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USA 1875-78

::JOURNEY TO THE WEST 1875-1878::

Fukuzawa Yukichi enthusiastically encouraged Takamine due to the latter's strong grasp of the English language to join the Ministry of Education's mission to the United States. He was one of three students selected to study teaching methods overseas. The other students were Isawa (Izawa) Shuji later another key administrator and ally of Takamine at Tokyo Women's Normal School (present day Ochanomizu) and also Tokyo Normal School and Kozu Senzaburo."The most interesting accession to our household was the Japanese, Hideo Takamine, who, in 1875, was sent by his Government to enter our Normal School. His coming was quiet unexpected, even to Mr. Sheldon, who, however, knew of no better place to have a person of this description taken care of and assisted in his studies than our house." (Krusi 233)

E.A. Sheldon was the principal of Oswego Normal School (present day Oswego State University of New York). Takamine did mention that he spent a night at "Shady Shore", Sheldon's home. Hermann Krusi, indeed the entire Krusi family became Takamine's American relatives. Based on the pictures and letters exchanged between Takamine and the Krusi family (especially Krusi III), it is clear that their friendship lasted for many years and extended to the following generation as well. As a student at Oswego he gained knowledge in Pestalozzian teaching methods, ideals and earned his teaching license. While in the United States he became acquainted with James Johonnot, Prof Straight and his wife Emma Straight (parents of Willard Straight). Emma was later invited by Takamine to teach in Japan at his school [see Takagi Tokio page].

Many Japanese students sent abroad did not necessarily choose their field of study. Takamine seemed to be personally interested in zoology and the new theory of evolution more than anything. He studied zoology at Oswego, Cornell and attended the famous PEABODY ACADEMY OF SCIENCE Salem MA science camp at the Penikese island. He practiced the scientific method and gained experience in dredging which would later help him in his assistantship to Edward Sylvester Morse.

Most importantly, the high number of female students and teachers at Oswego and the summer science camp may have influenced his views on women in education. Emma Straight was introduced by Takamine to other people in Japan as his sensei. Simply, it was his good fortune to have attended a school known for progressive ideas and innovations in teaching. Thus, the Oswego Movement entered Japan successfully through Takamine's work.


During the fall and winter of 1877, he spent a semester at Cornell studying with Burt Wilder who instructed students in the dissection of animals as a preliminary course to human anatomy. Takamine himself should have been familiar with the dissection of cats while studying with Professor Straight.

Some interesting things I noticed while reading Wilder's Anatomical technology as applied to the domestic cat; an introduction to human, veterinary, and comparative anatomy were: students had to interact with the live cat to notice the physical mechanisms of the animal prior to dispatching it, unlike modern dissections, students killed the animal they removed its fur, and dissected it right away allowing them to feel the warmth and flexibility of the body, muscles and tendons etc. They used string often to tie tendons. One student would demonstrate various movements and those mechanisms were noted in the cat's body. Japanese, silk handkerchiefs were used to hold the animal's brain, which was sprinkled with formalin or alcohol.

sample scans [image 1] [image 2] [image 3] [image 4] [image 5] [image 6]


(Mrs. E.L. Miller formerly Kate L. Leonard in a letter dated November 1914 written to the widow of Willard Dickerman Straight). "We were all interested in Takamini(sic). Hideo was his first name but he was always called by his last, and we did our best to pronounce it as he said we must, without accenting any syllable. We were in the same Botany class taught by Miss Mary Sheldon. One day when he was reciting she compared something to the inside of a peach stone and he replied, "But, Miss Sheldon, I never saw the inside of a peach stone." She asked the class how many had and great was his look of amazement when he turned and saw all hands up. After a puzzled moment, he looked with a smile and said, "That is just the difference between the Japanese and the Americans. The Americans always want to see the inside of every thing. Thinking of Mrs. Straight being in Japan reminded me of Takamini(sic)..." (Straight Reel 9)


Mary Sheldon, the rare respected and accomplished female scholar of that era later wrote a brief essay which later foreshadows the widespread fear of immigrants, and especially Asians [here]. Clearly from the quote mentioned earlier, Mary did interact with a Japanese, Takamine, how did this affect her views on immigrants?


