1. Who was the first Western English teacher in Kumamoto? What do you know about him?
7. 1871-1876 Janes Kumamoto Western School and the Kumamoto Band
As is well known, the bloodless surrender of Edo to the Satcho Alliance (薩長同盟) in 1868 marked the beginning of the Meiji Restoration (明治維新1868-). However, Higo (now Kumamoto) was a bit late in its own modernization, and the Western School that Yokoi Daihei wanted so much did not begin until 1871.
It was organized in the early part of the year, and admitted 53 students, even though there was no western teacher yet. In fact, the government asked Guido Verbeck of Nagasaki to find a suitable teacher, but their standards were high (they insisted on a married man with military experience who was not a Christian minister). Finally, a man was found who turned out to be a perfect match: Leroy Lansing Janes (1838-1909).
Janes came to Kumamoto in August after turning down a post in the newly thriving Edo. He worried much about how to teach his new group of students, and was faced with three possibilities: use interpreters, learn Japanese or teach the students English. He chose the last possibility, and the students, after a year of intensive English training, essentially received the same education as they would have in the American school system. Also, Janes admitted three girls to the school in 1875, making it one of the first public schools in Japan to practice coeducation (男女共学). The school lasted for 5 years until 1876. It was one of the longest-lived early Western schools, most of which were converted hanko （藩校）that had to shut down and reorganize in 1872 with the replacement of the clan system by prefectures (廃藩置県) and the promulgation of the first
Although Janes was not a minister, he was a devout Christian, and he used materials that stressed Christianity, such as the blue-backed speller written by Noah Webster (of dictionary fame). Under the influence of these materials, the students became interested in Christianity of their own accord. Many of these became believers, forming the Kumamoto Band (熊本バンド) on a cold morning at Hanaoka-yama in early 1876. Another group of students who opposed them were called the Suizenji school (水前寺派).
The formation of the Kumamoto Band meant the downfall of the school. Janes was fired, but he made sure that his students (especially those in Kumamoto Band) had a place to go to continue their studies. He wrote a letter to J. D. Davis, who was teaching at a small school that had just begun in Kyoto, by a returnee from America named Niijima Jo (新島襄). He introduced his students as “the finest…. Do you want them?” to which Davis replied that they were welcome. Around 35 students in all transferred to the small school, named Doshisha, and essentially took it over. Several of those students became future professors and presidents of the College.
Many students became prominent members of the Meiji society, including Kozaki Hiromichi (founder of Reinanzaka Church), Ukita Kazutami (teacher at Waseda and Doshisha), Tokutomi Soho (historian, founder of Kokumin no Tomo newspaper), Katoh Yutaka (founder of Maebashi English School, Saitama), Yufu Takesaburo (President of Hitotsubashi Commercial High School), and Ichihara Morihiro (mayor of Yokohama). Several more lived abroad and worked directly in the international arena, with at least two professors (Harada Tasuku at the university of Hawaii and Iyenaga Toyokichi at University of Chicago), Tsuji Tomiyoshi (advisor to the Washington Embassy) and Koori Norichika (ambassador to Taiwan).
Those who especially contributed to Kumamoto society include Nakahara Junzo (founding head of Kumamoto School of Engineering, now the Engineering Faculty of Kumamoto University), Tokunaga Norikane, Ebina Danjo and Kurahara Korekiyo (Head of Kumamoto English School), Toyama Sanryo (professor at Fifth High School – later Kumamoto University), and Fukushima Tsuneo (vice principal of Seiseiko High School),
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