Q&A

Q&A

  1. Q.01
    How was Ohyu Gakuen founded?
  2. Q.02
    What is the school motto?
  3. Q.03
    What is the relationship between Ohyu Gakuen and Christianity?
  4. Q.04
    What are the advantages of girls’ education?
  5. Q.05
    What are the criteria for moving up to high school from junior high school?
  6. Q.06
    If a student has to move to another school due to her parents being relocated for their work, will she be able to come back to Ohyu Gakuen when her family moves back?
  7. Q.07
    Is it hard to keep up with other students in studying? Are there many students who go to cram school and other preparatory schools?
  8. Q.08
    When do you start supervising students to decide which course to take, Arts/Literature/Economic course and Science/Technology/Engineering course?
  9. Q.09
    Can you tell me about supplementary classes that I can attend when it’s necessary?
  10. Q.10
    What are the school regulations?
  11. Q.11
    What is the average commute to school?
  12. Q.12
    Can I commute by bike?
  13. Q.13
    Do I have to bring my own lunch?
  14. Q.14
    Why are there eight classes for the first grade in junior high school?
  15. Q.15
    Are you strict about students’ behavior?
  16. Q.16
    What is your attitude towards the use of mobile phones in school?
  17. Q.17
    Do you have cases of bullying at the school? If so, how do you deal with them?
  18. Q.18
    Please tell me about the PTA activities.
  19. Q.19
    How often do you have PTA meetings in a year?
  20. Q.20
    How safe is the route to school?
  21. Q.21
    Do you have any anti-earthquake procedure?
  22. Q.22
    How do you communicate from the school in the case of any emergency?

History and Principle of Ohyu Gakuen

Q.01
How was Ohyu Gakuen founded?
A.

Ohyu Gakuen was founded in 1935. The alumni association of Tokyo Furitsu Dai-Ichi High School for Girls founded the Ohyu Gakuen as a part of the 50th anniversary project of their old school. When they founded the school, they invited Genzo Ichikawa to be the Principal. Ichikawa had served for many years as the Principal of Tokyo Furitsu Dai-ichi High School for Girls.

Ichikawa left Dai-Ichi High School for Girls, which was located in the middle of Tokyo, and was actively involved in founding Ohyu Gakuen which, by contrast, was surrounded by nature and fresh air. While at Dai-ichi High School, Ichikawa used to speak to his students about various religious people such as Kanzo Uchimura. When he became the Principal of Ohyu Gakuen, Ichikawa asked each of his students to bring one tree and one plant from their home. He then invited a gardening teacher to plant these in the school grounds. He made great effort to establish improved facilities and create an environment for his students’ mental development.

In the Taisho era, Japan was in the age of a liberal education. In those days, schools used a curriculum equivalent to modern social studies and curriculums equivalent to those in modern integrated education. Ohyu Gakuen also took on educational challenges which involved including subjects such as horticulture(growing vegetables), science (learning the structure of vegetables) and homemaking (cooking vegetables and eating them). This philosophy is still maintained even today.

Ichikawa also served as chairman of the National Association of Principals of Upper Secondary Schools for Girls. He was a leader in education for girls at that time. Genzo Ichikawa’s philosophy encouraged his students to “be human beings before being women” and to “be women who can maximize their potential and become successful in society”. That was more than 70 years ago when it was believed that women should be educated to become “good wives and wise mothers”.

Genzo Ichikawa died five years after Ohyu Gakuen was founded. Shizu Ishikawa, who was a disciple of Ichikawa, succeeded him.

Ishikawa was also a follower of Kanzo Uchimura and Umeko Tsuda, so the Christian ethos, English and global education systems became the main pillars of the school. During the Second World War, Ohyu Gakuen’s high school fifth grade students had to work in factories and returned to the school once a week. Ishikawa, who used to teach English, told them: “This war will definitely end. When it is over, we will have to face the Americans. Therefore, it is important to learn English so that we can communicate with them properly then.”

Ohyu Gakuen is based on the teaching of Ichikawa and Ishikawa. We consider the most important goal for the school is to bring out each student’s potential, to encourage her to make the most of her education while adapting to changes in the world.

Q.02
What is the school motto?
A.

