This research examines the debate about the appropriate age for children to begin formal schooling. This debate appears in educational magazines in the middle of the Meiji era. In particular this essay focuses on Michiyoshi Mishima's "Investigation Report of Educational Systems: The Issue of School Age" (Mishima: 1902). Mishima proposed that 6 years should be the standard age for beginning school in those days. The debate about school age has not been researched fully either by myself or previous scholars, yet the argument was of great concern to the educators of that time. This can be shown by the large number of opinions appearing in the magazine Kyoiku Jiron (Debates on the Age of Education). One contributor said that that the age of seven is more suitable than the age of six for commencing school, citing his experience that seven-year-olds are far more able to understand classes and obey rules. Another cited physical development as a main criterion, and thought that the age of six was a good age to start school. Other contributors compare the age of school entrance in various countries, while yet others study the subject from the fiscal point of view. It is beneficial to study this historical turning point in education in Japan, for it has many points from which we may view current issues about school entrance age. This debate from Mid Meiji suggests possibilities for educational reform today.
In the Taisho period, Tsuchikawa Goro (1871-1947) criticized 'Yugi' of the Meiji Period, and proposed 'Ritsudo Yugi' (Rhythmic Play, namely Figure Marching) and 'Ritsudoteki Hyojo Yugi (Rhythmical Expressive Play, namely Singing Games). Through playing these new 'Yugi', he wanted children to experience what music and its rhythm expressed. The purpose of this paper is to reexamine the evaluation of Tsuchikawa in the previous researches and to show the historical meanings of his study on 'Yugi'. In order to achieve this goal, 1) I describe Tsuchikawa's activities and works to which have never been referred in the previous researches, 2) analyze his theories about 'Yugi', and 3) examine the relationship of Tsuchikawa to the Taisho and the beginnings of the Showa Period. As a result of this examination, several points thus become clear: First, Tsuchikawa played an important role in the process of building the concept of 'Yugi' or 'Oyugi'. That is to say, Tsuchikawa constructed new theories and created new works that opposed 'Yugi' of the Meiji Period. On the other hand, the popularization of Tsuchikawa's 'Yugi' and the confusion regarding 'Jido Buyo' (dances for children which usually use 'Doyo' as background music) reinforced the concept of 'Oyugi' as having a negative connotation. Moreover, Tsuchikawa insisted on the significance of the 'Education of Feeling', while in the Meiji Period the aim of education through 'Yugi' had inclined to gymnastics. The 'Education of Feeling' were greatly influenced by the New Education Movement and the Art Education Movement in the Taisho Period, and according to Tsuchikawa, this meant 1) a cultivation of aesthetic sentiment, 2) an experience with imagination of feelings expressed in 'Yugi', 3) an awareness of one's own body, and 4) genuinely enjoying 'Yugi'. I believe this is one of the important viewpoints to think about children's development of expression.