“The closing of the first Meiji government-sponsored university in 1871 represented much more than a reorganization of the formal structure of higher education. It was simultaneously a disestablishment of the Confucian tradition and a rejection of the proprietary claims to the Restoration advanced by the nativists. The senior faculties in both these fields were dispersed, the majority to minor posts as archivists or ritualists in the imperial court or within the Shinto shrine system.
“… The nativist scholars had aspired to dominate a university devoted to their version of intellectual purity and standing at the apex of a national system of education. These hopes were shattered in 1871. Yet it was to be another decade before the newly emerging Western-oriented intellectual was to have an institutional home to rival the first university [founded in 1869].”
– Academic Freedom and the Japanese Imperial University, 1868-1939, by Byron K. Marshall, 1992
“The university was chartered by the Meiji government in 1877 as Tokyo University, then renamed Tokyo Imperial University in 1897 when the Imperial University system was created.
“In September 1923, an earthquake and the following fires destroyed about 700,000 volumes of the Imperial University Library. The books lost included the Hoshino Library, a collection of about 10,000 books of mainly Chinese philosophy and history.
“Although the university was founded during the Meiji period, it has earlier roots in the Astronomy Agency (1684), Shoheizaka Study Office (1797), and the Western Books Translation Agency (1811). These institutions were government offices established by the Tokugawa shogunate, and played an important role in the importation and translation of books from Europe.”