Since the foundation of Ohyu Gakuen, our school motto has been “Love, Sincerity and Creativity”. We have been teaching our students, focusing on the education of the mind.

“Love” is compassionate love given by God to those of us who live alongside each other in society. The Bible says: “Be happy with those who are happy, weep with those who weep”.

“Sincerity” is another gift from God. It means that students find and cultivate potential in themselves. We expect students to do their best and be faithful when they face a challenge given to them by someone else or a challenge they take on themselves.

“Creativity” requires students to make the most of their potential in society and live a creative life. Even if they are talented, they need to make use of their talent in society. It is important to us teachers, that we help students to develop academically as well as socially.

Q.03
What is the relationship between Ohyu Gakuen and Christianity?
A.

Ohyu Gakuen is not a mission school. Mission schools are founded by Christian organizations with religion at the center of the education provided. Normally, mission schools are those established to spread the teachings of Christianity, or to provide basic education under Christian principles. Because Ohyu Gakuen was founded by the alumni association of Dai-Ichi High School for Girls, it is not a mission school.

Shizu Ishikawa was a disciple of Kanzo Uchimura, the founder of a Japanese non-church movement Christian group. Ishikawa served as a first Chairman and also the Principal for more than 30 years. It was she who brought the Christian spirit to the school as the foundation of “education of the mind”. She belonged to a group of Protestants, but she was more like a non-sectarian or Ecumenical. Her goal was to gather with people sharing the same vision. While each has his or her own background and opinion, when they form a unified group under the vision of Christian spirits and Christian liberalism, all the spirits become alive in daily life.

We have a Bible class in junior high school. It is one hour a week, and we invite a minister or some members of the Protestant church to speak to the class.

We also have a Bible lecture during a school trip held in a Oiwake mountain cottage for the first grade in junior high school and a workshop in Hakone for the first grade in high school. There are also many opportunities, before and after the workshop and at the Christmas event, to listen to the lectures by academics and researchers who study and research Christianity.

Above all, we are not missionaries. Our students are free to make their own choices about religion. In fact, many of our teachers are not Christians themselves. There is no daily prayer or meditation. Ohyu Gakuen’s approach to Christianity is based on the concept of religious freedom.

Study and education require principles, whatever part a person plays in them. We consider a lack of principles in current Japanese society as one of the reasons that there is confusion about education at home and at school. Of course, Christianity is not the ultimate solution to all problems. We consider that our school can offer a better education if it is based on clear principles founded on Christian beliefs.

Q.04
What are the advantages of girls’ education?
A.

The six years at Ohyu Gakuen are most important period for girls. During the adolescence period of 12 to 18 years old, they grow greatly both physically and mentally. Some children have what we call the “secondary rebellious period” in their life. This is natural because, at this time, the girls are in the process of leaving the protection of their parents and finding their own identity internally.

In a girls’ school, we can offer the education, according to the particular attributes of girls entering this period. The psychology of girls is not simple. One of their particular issues is that they may have a problem in being able to speak out without losing self-control or perhaps find it difficult to communicate with others. We understand this mental complexity of girls, so we can give them the appropriate guidance.

Girls start making rapid progress in learning once they can find their place and feel safe and secure in the school environment. At Ohyu Gakuen, all the teachers try to make a group of students who can support, encourage and help each other, so they can share experiences to enhance all in the group. People will find themselves surrounded by girls who will be trying to achieve their own objectives. Being with their friends and seeing them making choices, a student can make her own choice in a less pressured way and with a free mind.

Another merit of a girls’ school is that the students are able to make many life-long friends. Students may become successful in various fields, but it is good to establish friendships with others in order to encourage each other and share their lives even when they become adults.

Ohyu Gakuen’s classes offer lots of practical experiences and various opportunities for voluntary activities, so a student can learn in an empathetic environment. Then they can feel connected with others, and focus on learning.

We would be happy to show you around the campus and see how our lively students spend their time at Ohyu Gakuen.

Going to the next level of education and changes of school

Q.05
What are the criteria for moving up to high school from junior high school?
A.

All students at Ohyu Gakuen Junior High School have been able to move up to the high school since 2014 when the two schools were integrated. It should be noted, however, that the student may not be able to enter high school, if there is a major issue in her attitude or if she doesn’t wish to go to high school.

