I’ve never been a Japanese school-child, nor have I ever attended school in the early 20th century, yet I feel nostalgic for old-fashioned Japanese schoolhouses. This may have started while watching movies like The Rickshaw Man 無法松の一生 (1958) or Carmen Comes Home カルメン故郷に帰る (1951).
Scenes from: The Rickshaw Man and Carmen Comes Home
My love was cemented when I encountered an old wooden school building while hiking in the Saitama hills near western Tokyo. In addition to mountain temples and shrines, there are at least three historic school houses in this region, which dot the villages along the Seibu Chichibu Line 西武秩父線. These former schools are located in the Yokoze 横瀬町 and Hanno 飯能市 sections of Saitama.
1. 旧南川小学校 Former Minamikawa Elementary School (1937) (closed 1993)
This former schoolhouse is located near Nishi-Agano station 西吾野駅 (map).
2. 旧北川小学校 Former Kitagawa Elementary School (1921) (closed 1993)
3. Ashigakubo Elementary school あしがくぼ笑楽校（旧芦ヶ久保小学校） (date unknown) (closed 2008)
- 木造校舎 wooden schoolhouse
- 廃校 closed-down school
- 校舎 schoolhouse, school building
Tokyo architecture map:
The three schools are indicated with beige icons on the west side of the map.
Hiking in the Saitama hills:
- Seibu Tokyo/Saitama hiking maps ハイキングマップ埼玉県の秩父
- Tokyo hiking: Murayama Mountain 丸山 , Ashigakubo Station 芦ヶ久保駅
More about the film “The Rickshaw Man“:
Information about the schools:
- Schools 1 & 2: 飯能市の廃校 Closed Schools of Hanno
- School 1: 旧南川小学校 （キュウミナミカワショウガッコウ） Old Minamikawa Elementary School (formerly South River Elementary School)
- School 2: 飯能市、旧北川小学校その1 Hanno, Former Kitagawa Elementary School Part 1
- School 2: 旧北川小学校 （キュウキタガワショウガッコウ） Former Kitagawa Elementary School (formerly Kitagawa Elementary School)
- School 3: 旧芦ケ久保小学校 （キュウアシガクボショウガッコウ）
- School 3: あしがくぼ笑楽校（旧芦ヶ久保小学校）
Other old & demolished buildings in Tokyo:
- The rise and fall and rise of Asagaya Housing danchi 阿佐ヶ谷住宅
- Ghosts of Showa: the Karasuyama apartment complex, gated communities, & the fight for Tokyo’s soul
- An abandoned but perfectly preserved Japanese school