小栗上野介随想(東善寺) ● 日本の近代化に尽くした「明治の父」
Essay about Kozukenosuke Oguri (Tozenji Temple) "Father of Meiji Era" who Dedicated to the modernization of Japan

Kozukenosuke Oguri, the father of the Meiji Era
The man who Dedicated to the Modernization of Japan


Kozukenosuke Oguri, who is well-known locally here, is not so well known nationwide. However, as the chief priest of Tozenji Temple, the family temple of Oguri, I would like to approach Kozukenosuke Oguri as a human being in this course through the historical facts I have obtained through years of research.

NHK文化センター情報誌 「Salon」22号
                       NHK Cultural Center magazine "Salon" No.22



The origin of the word "volunteer" is said to refer to volunteer soldiers who participate voluntarily. Volunteer activities related to Kozukenosuke Oguri were conducted by the people of Gonda Village immediately after he was killed by the Western Army. The villagers formed a convoy to protect Mrs. Michiko Oguri, Oguri's mother, and some others, and after passing through the Agatsuma area in Jyoshu (today's Gunma Prefecture) to the unexplored region of Akiyamago to Niigata, they arrived in Aizu after much hardship. They lost two young men in the Aizu Boshin War, which began shortly after, and they protected Mrs. Michiko and others and took them to Shizuoka before returning to Gonda village. They were truly volunteers who risked their lives.  

From Gonda village farmers' point of view, Oguri was a lord who collected tribute, not a lord and retainer. Why, then, did they protect the Oguri family so much? Oguri's actions during the two months after he moved from Edo to Gonda reveal the reasons why the villagers were willing to risk their lives as volunteers.


The first half of the course introduces the major role Oguri played in Japan's modernization based on his observations during his mission to the United States. These include the process of building the Yokosuka Shipyard, which can be considered the starting point of Japan's structural reforms, the role the shipyard played in Japan's modernization, and the creation of Japan's first joint stock company, which was a precursor to the current PFI bill. It would confirm why Ryotaro Shiba praised Oguri as the "father of the Meiji era" for his achievements.    

To conclude the course, if you actually enter the U.S. Yokosuka Air Base to see the existing shipyard, you will easily understand the sentiments of General Heihachiro Togo who thanked Oguri's bereaved family, saying, "It is thanks to Oguri-san that we achieved a complete victory in the Battle of the Sea of Japan." The knowledge of history we gain through the written word becomes flesh and blood that we can speak of in our own words only when we walk on the ground. Therefore, I intend to visit as many of the places associated with Kozukenosuke Oguri as possible to uncover the great deeds of Oguri and his human charm.

(NHK Culture Center magazine, "Salon," No. 22, the issue of Winter 2002 or Heisei 14)



What Japan's Modernization Has Brought to Asia
Excerpts from a speech delivered by King Jigme Khesar of Bhutan to the Japanese Diet on November 17, 2011, during his honeymoon visit to Japan.




King Kesar expressed his condolences to the victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake as follows:
"I remember staring helplessly at the news of the onrushing tsunami. ... No nation's people should ever have to experience such hardship. But if any nation can emerge stronger and greater from such misfortune, it is Japan and its people. I am convinced of that."

He then continued:
"I know that my young father and his generation proudly watched Japan lead Asia into modernity decades ago. Japan brought confidence and a sense of direction to what was then an underdeveloped region of Asia, and has since given hope to the many countries that have followed Japan to the forefront of the global economy."

"Japan has been a leader in the past and continues to be a leader today."

明治以降 アジアを忘れ無視していた日本

加藤秀俊 著作データベース
ふたつの「バタビア新聞」  より
発行年月: 19740325

Japan has forgotten and ignored Asia since the Meiji era
Hidetoshi Kato Database of Works
From two "Batavia newspapers"
Published: March 25, 1974



It was natural and sensible for Japan, which had begun its tremendous "modernization" activities with the slogan, "Catch up with and overtake the advanced West," to be directly connected to the West in this way and to absorb information from the West with voracious appetite. After all, Japan succeeded in "modernizing" while looking at the West sideways.  

However, ... Japan somehow became insensitive to, or ignored, information from Asia, such as Batavia (the ancient name for Jakarta) and Hong Kong. Asia has been absent from the world map of the Japanese people. Even when Asia has occasionally entered their consciousness, it has been as an object of exploitation, and their attitude toward learning from it seems to have been rather weak. Anti-Japanese sentiment in Southeast Asia today is complicated by domestic issues, and it would be a bit harsh to paint Japanese companies that have expanded into these countries as the villains. However, we must recognize the common tendency of Japanese people to be basically indifferent to information from Asia.