【October 2017 No.394】The Life of Shimizu Yasuzo, Founder of J. F. Oberlin University and Affiliated Schools

by Mitani Takayasu, president  J.F. Oberlin University*

J.F. Oberlin Gakuen will soon celebrate its 100th anniversary, as it was founded in 1921. I want to trace the path of Oberlin’s origins by first introducing Shimizu Yasuzo, Oberlin’s founder. He was born in 1891 on the western shore of Lake Biwa in Takahama-cho, Shiga Prefecture, as the second son of a comparatively wealthy household engaged both in farming and business. However, as his family experienced bankruptcy, he had a difficult childhood. He entered Zeze Junior High School, which was an elite school, but due to the circumstances of his impoverished household, he was not able to concentrate on studying. In the words of Shimizu, “To get to my ranking in the class, it was always faster to count from the bottom.” The big turning point in his life, however, was when he met William Merrell Vories (1880-1964).

 

Vories is known as the famous architect who designed the buildings of many churches and Christian schools in Japan and as the missionary evangelist who constructed one large facility for education and social welfare in the town of Omi Hachiman. When he met Shimizu, he was just a 24-year-old English teacher. Shimizu was invited to a Bible class led by Vories where, for the first time, he encountered Christianity. Later on, strongly influenced by Vories, Shimizu was baptized at Otsu Congregational Church in 1908 and, aspiring to become a pastor, he advanced to Doshisha University School of Theology, which did not require any tuition.

 

He made a major decision when he visited Toshodaiji Temple. He was deeply impressed by the zeal for evangelism shown by the founder of that temple, Jianzhen (pronounced “ganjin” in Japanese). He also heard an anecdote about Thomas C. Pitkin, a missionary from the US who was martyred in the Boxer Rebellion, and he vowed that he would become a missionary and go to China rather than working in churches within Japan.

 

Just before leaving Japan, he said to a famous commentator, “I am going to China. In my twenties I will establish an elementary school, in my thirties I will establish a junior high school, in my forties a high school, and in my fifties a university.” Then he said, “I don’t care if you say that I am just bragging. I will travel across the sea with my dream.” That was reported in the next day’s newspaper. Who would have imagined that years later that dream would become a reality? This incident marked the beginning of “Shimizu, chaser of dreams.”

 

In June 1917, Shimizu arrived in Fengtian Shenyang (Mukden), China, but two years later, “bleeding and sweating,” he moved to Beijing in order to work for the benefit of the Chinese people. In 1919, the year he moved to Beijing, a severe drought ravaged the northern part of China. Responding to the disaster, churches all over the world soon extended a helping hand. Without delay, Shimizu also actively participated in the relief efforts. With just a small amount of money donated from Japan, he went around to the farming villages in the areas surrounding Beijing and gathered together 799 children from poor farming families who were suffering from extreme hunger. He gave the children protection by taking them to Chaoyangmenwai in Beijing, to a facility that had been hurriedly constructed to provide relief from the disaster. The year after the drought ended, he took each one of the children to their hometowns. Some of the children who had unfortunately lost their parents found someone to adopt them. He continued until the very last child was safe.

 

Chaoyangmenwai was the area of China where the largest number of poor people lived. Actually, every day young girls were sold. He was convinced that the only way to save these unfortunate girls was education, so he established a school to educate them to be literate, to teach them the skill of sewing, and to train them to be independent. The school did not charge tuition. It was founded on May 28, 1921. The name of the school was Sutei Gakuen. This was the origin of Oberlin University.

 

Sutei Gakuen grew healthily until World War II ended in 1945. When the Showa Era began in 1926, the school was certified by the Japanese government as a school for girls. Students came, not just from areas within Japan, but also from the Korean Peninsula. It was a so-called “global school,” with Chinese, Korean, and Japanese girls all learning together. People in Japan began to take notice of this global school. Also, the students’ sewing skills became a source of vitality that revived the local industry and halted the spread of poverty in the area. The Chinese people thought highly of Shimizu’s hard work devoted to them, and eventually began to call him the “Saint of Beijing.”

