The former Kaichi School was built in 1876 and is a lovely school. Despite the fact that kids no longer attend the Former Kaichi School, the current Kaichi School is directly across the street. Kaichi School was the region’s first community school. Kaichi’s kanji literally means “opening people’s intelligence.” Prior to the establishment of this school, only the children of Samurai had access to higher education.
Ordinary inhabitants only attended primary schools linked with Buddhist temples during the Edo period, when Buddhist monks taught. Japan opened its doors to the rest of the world in 1854, and the national education system was overhauled in 1872. The new system aimed to develop a community education system based on western educational models. The construction of this school, which was one of the country’s first of its sort, opened up educational opportunities to everyone.
Matsumoto’s residents, largely farmers, wished to provide their children with the opportunity to attend school, even if it meant eating only one meal per day. Members of the community were ecstatic about the prospect and donated 70% of the building’s cost, which was estimated to be around 134,400,000 yen at the time. The old school’s ceilings are constructed of paper, its pillars are built of mud and bamboo, and its walls are made of mud and bamboo. Although plate glass for the front window was imported from France, equipment and material costs were maintained as low as feasible. The school’s construction began in 1873 and was completed three years later in 1876.
Matsumoto is perhaps best known for its castle of the same name, which was declared as a Japanese National Treasure over 80 years ago. For a long time, this was Matsumoto’s lone National Treasure, but that changed in September of 2019 when another National Treasure, the Former Kaichi School, was designated.
The Former Kaichi School, which is also an Important Cultural Property, was built in 1873 near to the Metoba River, but was quickly renovated in 1876. The reconstructed school was designed in a quasi-Western style known as giyofu, which was modeled after the Tokyo Kaisei School (presently University of Tokyo). Angels and a dragon sculptures can be found on the front of the structure. While this appears to be in keeping with the giyofu style, it appears to be so unusual that it appears to be the only one of its kind in the globe.
The Former Kaichi School is accessed through the smaller building on the right. Remove your shoes and step into the slippers provided inside before entering. More dragon sculptures can be found on the doors leading to the corridor. Seijyu Tateisha, a local carpenter, designed the school, and his architectural design garnered a lot of appreciation from the community because it was highly modern for the time (and especially for a school in Matsumoto).
However, it was discovered during construction that the cost of constructing the school was higher than anticipated. The school was eventually completed thanks to the generosity of Matsumoto citizens, who financed almost 70% of the remaining costs.
The Former Kaichi School is divided into two floors with a total of 16 rooms. The rooms depict what life was like in the past, with furniture, school equipment, photographs, and other educational resources on display. The artifacts shown in each room vary greatly because the school was utilized as an elementary school, a junior high school, a women’s school, and a technical college.
The residents of Matsumoto used the Former Kaichi School as a functioning school for almost 90 years (until 1963) after it opened. It was subsequently transferred to its current location a year later, and in 1965, it opened its doors to the public as an educational museum. In recent years, a new Kaichi School has opened directly in front of the old one, where children are educated.
The Former Kaichi School now has the best collection of educational papers and historical materials in the country, as well as a lot of nostalgia in a lovely setting. A visit to the Former Kaichi School is essential for anybody interested in Matsumoto’s history. Are you planning a trip to Matsumoto Castle? First, stop by the Kaichi School and go down to the castle grounds (it’s about a 10-minute walk)! If you want to see both of Matsumoto’s National Treasures, this is the place to go.
Take the Town Sneaker (North Course) bus from Matsumoto Station’s Castle Exit and get off at the Kyukaichigakko (Former Kaichi School) bus stop after about 17 minutes. The bus leaves the station every 30 minutes during the week and every 20 minutes on weekends. The first bus leaves at 8:30 a.m., and the latest bus departs at 17:15 p.m. A single journey on the Town Sneaker costs 200 yen, but for 500 yen (250 yen for minors), you can get a Town Sneaker One-Day Bus Ticket that gives you unlimited trips on the Town Sneaker buses.
This special ticket provides discounts to a number of Matsumoto attractions, including the Former Kaichi School and Matsumoto Castle. It is available for purchase in the Matsumoto Bus Terminal or on the Town Sneaker.
Address: 2 Chome-4-12 Kaichi, Matsumoto, Nagano 390-0876,
TEL: +81 263-32-5725
Business Hours: 9:00 – 17:00
Entrance closes at: 16:30