Ōyama Sutematsu

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Ōyama Sutematsu
大山 捨松
Sutematsu Oyama blown-up.jpg
Ōyama Sutematsu
Personal details
Born
Yamakawa Sakiko

(1860-02-24)February 24, 1860
Aizuwakamatsu, Japan
DiedFebruary 18, 1919(1919-02-18) (aged 58)
Tokyo, Japan
Cause of deathpneumonia, by Spanish flu
NationalityJapanese
Spouse(s)
Ōyama Iwao
(m. 1883; died 1916)
Children
MotherSaigō Tōi
FatherYamakawa Shigekata
RelativesYamakawa Misao (sister)
Yamakawa Futaba (sister)
Yamakawa Kenjirō (brother)
Yamakawa Hiroshi (brother)
Alma materVassar College
Known forfirst Japanese woman to receive a college degree
Other namesYamakawa Sutematsu
Stematz Yamakawa

Princess Ōyama Sutematsu (大山 捨松, born Yamakawa Sakiko (山川 咲子),[1] later Yamakawa Sutematsu (山川 捨松); February 24, 1860 – February 18, 1919) was a Japanese woman of the Meiji era. As a child, she survived the Battle of Aizu. She was then sent to America for ten years as part of the Iwakura Mission. She was the first Japanese woman to receive a college degree, and spent her later years advocating for women's education and volunteer nursing in Japan.[2]

Early life[edit]

She was born Yamakawa Sakiko (山川 咲子) on February 24, 1860 in Aizu, an isolated and mountainous region in what is now the Fukushima Prefecture.[1] Yamakawa Sakiko was the youngest daughter of Yamakawa Shigekata (山川 重固), a karō (senior retainer) of the lord of Aizu,[1] and his wife Saigō Tōi (西郷 艶) (えん) of another karō family, the Saigō. Yamakawa Sakiko had six siblings:[3] sisters Futaba (二葉, 1844–1909), Miwako, Misako, and Towako;[4] and two brothers, Hiroshi (, 1845–1898) and Kenjirō (健次郎, 1854–1931). Their father Yamakawa Shigekata died in 1860, the year of Yamakawa Sakiko's birth, and her eldest brother Hiroshi became head of their family.

Yamakawa Sakiko was raised in a traditional samurai household in the town of Wakamatsu, in a several-acre compound near the northern gate of Tsuruga Castle.[1] She did not attend school, but was taught to read and write at home, as part of a rigorous education in etiquette and obedience based on the eighteenth-century neo-Confucian text Onna Daigaku ("Greater Learning for Women").[5]

Battle of Aizu[edit]

In 1868-1869, Yamakawa's family was on the losing side of the Boshin War. The Boshin War was a civil war which marked the end of Japan's bakumatsu ("end of military government"), in which pro-shogunate forces resisted the new imperial rule begun with the 1867 Meiji Restoration. On October 8, 1868, when Yamakawa was eight, imperial forces invaded and burned Yamakawa's home town of Wakamatsu.[6] Yamakawa took shelter within the castle walls of Tsuruga Castle with her mother and sisters.[3] Several hundred people from other samurai families instead committed ritual suicide.[7][8] This invasion marked the beginning of the Battle of Aizu, a monthlong siege.

The 600 women and children inside the castle, led by Matsudaira Teru,[9] formed work groups to cook, clean, and make gun cartridges,[10] as well as nursing nearly 1,500 wounded soldiers.[11] One of Yamakawa's sisters attempted to join Nakano Takeko's Jōshitai (娘子隊, "Girls's Army"), but on her mother's orders remained inside the castle making gun cartridges.[10] Yamakawa herself carried supplies for the cartridge makers.[10] Toward the end of the siege, Yamakawa's mother sent her and other girls of the castle to fly kites as a gesture of defiance while imperial cannons bombarded the castle and the women smothered the shells with wet quilts.[10] One shell which was not smothered in time exploded near her, grazing Yamakawa's neck with shrapnel, and killing her sister-in-law Toseko.[10]

After the battle[edit]

The siege ended with the castle's surrender on November 7, 1868.[12] Yamakawa was taken to a nearby prisoner camp with her mother and sisters, where they were held for a year.[13] In the spring of 1870, they were exiled to the newly-created Tonami District.[13] The 17,000 refugees exiled there had no experience of farming, and the winter saw shortages of food, shelter, and firewood which threatened Yamakawa's family with starvation.[13] Yamakawa, turning eleven, spread night soil on the fields and scavenged for shellfish.[14]

In the spring of 1871, Yamakawa was sent to Hakodate, without her family,[15] where she was lodged with Takuma Sawabe and then with French missionaries.[16]

Education in America[edit]

