Torii Ryūzō

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Torii's Memorial Museum establlished by Tokushima Prefecture (徳島県立鳥居記念博物館).

The special point is: The money for establishing this Museum is given by all people of Tokushima, even school boys, showing their memory and love for Ryuzo Torii.

Ryuzo Torii

鳥居龍藏

May 4, 1870~ January 14, 1953

Anthropologist, Ethnologist, Archaeologist and Folklorist. Known for his anthropological research in China, Taiwan, Korea, Russia and etc. His research is all over East Asia, also South America. He conducted archaeological excavations, attempted to understand prehistoric things in Asia.

Life[edit]

Born in Tokushima (徳島) Prefecture (at Funaba Street (船場町), which is a part of Shikoku (四国), in a rich merchant' family. His parents were kind and never interfere him. So he was free to do everything he liked. From an early age, he was a passionate collector of artifacts of all kinds, and without interest in school studies. He stopped going to the school. Fortunately, he finished those studies of schools in a short term, under a nice teacher, who appreciated him, tried to support him in his studies according to his interest. So he could study in a very efficient way to approach his own destination: Anthropology. At the same time he started to learn histories of his home town Tokushima and also Shikoku, and researched around these places. At the time, he already began to write articles on Anthropology (in his teen ages). His article was greatly appreciated by Professor Shogoro Tsuboi (坪井正五郎) of Tokyo Imperial University(Tokyo University now). Mr. Tsuboi is the pioneer of Japan's Anthropology. He found out this genius boy Torii, and hurried to Tokushima, to advice Torii to get fundamental knowledge in anthropology at Tokyo Imperial University. So Torii moved to Tokyo when he was 20 years old.[1]

He used 8 kinds of languages in his studies. and he also could use Ainu language. His article "Ainu people in Chishima Island" written in French is very famous and important. In Europe and America, till now, it is the most necessary material for people who study in Ainu. In this article, you can feel the deep sympathy of Torii towards Ainu.[2]

Great Field-Works of Ryuzo Torii[edit]

Ryuzo Torii spends almost all of his life in anthropology field-work (research). He insisted on: "Studies should not be done only in the study room. Anthropology is in the fields and mountains." So he always tried his best to find out all kinds of proof to support his ideas.[3]


●Torii always tried to use the newest technology in

 his researches and studies.
 ○ Torii is the first person to use camera in 
     anthropology research. His first research using
     camera is his first abroad research to the 
     northeast part of China, at the age of 25.
 ○ Torii began to use record in anthropology 
     research in domestic research, at Okinawa Pref.

●Domestic Researches in Japan  Here is a Torii-style

Torii is famous for his abroad anthropology research. But there is an recently unknown fact is that: Torii started his anthropology research in his teen ages, from his hometown to almost everywhere of Japan. During his working in Tokyo Imperial University time, he also researched around Japan, invited by Prefectures, villages, streets and etc. Torii was always glad to receive invitations and traveled to the place, after researching, he would certainly hold an exhibition showing things from the research. At the same time, make lectures on it. This is the Torii style: research, exhibition, lecture. Torii worked hard on expanding anthropology and historical knowledge. This is also a great job done by Torii. It could be highly evaluated. .[4] His domestic researches were all over Japan: North from Hokkaido, south to Okinawa, you can find registrations of his researches almost everywhere.

●Abroad Research

Tn 1895, Torii was sent to Northeast China, at Riao-dong Peninsula for anthropology research, by Tokyo Imperial University. This is the first abroad anthropology research of Torii, at his age of 25.

In 1896, Torii was sent to Taiwan for anthropology research by Tokyo Imperial University at the age of 26. He began to use camera in this research. Torii is the first person to use camera in anthropology research. For this reason, there are so many superior precious pictures taken by Torii, memorizing those sights you couldn't never find it out again in this world. Considering the social environment and technical level at the time, these pictures could be the cultural property of mankind.[5]

A Simple History of Ryuzo Torii[edit]

1870 Born in Tokushima Prefecture(May 4).

1895 Sent by Tokyou Imperial University,

      to the northeast part of China, for
      anthropology 
      research. The first abroad research of Torii,
      at the age of 25.

1896 Sent by Tokyo Imperial University,

      to Taiwan, for anthropology research. He had 
      taken a large number of pictures of 
      Taiwan people, at the age of 26.

1898 Became an Assistant

       in Tokyo Imperial University.

1899 Torii was sent by Tokyo Imperial University

      to Hokkaido(in the north part of Japan, near
      to Russia) , also Chishima Island, where Ainu
      people lived. Torii' s article "Ainu People in
      Chishima"  in French was highly evaluated. Till
      now, in Europe and America, it is a necessary 
      material for people studying Ainu.

1900 Torii succeeded in climbing to the top of

      "Yu-mountain"(at the time, "Shin Taka-
      mountain") in Taiwan, and he is supposed to
      be the first successor. 

