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Ashikaga Gakko

Ashikaga Gakko (足利学校 Ashikaga-Gakkou, meaning the Ashikaga School) is Japan's oldest academic institution. It is located in Ashikaga city, Tochigi Prefecture, about 70 kilometres north of Tokyo. There has been some controversy as to when it was built, but it is said that it was founded in the ninth century and restored in 1432 by Deputy Shogun Uesugi Norizane; he imported many classical Chinese books, many of which are still kept in the school.

A statue of Uesugi Norizane. Dated 1535. Wood with crystal eyes. 78 cm height. Ashikaga Gakko, Japan

Many students came from all over Japan to study Confucianism, I Ching and Chinese medicine. The pioneering Roman Catholic missionary, Saint Francis Xavier, noted in 1549 that the Ashikaga School was the largest and most famous university of eastern Japan.

After the Meiji Restoration, the Ashikaga School was disestablished. The re-established school is now under the direction of Ashikaga city Board of Education. In 1990 several huge wooden buildings of the old school were restored.


  • Ashikaga School on the web site of the Tochigi Prefecture (English version). Retrieved 8 June 2008.
  • Roy Andrew Miller, Review: Studies in the Ashikaga College by Kawase Kazuma, The Far Eastern Quarterly, Vol. 14, No. 3 (May, 1955), pp. 422-424. Retrieved 8 June 2008.
  • Ashikaga-Gakko in Encyclopædia Britannica online. Retrieved 8 June 2008.
  • Haruo Shirane and Tomi Suzuki (eds), Inventing the Classics: Modernity, National Identity, and Japanese Literature, Stanford University Press, 2001, pp.227-228. ISBN 0-8047-4105-0
  • Wayne A. Wiegand and Donald G. Davis (eds.), Encyclopedia of Library History, Taylor & Francis, 1994, pp. 320-321. ISBN 0-8240-5787-2
  • Xinzhong Yao Routledge Curzon Encyclopedia of Confucianism, Routledge, 2003, p. 121. ISBN 0-7007-1199-6


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