Kodokan Park

Kodokan Park, Mito: Hours, Address, Kodokan Park Reviews: 4/5

Historic Sites • Historic Walking Areas • Parks
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12:00 AM - 11:59 PM
12:00 AM - 11:59 PM
12:00 AM - 11:59 PM
12:00 AM - 11:59 PM
12:00 AM - 11:59 PM
12:00 AM - 11:59 PM
12:00 AM - 11:59 PM
12:00 AM - 11:59 PM

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125 reviews
Very good

Sue T
Canberra, Australia943 contributions
Oct 2019
We were shown the building by a volunteer Japanese guide with some basic English, enough to name the purposes of the rooms. This did add to our appreciation of the building. The grounds are gorgeous too, with the massed plums (albeit was autumn and pretty bare.)
Written 14 October 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Tochigi, Japan91 contributions
Aug 2019 • Solo
The ‘Shiro shitsu’(document room) to the right after entering the building has very good English translation so I recommend visiting that room first to learn the background history before walking around the building and garden area.
Written 2 August 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Munich, Germany229 contributions
Nov 2018 • Solo
After visiting Kairakuen, Semba Lake and Mito Komon´s birthplace I walked up to the former school inside a small but attractive park probably best visited when the plum trees blossom. The school building is a fine example of classical Japanese architecture. There are samples of teaching material, documents, etc. Outside the walls are a few shrines and temples. Fittingly the site also houses a high school.
Written 18 November 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Funabashi, Japan1,164 contributions
Feb 2018 • Couples
Most feudal domains in the Edo era maintained a school for samurais to provide them with higher education and training of swordmanship especially towards the end of the Edo era. Koudoukan was a relatively large school and up to a thousand samurais attended at the same time. Compulsory attendance days were set for samurais which was longer for the samurais from higher ranking families. A volunteer guide took us through the building. It was quite interesting to view the classrooms and the training ground. You can purchase a combined ticket with Koubuntei in Kairakuen that I introduce later, which is slightly cheaper (350 yen instead of 400 yen if bought individually).
Written 30 March 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Sven A
Colombo, Sri Lanka97 contributions
Jul 2017 • Friends
Kodokan is not the most beautiful park I've seen in Japan, but I liked the history behind it and the Tokugawa shoguns. There's a little shop inside that sells handmade craft and I recommend buying small souvenirs there. Definitely better than in Tokyo. The Kodokan school building itself is pretty "standard", but I was a big fan of all the clean lines and perfect woodwork. All-in-all 30-45min.
Written 9 July 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Haruhiko M
Hitachinaka, Japan5 contributions
Jan 2017 • Friends
This is a university for young Samurai at that time. Amazingly, they had to study not only martial arts but also math., language, and science. You can see how they used to study and stay several hundred years ago.
Written 13 March 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Melbourne, Australia168 contributions
Feb 2017 • Couples
This school dates back to 1841 when it was founded by Nariaki Tokugawa as a military and academic training facility for the Tokugawa clan. The Kobuntei building was destroyed by bombing in August 1945 and rebuilt in 1955-58. The articles on display and the surrounding grounds give a very good idea of how the feudal lords and their retainers were housed and educated. Well worth seeing and the admission fee is only 200 yen.
Written 1 March 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

244 contributions
Dec 2015 • Solo
The following is a description I wrote for a special interest page where I uploaded this album originally, and thus its focus:

So I’ve been, I’ve finally been.

The Mitogaku (Mito School) had immense importance in the creation of modern Japan and bringing about the Meiji Restoration, it was an ideological bulwark of Kokugaku (Nationalism) and Jukyō (Confucianism) erected against the defiling encroachment of the West. Mitogaku was the intellectual epicentre of the revolutionary Sonnō Jōi movement, which sought to overthrow the diminished Tokugawa regime and paved the way for the Meiji Restoration.

