Bangumi Elementary Schools (番組小学校)

Bangumi elementary schools refer to the sixty-four elementary schools established by the towns people in Kyoto in 1869, two years after the Meiji Restoration, based on the then extant municipal-level autonomous administrative unit known as the 'bangumi' (a neighborhood unit).

These elementary schools became the first school district elementary schools under the National Education System of Japan (school system) introduced in 1872.


During the Edo period, Kyoto was organized into autonomous administrative units called 'machigumi,' composed of local residents; however, at or about the time of the Meiji Restoration, the machigumi were reorganized under a system in which they were designated as belonging to either the northern part of Kyoto, 'Kamigyo,' or the southern part, 'Shimogyo,' followed by bangumi number, such as 'Kamigyo, bangumi number 12,' and were referred to as 'bangumi' from that point.

In 1869, approximately 27 "machi" (a neighborhood) formed a single bangumi and the system was again reorganized in the same year, in which there were thirty-three in Kamigyo and thirty-two in Shimo-gyo, for a total of sixty-five (during the same year, a bangumi in Shimogyo was split, bringing the total to sixty-six). Each bangumi was provided with an administrative building and an elementary school, and sixty-four elementary schools were opened that same year.
(The reason that there were only sixty-four schools for sixty-six bangumi is that there were two groups of two bangumi each that decided to establish a single school to share between themselves.)

The prefectural government of Kyoto released model plans for a new schoolhouses for each of the bangumi. Each schoolhouse was to have two floors, with separate writing practice rooms of slightly different constructions for boys and girls arranged to the right and left as one entered the central entrance on the first floor. The second floor included a large classroom, a faculty room, and a character brushwork instruction room. The Kyoto prefectural government provided a loan of 800 yen for construction costs of each bangumi school, half of which was scheduled to be repaid in yearly installments over a period of ten years with no interest. In addition, along with philanthropic donations, each bangumi houses was allotted a portion of the building costs semiannually for permanent operational expenses. Every bangumi school was named according to the classification system designated by 'Kami- (Shimo-) gyo,' followed by a one or two digit number, and funding was allotted to each school using this system.

On New Year's in 1870, each bangumi elementary school held a ceremony commemorating the start of instruction at the school, and lessons were begun. According to the program of the ceremony, which was drawn up by the Kyoto prefectural government, students were to venerate two gods of scholarship and learning, Confucius and SUGAWARA no Michizane. An image of the Shimogyo bangumi school 07 is displayed at the Kyoto Municipal Museum of School History.
The subjects of the lessons the students studied were 'grammar and punctuation,' 'recitation from memory,' 'calligraphy,' and 'arithmetic.'

The term "bangumi" was revised to '-ku' (ward) in 1872, and again revised to '-gumi' in 1879 upon the promulgation of the Gun-ku-cho-son Henseiho (Act for the alignment of local government system), under which Kamigyo and Shimogyo became Kamigyo Ward and Shimogyo Ward.

The birth of Kyoto City brought about by the municipality system resulted in the creation of a school district system in 1892. Under the school district system, which had been established based on the bangumi school system, there were twenty-eight school districts in Kamigyoku and thirty-two school districts in Shimogyoku in 1893; the school district system remained intact operating under this form until it was abolished in 1941 by the Kokumin gakko rei (Act of elementary schools).

Subsequently, with the introduction of the 6/3/3/4 system of education after the war, due to measures such as the appropriation of the buildings that had been used for the elementary schools for use as middle schools and the like, although the districts used to define the elementary school to be attended by local residents changed, the school district system remains intact to this day as the 'Kyoto Original School Districts,' which are autonomous resident districts.

Corresponding list of the bangumi elementary schools and original school districts

The names of the bangumi elementary schools were at first designated according to the system described above as 'Kami- (Shimo-) gyo ##); however, the schools subsequently renamed themselves based on local history, Chinese classics and the like, and those names were inherited by the original school districts.