“Tohoku has at times suffered from famine. The last severe shortage occurred during the winter of 1905-06.
“Rev. William E. Lampe, then of the Tohoku Mission, was appointed chairman of a relief-committee, which included one representative each from the various missions at work in the North, the Baptists, the Congregationalists, the Disciples, the Methodists and the Roman Catholics, also one layman, a teacher in the Government College of Sendai.
“… The work of this famine relief committee led directly to the establishment of the Sendai Christian Orphanage, a model institution of its kind, caring for about 200 children.
“Ladies of the Methodist Mission have taken the lead in this enterprise, but the management is interdenominational, and other missionaries have much to do with the work. One of the cottages for the children was paid for out of the funds contributed by the Reformed Church in the United States and bears that name. Mrs. Schneder, through her extensive acquaintance with the leading Japanese ladies of Sendai, has done much to interest the people of the city in the support of the institution. Japanese contributions in money now amount to $1,000 a year.
“The Imperial Government itself gives encouragement by occasional contributions. The teaching is done by pupils of the Normal School. The barbers’ guild takes a hand. Miss Imhof, the superintendent, writes: ‘One morning early, I was greatly surprised to find everybody in the back yard of the Orphanage and a dozen or more barbers busily engaged in shearing our lambs. This barber(ous) act was entirely unsolicited and gratuitous.’
“The interest of the public is increasing; but more than half of the annual budget, which amounts to $6,000, still has to be secured from American and other
– Tohoku: The Scotland of Japan, by Christopher Noss, 1918
Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal Church, c. 1910.
Sendai Private High School for Girls (Sendai Koto Jo Gakko), Sendai, c. 1910.
Margaret K. Long Girls’ School (Joshi Seigakuin), Tokyo, c. 1920.
Aoyama Gakuin, c. 1920.
“The Sendai Christian Orphanage was organized during the famine of ’05 and ’06, to save starving children, whether real orphans or not. Since then four hundred and ten boys and girls have found a loving welcome at this institution, have been sheltered, fed, clothed, educated … We need to guard carefully against imposition, hence children are not admitted unless their condition has been previously investigated by Government officials and there are no relatives
who can provide for them.
“After finishing the primary school, which is under the auspices of the normal school, and carried on in the Orphanage building, suitable homes and employment are sought for all who have no relatives to whom they can return.
“A few have entered higher schools and are doing well. One boy, who came to the Orphanage four months, after its organization, graduated from the Tohoku Gakuin this year, and at once entered the Aoyama Theological School to prepare himself for the Christian ministry.
“Those who have gone out from the Orphanage this year are engaged in useful work, and are distributed as follows: Working with a tatimiya, one; photographer, one; cake-maker, one; paper-bag manufacturer, three; doctor, two; in dry goods store, one; lacquer store, one; dye-house, one. Total, eleven. Three of the girls are doing housework, one is in preparation for a Bible woman, another is looking forward to becoming a ‘housemother’ in the Orphanage.
“Recently a Japanese visitor remarked ‘I have visited many orphanages, and the children always looked sad, and so many of them had sore eyes, but here the children look happy and well.’
“An occasional invitation to a moving picture entertainment and gifts of cakes have been greatly appreciated by all. A red-letter day in the history of twenty or more of our wee-est ones was an invitation one afternoon to the Aoba Kindergarten, carried on by the ladies of the American Episcopal Church. It was too muddy for these little guests to walk so far, so their hostesses provided ‘kuruma‘, and four or five were piled into each ‘pull-man car’.
“Oh, what fun it was ! The procession was a real curiosity and attraction all along the way! They were entertained with music, games and storytelling, and even had their pictures taken in the play room and kuruma. Later, all were seated around a large square table, beautifully decorated, and served to a real feast, and besides had lots of good things to eat done up in a ‘furoshiki‘ [cloth for a wrapping package] to bring home with them. Nor was this all—toys, ‘géta‘ [wooden clogs] and I can’t remember all the things they had given them.
“A happier lot of little people I have never seen!”
– East Japan Women’s Conference: Thirty-First Annual Report, Methodist Episcopal Church (Japan), 1914