The first school to be modeled on the European education system in Japan was the Seminário, built in Azuchi in 1580. The pupils at the school, all of whom had pledged to become Catholic priests, received a full education in the liberal arts. They were taught about classical languages and music, took part in physical education, and even studied classical Japanese literature.
"Seminário" is a Portuguese word that is also the origin of the word "seminar" which is commonly used in Japanese today. Both words derive from the Latin word "seminarium," meaning "seedbed." The verb form of the word means "to sow seeds."
It feels to me that "seminarium" refers to a philosophy on schools and education, something that originates from Christian tradition but that lives on to this day. Education at school is all about "sowing seeds." You have to keep on sowing the right seeds in line with different stages in pupils' mental and physical growth, from young children through to university students. Then those seeds will one day bear fruit that will be ready to be harvested.
The origins of Toyo Eiwa Jogakuin date back to Toyo Eiwa Jogakko, which opened its doors in 1884. The building blocks of Toyo Eiwa however go back even further than that, to the Woman's Missionary Society (WMS) of the Canadian Methodist Church that brought over countless missionaries to spread the Christian gospel, including the school's first principal Miss Martha Julia Cartmell. It was their noble sense of duty that paved the way, as missionaries dedicating their lives to their mission and to education in Japan.
They generously shared the Christian faith that had been bestowed on them at church and at home with the women of Japan, along with the very latest in education and the arts, which they had studied and mastered at institutes of higher learning. What is more, they had braved the rough seas of the Pacific to do just that. They came to sow seeds, and they kept on sowing seeds after that too. They dedicated their lives to faithfully fulfilling their mission from God and educating the women of Japan. That is where the school's motto "Reverence and Service" comes from.
There is a well-known story that is often told here at Toyo Eiwa. There was once a student who commented upon graduation that the days she had spent at the school had been the happiest of her life. The then principal Miss Isabella Slade Blackmore admonished her, saying that if her school days had been her happiest, then her education at the school must have been a failure. She told her that the best things in life should never be in the past, but in the future. You should always move forward with hope and ideals, right to the very end of your journey. That epitomizes everything that our predecessors at this school wanted to achieve; education that would sow seeds for the future.
We are determined to keep all of these traditions alive here at Toyo Eiwa, and will continue to faithfully fulfill the educational mission that has been given to us. Our hope is that everyone who studies here will be able to harvest the fruit that grows from the seeds we have sown, as they live their lives. At the same time, we continue to ask ourselves, what do people need in the modern era? What are the things we should not change, and what do we need to change? We hope that we can continue to take our traditions forward into the future.