Popular Science Monthly/Volume 64/March 1904/Tokyo Teikoku Daigaku - Imperial University of Tokyo
|TOKYO TEIKOKU DAIGAKU (IMPERIAL UNIVERSITY OF TOKYO).|
By NAOHIDE YATSU, RIGAKUSHI,
FELLOW IN ZOOLOGY, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY.
IN the recent outburst of literature upon Japan and things Japanese, one can not help feeling as he surveys the field that the European has but a scanty idea of the opportunities which the young Japanese enjoys for securing a thorough grounding in the learning of western nations. The average American or European is apt to think, that, aside from military and naval matters, the Japanese education of to-day is largely, if not exclusively, an Asiatic one. It may, therefore, be of interest to refer to the organization of the higher education
in Japan as it is being carried out at the present day. In this connection, I think, I may safely say that few foreigners realize the anxious care with which during the past score of years the emperor and his advisers have established the higher education of Japan on a basis as broad as that of the European universities, and at the same time, have aimed to mold in it the best elements of learning of both the west and east. And if this is not understood, still fewer foreigners realize, I think, the extent and character of the less modern form of education in Japan. Indeed, on the other hand, according to some recent writer, one might even fancy that Japan had no true learning before the advent of the 'black ships' of Commodore Perry, It may be of interest, therefore, to some, to learn that in so remote a time as in the eighth century a university had already been established' in Japan that included such modern divisions as schools of medicine, ethics, mathematics, history, and that some of the text-books employed at that remote period dealt with such subjects as the diseases of women, materia
medica and veterinary surgery, types of text-books which appear to have been unknown in European countries until about one thousand years later.
Japanese higher education at the present day includes: (1) high schools, of somewhat higher scope than the American high schools, (2) higher normal schools for both sexes, (3) colleges of peers and peeresses, (4) military and naval colleges at Tokyo and Etajima, (5) a series of schools of technology and arts, including an academy of music, (6) colleges of law, politics and literature in Tokyo and Kyoto, (7) girls' university of Tokyo and (8) Imperial Universities of Tokyo and of Kyoto.
As the universities stand at the head of the educational system of Japan, it may be well to describe their organization in some detail. And I shall refer especially to the Tokyo Imperial University since the second one is only recently founded (1897).
The university is strictly governmental and is under the control of the Department of Education, one of the main divisions of the imperial administration. It includes six colleges—law, medicine, engineering, literature, science and agriculture. In general, its students are the graduates of high schools and are enrolled in a three-year course, medicine and law requiring, however, four years. It may be safely said that the grade of the regular work of the university is higher than that of the American colleges, for I find that the courses which are set down in the curricula of many colleges for freshmen and sophomore classes are given in the Japanese high school. One may further note that in the interest of general higher education the university courses are practically free. And as evidence of the democracy of learning one may sometimes note a young noble sitting shoulder to
shoulder with the son of a peasant. It goes almost without saying that every university student is expected to understand lectures when given in one of the European languages.
With this introduction we may briefly refer to the development of our university. Between the end of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the eighteenth century young Japanese who had been thirsting for western learning began their study of medicine, astronomy, physics, chemistry, gunnery, fortification, by the aid of textbooks, mainly written in Dutch, which they had obtained, often in spite of much local disfavor, from the trading station at Nagasaki. Succeeding in their western studies, some of these Japanese workers opened schools at several places for the dissemination of their hard earned knowledge. And one of these schools, named Bansho-shirabejo (the place for the examination of the writings of the barbarians). was the embryo of our university. After the Restoration of 1868 this school, through many changes, became Kaisei-gakko. And to this was later added the medical college (1877), the law college (1885) and the college of engineering (1886). It was not, however, until March 1, 1886, that the university came actually into existence, a day which has come to be celebrated every year as 'foundation day.' In 1884-85 the colleges moved to their present site. To this end the university was ceded a park, three square miles in extent, located on a side of Hongo hill, in the northwestern part of Tokyo. The site, moreover, was of considerable historic interest, since it was the Kaga-Yashiki, or the palace grounds of Kagasama, one of the most powerful daimyos of feudal days, whose imposing processions of two-sworded retainers,
gold-laquered palanquins, and splendid horses are remembered to the present day. Indeed, the present red gate of the university is a relic of his feudal sway, his wedding gift, it is said, from the Prince of Satsuma. In contrast with former pageants one sees here to-day only a stream of students plain in uniform and with square caps, hurrying to and fro among the lecture halls. When the colleges first moved to the present site, wooden buildings were used for lecture-room and laboratories. But as time passed these were replaced by the brick buildings, which are' shown in the adjacent pictures. The college of agriculture is situated in a suburb six miles away from the university. The Botanical Institute is in the Botanical Garden, situated in another daimyo's park, about a mile and a half away from the university. The entire staff of the six colleges numbers about 270, of these 120 hold the rank of professor. It is significant of the progress of the Japanese in western learning that even in special branches of work few foreign instructors are now required. In earlier days the majority of the professors were foreigners, to-day their number has been reduced
to fourteen, and this number bids fair to be reduced as soon as able graduates return from their foreign studies to take their places. It follows, accordingly, that lectures are more and more frequently given in the Japanese language. It may be noted that in the science college there remain no foreign professors.