This is Kōdōkan, the Mitogaku’s headquarters. Tokugawa Nariaki, 9th Lord of Mito-han, was a great reformer: though he wanted to reform all of Japan to be competitive with the West, his jurisdiction was limited to his province of Mito. He wanted Mito to lead the way in the transformation of the country (being one of the Tokugawa Go’sanke, three Tokugawa family clans, Mito was certainly in a position to do so). It was Nariaki who established Kōdōkan in 1840 as the Hankō (Clan School) of the Mito Domain. This is the building which stands today, and its creation catapulted Mitogaku thought to the forefront of revolutionary politics.

The first head professor of Kōdōkan was Aizawa Seishisai, who coined the phrase “Sonnō Jōi” and also helped compile the Dainihon-shi (Great History of Japan). In 1825 he wrote Shinron (The New Thesis), which discussed the threat of Western ships to the Tokugawa regime. Aizawa expounded new concepts such as Kokutai (National Polity) and a national religion of Japan, to dispense with feudalism and transform Japan into a unified, centralised modern nation state. The Meiji government ended up adopting much of his Nativist ideas, developing them into an ideology of Shintō supremacy, imperial divinity, and Japanese national character extending back thousands of years. As per Aizawa’s policy, Meiji forces engineered the greatest schism in the history of Japanese religion, separating out Buddhism from indigenous polytheism and re-making Shintō as the State Religion, tearing at the country’s very soul in the march toward modernity. Indeed, some scholars trace the moral justifications for aggressive expansion of the Japanese Empire and, along the way, the corruption of Bushidō, all the way back to the Mitogaku.

I hope I have impressed upon you the importance of this building of the Late Edo Period. Now I will explain about the school itself. It is said that Kōdōkan was the largest Hankō in Japan, owing to its intellectual reach and the size of the original site, although Kōdōkan as it remains today is the main hall (Seichō正庁 & Shizendō至善堂, connected structures), entrance gate (Seimon正門), school bell tower and walls; and two more buildings, the Confucian Temple and Hall of Eight Trigrams, have been restored, and are nearby (I didn’t see them because I immediately began exploring the Mito Castle ruins after touring the main site > < ). Hankō often possessed Confucian shrines, and I have explained before that this is because the dominant philosophy amongst Bushi was Confucianism, though few martial artists today, if any, honour Confucian customs.

Students attended the school from the age of 15, and there was no official graduation age. Students studied astronomy, Confucianism, history, mathematics, music, medicine and the military arts. Medicine, military and literary departments had whole dedicated campuses. The astronomy class was held on an elevated tumuli at the edge of the school grounds. In the first picture, the cleared ground before the main hall you see was for hosting Kenjutsu practice and tournaments. Students also learnt how to wield spears, ride horses and conduct warfare in the arts wing.

In the (Edit: fourth) picture you see a hanging scroll, which reads “Sonjō” a contracted version of the slogan Sonnō Jōi (“Revere the Emperor, Expel the Barbarians”). However, I, a foreigner, was thankfully not asked to leave. This austere room was the Kōdōkan’s common room, and it also hosted guests to the school.

The (Edit: ninth) picture shows the main hall of the Seichō. Examinations on literary arts were held here.

The (Edit: fourteenth) picture shows the door and adjoining corridor to the room made use of by the Tokugawa nobility. Actually, I couldn’t get a good picture of the room itself owing to the lighting, but a lavish scroll in the shape of a rock inscription hangs here. The last Shōgun, Tokugawa Yoshinobu, occupied this room when he was taught at Kōdōkan.

I hope I have peaked your interest about Japan’s most famous clan school. The rest of the pictures are shots of the interiors, exteriors and surrounding garden, which, although it wasn’t the season for the many plum blossoms planted around the school (because Nariaki loved plum blossoms), was a delight to walk in as the bare trees afforded a better view of the structure itself and also meant it was very quiet. In fact, in the garden, there was only one other guest, and we got talking. I bumped into him at three separate locations around Mito that day. He remarked that Kyōto has such beautiful gardens and temples, but lacks the martial spirit that is so evident at Mito’s Kōdōkan and castle ruins. Well, I was inclined to agree with him!
Written 21 April 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Frequently Asked Questions about Kodokan Park

Kodokan Park is open:
  • Sun - Sat 00:00 - 23:59