This is Kimono Flea Market ICHIROYA's News Letter No.492.
Sakura, cherry blossoms became full bloom very early this year. In Osaka, usually they are at full bloom till mid April but this year they are almost gone.
In March, graduation ceremonies are held and in early April, entrance ceremony is held.
Three years ago, I attended our second daughter, Mugi's graduation from college-most girls were wearing furisode and hakama. Seeing a bunch of grils with a lot of hope, wearing colorful furisode and hakama was an impressive sight.
I know one young woman working at a beauty salon I go. When she graduated from a beautician's school, she was chosen as a representative of graduates. She dressed herself in black kimono and black hakama and wore red flowers on her hair. Her mother did not like it but her friends all loved her style and she got a lot of compliment. It was not a traditional way, wearing solid black for celebration, but her class mates loved the `women in black' style, they seldom wear kimono but thought the fasion was cool.
Here is this young woman in her graduation costume:
Almost 50% of women are now going to college or university, and the rate is getting very close to men's rate.
For Japanese women's education, we cannot forget the achievement by Umeko Tsuda, who founded a school for women. She went abroad for study as one of the member of Iwakuni Mission to USA, she was only six years old then and was the youngest of course. It was 1871, only after a few years from Edo Shogunate ended. In USA, she was so shocked and amazed by how women were treated and also the existence of schools for women's education. At that time, women were brought up to be good wives to serve their husbands that was the way in Japan. There were some schools for women from noble families but they did not teach to be independent. Umeko taught at these schools after coming back from USA, but it was not what she wanted to do. She has again been to abroad for further study, and finally in 1900, she founded Women's Institute for English Studies. She had a lot of human network through her study at several schools, she met many friends and teachers who understood her vision and suppor
ted her. Especially her long time friends, Sutematsu(Yamakawa) and Shigeko(Nagai)who were married to noble people supported her project, using their husbands' status. They used to have the same dream with Umeko and had the same vision of women's educaion in Japan.
The institution became a present Tsuda juku daigaku(Tsuda College), one of the best women's college in Japan.
Her students recall her and remember her as samurai. She was actually from a samurai's family. She was a very strict teacher- especially about manner and also English pronunciation. She wanted share what she has seen in USA but not try to make them imitate western lives but she wanted to teach about real independency.
After school she treated her students with cookies she learned from her life in USA.
She devoted her life for women's education from the era when women were considered to be good servants for their husbands. She must have had severe backlash from society at that time, but she had this firm will and belief for women's education. To be independent, women needs education- that was her consistent belief. She died at the age of sixty-four, but her life became the foundation of women' education in Japan.
Women can study at higher grade if they wish, and it is so natural thing now but without the achievement of women like Umeko Tsuda, the freedom of study in Japan for women must have come much later.
You can read about Umeko Tsuda here:
Women can study in higher grade and also can wear what they want-they take it for granted now but it was not so without the fore runnders.
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