Margaret Mehl

Published On


Page Range

pp. 139–156


  • English

Print Length

18 pages

5. Isawa Shūji

Music, Movement, Science, and Language

Chapter 5, ‘Isawa Shūji: Music, Movement, Science, and Language’ revisits the role of Isawa Shūji as the most important figure in the introduction of Western music into the education system is in. His pivotal role in the introduction of Western music into the education system is well known. It cannot, however, be fully appreciated unless it is considered in the context of his other concerns, particularly language reform, and moral and physical education, as well as his preoccupation with the scientific basis for musical harmony. For Isawa, music was part of what in modern parlance might be called holistic education. Combined with language and physical movement, music became a powerful tool for educating the citizens of the new nation state.


Margaret Mehl

Associate Professor at University of Copenhagen

Margaret Mehl is a historian of modern Japan with a special interest in musical culture. She is currently an Associate Professor at the University of Copenhagen, having previously held appointments at the universities of Cambridge, Edinburgh, Stirling, and Berlin. As well as a doctorate from the University of Bonn, Margaret Mehl holds a Dr. Phil. (Habilitation) from the University of Copenhagen. She has lived and worked in Japan as a researcher on several occasions, where she has had affiliations with the University of Tokyo, and with Waseda University. Margaret Mehl has published widely on the history of historiography, education, and music in modern Japan. Her previous books include History and the State in Nineteenth-Century Japan (which has been translated into Japanese), Private Academies of Chinese Learning in Meiji Japan: The Decline and Transformation of the Kangaku Juku, and Not by Love Alone: The Violin in Japan, 1850–2010. When she is not reading, writing or teaching, Margaret Mehl enjoys playing her violin and has performed in amateur orchestras and chamber ensembles in several countries.