Education for Girls and Deliverance of the Poor in the Meiji Era

Learning from the Canadian Methodist Church and its Zealous Evangelical Attitude
I saw in port
A little girl
With red shoes on.
Taken by a foreign person,
She went overseas.
At Yokohama
She went on board
Ship at the pier.
Taken by a foreign person,
By this time the girl,
Like the people there
Has blue eyes, I’m sure.
She is in the land
Where that foreign person lives.
Every time I see
Pairs of red shoes,
The girl comes to mind,
When I see a foreign person,
She comes to mind.
–Noguchi Ujo
Translated by Yanagisawa Yoshitoshi
Sano Kimi, the subject of this Japanese children’s song, was an orphan who was under the care of Nagasaka Kojoin, an orphanage for girls that was established in 1908. Since there was no charitable person in Japan to take her in and raise her at that time, a missionary couple decided to take her in as a foster child and planned to take her back to their country when they left Japan. Although the lyrics of the famous song includes the words, “she was taken by a foreigner,” in actuality, she died of an illness and was called to her heavenly home before departing for a foreign land. The famous poet, Ujo Noguchi, who had heard this sad story, rewrote it as a song in a form that would give people a bit of hope that she must still be living happily in a foreign country.
It was I.S. Blackmore, a woman missionary sent by the Canadian Methodist Church, and the third principal of Toyo Eiwa Jogakuin, who established the orphanage where Kimi lived. Moreover, the female students who cared for the orphans were Christians from Toyo Eiwa Jogakuin, which was located close to the orphanage. They were the gentle-hearted members of the King’s Daughter’s Society (which later became the YWCA), who practiced the school motto, “Honoring God through service.” Members of the King’s Daughters’ Society also built Keifu Gakko, an educational institution with a strong spirit for evangelical work and education, which served the poor children of the Azabu area. We can imagine how difficult it must have been to nurture a spirit of service in Japanese society, which was deeply rooted in Buddhism and Daoism. However the Canadian missionaries successfully raised the girls to embrace the Christian faith strongly. We should not forget that because the King’s Daughters’ Society could not provide enough funds to maintain this social service, many Christians in Canada gave their precious offerings as well as their heartfelt prayers toward the project.
According to records from 1873, the Canadian Methodist Church then numbered 682 clergy and 70,682 members. Although it was not a large denomination, they had a passionate heart for spreading the gospel by sending missionaries not only domestically but also to foreign countries. We Japanese Christians need to learn from their passion.
Two missionary pastors, George L. Cochran and Davidson McDonald, who was also a doctor, came to Japan in 1873 and worked in the Tokyo, Shizuoka, and Kofu areas. They realized that Japanese girls had no opportunity for education at that time, so they put much energy into building a boarding school. They were determined to reach out to girls through education. In 1882 the first woman missionary, Martha Julia Cartmell, who was then a principal of a public school in Canada, was sent to Japan. The missionaries established Toyo Eiwa Jogakuin in 1884 and positioned Cartmell as the first principal of the school.
More women missionaries were sent, one after another, who helped establish other mission schools, such as Shizuoka Eiwa and Yamanashi Eiwa. We believe that those missionaries were spirit-filled people with gifted abilities. However, what made their strong walk possible, in addition to God’s blessings and guidance, was their careful planning based on their sense of mission and the zealous prayers of the Methodist Church. During this commemoration of the 150th anniversary of Protestant missions in Japan, we need to learn from the legacy of the Canadian Methodist Church and make it our own. That legacy is their firm faith and their two pillars of mission in Japan, which are education and social service. (Tr. NB)
–Akuzawa Tadao, former vice-principal
Toyo Eiwa Jogakuin
KNL Editorial Committee member