 

At that time, the Korean Peninsula was colonized by Japan, and all Korean students had likely experienced soshi kaimei, which means that they had been forced to change their original Korean names to Japanese names. Because of soshi kaimei, most Korean people referred to themselves by their Japanese names. However, at Sutei Gakuen, the students were called by their Korean names. The students were also educated about their ethnicity so they would not lose their pride of being people of Korean ethnic background.

 

Shimizu had his own idea about education and called it “gakuji jinji,” which means to “Learn and serve others.” Using this motto, he worked hard to develop human resources that could serve society. Though times changed, Shimizu’s teaching lasted and was inherited by Oberlin University as the school’s mission statement.

 

With the end of World War in 1945, the Chinese government took over Sutei Gakuen, and Shimizu’s property was confiscated. He was left with just one trunk of personal belongings, and together with his family, prepared to return to Japan. He was already 54 years old at the time. Fortunately, through the help of Kagawa Toyohiko,** he was able to obtain the former site of a munitions factory. On that site, starting with no money, he founded Oberlin University. It was May 28, 1946, only a few months after he had returned to Japan. In 1966, he finally saw his lifelong dream come true, when the school was established as a four-year university.

 

As the years passed, the small university grew larger, and now there are five academic departments. The scale has expanded, and the school has become an integrated university with a graduate school. A total of 8,700 students are studying at the university and graduate school.

During this whole time, Shimizu always served as the head of the school administration, as the university president and school chancellor. On Sunday, Jan. 17, 1988, when he had finished delivering the sermon, he said, “I’m tired.” Then he lay down and went to be with the Lord. He was 96 years old. He had never retired. He always had a big dream and pursued his dream in order to make it a reality. He was the kind of person who says something and then makes sure it happens. He was a morally upright pastor and an excellent educator who always served God and humanity as a servant of God. (Tr. KT)

___________________

*The school is named after Johann Friedrich Oberlin, a pastor and educator who worked in the Alsace Region of France.

**Kagawa Toyohiko, a Kyodan pastor, was world famous at that time for his social work in Japan.

桜 美林大学 学長 三 谷高康

桜美林学園創立者 清水安三の歩み

2021年に桜美林学園は創立100周年を迎える。100年前の1921年、桜美林学園はどのようにして誕生したのか、その軌跡をたどりながら創立者である清水(しみず)安(やす)三(ぞう)を紹介したいと思う。

清水安三は1891年、琵琶湖の西岸、滋賀県高浜町の 半農半商の比較的豊かな家庭に次男として生まれた。しかし、実家の没落と ともに困難な幼少時代をすごすことになる。長じて旧制の膳(ぜ)所(ぜ)中学に入学するものの、貧しい家庭環境のため学業に集中できず、安三の言葉を借 りると“い つもクラスの中で最後から数えたほうが早い順序だった。”そ のような安三であったが大きな転換期が訪れる。メルリ・ヴォーリス(1880~1964) との出会いであった。

ヴォーリスは今でこそ、多く の教会やキリスト教主義学校の建物を設計した名建築家として、また近江八幡Omi Hachimanの町に一大教育・社会福祉施 設を作りキリスト教伝道に尽くした宣教師として知られているが、安三と出会ったときは弱冠24歳の英語教師に過ぎなかっ た。安三はヴォーリスが主催するバイブルクラスに誘われ、そこではじめてキリスト教に触れるのであったが、その後もヴォーリスの強い影響 下1908年、大津組合教会で 洗礼を受け、さらには牧会者としての志を立て、学資の必要としない同志社大学神学部 へと進学するのであった。

同志社時代、安三は大きな決 断をする。唐招提寺を 訪れた際、開祖の鑑真(和尚の宣教への熱意に打たれ、ま た義 和団の変で 殉教したアメリカ人宣教師ピトキンの 逸話を耳にして、自分も国内の教会で働くのではなく、宣教師となって中国へ出向くことを誓うのであった。

