Munkkien rakkausrunoista Mishimaan ja mangaan: Poimintoja Japanin kirjallisuushistoriasta

Imagining the Modern Japanese Woman Through Literature: Iwamoto Yoshiharu’s ideas

When the national-scale efforts to modernize the education for women during the Meiji period (1868-1912) started, women writers came to play an important part by serving as role models, spokespeople, and promoters for a female presence in the public sphere. A woman writer was not a modern invention in Japan, however, and we know there were prominent women writers as early as the Heian period (ca. 794-1192) such Murasaki Shikibu (紫式部) with the Tale of Genji (源氏物語) and Sei Shōnagon (清少納言) with the Pillow Book (枕草子). In the Meiji period, especially Murasaki Shikibu came to be canonized as an ideal woman writer – keishū sakka (閨秀作家). Consequently, the women writers of the Meiji period were lauded as “modern Murasakis”1 if they fit the image of the idealized writer of the olden times. There were certain requirements for earning the title, and criticizing politics, or touching upon the issues the women had to face in the modern society, received harsh criticism as not meeting the ideal. Nevertheless, many a writer tried her hand at expressing what mattered to her, even if she was bashed for crossing the boundaries of feminine writing. The topic of the proper code of conduct, which overarched such issues as how women should carry themselves in their daily lives, interact with others, and what kind of mentality or identity they ought to maintain, caused a heated discussion among the literati in Meiji (especially the male and female educators) and extended to the field of literature. What women should (not) write came to be a topic of public discourse. It was more likely for a female writer’s work to be branded by a literary critic as amoral or scandalous than for that of one of her male counterparts’. Yet, there were varying opinions regarding the subject and there were also those who supported the writing of women and who took the young writers under their wings and provided them a medium for literary expression. Meiji was the spring season for magazines dealing with literature: Iratsume (いらつめ, 1887-1891), Bungakukai (文学界, 1893-1896), Taiyō (太陽, 1895-1928) and many others appeared that welcomed contributions from women. The most prominent literary magazine of the time is said to have been the Bungei Kurabu (文芸倶楽部, 1895-1933) in which Higuchi Ichiyō (樋口一葉, 1872-1896), Tazawa Inabune (田澤稻舟, 1874-1896), Kitada Usurai (北田薄氷, 1876-1900) and other modern Japanese women writers had their works published, albeit under a flag of “literature by women writers” (閨秀・女流文学) that was difficult to evade. In addition, the management of the magazines had various opinions regarding the requirements for the genre, often reducing the female writer to an inferior position. Nonetheless, women were not passive actors in selecting their coterie.

Those women who were ready to write regarding the matters of women education and position in family/society, and did not shy away from morality imbued by Christian ideals, found a supporter and publisher in one of the most prominent Christian opinion leaders of the Meiji period, Iwamoto Yoshiharu (巌本善治, 1863-1942), who was the driving force behind the first major magazine for and about women (managed by women themselves to a certain extent): Jogaku Zasshi (女学雑誌, 1885-1905, JZ hereafter). He worked with such prominent women literati as Shimizu Shikin (淸水紫琴, 1868-1933), Wakamatsu Shizuko (若松賤子, 1864-1896), Miyake Kaho (三宅花圃, 1869-1943), Sōma Kokkō (相馬黒光, 1875-1955), Hani Motoko (羽仁もと子 1873-1957), Nogami Yaeko (野上弥生子, 1885-1985), Koganei Kimiko (小金井喜美子, 1870-1956) and many others that have been his students or employees. Iwamoto was mostly interested in literature as a means for the education of women in particular, and for the moral education of the masses in general. The literature he deemed suitable for these purposes, and the principles found in the pieces he encouraged to be published in Jogaku Zasshi, provide a glimpse into the ideals and aspirations not only of this progressive Christian educator but also unto the community of the literati he represented.

This paper will provide an outline of the historical backdrop against which JZ came to be and will reevaluate the pieces of literature presented in the JZ as a means towards attaining Iwamoto’s goals to educate the women and mold the image the society and the women held of themselves as modern Japanese citizens.

1. A Modern System of Female Education and Publishing

Traditionally, textbooks and manuals for women were considered to be “the” literature for women. Amano Haruko (2008) provides an interesting study on how an important group of educational publications, the ōraimono (往来物), which from Heian to Meiji (12th to 19th C.) functioned as a generic title for rudimentary textbooks to learn reading and writing, offer an insight into women’s education and daily lives. At first, ōraimono dealt with letter writing, the contents becoming more varied with time, especially since the 17th C. when it was used in terakoya or shijuku (private academies) thus playing an important role in the education of the masses. It also aimed to inculcate certain ideals of behavior. It was a textbook that the teacher would compile for the student(s) to suit their individual needs while educating them one on one, bought or written as presents, passed on in the families and offered knowledge on a variety of topics. Amano claims that throughout the Edo period alone there were about 7000 different types of ōraimono in circulation, among which above a thousand types were dedicated to women. Yet it is difficult to draw a line between ōraimono for men and women. To give an example, Sekai Fujo Ōrai (世界婦女往來, 1873) by Yamamoto Yosuke (山本与助) dealt with the customs of women in various countries (such as China, India, Holland, etc.) and admonished women from Japan against following the same patterns of behavior. While, judging from the title, the intended readership seems to be women, the language used is rather complex and thus indicates that, as a high level of reading proficiency was assumed, it was most likely a general text (for both male and female readership). Ishikawa’s study of ōraimono (1973) points out five categories into which distinctively female-readership oriented ōraimono could be split: kyōkungata (教訓型), shōsokugata (消息型), shakaigata (社会型), chiikugata (知育型), and gōhongata (合本型). Kyōkungata concentrated on how girls and women should carry themselves in their daily lives, the morality (dōtoku道徳) and discipline (shitsuke 躾); shōsokugata provided examples for correspondence; shakaigata introduced the ways to socialize by getting familiar to customs, events and hobbies; chiikugata offered information on geography and industry; while the gōhongata consisted of more than one of the above. The existence of such textbooks displays an apparent necessity to cover such fields in textbooks and provides an insight into what was deemed necessary or suitable in the education of girls and women.

1904, Meiji Jogakkō’s students and staff posing in front of Sugamo Dormitory.
1904, Meiji Jogakkō’s students and staff posing in front of Sugamo Dormitory.

From the above, kyōkunsho (教訓書) were the most widely distributed. The most (in)famous example of this type of literature would be the Onna Daigaku (女大学) extrapolating the Neo-Confucian morals for women. Interestingly, rather than having a single mind behind it or even being a single book as it often seems to be referred to, it has been revised and reinterpreted numerous times up until the late Meiji. Below is the outline of the “Onna Daigaku series”.

