Son of a samurai of the Numazu clan. His birth name was Tanabe. He went to study to the US in 1870. He served as auditor at Tokyo Kaisei School (later the University of Tokyo) in 1875. He attended the Philadelphia International Exposition in 1876 and Paris International Exposition in 1878 as a follower. He was appointed the director of the Tokyo Educational Museum (later National Museum of Nature and Science) in 1881 and also attended the International Health Exhibition of London in 1884. He concurrently served as the director of the Tokyo Library (later Imperial Library) in 1886. He was appointed the president of Tokyo Kogyo Gakko(Tokyo Technical School, later Tokyo Institute of Technology) in 1890. He served the post until his later years except during the period when he was the director of the Industrial School Bureau of the Ministry of Education in 1898 and was instrumental in the development of industrial education.