In the United States and many other various places around the world women have been treated as though they were lower than men


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  • www.tsuda.ac.jp/ ja/umeko/cd100/
  • In the United States and many other various places around the world women have been treated as though they were lower than men. Still today in many history classes women and their contributions to society are skipped right over unless you are discussing women’s suffrage. This not only seems to occur in the United States but also in various places around the world. In the past and not so often present women in Japan seem to go much unnoticed. Their role in society was to bear children and be subservient to men. Progress has been made though in the roles of women today by the help of individuals such as Umeko Tsuda. Tsuda saw the need for change in the roles of women in Japan and decided the best way of improvement was education. Therefore she became the founder of The Women’s Institute for English Studies.
  • www.bekkoame.ne.jp/ ~ymasaki/youkoso.htm
  • Umeko (born Ume) Tsuda was born when the age of the samurai was drawing to a close. Japan was in a transition point from the Edo era to the Meiji era. Umeko’s father was a low ranking samurai that was upset by her birth because of his want for a boy. Therefore it seems evident that he wouldn’t be that upset in letting her travel to the United States to study.
  • In 1871, at the age of seven Tsuda was the youngest of seven chosen my the Meiji government to study abroad in the United States. “One purpose of the Iwakura mission was to cultivate girls in Western ways; they were to become models of “ideal womanhood” and thus help to usher in a new and modernized Japanese nation” (Nakajima 1). Japan, being in this transition period was trying to westernize it’s ways from the old feudalistic system and what better way to understand a new culture than total emersion. Umeko and the other girls now had the responsibility to relay the new ways of the west and somehow put it in practice in Japan.
  • http://brynmawer.edu/alumae/bulletin/tsuda.htm
  • While studying in the United States Tsuda lived with Charles Lanman and his wife, in or near Washington D.C. Umeko was treated just like one of the Lanmans own children since they had none. She started to belong in the western culture, she was fully immersed as an American (Hahn-Koenig 3). The process of westernization was even taken as far as Umeko converting to Christianity.
  • http://brynmawer.edu/alumae/bulletin/tsuda.htm
  • While in the United States Tsuda studied first at Georgetown Collegiate Institute for eleven years. With the pressure knowing that Japan was depending on her to achieve great things she did quite well. Many individuals were amazed at the work she was doing and how well she was doing it. After graduating from Georgetown Collegiate Institute Umeko entered the Archer Institute where many of the students were more fortunate therefore seemed more prestigious than the one before. Again, like at Georgetown Collegiate Institute Umeko excelled and seemed to immerse herself into the U.S. culture.
  • http://www.tsuda.ac.jp/ja/umeko/umekosir.html
  • In 1882 at age nineteen Tsuda returned to Japan after living in with the Lanman’s in the United States for ten years. On her return home from the U.S Umeko experienced a large dose culture shock. She not only had to reeducate herself in the ways of the Japanese but also the language. The biggest culture shock though that she felt though was from seeing the position of women in the Japanese culture. Granted, progress was definitely made from the old feudal system but many individuals still clung to the old ways and traditions. Women were still dependent on the men and their role was still seen to be in the home. “Though the Meiji government had promoted girls’ education during the decade she was in the United States, the curricula did not emphasize the development of women’s intelligence and personality, but rather trained women to support their husbands and children obediently” (Nakajima 2). This ideology did not set well with Umeko. She new from her experience that women could have different roles than the ones they had. She also knew that the way to improve women’s positions in Japan wad through education.
  • www.kanko.chuo.chiba.jp/ e/chiba/out_ijin-e.html
  • After realizing this true state of women in the Japanese culture, Umeko returned to the United States to again study. She realized that she was destined to improve the status of women and to accomplish she must develop and polish skill. In 1889 Umeko started her journey to educate women, starting with herself, and enrolled at Bryn Mawr. “While at Bryn Mawr, Ume also developed her skills in public speaking and fundraising. With Mrs. Morris’ help, she established an American support network for Japanese women’s education, starting with a scholarship fund for Japanese women to study abroad” (Hahn-Koenig 4)
  • http://www.tsuda.ac.jp/ja/umeko/umekosir.html
  • In 1900 Umeko Tsuda founded The Women’s Institute for English (Joshi Eigaku Juku). “She introduced western-style education, which included class discussion about current topics, and taught liberal arts subjects. She also emphasized building students’ personalities and encouraging students creativity” (Nakajima 3). At Umeko’s school women got the freedom to explore a world never know to them before. It transformed would be housewives into professional women.
  • http://www.tsuda.ac.jp/ja/umeko/umekosir.html
  • Opening The Women’s Institute for English Studies didn’t come without it’s short comings. Whether or not the school would have enough funds was also a big question Tsuda faced. Tsuda worked hard fund raising performing odd jobs here and there trying to support the school and herself!
  • “In 1903 the school was approved as a vocational school by the Ministry of Education and, in 1905, graduates of the school were no longer required to take the government examination in order to teach” (Nakajima 3). These two events contributed to the success of the school greatly. It now was seen as a prestigious establishment.
  • http://www.tsuda.ac.jp/ja/umeko/umekosir.html
  • http://www.tsuda.ac.jp/ja/index.html
  • Today, The Wen’s Institute for English Studies is now called Tsuda College (Tsuda Juku Diagaku).
  • http://www.tsuda.ac.jp/ja/index.html
  • The size of Tsuda College has grown drastically in the past 100 years. It has grown time and still maintains it’s great educational standards. Since Umeko spent much of her life studying abroad, it is quite evident that the overseas program would remain quite strong.
  • http://brynmawer.edu/alumae/bulletin/tsuda.htm
  • In the year 2000 Tsuda College celebrated it 100 year anniversary. “It is still one of the most prestigious women's institutes of higher education in Japan. (Nakajima 3)
  • www.tsuda.ac.jp/ ja/umeko/B5.html
  • The President Naoko Shimura of Tsuda College has high hopes for its future. He was quoted during the centennial saying “In the twenty-first centuary our global community will face many grave, multinational issues […] In such an era, women will need to transcend the past objective of gender equality and participate more positively in society and make their own unique contributions” (Hahn-Koenig 4). The fact that such high hopes are being placed on women proves that Umeko’s work was a success and also that it will have a last effect on generations to come all around the world.
  • http://brynmawer.edu/alumae/bulletin/tsuda.htm
  • Umeko’s hard work and dedication has idealized her as a true revolutionary figure for women. In 2000, the year of her centennial, she was placed on a postage stamp along with two other individuals, that pioneered the way for higher education.
  • www.bekkoame.ne.jp/ ~ymasaki/youkoso.htm
  • Tsuda has also been immortalized in the words of authors recapping her dedication to women’s higher education in Japan. The Seed of Light and The White Plum are only two of a fair share of books written about Umeko. Her memory will live on through the words, and thoughts that immortalize her life. She remains living through her students.

Works Cited

  • Hahn-Koenig, Monica Anke . BMC honors Tsuda centennial. Bryn Mawr College. 2000. http://brynmawer.edu/alumae/bulletin/tsuda.htm
  • Nakajima, Atsuko. Umeko Tsuda. Indiana University. 2003. http://learningtogive.org/papers/people/umekotsuda.htm


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