Overseas mission visits schools for blind and deaf in Edo period

The overseas mission visited the US Navy.
(photo: http://www.geocities.jp/satopyon0413/kaisetsu16.htm)

The Shogunate dispatched the overseas mission seven times around the end of Edo period to inspect a Western situation in addition to diplomatic negotiations. The first mission was to the U.S.A. in 1860, and the second to Europe in 1862-1863.

There are many records of personal experiences and reports by the delegates. The information about an educational system or a school appears abundantly in those diaries and records.

First, the mission to the U.S. A. visited the school for the blind, school for the deaf, or orphanage, and the members were strongly impressed.

For example, when they visited the New York School for the Blind in 1860, they observed the students touching the Braille with the fingers and reading. Reportedly 11 of 16 teachers were blind.

The mission to Europe also visited the orphanage, the school for the blind, and the school for the deaf in 1862. In the "Western Situation," published in 1866, the author Fukuzawa Yukichi who was on the mission mentioned the education method taken at the "institute for blind", "institute for the deaf", "institute for the mental retarded children", etc. in Paris. He founded Keio Gijuku University in 1865, currently located in Tokyo.

Mori Arinori was a foreign student in Britain those days, and became the first Minister of Education later. He mentioned his visit to the institute for the blind and the deaf in the country which deeply impressed him with the result.

Japanese Journalists also published a book on what they observed abroad between the late Edo period and early Meiji period. For example, MURATA Fumio wrote about an English school for the Deaf in his book titled "A record of personal experiences in England" in 1860.

In the westernization of Japan, the education of children with disabilities in Europe and the U.S. A. greatly influenced on the Japanese concerned.

HANAWA Hokiichi, Hellen Keller's role model

Hanawa Hokiichi
Helen Keller (second from right)
(photo: http://denhichi.blog105.fc2.com/blog-entry-105.html)

HANAWA Hokiichi (1746-1821) was a Japanese classical scholar of the Edo period.

When he was 5 years old, he suffered from trouble with his eyes due to a gastroenteric disorder. His eyesight weakened gradually. He became blind at 7 years old.

Helen Keller was educated by her parents saying that she should "follow Hanawa as her role model" since the childhood.

When she visited Japan for the first time in April, 1937, she visited by touching the sedentary statue of Hanawa in the memorial hall in Shibuya, Tokyo (photo).

UTSUNOMIYA Mokurin: Deaf influential scholar for Shoin

UTSUNOMIYA Mokurin (1824-1897) was another deaf person who had a great influence on Yoshida Shoin, a famous thinker.

Utsunomiya Mokurin (1824-1897), born in Kure-shi, Hiroshima Prefecture, was a priest. He suffered from serious illness in Osaka, and lost hearing at the age of 20.

In spite of being Deaf, he studied thoroughly Japanese literature, Chinese literature, and Buddhism. He traveled around in Japan, explaining the respect for the Emperor.

In 1855, Mokurin, aged over 30, visited Hagi City in Yamaguchi Prefecture. He had read a book written by YOSHIDA Shoin in prison, and had wanted to argue with him about the book.

Shoin yet did not mean to have an idea of "overthrowing the shogunate" those days. He rather took the position of "refraining from its overthrow",  keeping the strict position as a subject to Tokugawa shogunate and his local feudal lord.

Mokurin asked for a meeting with Shoin. He was younger than Mokurin by 6 years, but declined to meet him. However, later both the men discussed through correspondences.

Then, 29-year-old Shoin was knocked down, seeing Mokurin's point and came to recite the "opening of the country, exclusion of foreigners" and "overthrowing the shogunate."

Shoin set up a plan to assassinate the senior shogunate councilor for the purpose of saving the noble-minded patriots arrested by the Ansei Purge in 1858, and was arrested by the shogunate.

He was seen off in Edo by the shogunate next year and beheaded. Mokurin got to know Shoin's unexpected death,  angered and cried hard.

TANI Sanzan: Deaf scholar in late Edo period

Tani Sanzan
There are two well-known Deaf scholars, TANI Sanzan and UTSUNOMIYA Mokurin, both who influenced Yoshida Shoin on the nature of Nation, in the late Edo period.

TANI Sanzan (1802-1868) was a Confucian scholar who  educated many students in the later half of the Edo era.

