The First Girls to Study Abroad from Japan

Year: 1871

In 1871, the Iwakura Mission, which dispatched by Meiji government, visited for the purpose of conducting diplomacy and observing Western culture. Participants included government officials as well as students who wanted to study abroad. Among them were five young girls, ages of 6 to 16, the first Japanese females to study outside of the country. In the photo, from left to right, are Shigeko Nagai, Teiko Ueda, Ryoko Yoshimasu, Umeko Tsuda, and Sutematsu Yamakawa. The five departed Yokohama, Japan in December of 1871 and set sail to the United States, where they planned to stay for 10 years. Although Teiko and Ryoko returned to Japan due to homesickness (another theory says from illness) the other three stayed, successfully adapting to the foreign culture. Umeko Tsuda was especially taken back by the inferior position of women in society. Seeing this, she decided to devote herself to women’s schooling in Japan. With the help of Sutematsu, her friend who travelled together to the U.S., and a few others, Umeko established Tsuda University. Umeko and Sutematsu are still known today as prominent figures in women’s education in Japan.

Source: Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
Added Date: 03/15/2021