Q.06
If a student has to move to another school due to her parents being relocated for their work, will she be able to come back to Ohyu Gakuen when her family moves back?
A.

Yes, we would accept that as a general rule. If a student enters Ohyu Gakuen Junior High School and changes schools, she can, almost unconditionally, come back to Ohyu Gakuen Junior High School. However, if a student changes schools while in junior high school or high school and wishes to come back to high school, she will be accepted preferentially, but she will still have to take school transfer exams. If a student has a problem in academic development due to education she received abroad, we also have a system to accommodate her in the grade a year younger than she actually is.

School life

Q.07
Is it hard to keep up with other students in studying? Are there many students who go to cram school and other preparatory schools?
A.

If you thought study at elementary school was easy, or you thought you should study at cram school rather than at a normal school, you may find it difficult to study in junior high school. Students will have lots of homework. However, normal school study should be sufficient for a student, provided that she studies hard at school every day. If she does, it will not be hard to keep up with other students.

We use various teaching materials, including our own textbooks and many printed sheets in junior high school. It is good to ask teachers questions during breaks, between classes or after school. There are also supplementary exams and classes available, so a student doesn’t need to go to cram school.

In high school, there are students who go to preparatory schools during the long holiday to work on their weaker subjects; however, our classes for the third grade in high school are all organized in accordance with the university entrance exams. We recommend students to use preparatory schools only if it’s necessary. For example, if a student needs to find a better pace for her study during a long holiday or if she wants to improve her performance in her weak subjects, she could use a preparatory school.

Q.08
When do you start supervising students to decide which course to take, Arts/Literature/Economic course and Science/Technology/Engineering course?
A.

Students should decide their course to take when they enter the second year of high school, whether it be the Arts/Literature/Economic course or the Science/Technology/Engineering course.

Based on various academic knowledge gained in junior high school, students learn about what the study at universities is like in the first grade of high school. There are many programs that help a student to simulate her choice of universities or colleges so that she can image herself in the future after her education here. We try to reflect students’ wishes to curriculums. A student has to respect herself to achieve objectives in order to make her wish come true. Teachers support her when it is necessary.

Q.09
Can you tell me about supplementary classes that I can attend when it’s necessary?
A.

If students attend classes daily as expected, they won’t need to attend supplementary classes, especially in junior high school. Each curriculum teacher will check notes and homework closely and will help establish good study habits. There are supplementary classes for students who did not pass the term exams. Furthermore, depending on the results of small exams, teachers might speak with a student and offer guidance on how to improve study habits.

Q.10
What are the school regulations?
A.

There is a dress code and other regulations which apply for on-campus and off-campus living.

These are as follows:

《Dress Code》

1. Wear the school uniform to come to school. Winter: Grey blazer and grey skirt, checked skirt, blouse, ribbon (dark red for junior high school and navy blue for high school), white socks, white knee-high socks or black tights

Summer: Glen check vest and skirt, blouse (short-sleeved, short-sleeved open-necked, over-blouse), summer vest (white, blue), ribbon (light pink for junior high school and blue for high school)

Throughout the year: Sweater (navy blue, white), knit vest (navy blue, white) Coat (Plain navy blue or black, a design suitable for the school uniform)

2. Use school bag (big, small).

3. Leather shoes, black and low-heeled.

4. Hairstyle should be suitable for the school uniform.

《Regulations for on- and off-campus》

Do not forget your duty as a student of Ohyu Gakuen on- and off-campus and act in a dignified manner.

1. Do not leave school without permission during school hours.

2. Do not sell anything on-campus without permission.

3. Do not enter restaurants and cafes alone, before or after school.

4. Do not use a motorbike to come to school.

5. Do not go to unsuitable amusement districts, cafes or restaurants and other amusement places.

6. Do not join any out-of-school organizations, appear (or participate) in various events or attend out-of-school meetings without permission. If necessary, a guardian should submit an application to the school and seek an approval from the Principal.

7. Do not work part-time outside school (as a general rule).

Q.11
What is the average commute to school?
A.

It takes about an hour and five to ten minutes.

Q.12
Can I commute by bike?
A.

