Tsukamoto Kindergarten, Osaka Japan: Patriotism School 2016
Tsukamoto ( Tsu - Ka - Moto) Kindergarten is just like any other school in Japan, except it teaches the proper curriculum to its 3 to 5 year olds. The reason I say this is because I teach in public schools here in Japan, and the curriculum is non-traditional and Christian leaning as evidenced here and here. So, what is considered true orthodox and proper curriculum in Japan, and what sets Tsukamoto apart from all of the rest of public schools in every district in 47 prefectures nationwide?
Tsukamoto Kindergarten places emphasis back onto the Emperor of Japan and students are therefore required to show respect to the now symbol of the State ( Emperor) who was relegated down by Douglas McArthur - Allied Commander U.S. 1947. Some would call this blind allegiance or a form of misguided patriotism. Actually, if you disavow your sacred symbols in exchange for Anglo .e.g. Santa Clause, Christianity, Hollywood, and U.S. foreign policies and all other Western initiatives, soft power included, then this too could be and would be considered "blind allegiance" or "White is Right" attitude.
Japan enjoys a 90% literacy rate, but that is not because of English education, but because of the virtues of the Japanese language and the culture associated with it. If Japanese students had to rely solely on the English language as a measure of literacy they would most likely fall dead last in the world, yet the level of prosperity here is among the highest in the world. In traditional Japanese schooling prior to 1947, schools taught confucian virtues intermixed with Shintoism and Buddhism with a focus on the Emperor and country - In the U.S. we focus on god and country, or the dozens of other gods because the U.S. is a melting pot of religious beliefs and moral convictions.
The conditions of the world today are not a direct result of Japanese intervention throughout it, so Japanese should not inherently conjure the wrath of countries that never benefited from false Democratic hopes and dreams of economic prosperity, nor the world policing and arbitrary dealings by Western nations. 99% of the schools in Japan are conducting schools as if education in Japan started from 1947 under the former occupational authorities to the present, and this is wholly unfair. And then there's "yutori" and that's for another discussion. Japanese have been opening and establishing public schooling in other countries such as Korea and parts of Africa, Brazil, the U.S., and more, some, centuries ago. The Japanese constitution is older than the U.S., and its education has always been at a higher level before Dutch and the English language invaded its shores. Tsukamoto Kindergarten is simply re-establishing what was uprooted by the U.S. and is bringing back the proper and original teachings of its ancestors.
Why write on this topic...? I and many of us in the international community have a vested interest in the host country and in the continuity of Japanese traditional culture, identity, and language. And through language is culture transmitted. I am a student of Japanese culinary convention and a cultural enthusiast for Japanese food, alcohol, and spa education. Others in the international community may find the Arts and Letters the next step in understanding ancient classical culture here. If we were to juxtapose classical Japanese culture with Japanese subculture, for example, as I digress a little, we would see strong antithetical elements which overlap. I use subculture in this because it's one of the biggest draws for foreign visitors to Japan and amongst the young Japanese, so in this way there may be some theft of Japanese culture because of manga and subculture. Foreigners may be associating manga with Japanese culture or an exaggeration of it like with Kimono clad girls with skateboards, ninja turtles, and cosplay. Some aspects of Japanese culture is grossly misunderstood and over-exaggerated. Japanese need institutions to correct these distortions, so why not start from the education sector.
Moreover, the term subculture is so broad it applies to a wide range of paraphilia, deviation, and cultural misappropriation. In other words, cultural theft by overzealous publishers and manga artist who intermingle culture with deviant behavior. Bizarre character depictions interlaced with sexual innuendo. Extremely violent character depictions in other other types of manga may inaccurately portray true Japanese culture. Some of us who have been here awhile recognize the dearth of spiritual vacuousness that exists in the country today. Long gone are the days of filial piety when kids revered their parents. It is no longer uncommon to hear about child who murdered his/her parents...
The Emperor of Japan is shrouded in mystery and is evident in every facet of Japanese history and lore, and therefore it should not be supplanted or replaced by so-called fighters of the free world who spread Democracy in one hand, while dropping bombs on poor people, from the other hand, throughout the world which is illegal at best depending on how you interpret the broader definition of International Law. Japan is a free country and it's not because of Democracy. It had freedom before Democracy and had some form of Democracy in spite of the Emperor being regarded as a living god before the West arrived here.
Tsukamoto Kindergarten is indoctrinating a new Heisei Generation that understands that the core is just as important as the outer appearance. Students are also required to recite the national anthem of the country, similarly to what we have in the U.S. with the Pledge of Allegiance and the Oath of Allegiance by the military, which all recognize the importance of god, flag, and national legitimacy and identity at home and in the world. Japan is not the U.S.
On another note, the U.S. has veered from its path 30 years ago when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the pledge of allegiance and prayer in public schools, and as a result we are reaping the harvest of that decision. Adding wood to the flame, the U.S. Supreme Court also judged it legally "ok" to burn the U.S. flag in public and approved same-sex marriage all with the stroke of a pen. We have had our struggles with the interpretation of the Constitution and Democracy, and it's because Americans still do not understand its interpretation in the context of current law and how to apply it so that it is fair, equal and balanced for all people. In this way, Japan is an infant having never really dealt head on with challenges faced like with the U.S., yet they strive to be like the U.S., and for no other apparent reason other than to destroy the country from the inside out. Japan cannot be America...
School officials at Tsukamoto have encouraged students to support the governments initiatives by making themselves aware and by embracing the country's domestic and foreign policy goals by making themselves available to protect the country. In the U.S. we had the same indoctrination by the late President of the United States, John F. Kennedy and his famous quote " Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country."
Education reform has always been high on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's list of to-dos, and Tsukamoto is progressive in this way. So, what is considered proper curriculum in Japan, and what sets Tsukamoto apart? It's the original teachings set in place since 1870, and that is the instilling of Japanese values and the arts. Schools today are only teaching internationalism and making the acquisition of English a top priority by dumping down core values that are absolutely essential for a well-balanced education, and replacing it with American soft power and Santa Clause and Halloween and self importance rather than community harmony.. Emphasis has been placed on test taking and test scores on standardized testing and ESL tests which do not measure true knowledge of English acquisition, but are merely memory based, and you wonder why there's a lost generation who are fed up with false promises of a better tomorrow.
In Conclusion, I support change in public schooling in Japan. I feel so guilty when I stand up and sing Christmas carols to an kids who are really not that interested. I feel like I'm poisoning their minds with foolishness and Anglo myths that do not serve to enhance their identity and national polity.