First came the “Nyōshi wo Oshiyuru Hō” (女子を教ゆる法), the fifth volume in Kaibara Ekiken’s (貝原益軒) Wazoku Dōji Kun (和俗童子訓, 1710). This is important as Ekiken, an influential scholar, was later to be taken as the author of the following work – the most representative and well-known in the series – Onna Daigaku Takarabako (女大学宝箱, 1716). Yet, while the latter is known to be admonishing against women getting an education, Kaibara’s work stresses the importance of teaching boys and girls equally in terms of materials (教材), methods (学習法), order of instruction (学習順序), and the teaching attitude (学習態度). Onna Daigaku Takarabako, written by an unknown writer, most likely Kaibara’s disciple (Tocco, 2003, p.199) was an extremely popular publication reprinted numerous times, some of the versions having elaborate illustrations. Tocco believes that the popularity of the text may be attributed more to its style (employing both Chinese and Japanese characters and thus suitable for girls to learn writing from) than to its content. While Onna Daigaku is seen as advocating the total subordination of women to men and being the representative of the thought regarding women education in Tokugawa (1603-1867) and even Meiji periods, Neo-Confucian approach to education was often that “[l]earning, for men and women, was the way to virtue and by extension the way to stability of family and of the country as a whole” (Tocco, 2003, p.201). Consequently, it was a view supported by many Meiji period educators (themselves having received their education from the Confucian classics). Consequently, numerous other reinterpretations of the treatise and the education necessary for women in their daily lives as daughters, wives and mothers followed in the years to come: Shinsen Onna Yamato Daigaku (新鮮女倭大学, 1785) by Rakuhoku Shōshi (洛北唱子),  Jokō Hitsudoku Jokun (女黌必読女訓, 1874) by Takata Giho (高田義甫), Kinsei Onna Daigaku (近世女大学, 1874) and Bunmeiron Onna Daigaku (文明論女大学, 1876) by Doichi Kōka (土居光華), Shinsenzōho Onna Daigaku (新撰増補女大学, 1880) by Hagiwara Otohiko (萩原乙彦), Kaisei Onna Daigaku (改正女大学, 1880) by Seki Ashio (関葦雄), Shinsen Onna Daigaku (新撰女大学, 1882) by Nishino Kokai (西野古海) and, finally, Onna Daigaku Hyōron – Shin Onna Daigaku (女大学評論 新女大学, 1899) by Fukuzawa Yukichi (福沢諭吉). It becomes clear how diverse and significant the Onna Daigaku (let alone the kyōkunsho) tradition must have been for a number of well-known scholars to keep it alive until way into Meiji. Some treatises of the list above stress the importance of preventing women from staying ignorant, while all serve as readers for women that are meant to teach them how not to be ignorant at least in the areas of morality (appropriate conduct), reading, and writing.2

Kyōkunsho were the most popular type of readings for women until towards the end of the Tokugawa period when the general-knowledge textbooks outnumbered them in variety and popularity (Tocco, 2003, p. 215, note 22.).

It is then clear that even before Meiji women were expected to be able to read, write, be knowledgeable about the etiquette, know how to do housework, weave, sew, etc. What was expected of women differed depending on their standing in society (for example, some deemed arithmetic to be a skill for the lower classes and discouraged the samurai from using the abacus), yet we can see girls and women of all social ranks being able to have access to and share the various learning materials that were numerous, well-spread, and in an accessible language, especially from the late Edo period onwards. Education was changing and women were writing textbooks for each other, teaching at schools, helping with family businesses, travelling. The ideas like in Kaibara Ekiken’s “Nyōshi wo oshiyuru hō” that women should be properly educated were slowly setting the stage for further developments.

The importance of establishing a standardized centralized modern system of education for women was a topic broached upon by many from the beginning of the Meiji period (1868-1912), especially following  the first national plan for education of 1872 (学制) that promulgated compulsory elementary education for both boys and girls. According to Ishizuki Shizue (2007, pp. 28-29), the education for girls of the few following years after the promulgation was characterized by the efforts to follow the example of the American system of education that the leading politicians of the time had observed during their foreign visits. Until the second national plan for education in 1879 (教育令), girls were allowed to join the boys at elementary and middle schools. The image of a modern schoolgirl (女生徒) was forming, and it was controversial. What happened between the two promulgations and after is extensively covered by Benjamin Duke in The History of Modern Japanese Education and is highlighted by a political struggle regarding the moral education between such political figures as Itō Hirobumi (伊藤博文, 1841-1909) and Tanaka Fujimaro (田中不二麻呂) on one side, and the Emperor Meiji and his teacher and adviser Confucian scholar Motoda Nagazane (元田永孚, 1818-1891) on the other. However, Duke concentrated on governmental policies and new information has surfaced regarding the education of women since his research was published in 20093 concerning numerous aspects of agency from the bottom-up level, numerous of which remain unexplored. During the years of early Meiji, the education of women came to be seen as symbolizing modernization itself (Copeland, 2000), yet it was mostly the local authorities and public intellectuals, in addition to missionaries, that pushed forward and sustained the development of women education throughout the period, the government expressing some consent to higher women education only in the later years of Meiji.

On the public level, however, if before Meiji the education of women was not a subject considered to be of utmost pertinence in public discourse, it came to be such in Meiji. While it is impressive that during 44 years of the period a functional system of national education for women was established and enforced from elementary to tertiary level (even if of limited access), the role the government played in this process is overemphasized. As the government did not provide an adequate system of public post-elementary level education for girls except for the establishment of several institutions aimed at the higher classes4 until 1890s, missionaries and Japanese intellectuals promoted the education for women and were the driving force behind the movement to further it. This was achieved with the help of publishing. Means to spread information to as many people as possible came to be something that the Japanese literati competed and collaborated over, establishing wide networks of influence and pulling the nation into deliberating on various topics together.

Newspapers (新聞) and magazines (雑誌) were a modern innovation. In case of newspapers, at the beginning of Meiji emerged the koshinbun (小新聞) that published literary pieces and were considered to be aimed at the readership of women and children5 (in contrast to the ōshinbun (大新聞) that dealt in politics, economics, etc.). Koshinbun were written in simple language containing almost no kanji and included poetry. They are possible predecessors to women magazines that appeared in the later years. More than newspapers, however, it was easier for magazines to be used for enlightenment purposes. Magazines were attractive because educators could express their thoughts reasonably freely, in long passages, and maintain and develop their ideas by having open discussions; not to mention that it was a space of expression, for anybody literate enough, to exchange relevant, up-to-date information and a means to influence a common language and culture.

It is not then surprising that there was a great variety of magazines for and about women published in Meiji. Others, not dedicated to women only, have been also referring to the topics pertinent to women and discussing the “women problem” (婦人問題), a label put on any topic that discussed the issues of modern female citizenship, their rights and duties. The following paragraph gives a brief outline of major contributions in the field.

1904, April. Meiji Jogakkō’s staff and senior students.
1904, April. Meiji Jogakkō’s staff and senior students.

It is generally agreed that the first widely distributed public discourse regarding the situation of women in modern Japan was carried out by the Meirokuzasshisha (明六雑誌者) in 1873-74. Meiroku Zasshi (明六雑誌) was a magazine of critical essays (評論) aimed at enlightenment (啓蒙) and modernization. Mori Arinori (森有礼, 1847-1889), Nishimura Shigeki (西村茂樹, 1828-1902), Fukuzawa Yukichi (福澤諭吉, 1835-1901), Nakamura Masanao (中村正直, 1832-1891)6 and numerous other prominent thinkers of the time contributing articles relating to their fields of expertise in order to enlighten the masses and further the national debate. All of the above mentioned men were somewhat involved in with women education. Mori, who was later to contribute greatly, yet unpopularly, to the establishment of women education as a politician, argued in Meiroku Zasshi that the basis of a nation’s wealth and strength lies in education, and the basis of education lies in women’s education; thus, the level of women’s education affects the state of the nation. It was a particularly influential magazine that, with the help of other publications of its members, inaugurated nation-scale discussions regarding the goals of women education and the roles of women in the society even among the intellectuals.

During the 1880s, a new generation succeeded the Meirokuzasshisha. These men were not openly radical as political discussions were to be left in the hands of those in official positions and generally discouraged by the government among the masses; they were most often inclined towards Christianity and had experienced the work of the missionaries in Japan or a period of study abroad. What is significant about them is that they took up the issues of the education of girls and women hands-on more readily than their predecessors, while initially building their ideological bases on their lofty ideas and the general positive atmosphere with great expectations for the future. Most were related to Iwamoto in some way, due to the community of Japanese Christian intelligentsia being a rather tight network community.