Departure with the Iwakura Mission[edit]

First female Japanese study-abroad students, from the left, Nagai Shigeko (10), Ueda Teiko (16), Yoshimasu Ryōko (16), Tsuda Ume (9) and Yamakawa Sutematsu (12)

In December 1871, when she was eleven years old, Yamakawa was sent to the United States for study, as part of the Iwakura Mission. At this time, her mother changed her name from Yamakawa Sakiko (咲子) ("little blossom") to Yamakawa Sutematsu (捨松) ("thrown-away pine tree").[2][17] Yamakawa was one of five girls chosen to spend ten years studying Western ways for the benefit of Japan, after which she was to return and pass on her knowledge to other Japanese women and to her children, in accordance with the Meiji philosophy of "Good Wife, Wise Mother".[17]

The other girls were Ryo Yoshimasu (14), Tei Ueda (14), Shige Nagai (10) and Ume Tsuda (6).[17] All five girls were from samurai families on the losing side of the Boshin War.[18] Before leaving Japan, they were the first samurai-class girls to be granted an audience with the Empress Haruko, on November 9, 1871.[19] They departed with the rest of the Iwakura Mission on December 23 1871 aboard the steamship SS America (1869), chaperoned by Elida DeLong[20] (wife of the American diplomat Charles E. DeLong), who spoke no Japanese.[21] After a stormy and difficult journey, they arrived in San Francisco on January 15 1872. Yamakawa and the other girls spent two weeks in San Francisco, largely solitary in their hotel room but the subjects of intense newspaper coverage.[22] They then embarked on a cross-country train tour, arriving in Washington, DC on February 29,[23] where Charles Lanman (secretary to Arinori Mori) took custody of the girls.[20]

Yamakawa was placed in the household of Leonard Bacon in New Haven, Connecticut for the rest of her time in America. She befriended his daughter Alice. The two lived like sisters for ten years learning each other's cultures.

Vassar[edit]

Yamakawa Sutematsu at Vassar.

Yamakawa graduated from New Haven High School, and then enrolled in Vassar College in 1878 alongside Uryū Shigeko.[24][25] The two of them were the first Japanese women to enroll in college.[24] Leonard Bacon died in December 24, 1881, too soon to be present at her eventual graduation. While at school, Yamakawa Sutematsu typically stylized her name as Stematz Yamakawa, using the American name order and a spelling which matched the pronunciation of her name.[24]

In 1881, the ten-year period of the girls' educational mission had ended, but Yamakawa extended her stay to complete her studies.[24] Yamakawa eventually graduated from Vassar College with a B.A., magna cum laude,[25] in October 1882, the first Japanese woman to receive a college degree.[24] Her thesis was on "British Foreign Policy Toward Japan,"[25] and she was chosen to give a commencement speech on the topic at her class's graduation.[26] She then studied nursing for several months at the Connecticut Training School For Nurses in New Haven, before returning to Japan.[2]

Return to Japan[edit]

When she first returned to Japan, Yamakawa looked for educational or government work, but her options were limited, especially because she had never learned to read or write Japanese.[27][26] Instead, on November 8 1883, Yamakawa married the Imperial Japanese Army general and (and former Satsuma retainer) Ōyama Iwao, a 42 year old widower and father of three, who had once served as an artilleryman during the bombardment of her hometown of Aizu.[26] He later liked to joke that she had made the bullet which struck him during that battle.[26] From this point, she became known as Ōyama Sutematsu. After her marriage and a series of promotions for her husband who later became the Minister of War, Sutematsu became Countess Ōyama, and eventually, Princess Ōyama[27] by the year 1911.[26] During their marriage, they had two daughters, Ōyama Hisako (later Baroness Ida Hisako) and Ōyama Yuko (miscarried), and two sons, Prince Ōyama Takashi and Prince Ōyama Kashiwa. After her marriage, Sutematsu took on roles common to government officials' wives, and advised the Empress on western customs.[27] She also advocated for women's education and encouraged upper-class Japanese women to volunteer as nurses.[2] She also frequently hosted American visitors to advance Japanese-American relations, including her friend Alice Mabel Bacon, the geographer Ellen Churchill Semple and the novelist Fannie Caldwell Macaulay.[26]

In 1885, due to her pregnancy which prevented her from travelling with her husband to Europe, she was requested by Itō Hirobumi to assist in setting up the Peeresses' School in Tokyo and later became its trustee. In 1900, she was a co-founder with Alice Bacon and Tsuda Ume's Joshi Eigaku Juku (Girls' School for English Studies) to support the cause of women's education.[27]

She was Director of the Ladies Relief Association and the Ladies Volunteer Nursing Association, President of the Ladies Patriotic Association, and Chairman of the Japanese Red Cross Society.[2] During the Russo-Japanese War from 1904 to 1905, she worked as a volunteer nurse herself.

