DSCN4113The Tea of Neesima Yae and Urasenke (Pt. 2)
From her Days in Aidzu to her Journey to the Capital

In the second year of Bunkyuu (1862) the prince of Aidzu, MATSUDAIRA Katamori received the order to safeguard Kyoto. Whether it was this year or not we’re not sure, but Kakuma also went to the Capital and was arrested in the fourth year of Keiou (1868). From his imprisonment inside the Satsuma Domain’s residence, Kakuma drafted a petition to the new government called “A Humble Opinion (Kanken)”. His previous self-awareness was recognized, and he worked hard at important posts such as adviser to the Kyoto Government, first Head of the Kyoto Gov. Council, and Head of the Kyoto Merchants Council. “A Humble Opinion” contained such topics such as “schools” and “women’s education”. Kakuma’s personal views on education were the same as NEESIMA Jou’s educational ideals. In the 8th year of Meiji (1875), the two sharing the same resolve founded Doshisha.

In the 2nd year of Kyoka (1845), Yae, who was the 17 years younger sister of Kakuma, was born in Aidzu to her artillery instructor father YAMAMOTO Gonpa and her mother Saku as the fifth child (third daughter). Saku became wealthy due to her enterprising spirit and it’s said not even Kakuma could match her wisdom. Kakuma, who had studied in distant Edo and Nagasaki, taught Dutch studies at the domain school Nisshinkan. Young Yae could recite the “Nisshinkan Youth Precepts” from memory. It was a family which valued Learning, I imagine.

On the occasion of the Boshin war, Yae, who was skilled in artillery, entered into Tsuru-ga-jo Castle although she was a woman and endured the seige for one month. Yae’s first marriage was aroundthe first year of Keiou when she was 20 years old. Her husband was her older brother’s school friend, the Dutch Studies scholar KAWASAKI Shounosuke. We aren’t really sure of Shounosuke’s whereabouts after the Boshin war, but it’s said he died in the 8th year of Meiji in Tokyo at the age of 39. (cf. YOSHIMI Naoto’s “Nishima Yae: A Lifetime of Love and Fight”, Kadokawa Bookstore, 2012)

On Sep. 22nd, the first year of Meiji, Tsurugajo Castle and Aidzu Domain surrendered. Nobody knew if Kakuma who was still in the Capital was alive or dead, so Yae, her mother, and niece turned toward Kyoto to determine if he were still alive. In the November of the 4th year of Meiji, they were able to again meet with her brother. (Cf. FUKUMOTO Takehisa “Nishima Yae” in “The Life and Times of the Siblings Yamamoto Kakuma and Nishima Yae”. Doshisha University, 1989.)

After the Meiji Restoration, the Kyoto Government immediately established primary schools, including education for women. According to the “Meiji Tennou Ki #2” (Yoshikawa Koubun Kan, 1969), on Sep. 3rd the fifth year of Meiji, the Emperor visited the “New English School for Women” in Dote-cho and Maruta-cho. The School for Women was founded “in the April of this year, for the purpose of teaching advanced handicrafts and English to the children of nobles and knights”. However, soon it was opened to common people too. Upon the opening of the school, Yae received the command of the Kyoto Government in February to serve as a probationary head of the woman’s school and instructor of weaving”. Around this time, Kakuma was deeply moved by the Bible “Tendou Sogen” translated into Chinese presented to him by the American missionary M.L. Gordon who was residing in Kyoto. Yae also studied this Bible. It was at the house of Gordon who facilitated her study that she occasionally meet a certain young man: Neesima Jou.

For Jou, Yae was a worthy conversational partner and he wrote to his American former teacher that she was a “handsome woman”. Thus the two were engaged in October of the 8th year of Meiji. Since she was becoming the life companion to a Christian, Yae gave up her position at the Women’s school. That year in November, Doshisha English School opened. Next year Janurary, Yae was baptised, and the missionary J.G Davis married Jou and Yae. Jou at age 32 and Yae at age 30 boldly took off. From here on, many previous scholars have talked at length about those two.

砲術の心得があった八重は、会津戊辰戦争のさいには、女子ながら鶴ヶ城に入り、一ヶ月の籠城に耐えた。八重の最初の結婚は二十歳の慶応元年ころ。夫は、兄の学友の蘭学者、川崎尚之助であった。戌辰戦争後の尚之助の消息はよく分かっていないが、明治八年、享年三十九にして、東京で歿したという(吉海直人『新島八重 愛と闘いの生涯』角川書店、二〇一二)。