Starting school at a terakoya

Kidai Shoran (detail) © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Museum für Asiatische Kunst (Asian Art Museum, National Museums in Berlin), former collection of Hans-Joachim and Inge Küster, gift of Manfred Bohms 2002, photography: Tadao Kodaira

A terakoya was a privately run school used by ordinary people during the Edo period, and there were many in the city. These schools taught reading, writing, and use of the abacus, and tailored the course of study for each student depending on their social standing and future occupation. The father in this image is carrying a writing desk, as it was customary to bring one’s own desk upon entering school.