Built in 1670, Shizutani School is Japan’s oldest school for educating common people. It was built under the orders of Ikeda Mitsumasa, the head of the former Okayama feudal domain, who believed that samurai children and common children should obtain the same education.
The most unique feature of Shizutani School is that the roof is made of Bizen Ware tiles. A round topped stone wall surrounds the school. Building materials consist of wood from camphor, zelkova, and Japanese cypress trees. The main structures are lacquered in black or clear varnish. The passage of three hundred years’ of students who had to clean the school’s wooden floors has added a gradually accumulated lustre and today the floors of the school shine proudly.
Each roof has a different symbol on its tiles. Those of the lecture hall have a “six leaves” crest, Shizutani Shrine’s is the “Swallowtail” which, at one time symbolized the Ikeda clan, and the symbol on the Confucian mausoleum means “Academic Freedom.”
By the side of the lecture hall, there is a special room in which Lord Ikeda would rest when he visited the school. It is in the tearoom style and expresses the simple and sturdy spirit of Bushido.