chapter  3
15 Pages

William Elliot Griffis: The Tokyo Years, 1872-1874

WithEdward R. Beauchamp

In early 1872 when Griffis began to teach, Daigaku Nanko was really "a replica of an American grammar school." The school's English division included about 500 students, and these students were "of every age, and from every quarter of the empire". Griffis' letters and diary reveal little about his teaching in Tokyo, and his sister's letters are silent on this phase of their life in Japan. Of all of Griffis' experiences in his 1,297 days in Japan, the one that both seared him the most, and which offers the student of the period the greatest insights, was the events leading up to his departure from Japan in July 1874. A major conflict erupted between Griffis and the Mombusho over the interpretation of Griffis' contract in Tokyo, and especially his situation resulting from the failure of the technical school to open in the late winter of 1872.