Universiteit Leiden

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Lessons of Democracy: Mothers’ Education and Learning Activities in late-1950s Japan,

  • Aya Yamanashi (Keio University)
Tuesday 20 February 2024
Leiden Lecture Series in Japanese Studies
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden


This presentation intends to understand democracy in late-1950s Japan through studying post-war new education, notably the evolution of educational and learning activities directed at mothers.

Post-war Japanese mothers were expected to take on the role of bearers of a democratic society and assumed responsibility for home education based on new post-war educational concepts, despite being denied their own educational opportunities and experiences. Unlike school-age children, adults, especially mothers scarcely had systematic opportunities to learn about ‘democracy’ or ‘new education’.

Studies of women’s activities in post-war Japan have not clarified this critical issue. This presentation focuses on and analyses the activities of educational critic Hirayu Kazuhito(平湯一仁, 1910-1990), whose educational magazine Mother and Child(『母と子』,1955—1997), not only sought to improve mothers’ understanding of new education but also encourage them to think about and discuss democracy with readers and scholars. The analyses of Mother and Child, is expected to contribute to an understanding of the historical trajectory of educational and learning activities intended for mothers

About the speaker

Aya Yamanashi  is a professor at Keio University in Japan, and a member of the Department of Education at the Faculty of Letters. Thanks to LIAS support and the study-abroad program of Keio University, she has been a visiting professor at Leiden University since April 2023.

Yamanashi has majored in the history of modern Japanese Education. She is especially interested in marginal aspects of education, such as educational activities among youth and women’s reading circles, and relationships among schools, homes(parents), and local communities.

Recently she has published a paper on cooperation among schools, homes, and local communities during evacuation ("Discovery the Local Community’s Value by Evacuee: Cooperation among the School, the Home, and the Local Communities during Evacuation", https://doi.org/10.34530/jssace.59.0_55). 

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