He was born as the third son to the parents who owned a wealthy sake brewery in Yamatonokuni, one of the Japanese feudal countries (now Nara Prefecture).

Sanzan was weak, easily to get sick in the childhood. His eyes and ears suffered at the age of 11. His eyes recovered, but he lost hearing and became completely deaf at the age of 14.

He strove for study of the official Japanese history book. Since he was Deaf, it was impossible for him to take lessons from a hearing teacher, either, but he studied through books by himself. It is said that he read through thousands of volumes in 20 years.

Sanzan went out to Kyoto in 1829 and studied under a Confucian scholar named IGAI Keisho.

Sanzan opened a private school and educated many students including YOSHIDA Shoin in around 1835. Later his feudal lord of the Takatori clan in Nara Prefecture ranked Sanzan as a samurai-scholar.

Sanzan lost sight completely at the age of 48 by the relapse of the eye disease, unable to do reading and the conversation. He always sat leaning against the desk, and waited for a student coming. When the student came and knocked the desk, Sanzan held the hand. The poetry verses and the sutra were written on the palm while Sanzan lectured and discussed.

From that time, Sanzan criticized the policy of the Tokugawa Shogunate severely from the idea of reverence for the Emperor and expulsion of the barbarians (foreigners). He argued with Yoshida Shoin, who had a Deaf-mute brother, and others in writing for a long time in May, 1853.

Sanzan published his idea and theory on "reverence for the Emperor and expulsion of the barbarians."

When Commandore Perry, dispatched by U.S.President, came to Japan with the warships in September, 1853, Sanzen wrote a book and argued, "It is improper definitely for Japan to accept Perry's threatening demands to open the country."

Moreover, Sanzan presented research of Siam, China, etc., and many other laborious works.

Two months after the Tokugawa shogunate was dissolved in October, 1867, Sanzan passed away at the age of 66 on on December 11.

Deaf student wins the first prize at National Deaf School Art Contest

Ikeda Yuyo with his art work (photo: http://www.ehime-np.co.jp/)

December 16, 2011

The Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Prize (highest award) at the 16th National Deaf School Art Contest was awarded to IKEDA Yuyo's (14) for his work titled "The Big Tree."

Yuyo is a junior high school student of Eihime Prefecture Matsuyama School for the Deaf. To Ehime Prefecture it was the first time for the honor since 13 years ago.

The contest was sponsored by the Education and Welfare Association for the Deaf located in Tokyo.

Only one was selected from a total of 626 works submitted by the preschoolers through high school students from all over the country for the minister prize.

Yuyo's work was chosen also as the highest award of the section of junior high school and high school students (182 works in total).

He worked on the picture for about three months, an average of one hour or more every day, using watercolors of about 15 different colors and China ink to express the tree delicately and forcibly.

Yuyo received the certificate of merit from Councilor SANTO Akiko, president of the association, at the commendation ceremony in the school on December 16.

Yuyo explained, "I took pains to take out textures with a wooden fine trunk and was happy to win the highest prize."

Japanese source:

Snowboard instructor to hold event for the Deaf in January

Takamatsu Hanako calls for participation in the snowboard event with a poster in a hand.
(photo: http://www.hokkaido-np.co.jp/)

December 15, 2011

In order to offer Deaf people to enjoy a snowboard, TAKAMATSU Hanako (32), a snowboard instructor whose activities are based in Sapporo in Hokkaido, will hold the "2nd Deaf Smile Snowboard Camp" for the Deaf beginners in the skiing area in Hokkaido on January 7-8, 2012.

Hanako not only competes at the All Japan Technical Championship every year, but works as a Class A instructor qualified by the Japan Snow Boarding Association (JSBA).

She had met a Deaf snowboarder in 2010, and begun to study sign language, which she passed the 5th level sign language examination. Since she wanted to spread a snowboard in the Deaf community, she held the event for the first time last year.

Hanako says, "I think that we can enjoy a snowboard together by writing to cover my poor sign language skill. I would like to make more plan for Deaf people to enjoy snowboarding in future."

