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In Depth

An Invitation to Take a Stroll in Yayoi that Transcends Time and Space

Looking back on Yayoi Campus’ history as the location of the second city residence of the Mito Domain, the former First Higher School, and eventually UTokyo’s Faculty of Agriculture

Toyoji Kaneko
Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences
http://www.seiri.fs.a.u-tokyo.ac.jp (Japanese)

Bordering Kototoi-dori Street and located across from the University of Tokyo's Hongo Campus, Yayoi Campus has cultivated its own unique history and culture distinct from that of the Hongo area. The land that became the Yayoi Campus was once the location of the First Higher School of Japan, but transitioned into the home of the Imperial University’s Faculty of Agriculture (formerly in Komaba) through a property exchange in 1935. Tracing the area's history back even further, we see that it used to be the location of the second city residence of the Mito Domain.

Let's leave the introduction at that for now and head out onto our Yayoi walk. The closest train station to the Yayoi Campus is Todaimae Station on the Tokyo Metro Namboku Line, which opened in 1996. (Picture 1) The entrance and exit of Todaimae Station closest to the University cuts right into a corner of the Yayoi Campus. We arrive at the Faculty of Agriculture’s Main Gate (the Nouseimon) after just a 30-second walk from the station. (Picture 2) The current Gate is the second version of the Nouseimon, repaired in 2003 using cypress from the Kiso area of Japan. Standing in front of the Nouseimon, we can see Building No.1 to our right and Building No. 2 to our left and located symmetrically to each other, while Building No. 3 sits in the middle further inside. (Picture 3) These historical structures which form the core of the Faculty of Agriculture have been in use for over 80 years since they were built, and they are still being actively used today. Building No. 3, which was the most recently built of the three, has been designated as a Selected Historical Building of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
  • 1. Todaimae Station on the Namboku Line, the closest station to the Yayoi Campus

  • 2. The Faculty of Agriculture’s Main Gate (Nouseimon), refurbished in 2003

  • 3. Faculty of Agriculture Building No. 3, which was designated as a Selected Historical Building of the Tokyo Historical Government

The immediate vicinity of the Nouseimon is packed with points of interest that I recommend visiting.The immediate vicinity of the Nouseimon is packed with points of interest that I recommend visiting. First, let's take a look at the Agricultural Museum, which is located to the right of the Nouseimon. (Picture 4). This building was originally a garage for University vehicles, but it has since been renovated to house exhibits of valuable materials from the Faculty of Agriculture archives. Continuing towards the right side of the Campus, the Yayoi Auditorium and Ichijo Hall come into view. (Photo 5) Built as part of a project commemorating the Faculty of Agriculture's 125th anniversary, the Yayoi Auditorium was designed to be an energy-efficient and environmentally-conscious building constructed of wood that utilizes the field of agriculture's unique characteristics. The Auditorium is used as the location for a wide variety of events, including Faculty events and academic meetings. The Yayoi Auditorium Annex sits opposite of the Yayoi Auditorium, with the Nouseimon in between. (Picture 6) The Annex is comprised of the Seihoku Gallery and the Angel Research Building. With its innovative, wood-constructed design, the Annex resembles a church and is a very impressive sight to behold.
  • 4. The Agricultural Museum, which has Hachiko's internal organs on display

  • 5. Yayoi Auditorium's Ichijo Hall, characterized by its wooden construction

  • 6. The impressively churchlike Yayoi Auditorium Annex

The area around the Nouseimon is dotted with bronze statues and stone monuments. One of these that has received a lot of attention recently is the Statue of Professor Hidesaburo Ueno and Hachiko. (Picture 7) The unveiling ceremony for the statue took place on March 8th of this year, which marked the 80th anniversary of Hachiko's passing. Taken in as a pet by Tokyo Imperial University Faculty of Agriculture Professor Hidesaburo Ueno, the dog Hachiko would accompany Professor Ueno to Shibuya Station as the professor went off to work, and would be at the station to greet the professor when he returned. Even after Professor Ueno's sudden death, it is said that Hachiko continued to go to Shibuya Station every morning and evening, searching for his owner in the crowds that would exit through the station gate. As I mentioned before, the Faculty of Agriculture was located in Komaba at the time, which is why the professor had used Shibuya Station.

