Iguchi Kigenji (井口喜源治)

Kigenji IGUCHI (1870 to July 21, 1938) was from Azumino City, Nagano Prefecture, and was the founder of 'Kenseigijuku,' a private school based on Christianity.

Background

Kigenji IGUCHI was born in 1870 as the first son of Kijyu (father) and Kon (mother) in Todorokimachi Village, Azumi County, Nagano Prefecture (later Hotakamachi, Higashihotaka Village, Minamiaizu County). His mother died when he was three years old, and thus he was raised by his father and grandmother. After he graduated from Hotou school, a branch school of Kensei school in Hotaka in 1884, he entered Matusmoto branch school of Nagano Prefectural Junior High School. When he was in this junior high school, he was taught by an American missionary, Elmer, about Christianity, and became a life-long Christian.

After that, he moved to Tokyo and studied law at Meiji Law School, and at the same time, he went to Ushigome Church where he met religious people as well as religious educator such as Kanzo UCHIMURA and Yoshiharu IWAMOTO, leading him to be a teacher. In 1890, he dropped out of the law school, and became a teacher at Obuse branch school of Kamitakai Higher Elementary School. After that, he taught at Matusmoto Jinjo High School, and when he got married in 1893, he became a teacher at Higashihotaka Kumiai Higher Elementary School in his hometown.

Aizo SOMA and Kinshukai (Temperance society)

Iguchi joined Higashihotaka Kinshukai (Temperance society) sponsored by Aizo SOMA who became his life-long friend, and he actively participated in social activities. Also, he committed himself to Christianity through the Bible. However, as many of his students started believing in Christianity, Iguchi was ostracized by the principal and other teachers. This was because Christianity was called Yaso and hated by people in the countryside at that time and also people thought that Iguchi was converting students in class. As a result, he was kept out of the public schools.

The foundation of Kenseigijuku

Aizo SOMA and the members of Kinshukai were worried about Iguchi's future, and decided to establish a private school 'Kensei Gijuku' with the support of Kiyo USUI, an influential person in the village and Yasubei SOMA, Aizo's father, so that Iguchi could start his ideal education. Kensei Gijuku, at first, was a small school with a rented meeting place, but two years later, due to the support of Aizo and others, a new building with a class room for a regular course, a sewing room, as well as a reception room, was built.

Although the building was small, the school had firm educational spirits, 'Do not desire a lot of students and a bigger building' and 'One teacher faces one student with trust'; and the school aimed for the Personalism education based on Christianity and taught the students to be a 'good person' not a 'big man.'
Kenseigijuku produced many elites, and was continued until Iguchi died in 1938. The number of graduates from Kenseigijuku was about 800, and the school produced some famous commentators, business people, artists and scholars, such as Kiyoshi KIYOSAWA, a liberal commentator of the Asahi Shinbun, Takashi TOJO, a store owner of Washington Shoe Co., Ltd., and Shigeru SAITO, a peasant and commentator. Most of them stayed in their hometowns and spent their lives with integrity.

Iguchi and Kanzo UCHIMURA

Iguchi adored Kanzo UCHIMURA who was a Christian and gave a great impact on the world of thought from the Meiji period to the early Showa period. Uchimura visited Kenseigijuku many times to give lectures there, and he expressed deep understanding and gave high evaluation to Iguchi. Iguchi was supported financially by Aizo SOMA and mentally by Kanzo UCHIMURA.

When Uchimura visited Kenseigijuku in 1901, he mentioned the following.
There is a small private school called Kenseigijuku, in Higashihotaka Village, Minamiazumi County.'
Compared to other private schools such as Keio Gijuku and Waseda vocational school, this school is so small.'
The building only has a plat home, 2 ken long and 4 ken wide (ken is a unit of measure of length [approx. 1.8182 m/ken]), which is made of roof boards, and two rooms with eight tatami mats.'
However, when I heard that this small private school opened, I was happier than when I climbed to the top of great Mt. Ariake.'
The will to open this small private school is stronger than the granite in Mt. Chogatake.'
Also, the mentality to maintain this school is purer than water.'
The rest is omitted ('Nyushin Nittsuki' [Nyushin Diary], "Yorozuchoho").

Influence on the Shinshu Education

When the 30th anniversary of Kenseigijuku was celebrated in 1928, Uchimura could not attend because of his sickness, and thus someone else read his congratulatory message for him. In his message, Uchimura regarded Iguchi as one of the great philosophers and educators in and outside of Japan, including Socrates, Pestalozzi and Toju NAKAE. As a result, the mainstream idea of Shinsyu Education: "Not the knowledge but the personality is the most important in education" was spread and had an impact on many teachers in Shinsyu, such as Nuizo TEZUKA and Hiromu MATSUOKA (an educator). In 1932, Iguchi was struck by a brain hemorrhage, and in 1938, he sent the notice of the closing school and it was accepted. Iguchi died on July 21 of the same year at the age of sixty-nine.