Schoolmaster to an Empire: Richard Henry Brunton in Meiji Japan, 1868-1876

Hardcover | July 1, 1991

byR. Henry Brunton

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Brunton's memoir opens a window on life and times in Meiji Japan from 1868 to 1876, a crucial period in that country's transformation from a medieval backwater into an efficient modern society. Schoolmaster to an Empire, the premier volume in Greenwood's newly initiated Asian Studies Series, provides a rare first-hand account of a nineteenth century English engineer and his key role in the epic-making technical developments of the time. Hired by the Japanese at the age of 27 as engineer in charge of a lighthouse project that would light the coast of Japan, Brunton embarked on a series of varied and adventurous experiences whose record is an enlightening case study of one yatoi, or hired foreign servant, in Japan. Because of the archaic technical level of old world Japan, Brunton the lighthouse builder was also compelled to design, build, and launch ships; build bridges and railways; drain swamps; and pave, drain, and light new settlements. His pages describing his inventive solutions to each new challenge make absorbing and sometimes amusing reading. Brunton's major contribution was probably the training of Japan's first modern mechanics and his insistence on the necessity of scientific training and preparation in a country where technical labor was despised and the skilled trades barely existed. Brunton emerges as a singular teacher not only of technological skills but also of the attitudes and mind set necessary to accomplish ambitious new tasks. "This manuscript has been in the making for the last ninety years," according to editor/annotator Edward R. Beauchamp. Brunton completed his memoir shortly before his death in 1901, and it subsequently received the editorial attentions ofthree separate editors who were unsuccessful in publishing it. Beauchamp's conscientious efforts have restored the important but over-edited work as nearly as possible to Brunton's original language. The editor has retained and updated previous editors' useful annotations and incorporated additional notes to reflect new information and recently published materials bearing on the topics covered by Brunton. This final version is faithful both to Brunton's intent and the stylistic vagaries of the nineteenth century, while also containing updated materials. The 36-chapter volume is packed with fascinating details of the period, and it touches on subjects ranging from "Building Iron Bridges" and "Women's Education in Japan" to "The Jealous Japanese." Here is an astounding portrait of Japan, the manufacturing giant, in its infancy. Schoolmaster to an Empire will appeal to general and specialist readers. It can also be used as a supplementary text in courses dealing with nineteenth century Japan and cross-cultural topics. Libraries, especially those with Asian interests, will find this a necessary addition.

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Brunton's memoir opens a window on life and times in Meiji Japan from 1868 to 1876, a crucial period in that country's transformation from a medieval backwater into an efficient modern society. Schoolmaster to an Empire, the premier volume in Greenwood's newly initiated Asian Studies Series, provides a rare first-hand account of a nine...

Format:HardcoverDimensions:200 pages, 9.6 × 6.38 × 0.79 inPublished:July 1, 1991Publisher:GREENWOOD PRESS INC.

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0313277958

ISBN - 13:9780313277955

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?This fascinating small book is concerned nearly as much with the century-long attempt to publish the memoirs of R.H. Brunton (and others) as in describing the progress in technology in Japan in the period 1868-1876. At that time, Japan was a major political power, yet in engineering and technological accomplishments was hundreds of years behind the industrial world in general. Brunton was selected to bring Japan up to date. He and his associates brought in lighthouses, wharfage, roads, railroads, and canals; telephone and telegraph, highways and iron bridges, as well as technical training and education in engineering. Progress, once begun, continued at a high level for many years. The passage of useful information was not undirectional; for example, Brunton learned about earthquake-resistant building design from the Japanese. Brunton describes some parts of Japanese history not usually discussed, which will interest students of political history as well as the history of science. The general reader may find it of considerable interest. Useful for upperclass undergraduate and graduate students.?-Choice