National Historic Site: Former Literary and Military Arts School
Bunbu Gakkō (Literary and Military Arts School) opened in 1855 as a school for the children of Matsushiro's samurai retainers.
In 1837, samurai retainer Sakuma Shōzan submitted an opinion on educational administration to his domain lord, in which he underlined the importance for clansmen to pursue their studies over and above their focus on the practice of martial arts.
Partly prompted by this, the 8th domain lord Sanada Yukitsura of the Matsushiro Domain used the network of connections that he had built as a senior councilor of the Tokugawa shogunate to do a survey of domain schools in other parts of the country before he embarked on the construction of Bunbu Gakkō in 1851. In the following year, however, Yukitsura passed away without seeing the school's completion, and Bunbu Gakkō was opened during the reign of the 9th domain lord Sanada Yukinori.
Despite the Matsushiro Domain's original intention to comprehensively train retainers in both literary (bun) and military arts (bu), the curriculum began to lean heavily toward the arts of war to reflect the surging movement toward the Meiji Restoration.
In the first year of Meiji (1868), the Matsushiro Domain selected high achievers from the pupils of Bunbu Gakkō to open a military academy as an annex. To survive the turbulent times, they needed experts in military science from Western countries, including France.
As the feudal domains were abolished in favor of prefectures in 1871, the Matsushiro Domain became Matsushiro Prefecture. With this, Bunbu Gakkō was placed under the administration of the Matsushiro Prefectural Government to make a fresh start.
Although the facility was used as a domain school for only 16 years, the Prefectural Government continued to use Bunbu Gakkō as a place of education for local pupils, with its name eventually changing several times.
Today, this historic building serves as an education hub for life-long learning, where many local residents visit for lessons and the practice of martial arts.