"For a time students at the Normal had difficulty finding rooming and boarding houses.  A solution was found for the young women by converting the Welland HOtel into a dormitory; but the men, who were always outnumbered by the women, continued to pull door knowckers.  Takamine and his brother, Saze, who otherwise might have faced housing problems, lodged with the Krusis." (Snyder 234)

"...we did not lack...boarders, all of them belonging to the Normal School, either as teachers or pupils." (Krusi Recollections 233)

Description of the Krusi home

"...More liberal were the Krusis, in whose house 'even dancing was admitted for the sake of encouraging grace and lightness of movement as well as politeness in social intercourse." (Rogers 65)

"Mrs. Krusi...offered kindly guidance to students but received 'ministerial hints' that her religious views were so liberal as to have injurious effects." (Rogers 70)

... "during the May of 1868, seven years before Takamine arrive, the Krusi family moved into a "house formerly owned by Mrs. Earl, on West Eighth St. (No. 98) near Bridge Street, with a abarn and some land attached to it. The price was three thousand dollars, of which one thousand dollars were to be paid down...There were about six rooms with kitchen." (Krusi Recollections 232). The home also had a drawing room which was mentioned in other places in texts, and an additional lot which Krusi purchased with six hundred dollars. "There were many trees (cherries, apples, pears, and plums) planted on the green lawn. Some trellises with good grapes give us, in autumn, delicious fruit or jelly. A new well and cistern supply us with soft and hard water, and a supply of gas renders the rooms cheerful in the evening...The cultivation of the garden...gives me in spring a healthy occupation, and some vegetables for the kitchen." (Krusi Recollections 233)

The home was improved through the efforts of Caroline Dunham Krusi who had used the money she saved to enlarge the house and "enabled us to take more boarders, and necessitated an addition of land on the south side, which was changed into an orchard and lawn, sloping down to a garden." (Krusi Recollections 241)

Arrival of "the Japanese, Hideo Takamine, who, in 1875, was sent by his Government to enter our Normal School. His coming was quite unexpeted, even to Mr. Sheldon, who, however, knew of no better place to have a person of this description taken care of and assisted in his studies than our house." (Krusi Recollections 234) [full excerpt]

“I remember with a smile how our Japanese friend, Takamine, usually so solemn and dignified, entered into the spirit of the fun---or celebration---by blowing a child’s trumpet with all his might, while in front of our house the flags of three nations, American, Swiss, and Japanese, were displayed, as a sign that our humble home was inhabited by individuals belonging to America, Europe and Asia.” (Krusi 245)

"the following winter, which, as already stated was extremely mild brought two events of some importance to us; viz., the graduation of our son Hermann from the Normal School at the end of the winter term, and the departure ot Takamine (whom we cherished almost as a son) for his native country (16th March)...the latter, who had graduated at the end of the previous term, had pursued voluntarily during the autumn some studies to which his whole soul was inclined; viz, Natural History and biology combined with Mental Philosophy, where he relished most those thinkers, who like John Stuart Mill and Spencer, based their system on the evolution of natural forces as evinced through distinct facts. His mind seemed the most active towards the beginning of the night, and when the rest of mankind were inclined to sleep his mind got fully awake by the reading and study of some abstruse and difficult mental problem..." (Krusi 252)


Property of Oswego SUNY (State University of New York at Oswego) Penfield Library Special Collections "Our Japanese Neighbors" by Johann Heinrich Hermann Krusi

"It was... August 1875 that a dark looking foreigner of small stature arrived at the Oswego railroad station and took a carriage to find the Sheldon residence. Not finding that gentleman at home they returned to the Normal School, where the coachman presented the stranger with these words: "Mr. Sheldon here is a man who has come ten thousand miles expressly to become acquainted with you and your school." With that the young stranger handed to him the letter of recommendation by Mr. Murray, Superintendent of schools in Japan, who explained the purpose of the mission...together with two other young men...three Normal Schools---Albany, Salem and Oswego. Hence the unexpected visit. " [these files are a total of 18mb you may contact the webmaster if you wish to read them for academic purposes]


Property of Oswego SUNY (State University of New York at Oswego) Penfield Library Special Collections "Our Japanese Boy" seemed to have been written soon after Mr. Takamine arrived in Oswego by Johann Heinrich Hermann Krusi
This is a transcription of the most pertinent details


Letters to Hermann Krusi... (archived at Penfield Library at SUNY, College at Oswego)

"I do not know yet, whether I shall work in the Normal School of Tokyo or with Professor Morse. I have no preference with either. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. At first I felt very much inclined to work as an assistant, but I do not like to be a mere manual assistant." (March 30,1876) [confirm date]

Letters from Takamine to his mother...

"I was so busy doing over 200 pages of translation for the ministry of Education as I worked over 12 hours every day translating 5 to 8 pages a day and finishing the work by Aug. 22. Since I had about two weeks of free time until the school started, I again, left Oswego for the fair and on the way visited the famous Niagra falls with the Krusi family and stayed there over night" (1876) [cite]

::Professor Krusi::

He was considered to be a "typical absent-minded professor" (Rogers 46) and also "far ahead of his time.  He insisted on getting at meanings.  In teaching languages, he taught not merely rules but the reasons for them.  He questioned the current use of numbers in marking...He disparaged pure reliance on book learning." (Rogers 46).

In 1871 he was given an honorary's Master's by Yale.

He passed away in 1903 and his ashes interred at Riverside Cemetery in Oswego.


Takamine Hideo