teacher]. Hokkaido: Hokkai-Gakuen University.

Unknown. (Unknown). James Summers (1829-91). Unknown: Unknown.

James Hepburn

James Hepburn
By Shiori Takezawa

Today, Japanese people use ro-maji and it is used as the input method of the Japanese standard notation and keyboard.

In this blog I will talk about James Hepburn. He is known as the physician and educator. Especially, he is famous for the Hepburn romanization system. This blog tells you about his background, Japanese life and Japanese-English dictionary.

His Background

Hepburn was born in Milton, Pennsylvania in 1815. He worked as physician, translator, and educator and lay Christian Missionary. He first arrived to Japan in 1859 in Yokohama.

His Japanese life

He had good relationships with neighborhood. He worked as an eye doctor. His treatment had good reputation and in addition was free. A lot of Japanese people heard that and they came to his hospital. However, his hospital was too small to treat all patients, so he decided to move to another place. Sadly, his hospital was prevented from opening by Bakufu [the shogunate, then government of Japan - Ed], so it was closed.

Japanese-English Dictionary

A Pocket Dictionary of the English and
Japanese Language (1862)
In 1862, an English and Japanese dictionary was published. However, it was just like a vocabulary book. This dictionary was not useful. (left side image) Hepburn created the new system of the English and Japanese dictionary and the dictionary has been used for a long time. It can be said that his English and Japanese dictionary was very useful for Japanese people. Also, it is clear to understand the meaning of the word in English. It’s like the modern dictionary we’re using. (right side image)
A Japanese and English Dictionary

Hepburn Romanization System

Also, Hepburn recreated the romanization system for Japanese. There was the Romanization system from Sengoku period [1467-1573 - Ed]. It was created by the Portuguese. However Hepburn thought that this Romanization system was not similar to the native English. So, he recreated the Romanization system to use the American pronunciation. It was called the “Hepburn romanization system”.

If you were Hepburn...

Discussion question: If you were Hepburn, would you want to spread your ideas or your knowledge to other countries?

Some people said, ''I wouldn't do like him, because I wouldn't want to help the other countries' development. If the government paid some money for working, I would take my ideas or knowledge." In my group, members said same answers, and I thought the same. When Hepburn arrived in Japan and opened his hospital, his treatment was free. I thought he just wanted to help Japanese people's life, not earn some money.


Hepburn contributed to Japan as the physician and educator. Firstly is the medical system. He arrived to Japan and treated a lot of Japanese people and also, he taught the Western medicine for Japanese students. Secondly is edited the Japanese and English dictionary. His dictionary was a foundation of the later English and Japanese dictionary. Finally is recreated the Romanization system. Hepburn Romanization system of romaji has being used as the input method of the Japanese standard notation. His contribution is lived contemporary Japan.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Edmund Morel

Edmund Morel
By Takahiro Sakaguchi

Edmund Morel was the memorable British man in Japan. In 1840 he was born in London. He studied applied chemistry and became the civil engineer taught by Mr. Clerk who was the master of the civil engineer. In 1870, he was invited by Japanese government to establish the railway in Japan. He was famous as the first foreign engineer in Japan. In that time only Ookuma Shigenobu and Ito Hirobumi supported his work, but his effort for making the railway impressed Japanese engineers. Also, he invited Japanese engineers to his house to teach them how to construct the railway. Unfortunately, he fell sick and died while the railway was not complete. In 1872, the railroad between Yokohama to Shinagawa was opened. This was Japan’s first railway. After using the train, Japan developed innovatively and speedily. Nowadays, more than 80% of Japanese people use train in a day.

My three discussion questions were “How would you feel if you saw the train for the first time? ”, “What country would you want to go if you had the knowledge of train engineer? ” and “What would you think if there was no train in Japan?”. First question was easily answered - that it makes us surprised and excited - because my classmates think it was the innovation of Japanese society and economy. For the second question, most classmates thought Asian countries because they thought Asian countries had not developed and there were no trains when Morel came to Japan. For the third question they answered that it might be hard to commute to KUIS [our university – Ed] and it would take a lot of time to arrive somewhere we wanted to go.