The present catalogue shows an enrolment of 3,121 students, and of these about 350 are post-graduates in the 'University Hall.' Every student must wear a square cap with golden badge of the university. And the 'square caps,' as they are called, are entitled to special consideration from the general public. The graduates are termed 'Gakushi,' to which title is added the prefix of their college, as
Hogakushi (law), Bun-gakushi (literature), I-gakushi (medicine), Rigakushi (science), etc.
The title 'Hakushi,' corresponding somewhat with Ph.D., is given to those who have been in the 'University Hall' (post-graduate) and passed prescribed examination, or to those who have attained similar distinction, especially in research.
The commencement usually takes place on July 11. It may be of interest to describe the ceremony, since it differs somewhat from that, of American colleges. The large reading hall of the library is simply decorated; purple and white silk drape the walls, and in the place of honor hang portraits of the emperor and empress. The room is closely filled, students standing massed in military order in the middle of the room, professors and guests standing at the sides. Then the ceremony commences by the president's recital of the words of the emperor on the principles of ethics and on the education of his subjects. Then follows a brief address by the emperor, or by one of the imperial family. And after this has been made the emperor's gracious presents, about twenty in all, are given to the best graduates. Then the president gives an address. The national anthem 'kimigayo' is then sung three times, followed by the cries of 'Tokyo-Teikoku Daigaku Banzai.' The entire ceremony is a simple one, but it is notably solemn and impressive.
Even athletics are not wanting in this eastern university. The athletic club consists of seven sections—rowing, track athletics, baseball, football, lawn tennis, swimming. Judo (a kind of wrestling), fencing and archery. In the spring, when the rosy cloud of cherry blossoms covers the bank of the River Sumida, the rowing club holds a regatta. In the autumn the athletic section holds a meeting in the recreation ground of the university. Running, jumping, hurdle races, etc., last the whole afternoon, and the scene is as animated as even a Yale-Princeton 'rooter' could wish; the sloping hillside of the arena-like ground is filled with cheering crowds, and the mingling of costumes, colors and gestures add to the animation of the scene. In the matter of supplemental athletics, we may note that swimming is given a conspicuous place; a teacher even takes volunteer students under his charge during the summer vacation.
As a special development in the research work of the university one might briefly mention the laboratory for the study of earthquakes, which occur so frequently, and often, indeed, with dangerous results. And it was with the aim of studying these phenomena, from standpoints both of applied and of pure science, that the seismological observatory was founded in 1880. It has since been in charge of Professors Sekiya and Omoiri. In fact it is due to the researches of these scientists that the horizontal pendulum and the vertical motion seismographs were designed. By means of these delicate instruments it is possible to measure earthquakes and other earth movements of different grades of magnitude, ranging from microscopic tremors and pulsations up to destructive earthquakes. The instruments are so sensitive that an earthquake in England can be recorded in Japan, and from this the rate of traveling of seismic waves has been calculated. There has also been set up recently a horizontal pendulum for continuous registrations. These are an interesting collection, showing the development of seismographs from crude Chinese devices to the most elaborate and modern apparatus.
In the zoological museum there are the splendid collections of the glassy sponges. Hundreds of valuable specimens have been collected through Professor Ijima's constant and earnest exploration of the Sagami Bay. They are so fragile that they might easily be crumbled into pieces by the fisherman's rough hands. One may easily conceive how still is the abyss of 200 fathoms. The first two parts of beautiful monographs have come from the hands of Professor Ijima, who has been working on these delicate creatures for over ten years. Besides this collection, there are hundreds of curious creatures peculiar to Japan, rare specimens which arouse the enthusiasm and possibly even the envy of our foreign confrères. Indeed, every year forms which are new to science come to the museum. In connection with the science college, I should also mention a marine biological station at Misaki. At this point, about thirty miles south of Tokyo, the warm 'black current' comes frequently close to the land and brings to the station interesting pelagic forms, especially the minute floating 'plankton.'
In anthropological lines Professor Tsuboi and his assistant have been many years engaging in the study of the Japanese races, past and present, including the exploration of Ainu, Formosan aborigines and the investigations of the prehistoric Japanese race. And in connection with his laboratory we may mention the rich anthropological cabinet.
In summary, accordingly, I think that it can safely be claimed that Japan has made studies not less in higher education than in matters of military, naval or practical importance, and that its work is progressing satisfactorily in quantity, no less than in quality. The Tokyo Imperial University, as we have seen, is not more than twenty-five years old, yet it has become the largest educational institution of the far east. Its graduates already number about 6,000, and of these alumni many are now filling posts of importance as professors, scientists, jurists, physicians, statesmen, diplomats, and one can predict with reasonable certainty that many of the best supporters of the future Greater Nippon and its emperor will have worn the square cap as they passed under the red gate of our alma mater.