January 27, 1838|
September 15, 1897 (aged 59)|
|Other names||Ueno Ryōtarō|
Machida Hisanari (町田久成) ( January 27, 1838 - September 15, 1897), also known as Ueno Ryōtarō, was a Japanese samurai and statesman of the Meiji period (1868–1912). He was the first director of the Tokyo National Museum.
Machida Hisanari was born in 1838 in Shinshōin, an ancient city of the old Satsuma Province (incorporated in Kagoshima Prefecture since 1883) which became a district of Kagoshima in the late nineteenth century. He was the eldest son of Machida Hisanaga, head of a samurai family in the service of Shimazu Narioki, the daimyō of the Satsuma Domain. At the age of 19, he left his hometown and moved to Edo, the capital, in order to continue his studies. Before his return to Satsuma, he spent more than three years at the Shōhei-zaka Gakumonjo (昌平坂学問所) a state-run academy under the control of the shogunate which formed the Bakufu officials.
Travel to Europe
In 1863, he was promoted to Ōmetsuke and participated as a military officer in the Anglo-Satsuma War where he had the future admiral Tōgō Heihachirō under his command. In the following year, he lead a troop of 600 men, to defend the Imperial Palace against a group of insurgents.
In 1865, as a member of an official Japanese delegation, he spent a two-year study period in Europe; visiting the British Museum in London and, in Paris, the Louvre and National Museum of Natural History. He also participated in the International Exposition of 1867. During his European journey, he became familiar with the concept of cultural heritage and the impact of museums and educational programs on the public.
Return to Japan
Back in Japan at the beginning of the Boshin War (January 1868 - June 1869), he was called to Kyoto with the mission of thwarting the plans of the Satchō Alliance, a military coalition dedicated to overthrowing the Tokugawa shogunate.
In 1870 he entered the service of the Meiji government, and became Secretary of State in the newly formed Ministry of Education. In this influential position, he strove to stop the devastation of the national historic heritage caused by the Meiji policy of separating Shinto and Buddhism and the violent anti-Buddhist movement (Haibutsu kishaku) it triggered.
Retirement and death
In 1885 he joined the Chamber of Elders. In 1889 he left the state apparatus and retired to the Buddhist monastery Mii-dera in Shiga Prefecture. Machida died 15 September 1897 in Tokyo. His tomb is located within the grounds of Kan'ei-ji, a Buddhist temple in the Ueno district of Tokyo, which was the Bodaiji of the Tokugawa dynasty during the Edo period (1603–1868).
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