I feel that through the presentation and discussion it can be understood that history is connected to our current life. If Edmund hadn't come to Japan, Japan would not have been developed like the comfortable life. Unfortunately, some presentations were a little bit hard to understand. The person who has the presentation needs to take care of the classmates and how to understand it for every classmate equally. It makes the discussion better. Also, making discussion question is sometimes difficult for me because other students didn’t understand discussion question even I made a nice discussion question. It made me frustrated.

Finally, Morel made Japan develop more speedily and innovatively by making the railway. Time is changing, skill also is changing.


Edmund Morel, Yokohama Association for International communications and Exchanges, 1999, regards from

Friday, 1 August 2014

Life of James Curtis Hepburn

James Curtis Hepburn
By Haruka Matsuzaki

“Do for others what you want them to do for you”. James Curtis Hepburn greatly contributed to Japan in terms of medicine and education in the Meiji period (1868-1912) under this Christian belief. James Curtis Hepburn was a physician, translator, educator and Christian born in Milton, Pennsylvania in the U.S. in 1815. He went to a medical school and became a physician. After that he went to China as a Christian missionary and stayed there for five years. Then he came back to the U.S. and opened a medical practice in New York City. Even though he opened the clinic in New York City, he had been wishing to go to Japan as a Christian missionary for a long time. So, in 1859 he decided to go to Japan as a medical missionary and opened a clinic in Yokohama.

He made three major contributions: providing free medical treatment for Japanese people, creating the first Japanese-English dictionary (the invention of the Hepburn Romanization system), and the translation of the bible into Japanese. He provided free medical treatments for 9 years and saved many people’s lives. It is said that he provided treatments for 3,500 people in half a year. Therefore, he was praised as a person who established the foundation of contemporary medicine in Yokohama. While he was working on as a doctor, he also had wanted to contribute to spreading Christianity, therefore, he decided to translate the bible from English into Japanese. Before he started translating the bible, he needed to make a Japanese-English dictionary, so he decided to make the dictionary first. In 1864 his first dictionary was published, and later in 1880, he completed translating the bible (the Old Testament). In the dictionary's third edition, Hepburn adopted a new system for Romanization of the Japanese language (Rōmaji). This system is widely known as the Hepburn Romanization because thanks to Hepburn’s dictionary, it became popular.

As soon as he started providing free treatments in Yokohama, he started providing education too. The school was called “Bara-juku” which later developed into “Meiji Gakuin University”. The university has been passing down a Christian belief, whose principles Hepburn had put into practice, “Do for others what you want them to do for you”, as its university mission.

Summary of discussion

Based on the presentation of Hepburn’s life, we discussed two questions. The first discussion question was “why do you think he dedicated himself so much to helping people in Japan and to translating the bible from English into Japanese?” All members concluded that it is because of his Christian belief. They concluded that he especially valued the belief “do for others what you want them to do for you” because he saved a lot of Japanese people’s lives for free. Without this belief, he would not have done those things. One interesting answer is that he might have loved Japan and Japanese people, so that is why he stayed in Japan for 33 years to contribute to Japanese people in medicine, education and so forth. It is true that he loved Japan because he mentioned that he never forgot the years he spent in Japan in his last speech in Meiji Gakuin University.

The second discussion question was “Hepburn came to Japan leaving his father and son, who was only 14 years old, in order to spread Christianity and help people in Japan. If you were Hepburn, would you go to Japan or overseas to spread Christianity (or your belief) even though you leave your family back in your country?” All group members concluded they would not leave their family behind because for them, family is more important than their belief. In addition, some group members answered that they would bring their family overseas because they would like to be with their family. One group member mentioned that it is hard to believe for her that Hepburn left their family behind the U.S. and came to Japan as a missionary, because she said she does not have any strong belief like him. It would be great if I could ask the same question to those who have strong belief in their religion.