Japanese source:

Sugi Toshisaburo (1845-1876): Deaf-Mute brother of famous philosopher

Yoshida Shoin
Sugi Toshisaburo
SUGI Toshisaburo was born Deaf-Mute at Hagi City, Choshu Domain (currently the Yamaguchi Prefecture) in 1845 as the third son to the lower class samurai SUGI Yurinosuke.

In the childhood, Toshisaburo communicated with the parents and siblings through writing or the use of home signs. Also he learned how to write and read from one of his uncles. It is said that the Japanese characters that he copied were very good.

Toshisaburo had an elder brother YOSHIDA Shoin (1830-1859) by 15 years senior. Shoin was a Choshu feudal clan samurai, a great philosopher and educator as well as a virtually spiritual theorist of the Meiji Restoration in 1868.

Shoin was adopted by the Yoshidas, thereafter his family name was changed to Yoshida. Toshisaburo had pockmarks on the face, but he was said that his look was like Shoin.

Toshisaburo always sat quietly by his father or Shoin whenever they read a book even if they all didn't communicate verbally.

Shoin entrusted his younger sister Chiyo and his disciple KANEKO Kensuke to educate Deaf brother when he was then 10 years old. Both Chiyo and Kensuke put everything they had into teaching Deaf-Mute brother through writing and connecting a thing to the word.

On the way traveling in Kyushu, a southern island of Japan, in December, 1850, Shoin stopped at Kumamoto and prayed piously in front of the Kiyomasa* Shinto Shrine at midnight that his Deaf-mute brother would be able to speak like himself.

*KATO Kiyomasa was a warrior and feudal lord of Higonokuni (currently the Kumamoto Prefecture) during the Toyotomi reign (ca. 1580's). It is said that he hardly spoke since birth until he started speech when growing up.

Shoin has stated about his Deaf-mute brother in his paper in 1858. "My younger brother Toshisburo is 14 years old now, Deaf-mute since birth. He can copy Chinese characters, but reading and writing are impossible for him after all."

In January 1854 when Comparator Matthew Calbraith Perry stopped by in Japan for the second time with his squadrons, Shoin and his fellow planned and tried to stow away on one of the squadrons, but failed. They were imprisoned at Hagi. Shoin was confined at his parents' home in 1855.

Two years later in 1857, Shoin became a master teacher at a private school, the Matsushita Village Juku (school) which his uncle opened, and taught the students who would be prominent leaders in the Meiji Restoration, such as TAKASUGI Shinsaku (courageous Chushu samurai), ITO Hirofumi (four-time Prime Minister), YAMAGATA Aritomo (field marshal in the Imperial Japanese Army and twice Prime Minister of Japan), etc.

Shoin allowed Toshisaburo to be present during his lecture at the school. Toshisaburo was quick, not much different from a hearing person, and also very so polite and gentle that hearing people would get embarrassed.

The Tokugawa shogunate ordered Choshu clan to send Shoin to Edo [current Tokyo] in 1859 due to the purge. Shoin was admonished to go to Edo by the guards in May, 1859. It is said that he clasped Toshisaburo's hands before the separation, giving him the last message with emotion coming up, "Every patience is the first".

Shoin confessed the assassination attempt on the shogunate top officer and explained about his own ideology, which led to punish him to decapitation at the age of 29.

Aware of being Deaf-Mute himself, Toshisaburo always refrained from visiting other friends, and earned a small amount by doing needlework. After the deaths of the male members,  he faithfully kept the family tradition to holding a spiritual service of the ancestors, always making himself neat.

Toshisaburo died at the age of 32 on February 1, 1876.

YOSHIDA Shoin (English):

Singer talks about her Deaf son at event

Singer Imai Eriko and her son Raimu at the talk show in Saga Prefecture.
(photo: http://mytown.asahi.com/saga/news.php?k_id=42000001112100005)

December 11, 2011

During the Human Rights Week on December 4-10, the "Human Rights Program" (sponsored by Saga Prefecture, etc.) took place in Saga Prefecture on December 10, and about 1000 people came.

At the talk show, IMAI Eriko (28), a member of the music group "SPEED," talked about her Deaf son Raimu, signing occasionally. She spoke the difficulty and the joy of child-rearing.

Raimu (7) joined her at the event. Eriko confessed how she had felt when he was born, saying, "I thought that I would stop singing since he didn't hear even if I sang."

