By examining the key figures and ideologies of the Meiji period in Japanese history (1868-1912), this paper attempts to understand the way the education systems of modern Japan developed, from the beginnings as domain schools under the Tokugawa shogunate, to the development of the primary school system and state universities intended to foster nationalist pride, and the emergence of private and public universities that aimed to teach Western knowledge and prepare students to be independent thinkers and good citizens of their nation. Despite the relatively short amount of time between the fall of the Tokugawa shogunate and the rise of Imperial Japan – less than fifty years – the amount of change enacted in this period is great and, at times, conflicting, and the development of the various stages of education reflect that change and conflict. Different intellectuals had differing visions for how the people of Japan should be educated and even what people should be educated. These differing visions would lead into a split in higher education, between imperial state universities (like Kyoto Imperial University) and private universities (like Keio University). The ideological differences in the education system established in the Meiji period continue into the present day, with public universities being considered the most prestigious.

Semester/Year of Award

Fall 2017


David W. Blaylock

Mentor Professional Affiliation


Access Options

Restricted Access Thesis

Document Type

Bachelor Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level



History, Philosophy, and Religious Studies

Department Name when Degree Awarded