Kume Kunitake bigraphy, stories - Educators

Kume Kunitake : biography

August 19, 1839 - February 24, 1931


Kume was born in Saga Domain, Hizen (present-day Saga Prefecture), and was active in attempting to assist the administrative reform of Saga domain during the Bakumatsu period.

After the Meiji Restoration, he was selected to join the Iwakura mission on its around-the-world voyage in 1871 as the private secretary to Iwakura Tomomi. After his return to Japan in 1878, he published the Tokumei Zenken Taishi Bei-O Kairan Jikki, a five-volume account of the journey, and of what he observed of the United States and Europe.

Kume became a professor at Tokyo Imperial University in 1888, while contributing to Dai Nihon Hennenshi, an encyclopedic comprehensive history of Japan.

In 1889, he was awarded the Order of the Sacred Treasure.Brownlee, John. (1997). Japanese historians and the national myths, 1600-1945: the age of the gods and Emperor Jinmu, p. 96.

However, in 1892, he was forced to resign after publishing a paper Shinto wa saiten no kozoku ("Shinto is an outmoded custom"), which the government considered to be seditious and highly critical of the State Shinto system.

Kume continued to write and lecture at the Tokyo Semmon Gakko (the predecessor of Waseda University) after his resignation from Tokyo University.



  • Tokumei Zenken Taishi Bei-O Kairan Jikki (「特命全権大使米欧回覧実記」), Tokyo, 1878

Available in English

  • Kume Kunitake. Healey, Graham and Tsuzuki Chushichi, eds. The Iwakura embassy, 1871-73 : a true account of the ambassador extraordinary & plenipotentiary's journey of observation through the United States of America and Europe (The Japan Documents, 2002)
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Living octopus

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