Most students commute by train. However, if the school considers it appropriate, a student can commute to school by bike. An application called “Application for Permission to Commute by Bike” needs to be submitted at the beginning of April. The school will then consider the cycling distance, how long it takes to walk, and the daily state of traffic in the area before granting permission. When a permission is granted, a student will also have to attend a road-safety lecture first. If a student applies for permission in junior high school, it is only valid during the junior high school years. The same rule applies at high school.

When moving up to high school from junior high School, a student can again apply for permission to continue cycling to school. If a student wishes to start cycling in the middle of each term, she needs to apply for permission accordingly. Each case is assessed before permission is granted.

Q.13
Do I have to bring my own lunch?
A.

Yes, you do (including Saturdays). There is no cafeteria at the school, but there is a shop selling bread, milk, and other food for lunchtime consumption.

Q.14
Why are there eight classes for the first grade in junior high school?
A.

There are basically six classes from the second grade in junior high school to high school. Normally there are 40 students in a class. There are eight classes (30 students in a class) only for the first grade in junior high school. It has been generally said that a decline in academic performance is caused by past government curriculum guidelines. Moreover, there is another aspect to this problem. There are an increasing number of children who are not capable of building human relationships due to decline in their capacity to live actively. Taking these two problems into consideration, we start teaching students in a smaller group in the first grade in junior high school to be able to work with them closely.

Q.15
Are you strict about students’ behavior?
A.

Our guidance is based on the ethos of Christian liberalism, so we always respect students’ ‘freedom’ in any circumstance.

However, some people interpret freedom wrongly. Freedom is not just having fun and doing whatever someone likes in a selfish way. For instance, if a student thinks she should be free to talk during the class to her friends, then, she should be aware that, if she does this, she is spoiling other students’ freedom to concentrate on their study. If this happens, those who feel their freedom has been taken away would try to restrict her freedom to talk during the class. In the end, it creates a loop and both parties are not free anymore. A student can claim her freedom only when she respects other people’s freedom and only when she considers protecting everybody’s freedom collectively.

Therefore, it is not easy to act assuming a student has freedom. We guide students so they become able to conform to school rules and also respect other people’s rights and freedom. At the same time, we guide students so they can discipline themselves accordingly.

Q.16
What is your attitude towards the use of mobile phones in school?
A.

We allow students to keep mobile phones with them, so that their parents will be able to confirm where their children are in case of an emergency. The appropriate application form will need to be submitted in order to carry a mobile phone.

However, mobile phones are only for emergency use, and must be turned off and kept in the students’ lockers along with other valuable possessions during all school hours. There are keys to the lockers, so it is a student’s responsibility to keep her possessions safe.

In the case of a large-scale disaster, a person should bear in mind that he/she may not be able to make contact using mobile phones due to call restrictions and blackouts at base stations, so it is recommended that parents and students talk on a daily basis about using other means of communication to get in touch with family members.

Nowadays, mobile phones have multiple functions. They can be used not only as a tool to communicate with family, but also as a computer. Easy access to internet can lead students into contact with sites displaying unsuitable and harmful information, and there are an increasing number of cases in which people become involved in trouble or victimized in crime. For these reasons, we ask parents of children having mobile phones to take responsibility by talking to their children and setting appropriate rules for their use including time, place and purpose to use a mobile phone. We also ask that all parents make sure that the “Filtering Service” which is offered for free by mobile phone companies is set on their children’s phones. Once this service is set, a parent can access her child’s communication record, call record and password.

Q.17
Do you have cases of bullying at the school? If so, how do you deal with them?
A.

We cannot say for sure that there is no bullying in our school because we have 1,500 students. There are probably some cases of bullying each year, including those we, the teachers, are not aware of. However, we take a number of following approaches to tackle bullying, so fortunately, we haven’t experienced a case of the serious type of bullying often reported on the mass media.

Our teachers attend training courses on counselling each year which are designed to help them guide students. Homeroom teachers try to deal with any case of bullying at an early stage through individual interviews, which are held more than twice a year, and also at the parent and child meetings.

There is also a counselling room attached to the school infirmary. It opened some 20 years ago and currently has three counsellors. This is open from Monday to Saturday every week. We hope that students and parents will make use of this facility, so that any problem can be dealt with as soon as possible. The counselling room is dependent from other facilities, so an application needs to be submitted directly to a school nurse. However, a group of five (four teachers and one school nurse) links the counselling room and the school. The group is called Education Guidance. Counsellors talk with the Education Guidance members, head teachers of each grade, homeroom teachers and club teachers, as required. We also have a psychiatrist who visits us once a month as a supervisor.

