Courtesy of Tsuda University Archives
Courtesy of Tsuda University Archives
Courtesy of Keisen Jogakuen
From the collection of Steve Sundberg,
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Friends from Yonder Shores

Quakers, New York, and Women’s Education in Japan

Sweet, poignant memories surged through me, of a ‘cherry-tree of yonder shore’ growing in my mother’s village…To the many who have crossed to Yonder Shore, I make sincere acknowledgement for the help they gave me in different ways. If the story of my life brings the East and the West, particularly Japan and America, even a little closer to mutual understanding and appreciation, the greater credit is due to the friends along my path who have given candles for my lantern. – Michi Kawai

About the Exhibit

Connections between the Society of Friends and Japan go back more than a century and a half. Through missionaries and exchange students, philanthropists, government officials, academics, and others, the Quaker-Japan relationship has shaped not just the lives of individuals but also major areas of society.

And perhaps none of these more so than the field of education.

Presented and curated by the Digital Museum of the History of Japanese in New York, this exhibit will introduce how the connections between the Religious Society of Friends (the Quakers) and Japan influenced lives and institutions on both sides of the Pacific since the late 19th century.

Aerial photograph of Tsuda University’s Kodaira Campus
The Religious Society of Friends, whose members are widely known as Quakers, is well known for its indelible impact on the history of the United States…
In 1872, the Japanese government issued the “Gakusei” order requiring all children in the country to receive a primary education. Secondary schools followed and Japan’s university system became more robust. However, these developments were not enjoyed equally by male and female students.
During the 1923 Kantō Earthquake—one of the largest natural disasters in modern Japanese history—the facilities of Tsuda College were completely destroyed…

Michi Kawai and Ai Hoshino, were women educators with ties to the Quakers and to New York who were able to use Occupation efforts to solidify the position of women and their access to equal education.

Esther Biddle Rhoads, a Columbia University graduate and Principal of the Friends Girls School in Tokyo, was a commissioner of Licensed Agencies for Relief in Asia, or LARA, Rhoads was responsible for coordinating emergency food, clothing, and supplies for tens of millions of Japanese citizens facing dire conditions after the end of WWII.