Girls’ Normal School, Ochanozmizu, c. 1910.

1910sHistoric DistrictSchools/Universities
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Girls' Normal School, Ochanomizu, c. 1910.

Girls Normal School, Ochanomizu, c. 1910. Normal schools were the equivalent of a teaching college. The first Normal School for girls was established in Tokyo in 1874, just six years after the Meiji Restoration. The Normal School would, years later, be reincorporated as Ochanomizu University. Along with training teachers, the schools were tasked with giving young women an education “based on the principles of humanity and morals, and of teaching them to become good and virtuous women.”

“At Ochanomizu students were expected to behave in a circumspect, maidenly manner and observe the rules of etiquette. In this respect, the school was no different than my home. If we happened to meet the etiquette teacher in the hall, we had to come to a full stop, put our feet together, and bow as we had been taught in class.

“Our own teacher, Yahagi Sensei, was a model of good manners. A classic Kyoto beauty with flawless skin and a beautiful voice, she was unfailingly cool and correct. Her classes, on the other hand, were deadly dull and devoid of any rapport with the students.

“… Then again, she may not have been entirely to blame, for she herself had been taught in the same stultifying manner at the Higher Normal School. This school, which had been established by the government to train high school teachers, had a feudalistic, Confucian educational philosophy and teaching methods that were rigid and formalistic. Several years later, I was not at all surprised to find the following sentence in the school’s ‘Statement of Guiding Principles’:

‘In as much as Heaven and Earth differ in virtue and yin and yang differ in action, the girls at this school are to be educated in conformance with their inborn nature.'”


In the Beginning, Woman was the Sun: The Autobiography of a Japanese Feminist, by Raichō Hiratsuka & Teruko Craig, 2010

Girls Normal School, and Streetcar, c. 1910.

Girls Normal School, and streetcar, c. 1910.

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