The history of Toyo Eiwa goes back to 1884. Since its establishment, the school has provided Christian education for women for 136 years. Toyo Eiwa was founded by the Woman’s Missionary Society (WMS) of the Canadian Methodist Church. The WMS, organized in 1881 with the aim of preaching the gospel in Japan, and having a strong interest in providing Christian education for Japanese women, sent its first female missionary, Miss Martha Julia Cartmell (1845-1945), to Japan.
Miss Cartmell came to Japan in 1882 and lived in the foreign settlement in Tsukiji. She learned Japanese and taught the Bible. In 1883, Dr. George Cochran, a missionary, and Dr. Davidson Macdonald, a medical missionary, who had come to Japan for the Canada Methodist Mission, decided to purchase land for a boys’ school in Azabu and told Miss Cartmell that they would allow the WMS to run a school on part of that land.
Taking them up on their proposal, Miss Cartmell resolved to establish a girls’ school in Azabu. That school was Toyo Eiwa Jogakko, which later became Toyo Eiwa Jogakuin. The application for the founding of the school submitted to the governor of Tokyo on September 22, 1884, reveals that the Jogakko had a principal, four teachers, and only two students. Although the school had to overcome many challenges, the student body grew steadily, and the enrollment limit was raised to 250 students in 1886.
In the male-dominated society of that time, Toyo Eiwa Jogakko was highly regarded by progressive people in leadership positions as a girls’ school that could build human character based on Christianity and open the door to new cultures, civilizations, and knowledge in Europe, the United States and Canada. Although the tuition fees were high for the time, the school was popular with motived girls, and many progressive parents sought to enroll their children.
For 136 years since then, Toyo Eiwa Jogakuin has helped to improve the status of women in Japan, with many of its alumni going on to succeed in a diverse range of fields.