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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 80.djvu/250

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

THE IMPERIAL UNIVERSITIES OF JAPAN
By H. FOSTER BAIN

SAN FRANCISCO

THE public school system in Japan, as in the United States, is capped by the university. In keeping, however, with the highly centralized government of the former country, the university is controlled and supported by the imperial government, whereas in America the support of higher education has been left so far to the individual states. The imperial government now maintains two fully organized universities; one at Tokyo, and a second at Kyoto; and is organizing two more; one in the south at Fukuoka, Kyushu, and the other in the north at Sapporo, Hokkaido. At Fukuoka, medical and engineering schools have been established and others are to be added. At Sapporo only an agricultural station and an agricultural college, which go back to early American influences, are as yet in being, though the plan contemplates ultimately a complete university. In addition to these imperial schools there are important institutions of university rank endowed and supported by private initiative, and in this as in other particulars the situation shows similarities to that in the United States. Among these non-governmental schools Waseda and Keio are the largest and best known. What is said here relates exclusively to the Imperial Universities of Tokyo and Kyoto, limitations of time having prevented my visiting the others.

With the beginning of the new era in 1868, Japan faced the problem of organizing a new system of education, as well as of government, war and industry. Previously there had been no general system of public instruction, and in this, as in many other particulars, the work was essentially one of construction rather than re-construction. It would be a grave mistake, however, to consider the Japanese of the pre-Meiji eras as uneducated. While not familiar with Western learning, they were far from unlearned, and in the sense of having had their mental powers developed many of the gentlemen of old Japan were highly educated. This was especially true of the younger sons of the daimyos who, forbidden by the social system to marry or hope for headship in their own houses, were driven to the exercise of arms and rigorous study of the Chinese classics, each hoping to attract attention and be adopted as heir in another house. Failing in this, many opened private schools. In these, and other institutions whose origin is too diverse to permit review here, a severe drill in the Chinese language and literature and in Oriental philosophy, gave to the pupils a mental training not greatly dissimilar to that which our own grandfathers