If there is any problem, the homeroom teacher will report the case at the teachers’ meeting for each grade, without dealing with it on his/her own. Then, the teachers of that grade will discuss the matter in the head teachers meetings (the principal, the deputy principal, the deputy head teacher and the head teachers from each grade attend) and the educational guidance meetings. The aim of these discussions is to find solutions, and to decide how to cope with any future problems that may arise.

Furthermore, we discuss bullying cases at the parents’ meetings. We also ask parents to take part by paying attention to any symptoms of bullying and asking them to guide their children about the problem.

We sincerely hope that each student will become a considerate person who can respect others and protect the weak, including disabled and elderly people. It is our aim to help and guide students so that they can be thoughtful of others’ needs and build good relationships with others at the school and in the wider world.

Q.18
Please tell me about the PTA activities.
A.

The PTA (Parent Teacher Association) consists of parents and teachers. Directors of General Affairs and three parents, who are chosen from each class, form the core of the PTA and become a link between parents and school. There are three committees in the PTA. The “Grade Committee” members organize social gatherings and cooperate in various school events. The “Public Relation Committee” members edit and publish “the Ohyu PTA Newsletter”. The “Culture Committee” members arrange cultural courses and lectures. Many parents who are chosen to serve on the PTA appreciate this opportunity. There are many parents who have demanding occupations, so we try not to impose too much on them. Teachers and parents cooperate with each other through the PTA and enjoy lively activities.

Q.19
How often do you have PTA meetings in a year?
A.

The whole school has PTA meetings in April and July. We also have PTA meetings for each grade about twice a year. Parents who attend these meetings can have their lunch together in their children’s classrooms, so they can get to know each other better. There is also a “Parents’ Day” once every term. This is held for the whole school on the same day. Parents can come and observe classes, regardless of grade, during this day.

Q.20
How safe is the route to school?
A.

Ohyu Gakuen is located in the residential area of Setagaya-ward in Tokyo. Some roads around the school are narrow, so we divide students into junior high and high school groups, and recommend each group to take a different route. In this way, we can prevent one particular route becoming too flooded with students. We also set different finishing times for school for junior high school and high school to avoid trains being too crowded with students.

We have security guards patrolling all the school routes during commuting time to ensure the safety of students.

Q.21
Do you have any anti-earthquake procedure?
A.

The school buildings were built based on Seismic Design Codes in the Buildings in Japan (revised in 1981), so they hold up well against earthquakes. The buildings won’t collapse even when an earthquake in the Great Kanto Earthquake class hits. All glasses (in the windows and doors) are fitted with an anti-shattering film. If a big earthquake does occur, we lead students to safe places in school as a general rule. Then, we check the situation and confirm the safety for students commuting home. We allow students to leave the school only after they have spoken to their parents (or another member of the family). If students cannot get in touch with their families, we keep them at school until it is safe to leave.

We have emergency food and long-life drinking water supplies to sustain us for at least three days. We also keep survival and normal blankets. We also recommend that students keep daily necessities, including sanitary goods and contact lens cases, with them in case of emergencies.

When public transportation is disrupted on the way to and back from school due to an earthquake, students can use a special network for private schools in Tokyo and Kanagawa. This system enables students to take shelter in the private junior and high school nearby, even when they can’t go back to their home, in case of a big earthquake. The school nearby is supposed to let the school he/she is enrolled, know about her whereabouts and safety. As soon as we can receive information from that school and confirm their safety, we send it out via the safety check and simultaneous information system.

Q.22
How do you communicate from the school in the case of any emergency?
A.

We have various ways for the students’ families to receive information from the school if a weather warning is issued, if public transport is disrupted so students cannot commute or an earthquake occurs, etc. Communication methods are:

1) Via the safety check and simultaneous information system from school

2) Via the school homepage

3) Via the official school account on Twitter and Facebook.

If the school has to be closed due to disasters, legal-designated infectious diseases or for other reasons, we communicate with students and parents via the special site for current students on the school homepage, and the safety check and simultaneous information system. We also send various information to students so we can support them to study at home.