Death[edit]

After Ōyama's death in 10 December 1916, Princess Ōyama died of pneumonia caused by influenza in Tokyo, Japan from the 1918 flu pandemic in February 18, 1919.

Gallery[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Hotta, Eri (2013). Japan 1941. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. pp. 83–85.
  • Kuno, Akiko (1993). Unexpected destinations: the poignant story of Japan's first Vassar graduate. New York: Kodansha International.
  • Methodist Episcopal Church (1895). "Three Japanese Girls." The Heathen Woman's Friend. Vol. XXVII, July 1895, No.1. Boston: Woman's Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
  • Nimura, Janice P. (2015). Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back. WW Norton & Company.

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Nimura, Janice P. (2015). Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back. WW Norton & Company. p. 19.
  2. ^ a b c d e Howe, Sondra Weland (1995). "The Role of Women in the Introduction of Western Music in Japan". The Bulletin of Historical Research in Music Education. 16 (2): 91. ISSN 0739-5639. JSTOR 40214860.
  3. ^ a b Nimura, Janice P. (2015). Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back. WW Norton & Company. p. 35.
  4. ^ Wright, Diana E. (2001). "Female Combatants and Japan's Meiji Restoration: The Case of Aizu". War in History. 8 (4): 416. doi:10.1177/096834450100800402.
  5. ^ Nimura, Janice P. (2015). Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back. WW Norton & Company. p. 25.
  6. ^ Wright, Diana E. (2001). "Female Combatants and Japan's Meiji Restoration: The Case of Aizu". War in History. 8 (4): 402. doi:10.1177/096834450100800402.
  7. ^ Wright, Diana E. (2001). "Female Combatants and Japan's Meiji Restoration: The Case of Aizu". War in History. 8 (4): 403. doi:10.1177/096834450100800402.
  8. ^ Nimura, Janice P. (2015). Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back. WW Norton & Company. p. 36.
  9. ^ Wright, Diana E. (2001). "Female Combatants and Japan's Meiji Restoration: The Case of Aizu". War in History. 8 (4): 410. doi:10.1177/096834450100800402.
  10. ^ a b c d e Nimura, Janice P. (2015). Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back. WW Norton & Company. p. 37.
  11. ^ Wright, Diana E. (2001). "Female Combatants and Japan's Meiji Restoration: The Case of Aizu". War in History. 8 (4): 411. doi:10.1177/096834450100800402.
  12. ^ Wright, Diana E. (2001). "Female Combatants and Japan's Meiji Restoration: The Case of Aizu". War in History. 8 (4): 414. doi:10.1177/096834450100800402.
  13. ^ a b c Nimura, Janice P. (2015). Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back. WW Norton & Company. p. 38.
  14. ^ Nimura, Janice P. (2015). Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back. WW Norton & Company. p. 40.
  15. ^ Nimura, Janice P. (2015). Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back. WW Norton & Company. p. 47.
  16. ^ Nimura, Janice P. (2015). Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back. WW Norton & Company. p. 48.
  17. ^ a b c Nimura, Janice P. (2015). Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back. WW Norton & Company. p. 49.
  18. ^ Nimura, Janice P. (2015). Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back. WW Norton & Company. p. 50.
  19. ^ Nimura, Janice P. (2015). Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back. WW Norton & Company. p. 51.
  20. ^ a b Nimura, Janice P. (2015). Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back. WW Norton & Company. p. 90.
  21. ^ Nimura, Janice P. (2015). Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back. WW Norton & Company. p. 62.
  22. ^ Nimura, Janice P. (2015). Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back. WW Norton & Company. p. 77.
  23. ^ Nimura, Janice P. (2015). Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back. WW Norton & Company. p. 88.
  24. ^ a b c d e Nimura, Janice P. (2015). Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey from East to West and Back. WW Norton & Company.
  25. ^ a b c Howe, Sondra Weland (1995). "The Role of Women in the Introduction of Western Music in Japan". The Bulletin of Historical Research in Music Education. 16 (2): 92. ISSN 0739-5639. JSTOR 40214860.
  26. ^ a b c d e f Adams, Ellen E. (2014). "Colonial Geographies, Imperial Romances: Travels in Japan with Ellen Churchill Semple and Fannie Caldwell Macaulay". The Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. 13 (2): 145–165. doi:10.1017/S153778141400005X. ISSN 1537-7814.
  27. ^ a b c d "Guide to the Sutematsu Yamakawa Oyama Papers, 1872-1983 (bulk 1882-1919)". specialcollections.vassar.edu. Archives & Special Collections Library at Vassar College. Retrieved 2019-11-25.