While it may be puzzling that it took so long for journalists to address women in a fashion more complex than that of the koshinbun, it is very likely that the educated women were already reading the same texts as men. What Iwamoto did was beginning to provide the women readership (both girl students and mature women) with specialized articles on a variety of modern subjects coined to suit their specific needs.

Initially, Iwamoto and his comrade and senior at Dōjinsha, Kondō Kenzō (近藤健三, ?-1886) started treating the issues of women education in their magazine Jogaku Shinshi (女学新誌, 1884-85). The magazine is considered to be JZ’s predecessor, Kondō being the mastermind behind it. Their next enterprise was Jogaku Zasshi (女学雑誌, 1885-1905) (which will be discussed in detail later) – a magazine for women as well as men interested in matters related to women. Soon after its establishment, Iwamoto was left to his own devices after Kondō’s premature death. He chose to keep the enterprise up and came to develop it extensively during the following years. Fujin Shinpō (婦人新報, 1985-1986), the first periodical by the Fujin Kyōfūkai (日本キリスト教婦人矯風会, 1886 – present, a Japanese branch of Women’s Christian Temperance Union), was also supervised by Iwamoto. It later evolved into the Tōkyō Fujin Kyōfūkai Zasshi (東京婦人矯風会雑誌, 1888 – present). Iratsume7 (以良都女, 1887-91) was (mostly) Yamada Bimyō’s  (山田美妙1868-1910) enterprise. He was a regular staff at JZ. Like JZ, it was also a magazine for and about women, boasting female contributors. In JZ No. 160, Iwamoto mentioned Kuni no motoi (國乃もとゐ, 1889-?), which, according to him, was a woman’s magazine mostly conducted by the students and teachers of girls’ middle school (高等女学校). Another enterprise was Fujin Eiseikai Zasshi (婦人衛生会雑誌, 1890-1929), which, until the 40th issue, was edited by Iwamoto. The promoter of the magazine was Katō Reiko (加藤鈴子, Katō Hiroyuki’s wife) and a group of twelve other women, while there are said to have been another twenty-eight female supporters. Yet it was not a magazine run entirely by women, even though the men involved were in a minority, among them Katō Hiroyuki (加藤弘之, 1836-1916) and two others apart from Iwamoto. There was also the Jogakusei (女学生, 1890-1893), run by Iwamoto Yoshiharu and Hoshino Tenchi (星野天知, 1862-1950), an instructor of martial arts at Meiji Jogakkō and a regular staff at JZ. It is said to have influenced the later establishment of Bungakukai (文学界, 1893-98). Next came Jokan (女鑑, 1891-?), a somewhat reactionary magazine aiming at higher echelons in order to teach women in the traditional system of values and propagating the ideal of ryōsai kenbo (良妻賢母: good wife, wise mother) in its narrow meaning. The English Student (英学新報1901-1903) was an interesting example of a school publishing for its own students – run by Tsuda Umeko (津田梅子, 1864-1929) and others at her Joshi Eigaku Juku (女子英学塾, 1900 – present, currently as Tsuda Juku University). The following examples were Fujin Gahō (婦人画報 1905-present), Fujin Sekai (婦人世界, 1906-1933), and Fujokai (婦女会, 1910-1952) that were the popular general magazines catering to the women readership. And finally, an interesting and noteworthy example of the end of Meiji, yet more typical for Taishō (1912-1926) – the outspoken Seitō (青鞜, 1911-1916), a literary magazine by women only.8

The following chapter will provide some details regarding Iwamoto who, as we saw above, extensively participated in launching numerous women’s magazines in the 1880s and why/how/what did he choose to publish for women.

2. Iwamoto Yoshiharu’s Educational Ideals, Literary Endeavors and Ryōsai Kenbo Ideology

First of all, the writer of this article believes that contemporary research regarding the publications for women in Meiji is largely affected by the existent standards and expectations regarding the publications for women and tends to emphasize their didactic/moralistic character in addition to rather narrow understanding of the scope of women interests. However, while JZ most definitely exceeds the boundaries of kyōkunsho or koshinbun, it also takes them as precedents and builds upon the previous traditions of publishing for women. Therefore, JZ has most definitely been devised to serve as a “textbook” accessible to the masses, in addition to being a high-quality pastime. Keeping this in mind would help to elucidate Iwamoto’s publishing policies and the aims he had for JZ by seeing it as an attempt of an educator who, rather than developing his ideologies or supporting literary movements9, first of all sought for the most achievable ways to educate the women in practical and easily accessible means.

Iwamoto Yoshiharu (1863-1942). Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/19/Yoshiharu_Iwamoto.jpg
Iwamoto Yoshiharu (1863-1942). Source: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/19/Yoshiharu_Iwamoto.jpg


To illustrate what kind of an educator Iwamoto was, let us have a look at the circumstances in which he was raised.

Coming from a samurai family, Iwamoto received instruction in Confucian studies (儒学) while young. From 1876, he studied in Nakamura Masanao’s Dōjinsha, where he learned English, Chinese classics (漢文), liberalism (自由主義), and got influenced by John Stuart Mill’s (1806-1873) and Herbert Spencer’s (1820-1903) social and Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s (1712-1778) and Friedrich Wilhelm August Fröbel’s (1782-1852) educational theories. In 1880, he started studying at Tsuda Sen’s (1837- 1908) Gakunōsha Nōgakkō (学農社農学校, 1875-1884) where he began writing to Nōgaku Zasshi (農業雑誌, 1876-1920), through which he got to meet Kondō Kenzō. Together they also contributed to the Shōgaku Zasshi (小学雑誌, 1882-1885), a magazine on the elementary level education. In 1884, Iwamoto was baptized by Kimura Kumaji (木村熊二, 1845-1927), whom he then helped out with establishing Meiji Jogakkō. Iwamoto is said to have been very close to the Kimura family, that being one of the reasons why he took over running the school soon after the headmistress, Kimura Tōko (木村鐙子, 1848-86) passed away.

Iwamoto was growing up during the time of  Freedom and People’s Rights Movement (自由民権運動, 1874 – circa 1890) that extended to all corners of Japan. These were the times when people believed that they had the duty, and power, to bring Japan to a new and modern age. It was also the time when women started speaking of equal rights: Kusunose Kita (楠瀬喜多, 1836−1920), the “Grandma Public Rights” (民権ばあさん) spoke of the “women problem” (婦人問題) since 1878, while Fukuda Hideko (福田 英子, 1865-1927) urged the women to unite and bring change in the society together.

Meiji Jogakkō’s male staff of 1897-1904. Front row from left: Okonogi Chūshichirō (小此木忠七郎), Sakurai Ōson (桜井鴎村), Fukusaku Kitarō (福迫亀太郎); back row from left: Kawai Unkichi (川井運吉), Aoyanagi Yūbi (青柳有美), Iwamoto Yoshiharu (巌本善治), 湯谷磋一郎 (Nunokawa Saichirō), Nunokawa Magoitsu (布川孫市), Iwamoto Sōji (巌本捷治, Iwamoto Yoshiharu’s son).
Meiji Jogakkō’s male staff of 1897-1904. Front row from left: Okonogi Chūshichirō (小此木忠七郎), Sakurai Ōson (桜井鴎村), Fukusaku Kitarō (福迫亀太郎); back row from left: Kawai Unkichi (川井運吉), Aoyanagi Yūbi (青柳有美), Iwamoto Yoshiharu (巌本善治), 湯谷磋一郎 (Nunokawa Saichirō), Nunokawa Magoitsu (布川孫市), Iwamoto Sōji (巌本捷治, Iwamoto Yoshiharu’s son).

