The former Kaichi School is a beautiful school built in 1876. Although students do not currently attend the Former Kaichi School, the present Kaichi School is right in front of it. Kaichi School was the first community school in the region. The kanji used in Kaichi means, “opening people’s intelligence.” Before this school was opened, only the children of Samurai where given the opportunity of higher education. During the Edo period, ordinary citizens studied only at primary schools associated with Buddhist temples, where the Buddhist monks were the educators. In 1854, Japan opened its door to the rest of the world and in 1872, the national education system was reformed. The new system intended to create community education modeled after western education systems. The building of this school, which was one of the first of its kind in the country, extended education opportunities to everyone.
The people of Matsumoto, mostly farmers, wanted to give the opportunity of education to their children even if that meant eating only one meal a day. Members of the community were very excited by this prospect and donated 70% of the cost of the building, which is estimated to have cost about 134,400,000 yen at that time. The ceilings of the old school are made of paper, its pillars from an abandoned temple, and its walls are made of mud and bamboo. Equipment and material costs were kept as low as possible although plate glass for the front window was imported from France. Construction of the school started in 1873 and finished three years later in 1876.
Today the Former Kaichi School holds the countries best collection of education documents and historical materials, as well as plenty of nostalgia in a beautiful place.