However, Eriko started to learn sign language and watched his growth every day. "I came to think that he feels the song by seeing even if he cannot hear."

She concluded by saying, "I want Deaf people to spend every day with smile and think they can do somehow."

Books which introduced overseas information in late Edo period

The world map titled "Konyozusiki" (坤輿図識) produced in 1847 by a Japanese geographer.

Because of the national isolation policy of the Edo Shogunate, "Dejima" (出島) in Nagasaki Prefecture was the only place where the trade with other countries was allowed. Except China, the only Western trade partner was the Netherlands.

The Dutch books were brought to Japan through the Dutch trading house in Nagasaki's Dejima, and the "Dutch studies" on the Occidental new science and culture came into existence.

Japanese books that introduced the new knowledge including information on the institutes for the poor and persons with disabilities in Europe, etc. were published.

For example, "Koumou Zatsuwa" (literally "Red Hair Topics" (『紅毛雑話』) published in 1787 was written by Morishima Churyo (森島中良 1754-1810).

He summarized the talks of his elder brother and a surgeon of of the Edo Shogunate Katsuragawa Hoshu (桂川甫周) who heard from the Dutch visitors in Edo, the talks of the Dutch-studies scholars gathering in Katsuragawa's house, etc.

Mitsukuri Shogo (箕作省吾 1821-1847), a geographer and Dutch-studies scholar, made a map titled "Konyozusiki" (坤輿図識) in 1847. This document referring to geography books, such as "Algemeene Geographie (the Dutch version)" by J. Hubner, and "Geographische Oefeningen" by P. J. Prinsen, presumably had great influence on view-of-the-world formation of the intellectuals in the end of Edo Period. This map was said to be in personal effects when Yoshida Shoin* aimed at smuggling into the U.S. at Shimoda in Japan.

*He had a Deaf-mute brother named Sugi Toshisaburo.

Both the books possibly include information on the institutes or facilities for the Deaf-Mute in Europe.

Incidentally, in order to study in Nagasaki, many young persons visited across from the whole country, and learned at the private school which well-known Dutch interpreters opened for the Dutch studies. Out of them excellently talented individuals appeared in great numbers, contributing to the foundation of Japanese modernization.

DVD on Deaf parenting experience produced

December 5, 2011

The Information and Culture Center for the Deaf, Inc. located in Tokyo produced the DVD titled "CODA: My Parents are Deaf."

While the information on Deaf parenting lacks, DVD introduces the process that both the Deaf parents and hearing children face troubles, overcome them, etc.

The production staff explains, "While preventing isolation of the Deaf parents who experience uneasiness in child-rearing, we would like to promote an understanding of society."

"Coda" means "Children Of Deaf Adults." It is said that about 90 percent of the children born to Deaf parents is hearing. They are brought up in sign language in a home, and use spoken Japanese outside the home in many cases. Some coda become a sign language interpreter after growth.

SHIBUYA Tomoko, a special researcher of Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, has studied about coda. She suggested the production of DVD on the Deaf parenting problem.

Funded by Mitsubishi Foundation, DVD was produced for one and half year by the staff composed of hearing and Deaf persons, and coda.

DVD has five parts, such as the infant time, school age and adolescence, and the party concerned tells each experience. Their story shows the hint towards solution for the issues in the child's growth process.

In the part on the infant time, the Deaf mother, who is bringing up three coda, said that she was worried whether she should use sign language to her hearing children. Later she thought it over and believed that the sign language is an important language for the parent and child relationship.

The school-age part introduces a case: coda was given  the homework by the teacher to read aloud at home. He sent the copy of a textbook to the hearing grandmother by fax and got checked on reading aloud over the telephone instead of his Deaf mother.

ITO Mio (30), president of "the group for raising coda," participated in the DVD production. She says, "Many Deaf parents are worried if they bring up coda in sign language, the spoken language development will be overdue."

Japanese source:

Deaf mother files suit for city rejecting interpreting dispatch as "illegal"

December 5, 2011

The Deaf female office worker (40) of Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture applied for sign-language interpreting dispatch to the city in June in order to attend the briefing session for the guardian at the vocational school which her eldest daughter wishes to enter.

The city dismissed her application on the grounds that a dispatch place was Tokyo, etc. in July. The woman submitted the formal complaint with the city in August, which was dismissed in October.