Iwamoto, as many a young man of samurai origin in the period, received extensive education in both classical/traditional Chinese (漢学) and new/modern Western (洋学) studies. In addition, he was brought up in a Protestant Community (both of the schools he attended being Christian), of which many published and placed strong emphasis on the importance of promotion of education. Thus, Iwamoto stood very much in between the educational ideals of missionaries and native Japanese educators. Unlike Japanese women’s educators that were most often preoccupied with the education of the higher (samurai and peer) classes, and unlike the missionaries who mostly taught the poor10, Iwamoto paid attention to the education of the girls from respectable, yet not affluent families.


All the students that gathered were brilliant. However, as it may be expected, there were few coming from affluent families. The students that entered the school were coming from the rural areas – ardent to learn, immensely zealous and ambitious – yet from families that did not have enough funds to send them to a school.

(Asuka, “Mushō zadan”, Vol.1 No.8, 1938, pp. 10-12.)11

Throughout his career as an educator and journalist, Iwamoto pointed out the aspects of the society that were not pretty and attempted to raise modern citizens that would be aware of and proactive about the issues in the Japanese society. His actions prove this, as he participated in the establishment of Fujin Kyōfūkai (the aforementioned Japanese Women’s Temperance Union) in 1886, discussed the situation of the Licensed Quarters, raised the issues regarding children rights and and described the situation in the orphanages, informed of the people harmed by the war effort (for example, people suffering from pollution at Watarasegawa caused by the national mining scheme and left to their own devices in 1900), the lavishness of the government parties in 1887, the education in Japanese influence zones (Taiwan and Korea) later in the period, etc. In considering compassion a prerequisite in women’s moral education, he was, as a Christian, ideologically close to the missionaries. At the same time, he was critical of the missionary education due to it being exclusively foreign, overemphasizing the inculcation of English and failing to provide girls with knowledge he deemed necessary for them to fully function in the Japanese society. He believed missionaries were more suited to provide tertiary education to girls rather than replace primary and secondary.

Iwamoto developed the studies of jogaku (女学), which, he claimed in his 1888 editorial12, were a studies of numerous areas regarding the wellbeing of women: the social intercourse (男女交際論), as he believed that men and women should be given a chance to get to know each other before marriage); marriage (婚姻論), which, he claimed, should be based on love and constructive to both parties who ought to be collaborating for each others’ benefit; home (家庭論) – woman’s sphere – in which the wife is the responsible and deciding member of the pair, in addition to being an educator of the children; vocations suitable for women (女子職業論), which he suggested should be various while advising the women to use their characteristics to the maximum benefit while not ruining their health and thus becoming teachers, writers, painters, etc.; improvement of conditions in daily life (生活改良論), as Iwamoto believed that it would be beneficial for women to have scientific and medical knowledge to aid them in looking after their families, etc. He urged the men to become active advocates and supporters of jogaku.

                 Overal, what jogaku meant to him could be summarized by the following passage.


[Jogaku] is an academic discipline that deals with the principles behind anything to do with women: their heart and soul, past, rights, position, and the various matters regarding what is necessary to them in the present. (Jogaku (The Study of Women) Defined. JZ No. 111, 1888.5)

Iwamoto’s ideology is said to have provided a model of ryōsai kenbo (good wife, wise mother; RK from here) ideology (Kinoshita, 1985). However, what we know of RK ideology today is the perception formed after the WWII when the concept received harsh criticism from scholars and feminists as being backward and limiting13. In addition, raising the women issues and using RK as a replacement for “a modern and capable housewife” in early to mid-Meiji lexicon was more an outcome of intellectuals striving to contribute their opinions in an effort to create a “modern Japan” that could boast its female citizens than an ideology or propaganda that it came to be when appropriated by the government in deciding the official curricula at girls’ schools in the later years of Meiji. Thus, first of all, it consisted of multifaceted ideas and opinions, was initially aimed at improving the situation of women, and was not as backward or limiting when viewed in comparison to other countries around the same time. Such position of the author can be exemplified by the fact that it was only in the 1910s that women started openly claiming that the RK ideal was not to their advantage. The previous generations of spokeswomen tended to employ the ideal to their benefit, working within the officially acknowledged framework and thus escaping the public criticism and gaining government’s support (e.g.: Shimoda Utako (下田 歌子, 1854-1936), Hatoyama Haruko (鳩山 春子, 1861-1938), Miwata Masako (三輪田真佐子, 1843-1927), Tanahashi Ayako (棚橋絢子, 1839-1939), Yamawaki Fusako (山脇房子, 1867-1935), etc.14 It is not unlikely then that the educators were working along the same lines, appropriating the common lexicon for their own benefit, reinterpreting it, yet managing to avoid the excessive scrutinization.

This applies to Iwamoto, as he appears to have had his own interpretation of what the term referred to. To him, a RK had to be an educated human being who knows her own mind, ready to use her skills for the benefit of the society. His idea of education was student-centered, aiming to give girls a chance to form their own opinions and be outspoken. He explains in the following passage:


My objective was that a school is not a place to build up the talents of each student, but a place where their special characteristics can be discovered, thus my policy was to improve their shortcomings, but without harming the strong points. (Asuka, “Mushō zadan”, Vol.1 No.8, 1938, pp. 10-12.)

Rather than to inculcate rigid ideals, he chose to provide his students with examples (often by offering a chance to listen to the speeches of possible role models, but mostly in literature) of noteworthy women and families for them to derive themselves what was to be learned.

Along jogaku, Iwamoto developed his theory of literature (文学論). While the latter is usually treated as a separate ideology from jogaku, it should rather be seen as a segment of it in Iwamoto’s thought. Along everything else what he wrote on literature, in 1887 Iwamoto contributed three editorials (issues No. 82-84), regarding novels: “Morality of Novel Reading”15), “On the Novel: No. II. – On what point to judge Novels?”16, and “On the Novel: No. III. – How to read Practical and not Romantic Side of Novels?”17. In No. 82, he argued the following:


Discussing the morals of novels, discussing how to improve them, and defining whether or not the novels are beneficial to humans should be of utmost importance to the scholars of jogaku. […] It is possible to choose to read the novels that are of high value and do not stray from social mores.

To prove his point, or due to the lack of literature that met his criteria, Iwamoto wrote and translated himself.

The pieces of fiction he wrote were Bara no kaori (薔薇の香), translated in the English table of contents as Fragrant Rose, that ran in numbers 66-69, 71-75 and 78-84 in the period from July 9, 1887 to  November 12, 1887; a short attempt at Byakurendan (白蓮談), translated as White Lotus, in numbers 91-92 and 94, January 7-28, 1888; a long-length enterprise Testujo no maki (哲女の卷), the title of which was left untranslated but could be interpreted as “Lady Philosopher’s Writings”, published in numbers 123-142, August 18, 1888 to 27 December, 1889; and Risō shinshi (理想紳士), translated as Ideal Beau, in numbers 147-158, February 2, 1889 to April 20, 1889. To give an example of the contents of the stories, the Fragrant Rose features love between young men and women, pointing out the importance of love and happiness, while Testujo no maki introduces a heroine who strives to enter Tokyo Imperial University to earn a Biology major.

All of the above were placed under the shōsetsu (小説), i.e. Fiction, column, signed by Tsukinoya Shinobu (月の舎しのぶ)18, one of the numerous Iwamoto’s pennames. While other parts of the magazine may have been printed in a small font and appear somewhat cramped, the shōsetsu were given plenty of space, most often boasting an illustration of half or even a full page each. Thus, out of around 30 pages of the magazine, about three would be dedicated to fiction.

