Furukawa Tashiro: first teacher of Deaf children

Furukawa Tashiro (1845-1907) is well remembered as the first teacher of Deaf children in Japan.

Tashiro was born to the family who owned the largest school for commoners (白景堂) in Japan, located in the temple (上京智恵光院) in Kyoto City. The school taught nearly 700 students.

When Tashiro was young, he pursued Confucianism, mathematics developed in Japan, military strategy and astronomy as well. He also instructed reading and writing at the family-owned school after the Meiji Restoration in 1868.

He was hired as a calligraphy teacher at the 19th elementary school (later Taiken Elementary School), one of the newly founded schools in Kyoto City in October, 1869.

In the year, Tashiro was arrested, because he forged the permit document at the request of illiterate farmers. They tried to develop the pond as the rice field, and were worried about a water shortage. Tashiro had to serve for two years in the jail.

He witnessed the miserable situation of the blind in the prison, and also he often saw mute boys (Yamaguchi Zenshiro and Yamagawa Tamijiro) being teased repeatedly by other hearing children around out of the window of the prison.

Tashiro wrote that blind and mute persons were the human being like himself and that there was no reason why they should be despised or discriminated. He thought that it was a fault that the blind and mute didn't have the educational opportunity.

He was finally freed from prison in July, 1872 and was hired again as an arithmetic teacher at the 19th Elementary School in January, 1872.

Tashiro might have thought of teaching mute children while he was in the prison, and accepted the strong request of Kumagai Denbe, a store owner and local leader, to start instruction of three mute children around in the same year.

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