Right across from the statue stands a stone monument with the inscription "The Place of Master Zhu Zhiyu's Death." (Picture 8) Zhu Zhiyu was a Confucianist scholar during the Ming Dynasty who had been invited by Tokugawa Mitsukuni, the head of the Mito Domain, to stay in Japan and teach Confucianism, etiquette, technical arts, the compilation of historical materials and other disciplines to members of the Mito Domain. His teachings are said to have influenced Mitogaku, the Domain's school of historical and Shinto studies which was founded later. The other monument, the Koryo-hi, sits behind Yayoi Auditorium with its back facing Kototoi-dori Street. (Picture 9) The First Higher School of Japan was also known as Koryo, and the monument was built here after the campus exchange between UTokyo and the First Higher School to commemorate that the School once stood at that location. The Koryo-hi conveys the history of the Yayoi Campus to the people looking at it today.
  • 7. The Statue of Professor Hidesaburo Ueno and Hachiko, a popular point of interest on campus

  • 8. Monument to Zhu Zhiyu, who was invited to stay at the residence of Mito Komon (Tokugawa Mitsukuni)

  • 9. Koryo-hi, a monument that recalls the bygone days of the First Higher School

Next, let's head even farther past the Nouseimon. As we continue walking with Building No. 1 and Building No. 2 on either side of us, we arrive at the front of Building No. 3. Looking towards the right side of the building and all the way to the back, we see a pedestrian bridge that connects the Yayoi Campus to the Hongo Campus. (Picture 10) This bridge, which straddles Kototoi-dori Street, has been called the Strait of Dover and Namida-bashi ("Bridge of Tears") since olden times. Now, let's shift our gaze towards the left of Building No. 3. Looking ahead, we see the long, wide building which houses the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (IMCB). (Picture 11) Two of the University's eleven research institutes are located within the Yayoi Campus. One of these is the IMCB, which used to be called the Institute of Applied Microbiology (IAM). The other one is the Earthquake Research Institute (ERI), which is located past the baseball ground behind the IMCB. (Picture 12) The ERI, it goes without saying, is considered a mecca for earthquake research in Japan.
  • 10. The Strait of Dover, or Namida-bashi

  • 11. The Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences, formerly known as the Institute of Applied Microbiology

  • 12. The mecca for earthquake research, the Earthquake Research Institute

To conclude our stroll, let us walk around the back of Building No. 3. To the north of Building No. 3 is the Veterinary Medical Center, where medical treatments for animals and education and research into illnesses contracted by animals are carried out. (Picture 13) In front of the Center, we see a bust of Johannes Ludwig Janson, a foreign professor who contributed to the study of clinical veterinary medicine in Japan.

Heading farther towards the back of the Campus, the vibrant green artificial turf of the UTokyo Baseball Ground spreads out before us. (Picture 14) This is the field where the UTokyo baseball team, which just ended its 94 game losing streak this spring, conducts its practices. Behind the field, the Mukougaoka Faculty House sits inconspicuously on a corner surrounded by a quiet neighborhood of homes. (Picture 15) Overnight accommodations, a restaurant and even a full-service bar are housed inside this building constructed of an abundance of high-quality wood. The bar in particular gives off an air of elegance as a hidden getaway for adults in the middle of the Yayoi Campus, making it the perfect place to bring our walk to an end. This site was once the location of the First Higher School's Mukougaoka Dormitory. As you partake in a glass of whiskey, you may be able to feel the presence of the rambunctious dorm students even to this day.

  • 13. The Veterinary Medical Center, which sees an endless number of animal patients and visitors

  • 14. The UTokyo Baseball Ground, with its vibrant green artificial turf

  • 15. The Mukougaoka Faculty House, a hidden getaway for adults

* Campus Walk photos 1-15 by Keigo Kakumura

* This article was originally printed in Tansei 31 (Japanese language only).
   - Tansei 16 -

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