Former Uedamachi Elementary School (1)

2021-03-25

I wrote “I’m curious about the Uedamachi School" on my blog “A visit to Former Nakagomi School" in 2018. I had left it for a while, but I investigated about it.

This is Ueda City, Nagano Prefecture.
There is a guide board on the sidewalk in front of the Ueda Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
In 1878, the Uedamachi School was built here.

The following was written on the information board.

The first (western-style) school building in Ueda
Uedamachi School
In 1878, Uedamachi school, a three-story western-style building that symbolizes Ueda’s Meiji culture, was built here as a school for the townspeople. And it was also used as a lodging facility for the Emperor. After that, it became a branch school of Ueda Elementary School. But the building was burnt down in 1898. Principal Yoshitaro Kume felt responsible and committed suicide. His son, Masao Kume, published this incident in 1815 as his novel, “The Death of Father."

Establishment of Uedamachi School

In Japan, the school system was promulgated in 1872, and the Uedamachi School was opened in 1873. Initially, Honyoji Temple in the school district was used as a temporary school building. At that time, there was Matsudaira School in Ueda, which inherits the tradition of the clan school, and this was a school that accepted only the former clan’s children. On the other hand, Uedamachi School was established as a place of education for the children of commoners.

Around 1877, there were requests for new school building because temporary school buildings were often inconvenient.

Emperor Meiji visited Ueda

In 1878, it was decided that the Emperor Meiji would visit the Hokuriku and Tokai region, and Ueda Town was scheduled to be one of the accommodation. However, there is no suitable building to stay in Ueda. Therefore, at this time, the proposal was made to build a new elementary school and use it as the lodgings of the Emperor. It was decided on the location of the former Ote-mon Gate of Ueda Castle and proceeded with the construction. The school building with a three-story and a watchtower was completed three months after the construction started.

On June 29, 1878, Ueda Town issued a petition to the Nagano Prefectural saying, “We have already started construction of the school building. We want you to make the school building the lodging of the Emperor because we will be sure to make it in time."
The prefecture has applied to the national government, but has confirmed with Ueda City whether it will be in time. Ueda Town replied on July 26 that “it was already 80 or 90% complete and will definitely be completed by the end of this month."

The Emperor Meiji visit group stayed at Ueda on September 7, 1878. The next images are from “The details note of Emperor’s Hokuriku Tokai visit" (edited by Tohei Kurita, Keiundo, 1978), but the actual number of people was more than 2000 including luggage carriers and security guards.

On the third floor of the school building, local old books and utensils were displayed and “bonsai" was displayed. A map with a panoramic view of all directions was made and installed in the watchtower on the fourth floor. It is said that the northwestern room on the second floor was used for the emperor.

The next photo is a stone monument in front of the Ueda Chamber of Commerce. On the surface, it is written as “The Remained site of Emperor Meiji’s stay place  (written by Aritomo Yamagata, Duke of Marshal)". This monument was erected long after 1920.

On the back of the stone monument, this meaning was written.

In the summer and fall of 1878, His Majesty the Emperor visited the Tokai and Hokuriku regions and stayed at Uedamachi School on September 7. The townspeople celebrated every year to commemorate this. With the old school building as the town hall in 1916 and the establishment of Ueda City in 1919, we decided to build a stone monument and record it.
May 27, 1920
Nagano Governor Tenta Akahoshi

Transition of Uedamachi School

After being used as an Emperor’s stay, the school opening ceremony was held in November of the same year.
According to the statistics of 1877, Uedamachi School had 12 classes, 13 teachers, and 359 students (226 boys and 133 girls). The number of students in 1887 was 196 for boys and 150 for girls, for a total of 346 students.

After that, the name and organization of the school had been changed due to changes in laws and regulations.

In April 1886 (Meiji 19), the four schools of Uedamachi, Tokiiri, Tikiwagi, and Shinshin were merged into Matsudaira School to be called Ueda School. Uedamachi School became the Ueda branch school.

In 1889, the name was changed to Ueda Elementary School, and the main school (former Matsudaira School) accepts male students, and the Ueda Branch School (former Ueda Street School) accepts female students.

In 1895, Ueda Elementary School became Ueda Higher Elementary School.
That year, Yoshitaro Kume became the director of the school.

(to be continued)

【reference】(These books are written in Japanese)
“History of Ueda City" (written by Naoe Fujisawa, edited by Ueda City, 1940)
“Gistory of Ueda, Modern History (8) History of School Education" (Ueda City, 2003)

(Translated : 2021.03.24)