President's Message

Women's Junior College President Toshifumi Yatsumimi
Professor Toshifumi Yatsumimi
President, Aoyama Gakuin Women's Junior College

You only live once. How do you want to live your life?

Aoyama Gakuin can trace its roots to three schools established at the beginning of the Meiji Era, the Girls' Elementary School, Kokyo Gakusha Boys' School, and the Methodist Mission Seminary. Aoyama Gakuin Women's Junior College originated as the Girls' Elementary School founded by Dora E. Schoonmaker in 1874 in present day Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo. Ms. Schoonmaker was a Christian missionary sent to Japan by the Women's Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church and came to Japan after working as a teacher for four years after graduating from high school. Dora's biography, Living in a dream gracefully: the life of Dora E. Schoonmaker, who paved the way for Aoyama Gakuin (2004), written by Ms. Keiko Tanamura, a former part-time assistant professor at Aoyama Gakuin, provides a detailed description of the course of her life based on discoveries made by Ms. Tanamura in detailed research conducted in Japan and throughout America.

In the introduction of her book, Ms. Tanamura looks back at Dora's life and raises the question, "You only live once. How do you want to live your life?" I specialize in the history of science and have studied historical figures involved in scientific activities in the 19th and 20th centuries in China and Japan, and some of these people came as missionaries. I was compelled to think about this question many times as I learned more about the courses of their lives. Though our current climate differs from those back then, such as the constraints of the times and differences in life circumstances, nature, and people encountered, I would still like to ask each student this same question.

Aoyama Gakuin Women' s Junior College underwent a major reorganization as of the academic year beginning in 2012 and now offers a system of two departments comprising the Department of Contemporary Liberal Arts and Department of Childhood Studies. The school seems entirely different to students and alumni who studied under the previous system of six departments, which included the Department of Japanese Literature, Department of English Literature, Department of Home Economics, Department of Liberal Arts, Department of Art, and Department of Childhood Studies. However, the purpose of this reorganization was to create a common system of learning throughout the school by consolidating the five departments, from the Department of Japanese Literature to the Department of Art, into a new department, the Department of Liberal Arts, This new framework remains true to the original educational philosophy of Aoyama Gakuin Women's Junior College, that is, to provide a high degree of education based on Christian beliefs. The name of the Department of Contemporary Liberal Arts was chosen to encompass our intentions to always seek for ways to provide the education necessary for women living in the 21st century and to define the kind of education that can serve as the basis for women who lead society.

Our educational philosophy aims to nurture women who are aware, and who can make an active contribution to all aspects of society. We live our lives and nurture ourselves in our relationships with others, and by nurturing ourselves, we can build new relationships. There is no need to rush because society expects you to take your time and think carefully. Learning does not stop when you graduate; once you have the mind-set to learn, you can continue to learn for the rest of your life. The time you spend in school is when you lay the foundation of this kind of mind-set for life. I hope you take the time to truly learn at Aoyama Gakuin Women's Junior College and develop ideas further to improve yourself and become someone who can willingly uphold their responsibilities toward others and society.