Tsuda Umeko and Her Philadelphia Friends

“Tsuda Umeko and Her Philadelphia Friends: Pioneering Education for Japanese Women”
Iino Masako (President Emerita, Tsuda University)

Sent to the United States by the Japanese government in 1871, Tsuda Umeko (1864-1929) remained until 1882.  She later studied at Bryn Mawr College and made important contributions to women’s education in Japan.  In 1900, with the support of her Philadelphia friends, she founded Joshi eigaku juku (School of English Studies for Women; present day Tsuda University), one of the oldest women’s universities in Japan.

Tsuda considered education, particularly higher education, important for the economic and social independence of Japanese women. She viewed educated, independent American women as models for Japanese women.

This paper will investigate the establishment of the Joshi eigaku juku and highlight the importance of Philadelphia support for the venture.  Tsuda’s efforts demonstrate the importance of American influence on women’s education in late nineteenth-, early twentieth-century Japan.

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