日本基督教団 The United Church of Christ in Japan

【December 2018 No.400】The Spirit of the Founders of Tokyo Woman’s Christian University


by Sano Masako, professor of Christian Studies

Division of Humanities, School of Arts and Sciences

Tokyo Woman’s Christian University

Tokyo Woman’s Christian University (TWCU), one of the first Christian schools of higher education for women in Japan, was established in 1918, making the year 2018 the 100th anniversary of its founding. According to the Japanese education system at the time, the door to higher education was closed to women, so we began as a vocational school with a curriculum that was equivalent to a university standard. The English name used at the time of its establishment was, “Woman’s Christian College of Japan,” and after World War II, it was renamed “Tokyo Woman’s Christian College.” In 1976, it was renamed again Tokyo Woman’s Christian University. The challenge faced when establishing the college was to open a new era of education in Japan and provide higher education for women.The reason the singular “woman” was used  in the English name of the university was the desire to emphasize the importance of each individual.

The beginning of our university can be traced back to the World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh in June 1910. In the ecumenical spirit that was evident among the various denominations participating in the conference, a proposal was made to “establish Christian schools of higher education in the Orient.” The following year the head of the education committee in the U.S., Dr. John F. Goucher, came to Japan and met with teachers and missionaries of various denominations to discuss the possibility of establishing Christian institutions of higher education in Japan. As a result, in December 1912, a committee to promote education for women in Japan was formed in the U.S. with the cooperation of several Protestant denominations, and they worked to include the various special disciplines of women’s schools under one roof into one university.

The six missions that collaborated in the founding of this university were:

1. The American Baptist Church,

2. The Church of Christ (also known as The Disciples),

3. The Canadian Methodist Church,

4. The United Methodist Church,

5. The Presbyterian Church U.S.A., and

6. The Reformed Church in America.


At the time of our founding, the board of directors consisted of ten mission school representatives from the six missions and five Japanese Christians, and the establishment of TWCU was the result of the cooperation and prayers of those people from within and outside Japan.

Dr. Nitobe Inazo (our first president), Miss Yasui Tetsu (dean), and Dr. A.K. Reischauer (managing director) were the three persons who laid the cornerstone of TWCU. President Nitobe was a professor at Sapporo Agricultural College, the principal of First Higher School, Japan, and a professor at Tokyo Imperial University. Later he became an under-secretary general of the League of Nations. In his speech at our first graduation ceremony, he said the following concerning the type of education that is the goal of TWCU. “The principles of this institution are that we wish to take seriously individuality rooted in the Christian spirit, see those who are known as the smallest in the world as God’s children, and accomplish this by choosing insight over knowledge, valuing character over academic ability, and cultivating persons rather than human resources.” Against the present trend of valuing usefulness, President Nitobe transcended the mindset of the time by encouraging “respecting one’s character” and “working to cultivate persons.”

Having worked with President Nitobe, the superintendent, Miss Yasui, became the second president in 1923 and worked diligently to keep the university on track by holding worship every day even during a period darkened by war with China and World War II. Meiji Gakuin High School Principal A.K. Reischauer supported us as a founding representative and senior director throughout the early years with our financial difficulties.

Along with the main building and lecture hall, the white chapel built by Antonin Raymond in 1938 escaped damage during World War II, in part due to it being painted black along with the other buildings so as not to be conspicuous. The white steeple of the chapel, seen at one’s right when entering the main gate, remains a symbol of our university. Worship takes place daily from Monday through Friday from 10:30 to 10:50 a.m., and is attended by about 100 students. The stained glass on the front center and on the left and right sides of the chapel enhances the beautiful morning rays of the sun while soothing music is played on the organ. Through hymns, Bible reading, and listening to the sermon, students meet God, reflect on themselves spiritually, and are able to experience transcendence. So I believe that the worship experience has nurtured the formation of personality.