出発直前、彼は高名な評論家 を前にして「自分はシナヘ行って20歳代で小学校、30歳代で中学校、40歳代で高等学校、そして50歳代で大学を建てるつもりで す。」と言ってのけ、「ホラを吹いたと言うならそれで結構。夢を持って海を渡る。」と語った。それがそのまま翌日の新聞に記載されたと言 う。後年、この夢が現実になるとは一体誰が想像出来たであろうか。

“夢追い人安三”の誕生である。

1917年6月、安三は中国の奉天(瀋陽()に 着任したが、2年後、「血と汗をぶち込ん で」中国人のために働こうと北京へ 移るのであった。同年1919年、 中国北部を大干ばつが襲ったのである。この未憎悪の災害に対して、世界の教会は援助の手を差し伸べるのであったが、安三も遅れず救援に立 ち上げるのであった。日本からのわずかな資金をもとに北京周辺の農村を巡り、飢えに苦しむ貧しい農家の子供たち799名 を集め、北京の朝陽門外に急設した救済施設に保護す るのであった。干ばつがおさまった翌年、安三は子どもたち全員を故郷へ送り届けるのであったが、不幸にして親を失った子どもは養子先を見 つけ、最後の独りまで救い続けたのであった。

朝陽門外一帯は中国最大の貧 困層が住む地域であり、若い娘たちが日常的に身売りされる現実があった、安三は、こうした不幸な女子たちを救うには教育以外にないと確信 し、

識 字教育と裁縫の技術を身に付け自立する女性の育成のため、無償の学校を設立するのであった。1921年5月28日のことである。学校名は「崇貞学園)」(Sutei Gakuen)。これが桜美林学園のルーツ である。

その後、1945年の戦争終結まで学園は順調 よく成長し、「昭和」に入ると日本の女学校の認可も受け、日本国内だけではなく朝鮮半島からも生徒が集まり、中国人、朝鮮人、日本人がと もに学ぶ、所謂、「グローバルな学校」として日本国内でも注目を浴びるようになるのであった。また、生徒たちの裁縫技術は地場産業を興 し、地域の貧困化を是正する活力となって行った。こうした安三の献身的な働きは中国の人々から高く評価され、いつしか「北京の聖者」と呼 ばれるようになるのであった。

また、当時植民地であった朝 鮮半島出身の生徒は、通常、創氏改名

により日本名を名乗ることが 一般であったが、「崇貞学園」では朝鮮名で呼ばれ、朝鮮民族としての誇りを失わないように民族教育がなされていたのである。

安 三は自らの教育の理念を「学 而(がくじ)人事(じんじ)」(学びて人に仕える)と称し、社会に仕える人材の育成に努めたが、この教えは 時代を超え桜美林学園の建学の精神へと受け継がれている。

1945年、戦争が終わった年、中国 政府は「崇貞学園」を接収し、安三も財産を没収されトランク一つで家族と共に帰国の途に就いたのであった。その時安三はすでに54歳であった。

幸 運にも、賀 川豊彦の 紹介で軍需工場の 跡地を手に入れ、そこに無一文から桜美林学園を創立するのである。1946年 5月28日、 帰国が僅か数か月のことである、そして、ついに1966年、 生涯の夢であった4年 制大学の創立を見るのであった。

小 さな大学は年と共に成長し、今では5学 部、大学院を合わせると8700人 の学生の学ぶ綜合大学へと規模を拡大したのである。

こ の間、安三は常に学校経営の先頭に立ち、学長、学園長を歴任し、1988年1月17日、日曜日の説教を終え、“疲れた”といって横になったまま96歳で神のもとに召されたので ある。生涯現役で、常に大きな夢を持ち、それを追いつつ、実現する有言実行の人であり、常に神の僕として神と人に仕えた敬虔な牧師であり 優れた教育者であった。