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THE BANSHO SHIRABESHO: A TRANSITIONAL INSTITUTION IN BAKUMATSU JAPAN

by Hommes, James Mitchell

Abstract (Summary)
In the Bakumatsu period (1853-1868), Japan experienced many changes and challenges. One of these challenges was regarding how to learn from the West and how to use that knowledge in the building of Japan. One of the most important institutions for such Western learning was the Bansho Shirabesho, an institution created by the Tokugawa government in 1856 to translate Western materials, provide a school for Japanese scholars, and to censor the translations of Western works. This institution eventually gave language instruction in Dutch, English, French, German, and Russian and it also gave instruction in many other practical subjects such as military science and production. This thesis examines in detail how the Shirabesho was founded, what some of the initial difficulties were and how successful it was in accomplishing the tasks it was given. It also assesses the legacy of the Shirabesho in helping to bridge the transition between the Tokugawa periods emphasis on feudal rank and the Meijis emphasis on merit. The legacy of various scholars at the Shirabesho, including Katsu Kaishu, Katõ Hiroyuki, Nishi Amane and Tsuda Mamichi is also addressed. Finally, the thesis summarizes the evolution of the Shirabesho during the tumultuous early Meiji Period into the University of Tokyo by 1877. In addition to the thesis, in the appendix there is a full translation of a previously untranslated speech delivered by Katõ Hiroyuki in 1909 concerning the Bansho Shirabesho.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:J. Thomas Rimer; David O. Mills; Richard Smethurst

School:University of Pittsburgh

School Location:USA - Pennsylvania

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:east asian studies

ISBN:

Date of Publication:07/10/2006

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