1901 Married Kimiko, daughter of a famous

       Samurai(when Meiji) in Tokushima, 
       talented in Music, language and education.

1905 Became a lecturer

        in Tokyo Imperial University.

1906 Engaged by Karachin Royal Family of

        Mongolia, Kimiko became the Teacher of
        Karachin Girl-School.
        Torii also became the Professor of Karachin
        Boy-School in Mongolia.

1911 Torii was on his field-work in Korea. At the

       time, Mr. Sada Sekino mentioned about an 
       ancient tomb as Goguryeo culture. It is a 
       mistake. Torii pointed out that belongs to
       Kan-people'(漢人)s culture. This also became 
       a big reason for Torii to be disliked, 
       since Sekino was a powerful and famous person
       in Tokyo Imperial University.
       This is a great discovery of torii, he 
       proofed that Kan-people(漢人)had moved to
       Korea in such an ancient time, about which 
       even historians did not know.

[6]

1920 Torii was honored for

      an Ordre des Palmes Academiquesiques" of 
      France. But Torii did not receive this award.
      It strangely got lost, disappeared within
      Tokyo imperial University, and could not be 
      found out anymore.

1921 Torii was offered a PhD degree by Tokyo

      Imperial University, for his achievement in 
      anthropology studies.

1922 Torii became the Assistant Professor of Tokyo

       Imperial University.

1924 Torii left Tokyo Imperial University and

       established his own Institute as "Torii 
       Institute". His family members were staffs
       of Institute.

1928 Torii worked on Establishing Sophia (上智)

      University. It was only a foreign 
      School in Tokyo for many years, could not 
      become an University, managing by German 
      catholic fathers. As a catholic  
      anthropologist, Torii worked hard: He did all 
      procedures in Ryuzo Torii's name instead of 
      Sophia(上智)to Monbusho(文部省 Minister for 
      Education and 
      others), and succeeded in lifting its level up
      to an university level, since Torii was very
      famous at the time. It is a great achievement 
      of Torii in internationalizing Japanese 
      universities.[7]

1939 Scouted by Harvard

    as a scholar majored in his China
    anthropology studies, belonged to Harvard 
    Yenjing institute, in the name of "Invited
    Professor", the top Institute for Asian studies

   in U.S.A. At the time, There was a Sister

    University of Harvard University named Harvard 
    Yenjing University, located in Peking, Chins.  
    This area belonged to America, and had the right
    same as the American Embassy at the time. That
    is the reason why Japanese Army could not come 
    into this University till the Pearl Harbor 
    Attacking, in Dec.8, 1941. Torii was sent to 
    this American area in China by the Institute, a 
    nice place for his China anthropology studies, 
    out of the China-Japan War. Torii lived in 
    Yenjing area, belonging to the Harvard Yenjing
    Institute, not the University (even the Harvard
    Yenjing University was an American University at 
    the time, since this area was bought by American
    before. This area was completely under 
    Americans' control, including management). 
         [8]

1951 Torii returned to Tokyo, Japan.

1953 Torii passed away.

1964 (March) The first "Torii' Memorial Museum" was

    established by Tokushima prefecture, at Naruto
    area, closed to the sea. It is in a Japanese 
    traditional castle style, on the top of Myoken
    Mountain. Money for establishing were from 
    Tokushima people, showing their memory and love 
    for Ryuzo Torii.

2010 Torii' Memorial Museum was moved to Tokushima

     city, the central part of Tokushima Prefecture,
     more easy for people to visit. It is in a large
     facility in "Forest of Culture" area, together
     with other museums and also library.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Memo of an Old Student" by Ryuzo Torii
  2. ^ 『Studies on Ryuzo Torii』№. 1
  3. ^ 『Life of Ryuzo Torii』by Torii Ryuzo Menorial Museum
  4. ^ "Achievements of Ryuzo Torii" by Tadashi Saito
  5. ^ "Life of Ryuzo Torii", "Exhibitin" by Torii's Memorial Museum
  6. ^ "Ryuzo Torii' s achievement" by Tadashi Saito
  7. ^ "Studies on Ryuzo Torii No. 1"
  8. ^ "Life of Ryuzo Torii" by Torii's Memorial Museum

There are some people mixed anthropology studies with Imperialism, such as below: In the wake of Yoshino Sakuzō's criticism of Japan's Imperial ambitions in Korea, Torii lined himself up with those who justified Japanese annexation on the grounds that the contemporary consensus worldwide in linguistics, anthropology, and archaeology was that the Korean and Japanese people were one and the same 'race/people' (dōminzoku)[1]


  1. ^ Oguma Eiji, Tan'itsu minzoku shinwa no kigen, Shin'yōsha, Tokyo 1995 pp.154ff. English translation in Eiji Oguma, "A Genealogy of 'Japanese" Self-Images", Trans Pacific Press, 2002, pp. 126-127.