Shogun's Ghost: The Dark Side of Japanese Education

Shogun's Ghost: The Dark Side of Japanese Education

Shogun's Ghost: The Dark Side of Japanese Education

Shogun's Ghost: The Dark Side of Japanese Education


Unruly classrooms, a general lack of discipline and study habits, truancy, and rampant cheating on exams--all of these are recognizable as symptoms of a decaying education system. Schoolland, who taught at the college level in Japan for five years, applies these symptoms to Japanese schools and shatters the myth of excellence surrounding that system of education. In this first person account, Schoolland reveals a side of Japanese education rarely seen in the West. Shogun's Ghost presents a new look at the education system with which the United States would supposedly have to contend in the race for economic supremacy.


Hakodate is the most beautiful town in Hokkaido, the forested, northernmost island of Japan. The main industries are fishing and shipbuilding, both in decline, and tourism and education, which seem to be doing well. Slightly off the beaten track for most travelers to Japan, this is a town that is frequented by very few foreigners despite its rather sizable population of 330,000. This was not always so.

Hakodate was one of the first three ports to be opened to trade with the West following the visit of Commodore Matthew Perry in the 1850s. Nevertheless, contact with the outside world peaked very early, and ships have largely bypassed Hakodate since World War II. When I arrived in 1984, there seemed to be fewer than a dozen Westerners in the entire city.

This was an exciting adventure for me, and I looked forward to teaching my first classes in a Japanese university. Hawaii Loa College had an exchange program with Hakodate University, my sponsor, and I wound up teaching at two other colleges in Japan as well.

It seemed as if most of the staff and faculty from our sister school greeted me at the airport when I arrived that August afternoon. They treated me like royalty, introducing me to the press and local dignitaries, and invited me to welcoming parties and a picnic in my honor.

The university provided me with generous assistance in obtaining virtually every necessity for comfortable living. They offered . . .

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