Through the efforts of August Karl Reischauer and his wife Helen, the Japan Oral School for the Deaf was founded in 1920 as the first school for the hearing impaired to use the oral method. Over the 94 years since its establishment, it has continued its efforts as the only Christian school for the deaf. Along the way there have been times of extreme difficulty, but through a variety of means of support, we have continued the work of God as we actualized the prayers of our founder.
After studying at McCormick Seminary in Chicago,
Helen and August Karl Reischauer
August Karl Reischauer applied to the Presbyterian Board of Missions. In 1905, he was accepted and sent to Meiji Gakuin as a teacher from the American Presbyterian Church. His wife, Helen Sidwell Reischauer, accompanied him. He later returned to the U.S. to study at the University of Chicago and the University of New York, and after normal school for the deaf. At the same time, she enrolled attaining a PhD in Theology, he returned to Japan. He herself in the same school and studied education for the then became the head of the high school at Meiji Gakuin. deaf through the oral method.Along with making significant contributions to the study and introduction of Japanese culture, he also played Lois F. Kramer came to Japan in 1917 as a missionary an important role in the founding of Tokyo Women’s of the Evangelical United Brethren Women’s Missionary University. Society and was involved in kindergarten education. She
had studied early childhood education in Cleveland, Ohio Helen Reischauer was born in Persia as the daughter of and taught at the Alexander Graham Bell School for the Presbyterian missionary parents and lived there until she Deaf for six years. When she was 26, she resigned from was 12 years old. Knowing the difficulties of missionary her teaching position and came to Japan as a missionary. life abroad, she shared Karl’s commitment and came to Meanwhile, Karl Reischauer had a vision of establishing a Japan with him. They had two sons and one daughter while school for the deaf in Japan and was searching for someone they were in Japan. The second son, Edwin Oldfather with experience in the field of education for the deaf. Reischauer, was famous as an eminent scholar of Japan, He immediately requested Kramer’s cooperation in the and while a professor at Harvard University, mentored founding of such a school in Japan.many scholars to follow him. Later he became the U.S. Ambassador to Japan. As one born in Japan and married Following Helen’s return to Japan, the Japan Oral School to a Japanese woman, he was an extremely popular for the Deaf was established on April 8, 1920 with Karl ambassador. Reischauer as principal. There were nine students enrolled.
Dr. and Mrs. Reischauer continued their work in Japan until In 1914, Helen gave birth to a daughter who was named 1941, when health and World War II made it necessary for Felicia (meaning “abundant fruitfulness”). Just before them to leave. Helen’s purpose, “to provide the highest her first birthday, Felicia became ill with pneumonia, and standard of education for deaf children, and nurture after two weeks of high fever, she lost her hearing. After scholarship and human nature,” still continues today. her complete recovery from pneumonia, the Reischauers During the war, Kramer remained in Japan, experiencing noticed a change in Felicia, and it was then that her loss of the pressures of being identified as a citizen of a “hostile” hearing was diagnosed. In the midst of this distress, prayer country as well as the bombing of Tokyo. At the end of the led them to the decision that Helen would take Felecia with war she immediately returned to the U.S., but came back to her to America while she studied education for the deaf and Japan two years later and continued missionary work until obtained a certificate to teach. 1957. During that time, she made many contributions in the
fields of early childhood education and education for the At that time, the oral method for educating the deaf was deaf. She became a central figure in work at the Japan Oral gaining popularity around the world, but it had not yet been School for the Deaf, introducing hearing aids and early introduced in Japan. Sign language was the only method education. Much of the foundation of today’s education being used in Japan, and Konishi Shinpachi, principal of for the deaf comes from the new methods advocated by the Tokyo School for the Deaf, was greatly concerned Kramer. about this condition. His strong request for the oral method to be introduced in Japan led to the final decision for Helen The pain of the loss of a daughter’s hearing eventually led and Felicia to return to the U.S. for study. It was a decision to great improvement in education for the hearing impaired that went beyond the pain of separation from family. of Japan. This gift of grace was the result of the fervent “Felicia! This affliction she bore that was so difficult to prayer and work of Helen Reischauer and Lois Kramer. remedy; it was a thorn of grace which would prepare her as Today, after the passage of 94 years and the advent of a significant part of our family’s service in Japan.” (This is hearing aids, new technologies, and early education, the the translation of a quote from Helen Reischauer and the Japan Oral School for the Deaf continues to be blessed in Japan Oral School for the Deaf, by Oshima Isao, former its ministry as a school that makes every effort to enhance principal of the school.) the auditory sense of its students. (Tr. JS)
In 1917, Helen enrolled Felicia in the oral method —Sesoko Masatsugu, head teacherdepartment of the elementary school of the Illinois state Japan Oral School for the Deaf
日本聾話学校 教頭 瀬底正嗣