Special Exhibition "Fukuzawa Yukichi and Nonviolence: 150 Years Since An Encouragement of Learning"
December 23, 2022
From October 17 to December 17, the Keio History Museum held a fall exhibition titled, "Fukuzawa Yukichi and Nonviolence: 150 Years of An Encouragement of Learning." The exhibition highlighted Fukuzawa Yukichi's Gakumon no Susume (An Encouragement of Learning) and commemorated the 150th anniversary of its first volume's publication in 1872 by examining the "Naganuma Affair" as an example of how this text impacted Japanese people at the time.
The Naganuma Affair involved a dispute between Naganuma Village and the national government over the ownership of the "Naganuma Swamp" territory, which was located in what is present-day Naganuma, Narita City in Chiba Prefecture. The townspeople were facing hardships after the government chose to unilaterally ignore their claims to the land. At this time, a representative from the village got his hands on a copy of An Encouragement of Learning and, certain that the author of such a book would be sympathetic to their cause, he went to Mita, Tokyo to visit Fukuzawa's residence. Fukuzawa lent the villagers his assistance in various ways, even writing a petition on their behalf. This resistance continued for over 25 years until the government finally acknowledged its error and returned the swamp to the village free of charge. It was through Fukuzawa's advice that the villagers established an elementary school, worked to protect their marine resources, began to produce silk, and considered how to use "learning" to devise new ways of living, thereby overcoming their difficult circumstances.
This exhibition collected documents and materials connected to An Encouragement of Learning and the Naganuma Affair, blending them into a single cohesive experience. In addition to displaying primary historical documents such as Fukuzawa's handwritten petition, the museum also showcased items that recorded the interactions between Fukuzawa and the villagers after the case had been resolved. An actual song that has been passed down for generations in Naganuma which honors Yukichi Fukuzawa was played throughout the exhibit space.
The first gallery talk for the exhibition was held on November 8th. Museum visitors listened with rapt attention as Associate Professor Takeyuki Tokura, deputy director of the Keio History Museum, gave a detailed explanation of the exhibition.
The exhibition space
First edition of Gakumon no Susume (An Encouragement of Learning), Vol. 1, (1872)
The "Gatapishi-Nashi" hanging scroll that Fukuzawa Yukichi sent to the people of Naganuma village and other items
Draft of Fukuzawa Yukichi's response to the request of Naganuma village (March 1876)
Associate Professor Takeyuki Tokura, the deputy director of the Keio History Museum, explaining the significance of exhibit materials
The Bronze Statue of Fukuzawa Yukichi at the Mita Public Speaking Hall on Mita Campus