It was learned on December 4 that the woman
was going to file suit for the city making a decision against the constitution, deviating from discretion of administrative power which is illegal.

Related organizations including the Japanese Federation of the Deaf have decided the full support to the woman, saying "This is not the problem of Takamatsu but the problem which occurred from the systemic defect."

The "group that considers sign-language interpreting dispatch of Takamatsu" just launched held the meeting in Takamatsu and appealed for cooperation to about 80 persons who gathered on the same day.

In the meeting, top-class officials from the Japanese Federation of the Deaf, National Study Association on Interpreting Issues, and Japanese Association of Certified Interpreters were present.

The lawyer in charge reported about the defense counsel will be formed by 23 persons from Takamatsu, Okayama, Tokyo, etc. and file suit by the end of February next year."

Japanese source:

Deaf dance group members from Fukushima join charity dance event in Kawasaki

December 4, 2011

"We want to tell through our dance that Fukushima is fine."

The dance group "D/FLAVOR" from Fukushima Prefecture performed at the event "D'LIVE," held in Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture on December 3 which Deaf persons and others sang a song by dancing or signing.

Although the group members were unable to practice as much as before because of the accident of the first nuclear power plant of Tokyo Electric Power in Fukushima Prefecture, they showed the powerful dance before about 600 audience.

The "D/FLAVOR" was formed in Koriyama-shi, Fukushima Prefecture in 2007. Three of six members are Deaf. They dance while feeling sound with the body or getting help from other members when to take a step in dancing.

The group members have resumed practice in mid-May. Although a life is returning to normal, they avoid practices outside due to the space dose of radiation is higher in Koriyama than any other cities in the prefecture.

The group has been more often invited to a charity event across in the country.

Japanese source:

Sugimoto Marina prepares for the exhibition.
(photo: http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/)

December 3, 2011

SUGIMOTO Marina (25), a Deaf resident of Meguro-ku, Tokyo, will open a personal exhibition on December 19-24 in Ginza, Chuo-ku. Her 3D art works dealing with the scenery and children she saw in the street corner is the focus of the event.

She has been devoted to work for one year with determination to express honestly "the exciting feeling" she felt in the town and to share the feeling with the visitor.

She attends the graduate course of the fine-arts molding vocational school in Toshima-ku, Tokyo, aiming at becoming an illustrator.

About 40 works will be exhibited this time. She made illustration drawing with the personal computer after doing the sketch with the pencil. Her works, influenced by the work of the pop artist James Rizzi of New York, are 3D and multistory art full of a feeling from the lively motion of the person, etc.

Japanese source:

Five hearing students reported to prosecutor for vicious mischiefs to Deaf person

December 2, 2011

The Fukuroi City police in Sizuoka Prefecture sent the police report of the five boys attending the same junior high school to the prosecutor in the Hamamatsu branch, the District Public Prosecutor's Office, on November 30 on suspicion of theft and damage or destruction of a building.

The boys stole a total of five fire extinguishers in Fukuroi from August through October. Two of them burned the concrete block wall of the house in which the Deaf person lives by fireworks in August.

The boys had repeated the mischief called the "runaway ring," which one sounds the door bell of a house in the city and escapes, since June.

Since the light lit up and the people came outside whenever the boys pushed the door bell of the Deaf person's house, they liked to see the reaction as interesting.

The boys said that the Deaf person could not appeal against damage, either and that he was considered not to disclose it."

They later injected the fire extinguisher in the house from the open window, put fireworks on the concrete block wall, fire lit, pushed the door bell and escaped.

Japanese source:

English article: Japanese Deaf woman as a dancer, teacher and choreographer in London

Friday, Dec. 2, 2011

Deafness no barrier for choreographer

LONDON — Despite being deaf, a Japanese woman in London is forging a successful career as a dancer, teacher and choreographer.

Visual beat: Chisato Minamimura teaches choreography to students in London in October 2010. KYODO PHOTO 
Chisato Minamimura uses her own unique methods to create works of contemporary dance that have been performed in Britain and across the world.

English source:

Interpreting coordinator faces difficulty at financial deficit

November 30, 2011

In Saga Prefecture the difficult situation to secure the full-time coordinator for interpreters continues because of lack of the funds. The prefecture budget allotment for the coordinating project entrusted to the prefecture association of the Deaf remains in a small amount.

