Inazo Nitobe


Who is Inazo Nitobe?

Dr. Inazo Nitobe (1862-1933) was an agriculturalist, scholar, Quaker, philosopher, statesman and educator. Dr. Nitobe was educated at Sapporo Agricultural College, University of Tokyo, Johns Hopkins and University of Halle (Germany). Early in his life he expressed the desire to be a “bridge over the Pacific” and he devoted much of his life to promoting trust and understanding between the United States and Japan.

Inazo Nitobe – A Brief Chronology

Japanese years, which follow the reigns of the Emperors, are in brackets.

1862 (Bunkyu 2)
Born in the city of Morioka (later to be the twin city of Victoria, BC) in Iwate Prefecture. The third son of Jujiro Nitobe.

1869 (Bunkyu 9)
Moves to Tokyo under the adoptive care of his uncle, Tokitoshi Ohta.

1881 (Meiji 14)
Graduates from Sapporo Agricultural College.

1883 (Meiji 16)
Studies briefly at Tokyo Imperial University.

1884 (Meiji 17)
Studies at Johns Hopkins University becoming one of the first Japanese students to conduct university studies in the United States.

1886 (Meiji 19)
Joins the Society of Friends (Quakers) in Baltimore.

1887 (Meiji 20)-1890 (Meiji 23)
Studies at three universities in Germany.

1888 (Meiji 21)
Studies at Bonn University in Germany.

1890 (Meiji 23)
Receives his PhD in Agricultural Economics from University of Halle in Germany.

1891 (Meiji 24)
Marries Mary Patterson Elkinton, a member of prominent Quaker family in Philadelphia. The marriage is opposed by both families.

1897 (Meiji 30)
Resigns his post as Professor at Sapporo Agriculture School (now Hokkaido University) due to illness. Travels to the United States.

1899 (Meiji 32)
While in the United States he writes “Bushido: The Soul of Japan”, which establishes his reputation in the west.

1903 (Meiji 36)
Becomes professor at Kyoto Imperial University.

1906 (Meiji 39)
Becomes professor at Tokyo Imperial University and principal of Daiichi Higher School.

1911 (Meiji 44)
Visits the United States on lecture tour as first Japanese exchange professor. Lectures at six universities.

1918 (Taisho 7)
Helps establish Tokyo Women’s University and becomes its first president.

1919 (Taisho 8)
Leaves for Europe until 1919 as part of post-WWI inspection tour as a private academic with other Japanese statesmen.

1920 (Taisho 9)
Present at the inauguration of the League of Nations in Geneva. Accepts the post of Under-Secretary General.

1926 (Taisho 15, Showa 1)
Relinquishes League of Nations post to become Japan’s Chief Director to the Institute of Pacific Relations.

1933 (Showa 8)
Represents Japan at the Pacific Conference in Banff, Canada. Falls ill at the conference and dies in Royal Jubilee Hospital, Victoria, BC, on October 15.

1984 (Showa 59)
Nitobe is honoured with his image on Japanese 5,000 yen note.

Main works in English of Inazo Nitobe held in the UBC Library

Bushido: the soul of Japan; an exposition of Japanese thought. With an introduction by William Elliot Griffis. Rutland, Vt.: C. E. Tuttle Co., [reprint 1969] E-version of Bushido from Project Gutenberg.

Reminiscences of childhood in the early days of modern Japan by Inazo Nitobe; with introduction and comments by Mary Patterson Elkinton Nitobé. Tokyo, Mazuren company, Ltd. 1934.

The Japanese nation, its land, its people, and its life, with special consideration to its relations with the United States. Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources [reprint 1973]

Western influences in modern Japan; a series of papers on cultural relations, by Inazo Nitobe and others. Chicago, Ill., The University of Chicago press [c1931]

The works of Inazo Nitobe. [Tokyo] University of Tokyo Press [1972]

Japan, some phases of her problems and development. New York, Scribner, 1931 [London Ernest Benn limited 1931].

Use and study of foreign languages in Japan. Geneva League of Nations. Undated.

Lectures on Japan; an outline of the development of the Japanese people and their culture, by Inazo Nitobé. [Tokyo, Kenkyusha, 1936] Chicago, Ill.: The University of Chicago Press, 1938.

Inazo Nitobe Memorial Library

The Inazo Nitobe Memorial Library at Hokkaido University in Japan contains 50% of the books once possessed by Inazo Nitobe.