Reflection on James Curtis Hepburn and project

Before I worked on this project, I had not known Hepburn, however, after the project, now I am very grateful for what he has done for Japan. I was impressed with his Christian belief “do for others what you want them to do for you”, and he actually put this belief into practice by providing free medical services, creating a Japanese-English dictionary and contributing to Japanese education. At the same time, however, it was difficult for me, as a non-Christian or non-religious person, to understand what drove him so strongly to help people overseas even though he sacrificed his family. The project was a great opportunity for me to learn about non-Japanese people who came to Japan and contributed to Japanese development in Meiji and Taisho period. Like me, many Japanese people do not know about those foreigners, including Hepburn. However, without their contributions, Japan would not have developed this much. Therefore, I am really grateful to them.


Meiji Gakuin Daigaku no rekishi to ima (n.d.) [The history and presence of Meiji Gakuen University] Retrieved from

Meiji Gakuin Rekishi Shiryokan (n.d.) [Meiji Gakuin Archives of History] Retrieved from

Edoardo Chiossone

Chiossone's famous portrait of Saigo Takamori
By Yuka Nakajima

One of the famous portraits which everyone knows in Japan is Saigo Takamori’s one. When we were elementary students, we had to look at him in our history textbooks many times. However, I guess there are few people who know who drew this portrait. Now, I will introduce a man who drew Saigo’s portrait. His name is Edoardo Chiossone. He was born in Italy, and was an artist. His family was running a business of printing and plate making. So, from 14 to 22 years old, he learned copperplate engraving at an art school. Then he won the special prize and become a professor. Besides these, he won the silver prize in international exposition in Paris in 1867. After that he was interested in making paper money and got a job in a bank in Germany in 1868. At that time, this company was producing the government bills called Meiji Tsuho and he also had to do with manufacturing.

In 1875, he was invited by Okuma Shigenobu and came to Japan. Then, Okuma showed the exceptional pay for Chiossone and gave him the chance to make use of his engraving skill. Why he was invited? That’s because it was a problem for Meiji government to produce elaborate paper bills that could not be forged. If Japan continude asking the foreign company, it would have been very expensive and not safe, so Meiji government sought the person who could introduce the techniques to aim for nationalization.

I said a short while ago that Saigo Takamori’s portrait was drawn by Chiossone. However, Chiossone had never seen him and did not have his picture, so how did he draw his portrait? He got an advice from Tokuno Ryosuke he is nepotism of Saigo. And he made the image based on the model of Saigo Jyudo, Takamori’s young brother, and Oyama Iwane, Saigo brother’s cousin. And his most famous portrait is Meiji Emperor’s one.

In my opinion, Chiossone really liked his field of learning. And he contributed many things to Japan. It is not just historical event, also facts we directly touch. For instance, as I have said before, it means we learnt Japanese history in elementary school. Then, we recognized “Saigo Takamori” with that portrait that everyone knows. I am wondering about that because though the portrait was drawn a long time ago, we who are living now use it and learn history. It is interesting to connect past and present.

However, this portrait is not real. It means it is not based on Saigo himself. So, I heard an interesting fact. As you know, the statue of Saigo is in Ueno. It is based on his portrait, so this statue is also not Saigo’s real appearance. One day, his wife visited to Ueno, but she said “this is not my husband”. Is it interesting, isn’t it? In other words, we will never recognize the real Saigo’s appearance thanks to Chiossone. However, Chiossone is one of the person who gave us source of learning and significance. Now, I feel glad that he came to Japan.

William Smith Clark

William Smith Clark
By Ayaka Kasahara

“Boys, be ambitious” is one of my favorite quotes. Even if some people don’t know whose words they are, I believe many Japanese have heard them. I have been encouraged by the words since I was a high school student. That is why I chose William S. Clark for this project.

Clark was born at Massachusetts, US in 1826. After getting doctor’s degree of chemistry, he started teaching it as well as botany and zoology. Even though his academic career was once interrupted due to the Civil War, he became the president of Massachusetts Agricultural College (presently the University of Massachusetts Amherst) after he quit army in 1863. In 1876, Clark was invited by Japanese government to work as the president of Sapporo Agricultural College in Hokkaido prefecture (present Hokkaido University). Around that time, the government was planning to cultivate Hokkaido prefecture with establishment of educational institutes. ‘Boys, be ambitious’ were Clark's words for his students before he left Hokkaido. A lot of students saw off the orator at that time. Reportedly, he continued to contact his students by letters even after he came back to the US. He died in 1866 at the age of 59.

