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.

会津での日々から上洛まで
文久二年(一八六二)、会津藩主、松平容保は京都守護職を拝命した。この年かどうかは不明だが、覚馬も上洛し、慶応四年(一八六八)に捕縛される。幽閉中の薩摩藩邸で、『管見』と題する新政府への建白書を草した覚馬は、その先見性が認められて、京都府顧問、初代京都府会議長、京都商工会議所会頭などの要職をつとめた。『管見』の中には「学校」「女学」の項目がある。教育にも一家言あった覚馬は、新島襄の教育理念に替同し、明治八年(一八七五)、同じ志のふたりはともに同志社を設立した。
覚馬の十七歳年下の妹・八重は、弘化二年(一八四五)十一月三日、砲術師範の父・山本権八、母・佐久の第五子(三女)として会津藩に生まれた。佐久は進取の気象に富み、その聡明さは覚馬も及ばぬ程だったという。江戸、長崎に遊学した覚馬は藩校、日新館の蘭学所で教え、幼い八重も『日新館童子訓』を覚えて、暗誦することができた。学問に親しむ家風だったのだろう。
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)。
明治元年九月二十二日、鶴ヶ城、会津藩は降伏した。上洛した覚馬の生死は不明と伝えられたが、生存が判明するや、八重は、母、姪と京都に赴き、明治四年十一月、兄との再会を果たした(福本武久「新島八重」『山本覚馬・新島八重兄妹の生涯』所収。学校法人同志社、一九八九)。
明治維新を迎えて、直ちに小学校を開設した京都府は、女子教育にも先進的で、『明治天皇紀第二』(吉川弘文館、一九六九)によれば、明治五年九月三日、土手町丸太町の「新英学校及女紅場」に天皇の臨幸があったという。女紅場は「華士族等の子女に英語及び高等の手芸を授くる目的を以て、本年四月」に創立され、まもなく庶民にも開放された。開学に際して八重は、二月に京都府から「女紅場権舎長兼機織教導試補」を拝命している。このころ覚馬は、入洛中のアメリカ人宣教師M.L.ゴードンから漢訳聖書『天道遡源』を贈られて深く感じ入り、八重にも聖書を学ばせた。その学習先のゴードン宅で、たまたま出会った青年こそが新島襄であった。
襄にとって八重は、語るに足る相手で、アメリカの恩師には、この婦人を「ハンサム・ウーマン」だと書き送っている。かくして明治八年十月、二人は婚約。クリスチャンの伴侶となった八重は、そのために女紅場の任を解かれてしまう。この年の十一月には同志社英学校が開校。翌一月、八重は受洗し、宣教師J.G.デイヴィス邸で襄と八重は挙式した。襄三十二歳、八重三十歳の果敢な出発であった。その後の両人については、多くの先学が詳述されているところである。

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