Iwamoto also wrote non-fictional posthumous biographies of people dear to him: the first headmistress of Meiji Jogakkō, Kimura Tōko (木村鐙子, 1848−1886) in 1887, his wife Iwamoto Kashiko (岩本・若松賤子, 1864-1896) in 1896, and a close friend politician Katsu Kaishū 勝海舟(1823-1899) (Kimura) and translated Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice (as 人肉質入裁判) in 1885, Hans Christian Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes (as不思議の新衣装) in 1888, and The Rights of Married Women (as女の未来) by Francis King Carey (1880) in 1887.

The fact that besides intensely working for Meiji Jogakkō, publishing JZ and in other magazines, Iwamoto found time to write his own stories, compile biographies and translate shows how important he deemed literature as a tool for education and provides an insight into what message he sough to send out. This aspect of his literary ideology is often overlooked.19 stresses that there must have been no way that Iwamoto did not feel strongly about literature – otherwise he would not have been able to surround himself with the group of passionate literati that he did.))

Inoue (1969, p. 98) writes that when Iwamoto published “Bunshō no michi” (文章道, 1893) in the first issue of Bungakukai (文学界, 1893-1898), others were upset by how he was trying to use literature for practical purposes rather than striving to create art for art’s sake and thus initiated Bungakukai’s gradual split from Jogaku Zasshi and Jogaku Zasshi-sha. Hoshino Tenchi, one of the masterminds behind the establishment of Bungakukai, wrote in Mokuho shichijūnen (黙歩七十年) in 1938 that this was the only disagreement they have had regarding literature. Inoue (1969, p. 100) suggests that the easiest way for Iwamoto to approach the masses – the women who had not necessarily received modern education – was through the popular fiction (通俗的な小説) or manuals on running a household (庭訓) as women tended to turn to these when wishing to educate themselves (rather than be instructed by others). He was aware that women read more fiction than men20 and hoped to use it in his educational endeavors. In JZ no. 152 he wrote that by spending a day with a person of virtue one changes, yet one changes even more by being exposed to “clean” literature.21

3. Educational Purpose of Belles-Lettres

Iwamoto was obviously not the only educator who believed in novels as suitable educational materials. Tsuda Umeko, for example, used the belles-lettres as a means to teach the English language and customs of the Western countries to her students. The following quote shows her views on the Japanese literature and they are not too different from Iwamoto’s.

“I long that my sisters may study and have such advantages as I had. I am sorry they can not. Do you know, children hear so much that they ought not, and there is nothing good to teach them. The Japanese stories are immoral, and for a child like Fuki (Ume’s younger sister), of ten years, not fit to be touched. If you don’t let her read them, there is nothing to supply the place – no Sunday school stories, no fairy tales of romances of a good kind. English is the only medium to get to this literature, and English takes years to learn.” (May 23, 1883, Attic Letters, 1991, p. 69.)

Tsuda’s dilemma seems less complex than the one of Iwamoto’s, as she saw no problem in inculcating Christian/Western morals to her students, or teaching them from the English texts, thus differing to a great extent from Iwamoto, who was searching for an appropriate balance between the Western and the Japanese dogmas and the naturalization of Christian ideals. Interestingly, while Tsuda had an extensive library, it included very few works that could have been perceived as suitable readers to teach her students about the virtues of womanhood, love, or Christian home, – the topics of great importance for Iwamoto. However, it is clear that she too used literature in her educational endeavors. Tsuda’s choices were twofold – she taught English (and culture / Christian morals) with the help of English literature, translated (though mostly from Japanese to English) and published her own compilations of literature she deemed edifying.

Writings of Umeko Tsuda (pp. 518-519) offer a list of textbooks compiled by Tsuda herself. They are: Selected Stories in English for Japanese Students Arranged with Notes (1900), English Stories selected for Japanese Students (1901), her translations of Old Greek Stories written by James Baldwin (1902), The Story of Don Quixote retold by Calvin Dill Wilson (1902), The Adventures of Baron Munchusen (1902), The Story of Jon of Iceland by Bayard Taylor (1903), A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (1903), Easy English Stories (1905), John Halifax, Gentleman by Miss Mulock (1909), Five Stories from Miss Edgeworth (1910), Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (1912), Girls’ Taisho Readers 5 vols. (1916), English Stories 8 (1918), Girls’ New Taisho Readers 5 vols. (1921), Pearl Readers 5 vols. (1925), and Manual for Pearl Readers (1926). While the author did not succeed in ascertaining the exact stories in the compilations, the impression is that Tsuda chose to teach general Christian morality and Western patterns of thought.

In contrast, it becomes clear that what Iwamoto published dealt more with what education should encompass and how morals should be taught, as these were the topics that he was earnestly researching in, while he was also trying to develop examples in literature that would be localized and pertinent to the Japanese girls and women and thus facilitate certain changes in the society.

In a similar vein, Brownstein (1980, pp. 322-3) writes that Iwamoto recognized that the meager education restricted most women to reading the tabloids (読売), Tokugawa-period love stories (戯作), or simplified Confucian moral tracts (女性用教訓書); there were no new stories that women could read to their children, no inspiring biographies, and nothing to bring them in touch with the events of the new age. There were novels that portrayed “modern” women, such as Tsubouchi Shōyō (坪内逍遥, 1859-1935)’s Imo to Se Kagami (妹と背かがみ, 1886), or Tōkai Sanshi (東海散士, 1852-1922)’s Kajin no Kigū (佳人ノ奇偶 of 1885-97, but Iwamoto considered it the latter too difficult, and the former too old-fashioned. Even the pieces dealing with contemporary girl students failed his expectations. For instance, Futabatei Shimei (二葉亭四迷, 1864-1909)’s Ukigumo (浮雲, 1887) included a character Osei that was especially disturbing to Iwamoto: she was a reader of JZ, yet was depicted superficial and vain. In JZ no. 27, Iwamoto explains how the novels of the time were not suitable for women, as women were not depicted or seen as objects to fulfill desire. Iwamoto’s position of putting so much emphasis on morals in writing might have been his reaction to the gesaku (戯作) literature of the time.

How then did Iwamoto perceive/define literature suitable for educating and how did he incorporate it in the curriculum at Meiji Jogakkō?

First of all, Meiji Jogakkō did not teach only the Western literature, but sought for a good balance between the native (和学), Chinese (漢学) and Western (洋楽) studies.

The curriculum at Meiji Jogakkō balances Japanese, Western, and Chinese learning and avoids leaning towards one of such extremes as conservatism (守旧), progressivism (激進), Western (西洋風) or the traditional (旧弊風) style of education. This is proved by our curricula. For physical education, we employ calisthenics (体操), etiquette for women (女礼), and martial arts (武道) while the general education is aimed at training to enlighten and avoids using the methods of memorization by trying to come up with ways to cultivating the mind for original ideas instead. For moral education, while the Christianity forms the basis, we refrain from the proselytizing activities (伝道) and require self-improvement only.

Iwamoto thus stressed the need of balance in the abovementioned three trends of education and consequently the three types of literature – classical Japanese, Chinese, and Western in the curriculum.

When suggesting a two year curriculum for the students of a jogakkō22, Wagatō no joshi kyōiku suggested that out of 30 hours a week for each year, 3 should be spend on learning literature (文学) and should involve Japanese/Chinese Language study and Writing (和漢學及作文). In addition, there was allocated an hour for the first year and two hours for the second year students to learn English. Literature was not everything and had to come in a good balance with other subjects as well, especially physical education was not to be overlooked.

Let us now look in detail at what was then the literature that Iwamoto saw as educational and inspiring by analyzing the literature provided in JZ.