It was quite surprising for me that his words continue and there are various versions; ‘boys, be ambitious like this old man’, ‘boys, be ambitious for Christ’, etc. The reason is thought to be that it was 60 years later that the first graduates of SAC told the words for the first time when his book about his student life with Clark was published. That made Clark’s words unclear. Furthermore, some people interpreted and arranged them.

The question I had for my group was, what did he want to tell with “Boys be ambitious”? As the words vary based on individual’s interpretation, we can have different ideas on them. In the beginning of the discussion, I asked the members if they knew the following words of the quote, and it turned out no one did. Then I gave them questions: how he felt when he said the words, what words they would add to the quote, and how they interpreted it. They said Clark wanted his students to be brave and gentle, and they would add that type of words. On reflection, I prepared too many questions and I failed to give the members enough information to participate in the discussion.

He was a great professor for the students and highly admired. Even though he didn't stay in Hokkaido for long time, he had a good time with his students. There is no telling what he said to the students exactly. Even if the words didn't have such an important message, he was endowed much trust by his students. That made him very popular around Japan. Now that he is more famous in Japan than in the US. I hope the number of respectable educators like him increases and students admire more teachers, so that both students and teachers can spend fulfilling school life.

William K. Burton

William K. Burton
By Miu Eto

1. Presentation

William K. Burton was born in Edinburgh in Scotland in 1856. His parents were clever, and they were lawyers. Also, his mother liked to take pictures. Even though his parents were clever enough, William wasn't so. He didn't hope to be a lawyer like them, and after graduating from high school, he started to work at SPA (Sanitary Protection Association) as an engineer without entering the university. There, he was in charge of water service system.

While he was working at SPA, he met Nagai Kyuuitirou who was an ambassador from Japan and studied abroad in Scotland then. By this encounter, William was invited to Japan as an engineer in the department of interior.

In those days, Japan didn't have enough system that supplied water. Therefore, when Japanese drank water, they used wells. However, wells included cholera virus, so it was spreading among Japanese then. It made a lot of Japanese die in those days, and was a serious problem.

Therefore, William planed to create bulbs that ran around Japan, and supplied clear water. This plan cost many times and money, but it made the foundation of Japanese traditional water service system. From this achievement, clear water ran to all Japanese, and decreased the number of deaths from cholera.

In addition, as his hobby, he liked to take pictures as his mother did. After coming Japan, he joined to the photographic society of Japan. In this group, he visited some disaster-struck areas such as Sino Japanese War, and Mt. Bandai. In there, he saw the people suffered from damage by earthquake, or weapons. William told how disastrous the damage was in suffering areas to other citizens by taking pictures. 

 In 1856, he died from disease in Taiwan. For winning the war, Taiwan was a donation of Japan. Until he died, he tried to find the place which has clear water for Japanese and Taiwan.

He was seen as a hero in Japan. Because of his achievement, we Japanese can have water anytime. Not only in Japan but also in Scotland, William is famous as hero who developed developing country.

2. Discussion

Question 1: When do you use water service system in your daily life?

Two people answered that we use water to take a bath, cook, and to drink. However, other said water service system’s water isn't tasty, so we often buy water.

Question 2: What is the problem (deflect) to built water service system in other countries?

One said that cost is the biggest problem to do that. Some countries which can’t afford to prepare money for sanitation rather want to use money for food than water service system. Therefore, because of poverty, they can’t choose water from other.

Other said education is the barrier. Even if Japan founded water service system in other country, they can’t use it and manage it without knowledge about it. Therefore, lack of education is the problem.

To this opinion, other listener said that to educate people, it takes a long time and teachers. Then, time is also problem to make water service system in other countries.

3. Reflection

Until I started to research about Burton, I didn't know him at all. It means that this opportunity gave me a lot of new information about relation between Japan and Burton.