For the last 100 years, we have valued education that enhances personality formation based on Christianity by fostering each student with care. This is our educational philosophy. We have inherited that spirit and philosophy from the founders of our university, and no matter how much the needs of society change, “all that is truth” (QUAECUNQUE SUNT VERA) will be remembered in our hearts. This phrase (taken from Phil. 4:8), is our motto, which is engraved in Latin on the front of our main building, and we are committed to continuing this course for the next 100 years. (Tr. WJ)



           東京女子大学現代教養学部教授 佐野 正子

 東京女子大学は、日本で最初のキリスト教主義の女子高等教育機関のひとつとして、1918年に創立され、本年2018年に創立100周年を迎えました。開学当時の日本の教育制度では、大学の門戸は女子に対して閉ざされていましたが、本学はあえて「大学」と名乗り大学に相当する課程を設け、キリスト教の精神に基づく最高のリベラル・アーツ教育を目指しました。女子にも高等教育をという新しい時代を切り拓くための挑戦であったと言えます。創立当初の英語名は“Woman’s Christian College of Japan” でしたが、第2次世界大戦後“Tokyo Woman’s Christian College” とし、1976年に現在の英語名となりました。本学の英語名は、一人ひとりを大切にするというところから、創立以来“woman”と単数で表しています。

 本大学の創立の起源は、1910年6月に英国のエディンバラで開かれた世界宣教大会にさかのぼります。教派を超えて一致協力して世界宣教に当たろうというエキュメニカルな高まりの中で開催されたこの大会において、「東洋にキリスト教主義に基づく高等教育機関を設置する」との提案が採択されました。その翌年大会の教育委員会アメリカ部代表者であったジョンF. ガウチャー博士が来日し、各教派の宣教師や日本の代表的なキリスト教教育者たちとキリスト教主義の大学の設立の可能性について協議を重ねました。その結果1912年12月、日本に女子の高等教育機関をつくるための促進委員会が米国で設けられ、促進委員会は日本で女学校を営むプロテスタント諸教派に協力を仰ぎ、女学校の上にあった専攻科あるいは高等科を一つところに合同させ、女子の高等教育を各学校が個々に目指すのではなく、女子大学へと一本化することになりました。


 初代学長の新渡戸稲造、学監の安井てつ、常務理事のA. K. ライシャワーは、東京女子大学の礎を築いた3人です。新渡戸稲造は札幌農学校教授、第一高等学校校長、東京帝国大学教授を歴任後、本学の初代学長に就任、その後国際連盟事務次長を務めた国際人です。第1回卒業式の祝辞の中で、学長として本学の教育の目指すべき事柄を次のように語っています。「本校においてはキリスト教の精神に基づいて、個性を重んじ、世のいわゆる最小者いとちいさきものをも神の子と見なして、知識よりも見識、学問よりも人格を尊び、人材よりも人物の養成を主としたものであります。」有用性ばかりを重視して人材養成に重きをおく現代の風潮に対して、「人格を尊び」、「人物の養成を目指す」という新渡戸学長の言葉は、時代を超えて私たちに訴えかけています。

 新渡戸学長のもと学監を務めた安井てつは、1923年に第2代学長となり、国家主義が高まり、日中戦争、第二次世界大戦に至る暗黒の時代に、キリスト教主義大学としての本学を守り抜きました。A. K. ライシャワーは、明治学院高等学部長を務めるかたわら本学の設立に参画し、設立代表者・常務理事として、創立期の困難な財政を支えました。


 少人数教育により学生一人ひとりを大切に育て、キリスト教に基づく人格教育を行うという教育理念を、本学は創立以来100年間大切にしてきました。創設者たちの志を私たちも受け継ぎ、どんなに社会のニーズが変わろうとも、変わらない「すべて真実なこと」(QUAECUNQUE SUNT VERA)を心に留めて(本学の標語・フィリピの信徒への手紙4章8節・本館正面壁にラテン語で刻まれています)、これからの100年に向けて歩みを進めてまいりたいと思います。

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