4. Literature in Jogaku Zasshi and its Characteristics

First of all, JZ offered a great variety of topics for both men and women covered in language accessible to those of varying abilities (with phonetic readings printed above the Chinese characters). The following columns (and more) can be found in JZ: editorials (社説), leading articles (論説), critical notices (批評), biographies (佳伝), historical recreations (史伝), contributed articles (寄書), novels (小説), open letter (開書), miscellany (雑録), word and deed (言行), household science (家政), science (理学),  jogaku (女学), thoughts and fancies (随感), children’s column (児籃), literature (文学), drollery (笑章), news – current (時事), general (新報), foreign (外報), concerning women (女報); questions and answers (問答), the friend of the orphans (孤友), etc.23 While there was quite a variety of articles to choose from by the readers, literature-related sections seem to occupy the larger amount of columns. That does not mean that the coverage of news and domestic advice came secondary, yet proves the importance Iwamoto gave assigned to literature.

1887, spring. Meiji Jogakkō’s staff and students.
1887, spring. Meiji Jogakkō’s staff and students.

From its inauguration JZ featured literary pieces. It was mostly native poetic traditions, such as waka (和歌) or kanshi (漢詩), or introductions of such Western classics as Shakespeare’s dramas, Tennyson’s poems, or Scott’s novels. In 1886, however, together with a movement to recreate a genre of novel for the needs of a modern Japan that took place among the Japanese literati at the time, JZ started featuring essays debating such controversial issues in contemporary Japanese literary theory as genbun itchi (言文一致, colloquial narrative) or kanzen chōaku (勧善懲悪, poetic justice/didacticism). Articles reviewing contemporary works (文芸批評), serialization of translations, original stories (小説), and modern poetry (新体詩) took on a prominent role in the pages of JZ as well. Contributions came from such writers as Ishibashi Ningetsu (石橋忍月, 1865-1926), Yamada Bimyō, Uchida Roan (内田 魯庵, 1868-1929) and Hoshino Tenchi, whose participation was later lost with the separation of Bungakukai in 1893. Since 1880s women especially were being encouraged to write for JZ and quite a few prominent writers kept on publishing in JZ throughout the the years.

Various versions of the magazine were aimed at different audiences, providing various examples of literature. From June 1892 to April 1893 the magazine was split into two complementary issues. White Covers were published on 1st and 3rd weeks of the month (taken under the jurisdiction of mostly male staff and meant for the general student readership, predominantly dealing with recent issues in social reform, experiments in contemporary literature and literary criticism). Red Covers were on 2nd and 4th weeks (compiled mostly by the female staff for both young and mature women seeking lifelong education / practical knowledge, women associations, and housewives). Jogakuzasshisha also offered Joseito (1890-93?) that featured literary pieces and literary criticism; a distance-learning course for women who were too old to attend schools; and numerous other pieces that they chose to publish throughout the years, such as Wagatō no joshi kyōiku of 1892 (a treatise on the educational policies at Meiji Jogakkō) and In Memory of Mrs. Kashi Iwamoto, with a collection of her English writings of 1896 (a biography and anthology for Iwamoto’s wife).

As Red Covers were aimed at women only, they help elucidate the type of readings JZ deemed suitable / of interest to women in the early 1890s. Under the household column Red Covers featured advice on personal hygiene and housekeeping, yet, at the same time, they also served as a pool of information regarding the changes in the government’s policy that could affect women, establishment of schools, school matters (policies, curricula, events, lists of graduates, available scholarships, messages about visiting scholars), women’s situation abroad in political and educational spheres, and featured interviews with girl students and women writers. When it came to literature, Red Covers introduced essays on Milton’s wife and Martin Luther’s mother, interviews with Frances Willard (the leader of Women Christian Temperance Union), biographies of Christopher Columbus’s wife and the “wise mothers” of Shakespeare, Carlyle, Napoleon, and St. Augustine. In addition, prose fiction by numerous writings of contemporary Japanese authors, children’s stories, and articles on The Tale of Genji (e.g.: issue no. 323), the Nun Abutsu’s poetry (e.g.: issue no. 321), and other similar classics.

Iwamoto’s ideas regarding Western literature in education are well expressed in the following quote.


外國文學中、最も謹厚敬虔なる文學なり、純潔の思念、擴大なる理想其中に充滿す、是れミルトンの文學なり、ジョンソン の文學なり、ボルク、カーライルの文學なり、バルンス、ウオズヲルス、エマソン、ブロウニングの文學なり、之れを日本文學に比較するに、其の純潔雄高なる處ろ特に秀でたるものあり、宇宙間の大なる存在者・・・上帝を奉ずるの處ろ特に秀でたるものあり。故に残念ながら当に有るべきよりも稍や多く其科目を学ぶことを得ず。故に宣教師方の如くに之を多くすることにも不同意なれども、また積極なる保守論の方々の如くに迄で之を少くすること能はず、故に此点に於ても中立なり。(15-16頁)

The English literature is remarkable

Among the various literary traditions the English literature is the most prudent and pious and teeming with chaste considerations and lofty ideals. I mean the writing of Milton, Johnson, Burke, Carlyle, Burns, Wordsworth, Emerson, Browning… Especially if you compare their writing to the Japanese literary tradition, the virtuousness and idealism become clearly visible. Especially, the reverence to the higher being in space – God – catches the eye. That is why, English literature education weighs heavily against the other subjects. Even while we disagree with overemphasizing the subject in a manner of the missionaries, avoiding it altogether in the manner of the traditionalists is also not recommended. That is why our school takes a neutral position in this.

Why was Iwamoto not arguing for the benefits of teaching with the aid of openly Christian writings such as the Bible? While it could have been a conscious choice, as the 1890s marked a great decrease in numbers of students in Christian educational institutions, it is likely that Meiji Jogakkō was under pressure from the government and the parents not to provide religious education.

Apart from the abovementioned Western male writers, JZ refered to Western women writers as role-models to the Japanese women. For instance, Iwakami Haruko’s study names JZ as the first in Japan to mention Charlotte Brönte (1816–1855). She made her appearance in no. 3224 and “was mentioned in one of the miscellanies entitled ‘Women’s suffrage’ which introduced two contrasting opinions by two British women named Mrs. Chapman and Mrs. Fawcet.” (Iwakami, 2002, p.93). In the same article, Jane Austen (1775-1817), Mrs. Browning (Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 1806-1861) and George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans, 1819-1880) were also discussed. No. 3725, as recommended writers to women, raised the names of Charlotte Brönte, George Eliot, Elizabeth Browning, Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896), Margaret Oliphant Wilson (1828-1897), Hannah More (1745-1833) and George Sand (Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin, 1804-1876). No. 4326, while discussing the benefits of the higher education for women, raised such literary women as Charlotte Brönte, George Eliot, Hannah More and others as providing examples of the benefits of higher education. In editorial “Women and Literary Work”27, Iwamoto used the cases of Charlotte Brönte, Ann Radcliffe (1764-1823), Marry Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) and Harriet Martineau (1802-1876) as successfully working women writers.

Not all these women were necessarily writing of idyllic Christian homes and woman’s tasks at the home. Some were ardent fighters for women suffrage and rights (e.g.: Radcliff); some wrote on the supernatural and gothic (Stowe); some, on social theory (Martineau).

While none of the above were translated into Japanese, the fact that the publishers were in knowledge of these writers and also felt confident to recommend them seems quite impressive28; at the same time, the readers were supposed to be able to find such texts in English making one ponder how many of such texts were accessible in Japan.