Although the interpreting is indispensable at the lecture meeting, etc., the coordinator has been forced to be placed in an unstable status.

MINAMISATO Tomie (67), the present coordinator, works 9:00-17:00, dealing with requests for interpreter dispatch by a telephone or fax. She, who also interprets, has been supported by several members of the sign language circle. The number of dispatch in the last fiscal year amounted to 424.

According to the association of the Deaf, the basic allowance which Tomie receives is 120,000 yen per year. With other daily allowance, she earns about twenty yen in total. Her work might be likely described as a volunteer.

Because of financial difficulties, the prefecture funds only 388,000 yen, and Saga City provides also less than 1 million yen.

Tomie insists, "The working environment which can be committed by under exclusive contract as a coordinator is required when to recruit."

Japanese source:

First medical examination for the Deaf starts in Saga Prefecture

The Deaf person (left) understands the nurse's medical question through interpreting (center).
(photo: http://www.saga-s.co.jp/)

November 30, 2011

Saga City in Saga Prefecture began the medical examination for the Deaf on November 30. The city has allotted the sign language interpreters in the prefecture medical association geriatric-diseases prevention center in the city for the oral consultation and a place for the medical check, etc.

The medical examination for the Deaf is the first trial in the prefecture. The note-taking service for a hearing loss person will be provided. The medical checkup will be carried out again on December 17. Prior reservation is required.

On the day, three sign language interpreters supported five Deaf clients. The oral consultation, such as "Do you want a dental medical checkup?", "What do you keeping in mind for health maintenance?", was interpreted.

A Deaf client was unaware of being called by the doctor for his/her turn until now, but this time the interpreter told the Deaf client when called. In the stomach cancer medical checkup, the radiological technologist directed the client how to move the body by gestures.

One of the client (80) said, "I didn't understand what I was supposed to do correctly only by the paper described about the medical checkup. I was happy that the interpreter helped me understand better this time. I think the city did a good job."

Japanese source:

More Deaf people hired in customer services such as shops

Shioda Tomohiro (24), who is on the Deaf soccer national team, works at the UNIQLO store in the building next to JR Chigasaki Station (Kanagawa Prefecture). He hard of hearing, talks and lipreads well.
At the cake shop "Laporte" in Tokyo Station, the customer orders by using the touch panel as the Deaf staff looks on.

November 29, 2011

Because it is hard for the Deaf to communicate with hearing people, service trade is thought to be unsuitable for their employment. However, more Deaf people work with some consideration in shops.

Eight item of sweets is sold in the cake shop called "Laporte" in one corner of the passage on the Japan Railway Tokyo Station first basement level. When the customer orders what he/she wants to buy by inputting on the touch panel on the front counter at the shop. The Deaf staff gets the order after looking at the touch panel.

"Laporte" opened in 2003 as the JR East Japan retail network promoted to hire more Deaf persons. There are a shop in Tokyo Station and Yurakucho Station, respectively and a total of eight Deaf women work presently.

The major garments company "UNIQLO" has promoted the employment of persons with disability as its slogan, "More persons with  disability at one store." Over 90 percent of the 850 "UNIQLO" stores across the country hired persons with disability. About 30 percent of them are Deaf. Their work doesn't differ from other hearing coworkers such as  reception besides cleaning or merchandise management.

Deaf persons work also in a coffee chain "Starbucks." Moreover, other coffee shop opened by a welfare group in a region hires Deaf staff.

However, in the whole business, it is still a small number of Deaf workers. The Law Concerning Employment Promotion for Disabled Persons requires a company with 56 or more employees to employ not less than 1.8% of disabled persons.

The actual employment rate is going up every year according to the investigation of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, the average of the workers with disabilities is 1.65% as of June. Many Deaf people are employed in the field such as a production process.

MIZUNO Eiko, a senior researcher of the private research institute, explained, "although it tends to assume that communication with a customer is difficult for a Deaf worker, it is desirable not to limit an occupation to those eager Deaf persons but to improve their workplace environment. It is important for not only a company but also society and consumers as a whole to deepen an understanding of the workers with disabilities. "

Japanese source: