Kyoto universities

At lunch today my friend Osamu told me these two sayings that were current about twenty years ago in Kyoto.

First, for a woman choosing which of the three famous universities in the city to go to:

If you want a boyfriend, go to Doshisha (because that’s where the kids from rich families go.)

If you want a husband, go to Kyoto University (because they’ll all have good jobs in the future.)

If you want a bodyguard, go to Ritsumeikan (because the kids from working class families that want to study go.)

Second, what people said about Ritsumeikan.

Akai, kurai, dasai.

And in translation: Red(as in communist) , dark/dour, unfashionable.

13 thoughts on “Kyoto universities”

  1. I went to Ritsumeikan for some sort of student festival a couple of years back. I didn’t think it was kurai at all. And I see on their website they’ve taken to calling in “Rits” in English at least. How trendy is that?! Of course the webpage is red…

  2. We are talking about sayings from a full generation ago. Things have changed quite a bit. Most Rits students also call it “Rits” when speaking in Japanese.

  3. There’s something like that for Shanghai universities too. Part of it goes “Study at Fudan, eat at Tongji, fall in love at Hua Dong Shi Da (East China Normal).” There’s something in it about Jiaotong too, but I forgot what it is.

  4. We are talking about sayings from a full generation ago, but Ritsumeikan remains the most left-wing university in the Kansai area.

  5. I’ve read material from as early as the 1950s that said Ritsumeikan was famous as a left-wing university in the Kansai area, and that was at a time when the left wing was genuinely strong in Japan.

  6. True. It was a pretty right-wing institution from the 1910s until the war, and did a complete 180 after that, adopting “pacifism” as one of its mantras.

  7. “True. It was a pretty right-wing institution from the 1910s until the war, and did a complete 180 after that, adopting “pacifism” as one of its mantras.”

    I wonder what constitutes “right wing” in this case though. The forerunner to the socialist party (‘Shadaito’ in its prewar form) was fairly pro-war, as many of its members thought that centralisation of the economy for the war effort opened a backdoor to the establishment of a socialist state. Many of the Showa kenkyukai pro-war intellectuals also claimed to be Marxists. Was Ritsumeikan a pro-war yet ‘left-wing’ university back then? I don’t know enough about the place, but pacifism – at least during the war – was not a particularly left-wing concept, so I’m not sure that the adoption of pacifism is consistent with the abandonment of right wing principles, and therefore whether Rits did a ‘complete 180’ after the war.

  8. In other words, apart from its switch from militarism to pacifism after the war, is it possible that Rits could have been ‘Socialist’ all along.

  9. That’s a good point. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen anything about Ritsumeikan pre-war except for basic facts about the establishment of the campus at such and such a location, the reorganization from xxx into xxx and other details. I just glanced at wikipedia Japan and the article was so thin that it doesn’t even mention the school’s left wing reputation so I’ll have to dig a little deeper than, umm, the source of first resort.

  10. Bryce: this is campus gossip. Here’s a thread on the topic, from which I pulled this interesting comment:


  11. Interesting. The ‘戦争状態に入ってしまった時、仕方なく国を愛する為に、戦争に勝つ為に、協力的になったのが敗戦で非難されているのが実体であると思う’ thinking is in line with how some view the ‘socialists’ participation in the war and their rebranding thereafter. I’m not quite convinced their wartime behaviour is that simple though. Yoshida, for one, was pretty clear about what the left was up to during the war. In 1945 he was thrown in jail for claiming that the war (and the military) was being manipulated by a communist technocrat class who would take control of the country once the war was over.

    Interesting to note also that possibly the greatest resistance to the war with China from within the Diet came from a 1940 speech by Saitô Takao, a small government liberal who didn’t see any benefit from the war for ‘middle class’ small business owners and the nation as a whole. Saitô had also been a patriotic supporter of the 1894 and 1905 wars against China and Russia, so he was no pacifict. If there was an opportunity for the socialists to voice their concerns with the war, this was it. Yet the socialists lambasted Saitô in the house. Shadaitô and the militarists in the Minseitô and Seiyûkai eventually voted to expel Saitô. The only members that voted against the expulsion were members who, like himself, supported the dwindling middle class.

    So I’m not sure that socialist participation in the war was simply a matter of ‘it was all for the country – they would have complained if we could, but they were hostage to our patriotism we had no opportunity to speak out.’ I’m not sure what this all means for Rits, again I don’t know enough about it, but its quite possible that many of the ‘left-wing’ wartime enthusiasts there had other things in the back of their minds apart from ‘love of country’ to justify their position.

  12. ‘it was all for the country – they would have complained if they could, but they were hostage to their patriotism and they had no opportunity to speak out.’

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