An Unsuccessful Story of Futaba Nursery School, A Pioneer Educational Institution for the Poor in Japan


Futaba Nursery School has long been regarded in Japan as one of the pioneer educational institutions that upheld children's rights and the protection of motherhood, but its history cannot simply be read as a tale of the heroic female founders. Scholars describe Futaba Nursery School, established in 1900 for children in Tokyo's slums, as a pioneer institution in prewar Japan's social welfare. Scholars' narrative of Futaba Nursery School; based on an analysis of the female founders' ideas as recorded in annual reports—almost always reads as a success story. However, I suggest that this is a monolithic narrative devoid of the voice of the poor. Futaba Nursery School was not always capable of meeting the basic needs of the poor. Even though the humanitarian principle of the school was applied to all people, in practice charitable works had to abide by the state policies that determined who should be saved. Furthermore, a questionnaire survey of retirees in the 1970s indicates that they did not always share the founders philosophy and that their conflicting views occasionally resulted in quitting the school in some cases. Some retirees even established or worked at another nursery school by using their experience in Futaba Nursery School. By examining unsuccessful practices of Futaba Nursery School, this paper offers a narrative that is corrective to the traditional hero/heroine-centered story of Japan's social welfare system.

Author Information
Akane Oishi, University of Tsukuba, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACCS2016
Stream: Sociology

This paper is part of the ACCS2016 Conference Proceedings (View)
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