The life of Jigoro Kano

1. An indomitable spirit, The life of Jigoro Kano

The birth and childhood of Jigoro Kano

Jigoro Kano was born on October 28, 1860, in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan.
His father, Jirosaku Kireshiba, was the 4th son of a Shinto priest, and his mother, Sadako, was the daughter of a well-to-do sake brewer. Jigoro was their 3rd son. In infancy he was named "Shinnosuke"", but this was subsequently changed to "Jigoro". He spent his childhood in Mikage-mura " village with his mother, two older brothers, and two sisters.

His mother died in 1869, when Jigoro was only 10. Japan was undergoing dramatic changes at the time ("Edo" had become "Tokyo"), and Jigoro was sent to be with his father in Tokyo when he was 11. From his earliest years, Jigoro's dream had been to go to Edo and make his name there, and now he found himself at the starting point.

His mother's influence: To serve others

His mother's influence: To serve others

Her husband absent, Jigoro's mother ran the household, and it was from her that Jigoro learned the importance of serving others. His mother was particularly strict in teaching him this, and in the importance of good manners. On the other hand, she also taught him the importance of gentle heartedness.

When dispensing cakes to children who came to play, she would give the best cakes to those children, and Jigoro would receive the lesser ones, and when Jigoro was ill-mannered, she would not forgive him until he had properly reflected on his behavior and repented. When anyone was in trouble, his mother would selflessly devote herself to helping them. His mother's strength of character was a major influence on Jigoro.

A progressive father

A progressive father

Jigoro's father enjoyed the friendship and patronage of none other than Katsu Kaishu, and he ran a freight business which kept him busy commuting between Edo and Osaka. Later, when the Meiji government came into power, he entered government service.

He was keenly aware of the importance of a good education, and had employed Confucian scholars to teach his sons Kanji (Chinese characters) and calligraphy. He was also progressive enough in his thinking to give his assent to Jigoro's request, at age 14, to pursue Western Studies at the Ikuei Gijuku.

Jigoro's student years

Jigoro's student years

Jigoro entered the Ikuei Gijuku at age 14 to pursue Western Studies, and he lived in the school dormitory. The following year, he entered the Tokyo School of Foreign Languages. The English Department of this school then became an independent school (Government English School), and Jigoro attended that school. He graduated from the Government English School in 1875, and then entered the Government Kaisei School.

In 1877, the Government Kaisei School became Tokyo University, and he was taken into its first-year class (Faculty of Letters). Following graduation, he entered graduate school as a philosophy major, and graduated in 1882 at the age of 22.

While a student at Tokyo University, Jigoro engaged in several sports, including boating and gymnastics, in order to strengthen his body.