Unformatted text preview: lished private schools to provide much of the higher training essential to Japan’s modernizing program. Among the well-known private colleges founded about this time were the Christian university, Dòshisha,
in Kyoto, and Keiò University and Waseda University in Tokyo, founded
respectively by Fukuzawa Yukichi and Òkuma Shigenobu.
Many of the youths most strongly influenced by Christianity were Encounter with the West 253 samurai from domains that had been on the losing side in the Restoration.16 Restricted in the opportunities open to them in the new government, these youths sought alternate routes to advancement through the
acquisition of Western training. When brought into direct contact with
foreign Christian teachers, they were particularly impressed with the
moral caliber and fervid personal commitment of most of these men. To
the young and impressionable Japanese, the foreign teachers appeared
to possess qualities of character very similar to the ideal samurai and
Confucian scholars of their own traditional backgrounds. Indeed, many
Japanese who converted to Christianity in the 1870s and 1880s seem to
have viewed it as a kind of modern extension of Confucianism.
For their part, the American missionary and lay Christian teachers
who came to Japan in the 1870s also responded with high enthusiasm
toward their Japanese students. The faith of these men, who were imbued with the religious spirit of late nineteenth-century New England,
was rooted in the belief that God’s work on earth was to be carried out
by individuals acting in accordance with a high moral code and the dictates of their Christian consciences. They were not particularly concerned with questions of dogma and abstract theology but wished to
build strong characters; and they were quick to appreciate the features
of good character, derived from the samurai code of conduct, that they
detected in many of their students.
Tokutomi Sohò was one of a famous group of thirty-five Japanese
youths, known as the Kumamoto band,...
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- Spring '13