Then, There Were Nine: The Forgotten Higher Schools of Imperial Japan

Kaoru Yamamoto


Following the Meiji Restoration of 1868, Japan hurried to modernize all aspects of the new nation-state and prevent colonization by Western powers. As a critical element in that effort, a centralized system of education was created, compulsory schooling instituted, and advanced schools were established. A further development saw, in a single Taisho decade of the 1920s, the birth of nine higher schools of an articulated structure with progressive pedagogical perspective. In the following Showa era, Japan's defeat in the Second World War resulted in a wide-ranging reshuffling of its education system, first imposed by the victorious Allied Occupation Forces. In that process, with little appreciation of the significance of their venture, all of the unique institutions were summarily abolished in 1950. This article traces the history of the obliterated schools and closely examines the virtues of their educational approach in the light of modern studies from the East and West.

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