Also, I've never thought about the reason why Japan can have water service system. It’s a normal thing for me as Japanese and also other countries have it I thought. Nevertheless, now I understand how important water service is for our health. While researching about him, I learned that there are few countries which have water service systems around the world. Therefore, I wonder why we Japanese don’t know about him even though he did incredible achievement for us.

Through this presentation, and classes, I noticed that Japanese don’t know about foreign people’s achievement in Japan much. We are made to study about Japanese achievements in our history without learning about relationship with foreign visitors.

In addition, until I took this class, I had hated history class in school because classes were so boring. However, I understood I can be interested in our history if it connects to foreign countries culture and people. It’s because we (KUIS) originally are interested in English (other countries). Then, even though I hate so much, I can have interest in that from the viewpoint I love.

In my presentation, I learned the good way to present for listeners. When I heard the presentation where the presenter didn't have confidence and passion, I couldn't have interest, and understand what presenter wanted to tell us. Also, it made discussion boring. Therefore, if I have opportunity to present, I would try to have confidence in myself and keep attention of listeners I thought.

Baxley, G. The volcanoes of Japan, retrieved July 10th from

Cortazzi, C. Biographical Portraits(2002), retrieved July 11th from

Unknown writer, W.K Burton, (2014 , May 4th), Wikipedia, retrieved July 10th from

Raphael Von Koeber

Raphael von Koeber
By Misato Mochizuki

Nowadays, you can learn philosophy, aesthetic and languages like Latin and Greek if you want. However, do you know the person who brought these subjects from overseas and taught them to Japanese for the first time? The person who did the important work for Japan is Raphael Von Koeber.

Raphael Von Koeber was born in Russia in 1848. Although he graduated music school in Moscow, he gave up on being a pianist because he was too shy to play the piano in front of many people. He began to study philosophy in Germany in 1872 and got doctorate in 1878. When he was 43 years old, his friend recommended he go to Japan. He followed the offer. He came to Japan in 1891, and began to teach philosophy, aesthetics and languages at Tokyo Imperial University.

He met many students who became famous in Japan later. For example, Natsume Soseki and Watsuji Tetsuro respected Mr. Koeber. Natsume said “if you ask students in Tokyo Imperial University who is the best teacher here, 90% of students would answer Mr. Koeber.” He taught hard for 21 years. He decided to go back to Russia after he quit his job. Unfortunately, Japanese-Russo war happened at that time, so he could not go back to his home country. He passed away in 1923 in Kanagawa, unable to return.

In my group discussion, I asked three questions to my members. First, I asked them “what do you think about his background?” Student A said that he could not choose the thing which he should persuade. He was very good at playing the piano, but he was a philosopher. Moreover, he could teach aesthetic and languages. He had good abilities in studies so he could do many things in his life.” On the other hand, student B had completely different opinion from other perspective. She said that he could use wide range of knowledge for studying philosophy. She also mentioned his musical side. She said that his musical abilities and knowledge grew his thinking. She meant that thanks to his knowledge, he could think of things from many perspectives so he could be a philosopher. From these two opinions, I can say he was a curious person. In addition, his wide range knowledge led him to be a philosopher. His life seemed to be little strange at first glance, but all parts of his life were important for him.

Second, I asked “what do you think about why he did not speak Japanese even though he lived Japan for over 30 years?” Student C said that he might feel no interest in Japan. She meant that although he was a good teacher, he thought West was better than Japan. This is really interesting opinion because I did not think this way. Actually, he did not travel around Japan so this opinion was good point. He might think Japan was not developed compared to West so he did not have interest in Japanese culture.

Third, I asked “if you were a student of Tokyo Imperial University at that time, would you want to take his classes?” Student D said that he wanted to take his philosophy class because it was rare Japanese could learn philosophy in detail. On the other hand, student E said she wants to take his aesthetics class because this was the first time to bring it to Japan. She thought it must have been interesting for Japanese students. From these opinions, my members thought he was a good teacher and they had curiosity about his classes.

