James Summers (1829-91)

James Summers is the first man that published a Japanese newspaper abroad to introduce the Japanese culture in 1873. He taught Japanese students English and English literature (included Shakespeare) at schools for ten years in the first half of the Meiji period.

He was born in Richfield, Kent, Britain on June 5,1828. His father was a sculpture and James was his only son. James Summers with only a small primary education studied foreign languages and classic literature by himself because he was enthusiastic about learning by nature. In those days it cost a great deal to study at university and he was too poor to receive higher education. So he gave up to enter university and made up his mind to go to China with an ambition of becoming a diplomat.

In 1848 he went to Hong Kong to be a tutor of St.Pall School founded for the purpose of educating missionaries in China by Stanton.

In June 1849 he got into trouble with the Protestants in Aumon. He happened to see the processions of the Protestants on the street on the day of the body of Christ, when the Portugese Consul noticed Summers with his hat on . The consul told him to take off his hat,but Summers was jailed because he refused the consul' order.

Planning to spread its influence over the South China after the Opium War in 1840, Britain made a battle to demand the release of Summers. Admiral Capel demanded Admiral Amaral to release Summers immediately but the latter declined the former 's proposal and rescued Summers by the naval force.

After that Summers resigned the post as teacher of the St.Paul School and returned home in 1851.

In 1852 he became professor of Chinese language of Kings College of London University at the age of 25 though he did not have any academic career. The fact testified that he was a Chinese scholar then.

In 1853 he published his first book of "Chinese language and literal lecture " and the next year translated the Bible into Shanghai dialect in romaji.

Then it was in great demand to send the people who were versed in Chinese to China, and consuls, missionaries and merchants got the lecture of Summers. Among them there were two diplomats who had the relation with Japan thereafter.

One was Ernest M. Satow, who came to Japan as an interpreter in the early part of the Meiji period and later became the British Consul. He was also a prominent pioneer of early Christian literature in Japan. He studied in London University from 1859 to 1861.He wrote his first treaties about Japan on "Chinese and Japanese Repository"(1863-65) and "Phoenix"(1870-73). It was because of Summer's influence that Satow in the University was interested in Asia, specially Japan.

The other was Jone Lauder, Consul in Kobe and Yokohama, who later became a foreign lawyer in Yokohama.

In 1864 Summers wrote his first essay, "Japanese and Japanese grammar" in "the Chinese and Japanese Repository".

After that he helped to publish " The poems by one hundred ancient Japanese poets" translated into English by F.V.Dickins.

It is not clear who taught Summers Japanese and the study of Japanese literature but probably his teacher must have been Teisuke Minami who had been in Britain in 1865.

"Chinese and Japanese Repository " was published after 20 years'publication of "The Chinese Repository" but it also stopped its publication after 2 years.

Soon Summers published the monthly magazine, "Phoenix", in which he introduced the excerpt from" The Tale of Heike" of the edition of Amakusa kept in the British Museum in the "Phoenix".

In 1873 he published the Japanese newspaper, " The Taisei Shinbun" in London by Minami's cooperation, the next year when Tomomi Iwakura and the delegation of investigation in Europe visited Britain.

It was the heralds of the newspapers published abroad with "the Gossip of the world " by Leon Lucien Prunol de Rosny(1837-1914) in Paris. Having some misprints and misspellings, "The Taisei Shinbun written in kana and kanji was generally easy to read. Summers, chief editor stressed that it was necessary to publish newspaper for the enlightenment of a nation. There were the articles of the Windsor Castle, the Niagara Fall, the death of the Emperor Napoleon, the Palace of Versailles, the news related with Britain and advertisements in the newspaper. Summers wanted Japanese students in London to read the newspaper, while he sent it to Japan by himself. As the newspaper did not sell well, he stopped publishing it thereafter.

There is only a copy of the original in Japan and fortunately "Taisei Shinbun was reissued by the Meiji Culture Society from the Nippon Hyoronsya in 1927.

Staying in London in 1872, Iwakura invited Summers to the Kaisei School (later Tokyo University) as an English teacher. Summers left Southernputon with his family in summer in 1873 and arrived in Tokyo in October. He contracted with the school for teaching for a couple years.

Before Summers teaching at the Minami Kou, Edward H.House had been teaching English and English literature. The text-book Summers used was "A handbook of English Literature compiled by Francis H.Underwood". Summers taught students" Hamlet, Henry " and Milton's works. Among the students were Tetujiro Inoue, Kenzo Wadagaki, Kakuzo Okakura, Takaaki Kato, Tameyuki Amano, Jigoro Kanou and Tamenori Yamazaki.

Tetujiro Inoue said that Summers was a queer man, who taught them by his own method at the Kaisei School. They also said that he had an imposing appearance and was eager to teach them.

In August 1876 he went to The Niigata English School as an English teacher but six months later the school was closed and transferred to The Osaka English School.

In June 1880 Summers was invited to The Sapporo Agricultural College as a professor of English literature and drawing at the recommendation of Ryuuichi Kuki. Summers put an emphasis on English composition and the power of reading. He recommended students to memorize English sentence to become familiar with English style and made them learn by heart for an hour a week. Yoshitarou Takenobu said that "A hand -book of English literature " compiled by F.H.Underwood had been used as a text-book there. The book greatly influenced the spiritual life of young people in the Meiji period. Takenobu was given a private lesson by Summers and read famous English poems and the some dramas of Shakespeare. Inazo Nitobe also said that most useful subject he had learned was English as he recalled his school life at the college in his later years.

In 1882 Summers returned to Tokyo after two years' teaching in Supporo. After he taught foreign children and tutored, he opened a private school, which was called " Summer School " in 1884. In 1891 he died of cerebral hemorrhage at his home, Tsukigi, Tokyo. After that students were taught English by Mrs. Summers and her daughters, and among them was Junnichiro Tanizaki, novelist .The private school became a kind of social circle and was ordered to close in 1908,because they had not been giving their lessons since 1907.

Summers lies buried in the foreign cemetery in Yokohama.