As an answer, Patessio (2001, pp. 23-25) describes how Iratsume displayed a few interesting contributions of the type where the writer offered an example of a number of foreign titles that could be purchased almost anywhere in Japan as a present for a (female) friend. For example, in the issue no. 23, there is a list of ‘books that are not harmful and can be bought in Tokyo,’ consisting of Ernest Maltravers (1837) by Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Oliver Goldsmith’s The Vicar of Wakefield (1803), Rip van Winkle by Irving Washington and Scott’s Ivanhoe (1820), while in the issue No. 26, the author suggested The Witness of the Sun (1889) by Amelie Rives, Marriage and Divorce in the United States by Convers, Jerry (1891) by the Duchess (Sarah Barnwell Elliott) and Guilderoy (1889) by Ouida. All these titles are in the original of English; in addition, the books suggested were not written by particularly well-known writers.

Whereas numerous male authors such as J.S. Mill, Herbert Spencer, Thomas Malthus, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Bulwer Lytton, Benjamin Disraeli, Shakespeare, Dickens, Swift, Victor Hugo, Alexander Dumas, Julies Verne, Cervantes etc. were being translated into Japanese, only three translations of works by women writers could be traced in Meiji: Frances Burnett’s Little Lord Fauntleroy (1890), Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Little Cabin (1896), and George Elliot’s Adam Bede (1911). (Iwakami, p. 94)  Adaptations of Jane Eyre started to be published in Bungei Kurabu in 1869, yet terminated after the fourth installment. Iwakami states that it was not accepted due to a fact of being a love story and promoting an independent heroine (Iwakami, 2002, 97). Tsuchiya Dollase notes that Louisa May Alcott was introduced to Japanese readers in 1897 as the most popular American fiction writer and Little Women was first rendered accessible to readers in 1906 by Kitada Shūho (about which little is known) as Shōfujin (小婦人). The translator opens the book stating that “[t]his beautifully written book should be taken as home primer which teaches shūshin and seika (wise governance of family affairs),” (Tsuchiya, 2010, p. 249) – it was a book deemed capable of introducing the Western home and lifestyle, female virtues, expected roles, and responsibilities, illustrating the point that pieces of fiction were seen capable to serve such purpose.

As for the Japanese women writers, they were important contributors to the JZ. Wakamatsu Shizuko’s rendering of Little Lord Fauntleroy into Shōkōshi(小公子, published in JZ in 1890-1891)stands in the Japanese history of translation as one the first genbun ichi (vernacular) adaptations of foreign texts. It was also a groundbreaking effort in the field of literature for children. The text was most likely chosen by Wakamatsu to back up her ideas regarding the importance of the role of mother in a family as that of a teacher, to exemplify the special relationship between mother and child, and to provide child and mother a chance to speak for themselves. Both Wakamatsu and Iwamoto were concerned with the fates of the minors in dire circumstances and children’s rights. There is also evidence that her translation was used as a textbook for learning English language at some girl schools in tandem with the original in English (Ortabasi, 2010, p. 203).

Translation of Fauntleroy, however, is but a small part of what Wakamatsu contributed to the JZ during the years. For instance, she translated Adelaide Anne Procter’s poetry (direct address, first-person narrative) and Tennyson’s Enoch Arden (am example of romantic love), while also contributing numerous articles and her own creations.

JZ’s issue no. 11529) offers a positive response to Miyake Kaho’s Warbler in the Grove, most likely written by Iwamoto himself, and being one of the very few positive receptions of the piece. Iwamoto was familiar with Kaho, as she spent a month studying at Meiji Jogakkō, and wrote later in her life how greatly she was impressed by Iwamoto’s teaching methods. She also seems to have been influenced by at least some of his ideas regarding the literature – the principle of kanzen chōaku and his call for the woman writers to come forth. Warbler in the Grove depicted love between couples as that of comradeship/companionship – an agreement to marry was thus made between the pair without the parents in the picture. Iwamoto’s ideal home image was also that the women ought to marry after they have been well educated, and after they have become able to sustain themselves. There are also two girl characters who decide to become teachers and are not so much inclined to marry but to study and work – which is not perceived as an issue – a position supported by Iwamoto. Finally, throughout the piece, Kaho seeks for a balance between the “Western modernity” and “Japanese traditionality” – a trait Iwamoto kept throughout his career.

Arguing that Kaho proved herself a good student of Iwamoto (or JZ) does not curtail her literary achievement in any way, neither it denies her the originality. It just depicts how two educated individuals of the time – one man and one a woman – maintained similar ideals. In addition, it also serves as a proof that such ideals were not only found in Iwamoto’s writings, but that they coincided with what the youths of the day may have sought for themselves. After all, both Kaho and Iwamoto were in their early twenties when Kaho wrote Warbler in the Grove. They were also both versed in Chinese Classics and Western studies, placing them in a position to appreciate both, and to look for an acceptable harmony between the two.

Shimizu Shikin should also not be overlooked. While her greatest contribution to JZ would probably be her journalistic and editorial efforts, she contributed “The Broken Ring” (こわれ指輪) in 1891, written boldly and in colloquial language about the hardships of a divorced woman, “The School of Émigrés” (移民学園) in 1899 that dealt with the issues the strata of outcastes (burakumin – 部落民) and their descendants had to face even in modern Japan, expressing the outspokenness and a aspiration for social improvement that Iwamoto was seeking in the modern women.

5. Conclusions

In modernizing Japan, the situation with textbooks was that educators had to compile their own. What else was there to do for an educator with an intricate set of ideals and understanding of what education entails? Iwamoto attempted to teach morality and shape modern identities but could or chose not to openly inculcate Christianity. What he decided to do instead was to offer a selection of literature that would serve as textbooks not only to his students but also to the society at large – the readers of JZ. He nurtured both men and women who could be the ones composing such literature, while he also attempted to write as much as he could himself. His editorials appeared in every number of JZ that was ever published with only a few exceptions, his other contributions also being numerous. All the while, he was trying to juggle between what was expected of him by the society, the government, the students, and his own ideals.

Hopefully this paper has thrown light onto the literary activities of some of the Meiji period’s educators’ perception and application of literature. In case of Iwamoto, who was an active publishing educator, we saw struggles to provide people seeking knowledge chances to grow and improve themselves by presenting them exemplary role models and sets of ideals in forms of literature. He supported writers, but his main aim was to educate the masses, not to sustain a literary movement. Finally, in women writers within and outside Japan he saw role models for educated and empowered modern Japanese women.


Simona Lukminaitė is a Lithuanian scholar specializing in intellectual history and history of education in Japan, particularly during the Meiji period. She is currently a PhD candidate at Osaka University and her subject of research is literature, physical education (with a particular focus on martial arts), and aesthetics in the education of women.

Selected bibliography

Materials in Japanese:

Amano Haruko天野晴子(2008) “Women’s education in Edo Era”「江戸時代の女子教育について–往来物を通してみる女性の教育と生活」『生活文化研究所年報』 21, 3-20, ノ-トルダム清心女子大学生活文化研究所.

Asuka, “Mushō zadan”, Vol.1 No.8, 1938, pp. 10-12.「撫象座談」『明日香』第1券第8号, 古今書院, 1936年, 10−12項.

Hoshino Tenchi星野天知著(1983)『黙歩七十年』明治大正文学回想集成, 9, 日本図書センター.

Inoue Teruko井上輝子(1969)「巌本善治の文学論」 文学 / 岩波書店 [編] 37(10) pp. 97~110東京 : 岩波書店.

Inoue Teruko 井上輝子(1971)『「女学雑誌」の執筆者構成 明治二十年代ジャーナリズム構造解明のための試験』立教大学.

Ishizuki Shizue 石月静恵(2007)『近代日本女性史講義』世界思想社.

Ishikawa Matsurō石川松太郎編纂(1973)『日本教科書大系 往来編 第15巻 女子用』講談社.