Probably, they were influenced by Soseki’s words. The famous person in Japan said he was the best teacher so we were very interested in his classes and teaching. In my opinion, I would really want to take his lesson if I were a student at that time. Of course, I cannot understand German, but I am interested in what he taught and how to teach. My questions was too unclear and broad, especially question 1. Moreover, my questions did not relate to Koeber’s important points, especially question 2. I think I had to prepare and think more about questions. If I could do so, my members could more easily discuss and know what his important points were. 

From this project, I thought it was difficult to research foreign people who came to Japan in Meiji or Taisho period. There was little information, especially my focus person. Probably, Japanese did not record that what foreign people did and how people felt about them compared to famous Japanese people who went to Western. Moreover, Japanese could write about their experience in West after they came back, but foreigners did not do after they came to Japan like Japanese. Therefore, there was little information about them. However, it was really interesting to learn about foreigners at that time. They were very important for today’s Japan because they brought a lot of knowledge, thinking and technology. I understand they gave huge impact to Japanese even though the numbers of foreigners who came to Japan at that time were few. Thanks to their work, Japan could develop.

Speaking of Raphael Von Koeber, his life was different from others. Normally, famous people who we know very well do not change their job or thought incredibly like Koeber. However, he is attractive because of the differences. He learned music and playing the piano in his early life but he became a philosopher. Moreover, he had a lot of knowledge of many subjects. I think every experience and all studies in our life make us wise. He is not famous in Japan but many famous Japanese were influenced by him. Therefore, I believe that his spirit and lesson are living on in some Japanese.


Ito.M. (2007, August 27). Kyouikusya tositeno Raphael Von Koeber [Raphael von Koeber as an educator]

Kadokura,I.(1997, October 7). Koeber sensei to sono zidai [Mr.Koeber and the period he lived]

Wikipedia. Raphael Von Koeber

John Batchelor

John Batchelor
By Mei Suzuki

John Batchelor was called a father of Ainu. He was born on March 20, 1854 in England. His parents were Christian so he became Christian as well. He learned how to spread Christianity to Oriental countries in his university so he moved to Hong Kong in 1877 as a missionary. However he couldn't get used to Hong Kong, so he moved to Hakodate in Hokkaido when he was 24 years old. In Hokkaido, he heard that Ainu were discriminated against by wajin (old Japanese), so he wanted to change their situation.

Ainu were often separated into two regions, which were Karahuto and Chishima, because of relationship between Japan and Russia at that time. Also they had to be the same as wajin because Meiji government forced them to do that. So they had to work like wajin but they didn’t know how to work and how to write because their main job was hunting animals. Therefore Ainu spent hard life and were discriminated against by wajin.

Batchelor was sad when he heard about Ainu so he did a lot of things for Ainu. He built a school, Airin Gakkou, for Ainu. They could learn alphabets there. Then, he made a dictionary, Kawaeisantai, of Ainu language. He translated Ainu language to English so people around the world could know Ainu language. In addition, he built a hospital for Ainu so they could go there for free. Then he made an Ainu girls school. This school is for Ainu girls who lost parents or didn't have houses. After that, he made an Ainu Kyouka-Dan to let Ainu children study higher level than junior high school. At last, he built a Batchelor school in Sapporo.

He helped Ainu children to be able to go to school and to spend a valuable life by donating. A lot of Ainu children could go to school thanks to him. When he was 70 years old, he retired as a missionary and went back to England. He died when he was 90 years old in England. After his death, Ainu held a lot of ceremonies for him. Because of such a great achievements for Ainu, he was called a father of Ainu.

During the discussion, I asked my classmates “What did you know about Ainu?” and I realized Japanese people don’t know much about Ainu even though Ainu are related to Japanese people the most. I thought they should know about Ainu because Ainu and we are friends. Also they said they could understand what Ainu is, and how terrible the discrimination that they faced, through my presentation, so I was happy.

Through this presentation, I could learn much about Ainu that I didn't know much and what an important person Batchelor is for Ainu. He is not Japanese but he studied a lot about Ainu and did a lot of great achievements for them. I really respect him. In addition, I could learn many wonderful people and what they did through my classmates’ presentations. I became more interested in history thanks to this project.