The Principal and teachers at the Fifth High School were drawn from the elite of Japanese society. Professors not only taught, they were also responsible for supervising clubs and dormitories, putting them in close contact with students. They also taught at the affiliated Middle School and the Normal School, which prepared students for careers as teachers. They also researched middle school education in the Kyushu region.
Born 1824 in Aizu Wakamatsu, he taught Ethics, Japanese, and Chinese Classics from 1890-1895. A great rebel and warrior in his youth, he was revered by his students. He was also revered by Lafcadio Hearn, who called him “a divine old man,” gentle and charming, an embodiment of the “soul of old Japan.”
Born 1860 in Kobe, he graduated from the Imperial University and was appointed the third Principal of the Fifth High School, a post he held from 1891-93. He is also well known as the father of “jiujutsu,” which later became judo, and which Lafcadio Hearn introduced to the West in his essay of the same name.
Born 1850 to a British (Irish) father and a Greek mother, he taught English and Latin at the Fifth High School from 1891-94. In Kumamoto, he wrote some of his best known works. Next he joined the Kobe Chronicle, an English language newspaper, as an editor before accepting a teaching post at the Imperial University in 1896 and later at Waseda University. He died in 1904.
Here is an oft-quoted excerpt from the conclusion of “The Future of the Far East,” his final speech at the Fifth High School.
The future of greatness of Japan will depend on the preservation of that Kyushu or Kumamoto spirit, the love of what is plain and good and simple, and the hatred of useless luxury and extravagance in life.
■Natsume Soseki (Natsume Kinnosuke)
Born 1867 in Tokyo, he graduated from the Imperial University in 1893 and taught English in Tokyo and Matsuyama before teaching at the Fifth High School from 1896-1903. While in Kumamoto, he wrote many haiku and promoted the form’s popularity. He is best known, however, as the author of some of the most popular and highly regarded novels in all of Japanese literature: Botchan, I Am a Cat, Kusamakura, 210 Days, and Kokoro, among others.