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A Wizard with Electricity 1

When Japan's first domestically made light bulb was switched on 115 years ago, its illumination symbolized cultural enlightenment.

An enlightened education establishes the basis for a career as a pioneer of modernization.

lamp

Ichisuke was born in 1857, the eldest son of a samurai in the service of the feudal domain of Iwakuni, a noted center of education. At the age of eight, he began attending the domain's official school. At 15, he transferred to the Iwakuni English language school, where he achieved top marks. Indeed, his talents were so impressive that a year later he was appointed to teach there.

His outstanding abilities eventually caught the attention of the former feudal lord of Iwakuni, and he was sent to study in Tokyo. At the age of 18 he enrolled in the elite engineering school of the Ministry of Works, where he majored in telegraphy under the supervision of a leading researcher, Professor William Ayrton, who introduced him to such forward-looking technologies as the telegraph and the arc lamp. The professor taught him other lessons, too, which were to remain with him for life: "Respect fundamental principles; constantly challenge yourself; don't just imitate — make something even better." After graduating at the head of his class, Ichisuke began teaching.

But although his success as a researcher seemed ensured, he was more drawn to the world of business than to scholarship. One example of this preference was his part in switching on an arc lamp in Ginza at the request of Tokyo Electric Light.

Ichisuke's calligraphy at age 10.The kanji characters, pronounced shizen, mean "the greatest good." this remained ichisuke's motto throughout his life, manifested in his personality, talents, and conduct.

Reference:
Ichisuke's calligraphy at age 10.The kanji characters, pronounced shizen, mean "the greatest good." this remained ichisuke's motto throughout his life, manifested in his personality, talents, and conduct.
[photo courtesy of Iwakuni School Education Museum]

Electric lamps being installed on Tokyo's Ginza, as shown in a souvenir color postcard

Reference:
Electric lamps being installed on Tokyo's Ginza, as shown in a souvenir color postcard
[photo courtesy of the Tokyo Electric Power Company, Inc.,Electric Power Historical Museum]

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