Matsumura Seiichiro: First deaf founder and principal of school for the blind and deaf in Ishikawa during late 1800's


Matsumura Seiichiro
Matsumura Seiichiro (松村精一郎: 1849∼1890) is known as he started the fourth school for the blind and deaf called the Kanazawa Private Institution for the Blind and Mute (私立金沢盲唖院) in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture in 1880 between the close of the Tokugawa regime and the early years of the Meiji Era. The institution was the fourth after Kyoto, Tokyo, and Osaka. Matsumura is the first Deaf founder and principal also.

He was born in Fukumitsu, Toyama Prefecture in northeastern Japan. He had smallpox at the age of six, and since then, he became deaf, mute, and poor at walking. Some documents state that he became deaf at the age of 12, or 14.
Matsumura was an earnest student educated by the prominent teachers who had a good knowledge in teaching the deaf, such as Inazaka Kenkichi (稲坂謙吉), Nakamura Masanao (中村正直), etc. 

He learned English under Inazaka, a doctor in Kanazawa-shi through writing. He learned about education for persons with disabilities in the U.S. and Europe through the books introduced by the Dutch to the Kaga clan, a traditional and rich family in Kanazawa.

In 1876, Matsumura gained a great deal of information on the Rakuzen-kai Institution for the Blind and Mute in Tokyo from Nakamura, who was a teacher at the Dojinsha (同人社: the School for Western Learning) in Tokyo, and a member of the founders of the Rakuzen-kai Institution.

Matsumura translated and published the book titled "A System of Modern Geography" (Bankoku Chishi kaitei: 万国地誌階梯) (Japanese translation:  http://kindai.da.ndl.go.jp/info:ndljp/pid/76154) by Samuel Augustus Mitchell (1792-1868), an American geographer, in 1878-1886.

He happened to meet Ouchi Seiran (大内青巒) who had been at Kyoto to make researches into education for the blind and deaf. They visited the Kyoto Institution for the Blind and Mute to observe classes. Ouchi would be the first president of the Rakuzenkai Institution for the Blind and Mute. This move might influenced on Matsumura to work on foundation of the Institution for the Blind and Mute in Kanazawa-shi.

He wanted to start education for the blind and mute, stating the reason for his wish, "For people who worry about the same fate as mine from a bitter experience with misfortune as a person with disabilities like myself."

Matsumura and Umeda Kyuei visited the Osaka Model School for the Blind and Mute and the Kyoto Institution for the Blind and Mute to study how to educate the blind and the deaf children and then founded the school at Kanazawa-shi in 1880 as the fourth school for the blind and mute in Japan. Matsumura made himself the director of the new institution. One of his friends, Tanimura Tomokichi (谷村友吉) helped funding for the establishment of the school.

However, in 1882, the school was closed because of financial difficulties: the annually low enrollment of  the students, an unexpected rise in prices, an epidemic of cholera, a transfer by prefectural governor, etc.

Matsumura paved the way by founding the first private school (戊子義塾) in Kanazawa-shi for the brilliant children who were unable to get education in 1888.

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In 1908, about 20 years after, the Private Kanazawa School for the Blind and Mute (金沢盲唖学校) was founded by Uemori Sutejiro (上森捨次郎).

The reading book for the elementary students titled "The Great Men of Our Hometown" prepared by the Fukumitsu-cho School Education Study Society in 2004 introduces Matsumura, noting that he held out a hand to the children who were not blessed in spite of his own disabilities.

In August, 2007, the Deaf history research group from Toyama Prefecture visited Matsumura's parents' home, and the public hall to see an exhibit on the great men in hometown, guided by a relative of Matsumuras. He explained, "While Matsumura had the triple disabilities, he was so full of curiosity that he traveled throughout Japan." (Japanese source: http://www.toyama.hokkoku.co.jp/_today/T20070809201.htm

Also "The Group of the Fukumitsu Town Collaboration Planning" in Toyama Prefecture installed the wooden signboards which describes three persons' career in the place near each old home on August 5, 2010, in order to tell the public about their distinguished services, including Matsumura's. (Japanese source: http://www.hokkoku.co.jp/subpage/T20100806203.htm).


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