This Tuesday’s presentation will provide some insight into the life of a Westerner (me) who has been working at Kyoto University in Japan for several months.
The struggle continues in Kyoto in the 1970s
The university apartment we lived in was right next door, overlooking the now famous—— Yoshida dormitory – or Yoshida dormitory or Yoshida ryo, is run by what is called an “autonomous committee” (a student-run organization).
English Wiki Page – Kyoto University Yoshida Dormitory – Provide some historical and descriptive information.
There are two buildings─a new building built in… and an old wooden building built in 1913, “the oldest student dormitory in Japan.”
Adjacent is the Dining Hall, built in 1889 and the oldest building on campus.
The history is interesting, and given my age and long association with university campuses, I can understand how Kyoto has grown in recent years and continues to grow.
It is a tradition on Japanese university campuses that university authorities hand over administrative responsibilities for managing student dormitories (these dormitories) to students, who form committees and govern themselves.
This is the view I had from the balcony of the old dormitory, and then the dining room.
In the early 1970s, as student radicalism was sending ripples around the world, Japan’s Ministry of Education contacted university executives who felt they were uncomfortable with so-called “Marxism-Leninism,” and they singled out the dormitory system as the culprit.
They consider these residential areas to be hotbeds of anti-authoritarian movements and “hotbeds of all kinds of conflicts.”
They labeled students “Marxist-Leninists” (which was probably true) and decided to end the autonomy arrangements and close dormitories.
After the school owner issued an ultimatum in 1986, students at the Yoshida Inn refused to leave.
Several attempts followed to force the issue, but the students persisted.
Fast forward to more recent times.
On December 19, 2017, the school told the Autonomous Council that they would be closing the dormitories and that everyone would have to leave by September 2018.
This issue is sometimes described as relating to the heritage value of the building, and there is some truth to this.
But I’ve been talking to students who still live there, and for them it’s about maintaining the core of Japan’s student movement, which flourished in the 1970s but found it difficult to stay solid in the neoliberal era.
There’s also the issue of accommodation costs – dormitories are very cheap for students.
In any case, since the 2017 ultimatum, the matter is now before the Kyoto District Court for resolution, a hearing was held last week and I believe a decision will be made before the end of the year.
here it is – I want to keep the Yoshida dormitory! Kyoto University should stop the trial! (first release in 2023) (roughly translated as “I want to keep the dormitories. Kyoto University should abandon the experiment”), which provides more context.
I’m with the students.
However, some of my research colleagues have also told me that if a major earthquake occurred (which is highly likely) the buildings would not survive anyway and casualties would be expected.
But the fight with university authorities took me back to the 1970s, when I was a student at Monash University in Melbourne and the campus was very active.
One day in 1976 we even forced the Prime Minister of Australia to hide in a toilet to avoid the wrath of students.
You can read about it in this article (September 4, 2012) – Once a campus warrior
Here he is being rescued by security forces.
When I’m in Kyoto, I always go down the Kamogawa River, which offers fast bicycle transportation and no north-south traffic jams; a place to sit and listen to the water and think; a place to walk and watch local events; and of course, here It is also a great place for an early morning run and one can cover many kilometers without heavy traffic.
Down to the city center – Sanjo Bridge (Sanjo Bridge)——and—— Shijo Bridge (Shijo Bridge) – On the west side of the river one can observe these structures (terraces) protruding from the backs of the old wooden buildings along the river (as well as the drainage channels between the river and the houses).
By the way, this Maebashi is the last bridge before entering Kyoto on the famous route from Edo (Tokyo) to the Imperial Capital – Tokaido (road) – or Donghai Road.
This is what I’m referring to:
I’ve often wondered about them, given their concentration in this part of the river.
In my study of the work of woodcut artists— Utagawa Hiroshige – I’ve mentioned here before that I saw his 1834 woodblock print in his “Famous Views of Kyoto” series. It is titled “Enjoying Coolness on Four Riverbeds”.
Shijo is the area near one of the bridges I mentioned above.
Then I went to one of my favorite places – International Center for Japanese Studies – Located in Kyoto, do some further research.
It’s a wonderful place, a partnership between a number of universities and funded by the government.
It provides a wealth of material related to history, culture and the humanities.
Anyway, I learned a lot about the history of the so-called Nouryou-Yuka along the Kamogawa River.
During this period – Edo period (1603-1868) – Marking the end of the Civil War and a period of peace and economic growth, the banks of the Camo River became a popular recreational spot (as they are today).
The bridge was rebuilt and a series of teahouses and seating appeared.
Of course, these places are frequented by the town’s wealthy citizens and wealthy tourists.
The Gion Maiko (geisha) district also developed nearby.
Soon authorities decided that seating had become haphazard and overcrowded, and strict rules were instituted and enforced limiting the size and location of seating decks.
Seating decks became institutionalized during— Meiji era (1868-1912) – Yuka terraces or decks became very popular during the summer when Kyoto became very hot.
This is a historical photo from the International Center for Japanese Studies of some well-dressed women enjoying the shade and drinking tea on the bath deck below the Sanjo Bridge (now gone).
It is understood that in 1894, all the decks on the east side of the river were removed to build the Kamogawa Canal, which was a drainage system.
Some time later, the railroad also extended to the east.
Recently, in— Showa era (1926-1989)—All semi-permanent decorations were made illegal, in part due to concerns about flooding.
After heavy rain, the river is really rough.
1934,—— Typhoon Muroto in 1934 – The authorities were proven right and many of the Yucca Terraces were destroyed.
The creation and design of these decks are now strictly regulated, which answers a question I often ask when I run by them in the morning – why are there so few, and only on the west side.
This is a draft cover for my next book, which will be released in Tokyo on November 17, 2023. It is co-authored with Professor Fujii Satoshi and is titled “The Theory of Active Fiscal Policy in the Inflationary Era”.
I will have more to say about this soon, including details on when and where the event will take place.
Keep an eye out for Friday this week.
MMMTed Something new is happening!
That’s enough for today!
(c) Copyright 2023 William Mitchell. all rights reserved.