““Do for others what you want them to do for you” (New Testament, Matthew 7:12a).
After passing through the main gate of the Shirokane Campus in Tokyo’s Minato Ward, walk along a gently sloping road and you will come across a large, old building on your left. This is the University Chapel, built over 90 years ago. Forming the shape of a cross when viewed from above, it was designed by one of modern Japan’s leading architects, William Merrell Vories. Over the years, the normally quiet chapel has welcomed first-year students into the University and sent graduates out into the world. Some alumni even return here to hold their weddings. The chapel is an indispensable part of the University.
The origins of Meiji Gakuin University date back to the Hepburn School founded in 1863 by the American Dr. James Curtis Hepburn (1815-1911) and his wife Clara in Yokohama. Hepburn came to Japan as a medical missionary with the dream of spreading the teachings of Protestant Christianity, and he and Clara established their school to instruct promising young Japanese students in English. But Japan was in the midst of great turmoil accompanying the end of the Tokugawa shogunate and the beginnings of the Meiji Restoration. In these turbulent times, there were rising calls to overthrow the Shogunate and expel all foreigners, and the Edo Shogunate’s edicts banning Christianity were still in effect. Spies infiltrated the Hepburns’ inner circle, and Clara was even struck by an unknown assailant, leaving both physical and emotional scars. Despite these hardships, Dr. Hepburn clung to the words of Christ, providing free medical treatment and learning Japanese through his interactions with patients. He compiled Japan’s first standard Japanese-English/English-Japanese dictionary, published as “A Japanese and English Dictionary; with an English and Japanese Index” (Waei Gorin Shusei), and invented the Hepburn Romanization system. He also completed a Japanese translation of the Bible.
Meiji Gakuin University upholds its founder Dr. James Hepburn’s lifelong creed of “Do for Others” as its educational philosophy, and carries on Christian-based moral education as its founding spirit to this very day. In order to put its educational philosophy of “Do for Others” into practice, the University emphasizes a variety of activities in addition to the regular curricula offered by each of its departments and the Center for Liberal Arts.
Contributing to the world and to society during one’s university years are truly valuable life experiences. To provide its students with opportunities to contribute to society, the University offers internships through its Career Center, and volunteer activities led by its Volunteer Center, the first university volunteer center to be established in Japan. On a global scale, the University maintains relationships with partner institutions around the world to support study abroad. In order to link global involvement with contributions to society, the University has also launched new endeavors combining international exchange, volunteering, and internships.
Holding to its founding spirit of Christian-based moral education and educational philosophy of “Do for Others” while giving back to society--- this is the mission of Meiji Gakuin University.