Ishikawa Matsutarō 石川松太郎編(1977)『女大学集』平凡社.

Isozaki Yoshiharu 磯崎嘉治 (1975)「巌本善治の出版活動 − 西片町文化, 揺籃の地をめぐって」 出版研究 / 日本出版学会編. 東京 : 日本出版学会 ; 東京 : 出版ニュース社, (通号 6) pp.160-174.

Jogaku Zasshi (1966-1967) Tokyo: Rinsen Shoten.

Kinoshita Hiromi 木下比呂美(1985)「巌本善治の女子教育思想:近代的家庭の創造と婦人の人間的発達」『教育学研究』Vol.52, No.2, pp.153-163.

Nakajima Misaki中嶋みさき(1992)「巖本善治の人権・女権論の展開:女子教育論の前提として」 『東京大学教育学部紀要』31巻, pp. 65-73.

Nishida Taketoshi 西田長寿 (1966)『明治時代の新聞と雑誌』日本歴史新書.

Wagatō no joshi kyōiku『吾党之女子教育』(1892) 明治女学社.

Materials in English:

Brownstein, Michael C. “Jogaku Zasshi and the Founding of Bungakukai.” Monumenta Nipponica 35, no.3 (1980): 319-336.

Copeland, R. L. and Ortabasi, M. The Modern Murasaki: Writing by Women of Meiji Japan. Columbia: Columbia University Press, 2006.

Copeland, Rebecca L. Lost Leaves: Women Writers of Meiji Japan. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2000.

Duke, Benjamin C. The History of Modern Japanese Education: Constructing the National School System, 1872-1890. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University, 2009.

Iwakami Haruko. “The Brontës in Japan: How Jane Eyre was received in the Meiji Period (1868–1912).” Brontë Studies 27, no. 2 (2002): 91-99.

Koyama Shizuko. Ryosai Kenbo: The Educational Ideal of ‘Good Wife, Wise Mother’ in Modern Japan. Leiden, Boston: Brill, 2012.

Patessio, Mara. “Iratsume and Journals for Women in the Early Meiji Period.” Electronic Journal of Contemporary Jaganese Studies (ejcjs), 2002, http://www.japanesestudies.org.uk/kenkyu2002/Patessio.pdf.

Patessio, Mara. Women and Public Life in Early Meiji Japan: The Development of the Feminist Movement. Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan, 2011.

Sugano Noriko. “State Indoctrination of Filial Piety in Tokugawa Japan” in Women and Confucian Cultures in Premodern China, Korea, and Japan. California: University of California Press, 2003.

Tocco, Martha. C. “Norms and Texts for Women’s Education in Tokugawa Japan.” In Women and Confucian Cultures in Premodern China, Korea, and Japan. California: University of California Press, 2003.

Tsuchiya Dollase, Hiromi. “Shōfujin (Little Women): Recreating Jo for the Girls of Meiji Japan.” Japanese Studies 30, no. 2, (2010): 247-262.

Tsuda Umeko. Writings of Umeko Tsuda, 1864-1929. Tokyo: Tsuda Juku University Press, 1980.

Tsuda Umeko, Furuki Yoshiko. The Attic Letters: Ume Tsuda’s Correspondence to Her American Mother, Tokyo: Weatherhill, 1991.


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  1. Refer to R. L. Copeland and M. Ortabasi (eds.), The Modern Murasaki: Writing by Women of Meiji Japan. (Columbia: Columbia University Press, 2006) for an introduction to women’s writing in this period. []
  2. Due to limitations of space this paper will not consider each of the treatise in detail, but readers of Japanese can refer to Ishikawa Matsutarō’s study, 1977. []
  3. One good example being Patessio, 2011. []
  4. A legal definition of kōtō jogakkō (高等女学校) – higher women’s school – appeared in 1891 only to put under the control of the government the existing establishments. In 1895 (高等女学校規程) and 1899 (高等女学校令) the curricula provided in such schools were subsequently standardized into one acceptable to the government. []
  5. For details, refer to Nishida, 1966. []
  6. Nakamura was to become one of Iwamoto’s teachers in Dōjinsha (同人社、1873-1887), while Fukuzawa and Mori served as his initial role models. []
  7. Mara Patessio (2002) offers an interesting study regarding the magazine. []
  8. This selection is but a few titles from many more magazines that were aimed at women readership. In addition, especially after the 1890s, numerous literary and general interest magazines started to be published for youngsters in general. []
  9. Various studies criticize Iwamoto for not having kept a constant ideology (Nakajima, Kinoshita) or having exerted too much influence on his protégés (Copeland, Brownstein), yet the author believes that the purpose Iwamoto envisioned for JZ and the compromises he chose or refused to make are often left overlooked. []
  10. [T]he Normal School is not all it should be, I fear; it is in control of people that know nothing of education. This is the only school for girls besides the missionary schools, which only poorer classes attend and to which no one of any rank would send a daughter. (Attic Letters, 1991, p. 24, December 17, 1882, Tsuda Umeko to Mrs. Lanman). []
  11. Translations of this and the following passages are have been by the author of this article. []
  12. No. 111, “Jogaku (The Study of Women) Defined” (女学の解). Definition of jogaku was not a static one: Iwamoto came to develop his ideology in a nationalistic direction in the following years, yet quickly became disillusioned after the effects of the first Sino-Japanese war (1894-95) became apparent. []
  13. Koyama Shizuko was among the very first ones to point out otherwise in her 1991 study『良妻賢母という規範』. However, she barely refers to how the ideology formed in Meiji. The book is available in English as Ryosai Kenbo: The Educational Ideal of ‘Good Wife, Wise Mother’ in Modern Japan (2012). []
  14. For more information regarding the experience of women seeking agency and finding it in Meiji society, refer to Patessio, 2011. []
  15. 「小説論(第一)小説を読む善悪の事」(English translations of the titles provided in the magazine. []
  16. 「小説論(第二)小説の善悪を批評する標準の事」 []
  17. 「小説論(第三)女流、小説を読むの覚悟の事」 []
  18. The name of Mr. Tsukinoya (月の舎主人) features in many other numbers as well. The first time he appears is in no. 2, to provide the readers with 「梅香女史の傳」– a biography of Mrs. Baika that goes on to numbers 3-6, and 9. []
  19. For instance, Copeland writes that “[F]iction, in general, was not fit for female readers, or so Iwamoto believed” (2000, p. 28). On the opposite, Inoue (1969, p. 98 []
  20. 「女子は男子よりも多く小説を読むものなり」「女子と小説 上」 JZ no. 27, 1886年6月25日 []
  21. 「文章上の理想」 JZ no. 152: 「夫れ人一日君子と同居せば自然にして化せらる、而して清潔なる文章の人を化するは君子よりも強し」. []
  22. In a supplement section, advice on how to establish a girls’ school (補言, p. 214 of Wagatō no joshi kyōiku, published by Meiji Jogakkō in 1892). []
  23. As in the English translations provided in the magazine. While some of these would persevere during the years, some would be less regular. Various columns established by the magazine (such as the one for children) served as examples for other magazines. []
  24. 15 August, 1886. []
  25. 5 October, 1886. []
  26. 5 December, 1886. []
  27. 「女子と文筆の業」8 October, 1887, No. 79. []
  28. Iwamoto is known to have been under a membership of numerous Western periodicals for women (“The Queen” (est. 1861), “Women’s Journal” (1870-1931), “Family Herald” (1843–1940), etc.) and may have taken a few hints from them without having actually read the books himself. The information could also have reached him through foreign intelectuals he came in touch with. []
  29. (『藪の鶯』, June 23, 1888 []


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