Shizutani School

Since Mikki and Sumi are both teachers, Sumi wanted to visit Shizutani School, the oldest free public school in the world, on our second day together. The school was built in 1666 by one of the most enlighted lords of the time - Ikeda Mitsumasa. In addition to founding the school, he insured its continued existence by placing all his holdings in the area under its direct control. The school taught Confucianism and sought to create leaders among the common people.

It was a cold, dreary day. Rain fell steadily, but we gathered our jackets and umbrellas and boarded the train which would take us to the town closest to the school.

About an hour later, we arrived at a small station which seemed to be pretty much in the middle of nowhere, and Sumi called a taxi to take us the rest of the way. Eventually we arrived at a large parking lot filled with cars. I was quite surprised to see so many people in what seemed to be a remote area in such dismal weather.

It soon became clear that many of the people visiting the school had come to photograph the brightly colored autumn leaves and that they did not consider the weather to be an impediment.

Gates are always a good place for picture taking.

There were objects of interest, models, paintings, and drawings inside one of the buildings. I particularly enjoyed the pictures below illustrating the planning and building of the school.

One of the unique features of the school is the Chinese style stone wall with its rounded top.

When we finished touring the school, Sumi called the taxi once again and asked the driver to take us to a place where we could get something to eat. I expected to end up at some sort of small yakitori place, but he took us to an incredible Italian restaurant. It was situated on several acres of land, and there were numerous outbuildings, a pond, and a stone bridge. An assortment of random tables and chairs was scattered across the vast lawn.

After sharing another delicious meal accompanied by some terrific beer that is brewed right on the premises, we posed for pictures in front of the restaurant. We had made many good memories during our two days together.